The Acting Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Research, Innovation and Engagement (DVC:RIE) at the Durban University of Technology (DUT), Professor Keolebogile Motaung hosted the National Research Foundation (NRF) Rated Researchers Networking Breakfast at the DUT Hotel School Conference Centre, Ritson Campus in Durban, on Monday, 24 April 2023.
In her opening remarks, Prof Motaung who was also the Programme Director, said the aim of the event was to honour and celebrate the 59 NRF-Rated researchers from DUT for their contribution in producing high quality research. She felt it was about time that these researchers were celebrated for their ground-breaking research that has led to DUT receiving global rankings.
Speaking on the DUT Values and Principles was Mr Mxolisi Msomi, the Acting Senior Director: Human Capital Services at DUT. He was standing in for the Deputy Vice-Chancellor: People and Operations, Dr Vuyo Mthethwa.
“My role here colleagues is to remind you of our values and principles. I am sure you are aware that the Council approved the Living Values Framework almost two years ago. It is a very civilised document that tells us what exactly is expected from us in the different responsibilities that we have as the employees of this university. The Living Values Framework is not exclusive for the staff but also the students because it sets the tone of how we should be behaving as staff and students so that we portray the good image of DUT,” said Mr Msomi.
Addressing the researchers at the event, Mr Msomi first spoke on ethics saying when conducting research, the issues of ethics are paramount. He indicated that there is no legislation that talks to ethics, it is something that comes out from an individual directly which cannot be legislated. Msomi added that ethics is about doing what is right even when no one is watching you and even when there is no chance that you can get caught.
“It’s important that in whatever you do as researchers, you are doing what is ethical in terms of the policies of the university but also in terms of the best practices out there. Ethics goes beyond what you do as researchers. In the last few months, you have seen, you have heard and personally I have a lot of information on what is happening. Some of those not so good things committed by the same people we believe need to uphold their ethical values. The treatment of our junior researchers, treatment of our research fellows, we can say a lot in that respect. We have heard and seen a lot of abuse of those young people, coming from the people at your level,” said Msomi.
Furthermore, Msomi added that there have been great extortion, where people wanted money from these young people. He revealed that a lot of things that have been done can be referred to as harassment. Msomi cautioned the researchers to guard against such things. As researchers, they are not only expected to apply ethics in what they are writing about but also in terms of how they conduct themselves as human beings outside of the academic research.
“You cannot live this life as a researcher but live a different life when you are a senior to someone under your care. We need to be ethical all the time. I also want to pick up on respect, respect for your fellow beings is quite important but more important is respect for your colleagues as well. It will expand as far as acknowledging your sources. It is one of the issues I have dealt with. As I joined this university, I have seen so many people not respecting others, and I have dealt with some of those individuals that were found to be disrespectful to other colleagues’ work. Excellence, we are the university of excellence, if we don’t excel in what we are doing we will not be getting the global rankings that we are always proud of. In whatever you do as researchers ensure that you uphold all the values that relate to excellence” Mr Msomi emphasised.
He also touched on accountability, urging researchers to take accountability of their own work and do the correct citations and referencing in order to protect the image of the university.
Delivering the vote of thanks was Professor Suren Singh, Acting Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Teaching and Learning at DUT. He acknowledged the researchers whom most of them are full time academics with demanding roles. He said that when they first acknowledged the NRF-rated researchers in 2005, there were about 12 of them.
“When you look at how the list has grown, it’s exceptional. I would call them the formula 1 of research as they are the key drivers. If you look at it holistically in terms of maintaining quality, driving research, looking at rankings, pushing research in the different focus areas, bringing in money continuously, keeping your rating and international collaborations. There are many people that are sitting here who are on their fourth, fifth and sixth circle of rating. Acknowledgement to all of you that are here, I wish you good luck in all your research endeavors, keep the fires burning and supporting the junior researchers,” concluded Prof Singh.
Pictured: Attendees of the NRF-rated Researchers Networking Breakfast.
Photographer: Khulasande Tshayile.