n South African Journal of Higher Education - Academic research at a South African higher education institution : quality issues

Volume 22, Issue 3
  • ISSN : 1011-3487



The aim of the research was to critically analyse how a university context influences the quality of academics' research output. Wenger's social theory of learning was used as theoretical framework. The investigation involved an ethnographic case study of the research culture at one college at the institution. Data collection was mainly by means of participant observation, interviews and document analysis. In the light of Wenger's theory, the findings revealed that certain institutional practices facilitated high-quality research. These included financial incentives, some training programmes and travel opportunities to interact with other researchers. Practices that inhibited the delivery of quality research related to lack of job security, research support and uninterrupted time as well as excessive institutional control. Training that was disconnected from research practice did not stimulate quality research.

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