Africa is not an equal research partner globally and much of its research output is invisible to the rest of the world. Against this background the presentation discusses the University of Pretoria Library Service’s successful e-strategy, its contribution to quality assurance and its measurable impact on research, in particular raising the visibility of University of Pretoria and African research in the international research arena, and secondly, its role in the transformation of students.
Two impact studies are reported on:
ONE: First year students from disadvantaged communities were interviewed to track, record and measure their level of integration into the information society and the speed with which it happened. This is a pilot study aimed at postgraduate research.
TWO: An online survey of graduates of the University whose PhD theses are available online at http://upetd.up.ac.za looked at its impact on their research careers.
ONE: It is clear that a first world strategy will produce excellent results in a developing world setting if it is well thought out, carefully planned, local limitations accounted for and when it is pursued with energy
TWO: African research can play a bigger role in the international research arena if we ensure that we fully integrate with the information society
Students from deep rural areas and postgraduate students from other African countries offer a specific challenge for South African universities and their libraries: irrespective of the level of expertise with which they arrive, the outcome of their study should be of the same quality as that of students with modern backgrounds. The critical success factors need to be identified and fine-tuned to speed up this process.
Quality is not an add-on: it should form part of strategic and implementation planning in a very natural way. The paper shows that a good strategy, well planned and executed will produce quality even beyond what may have been intended.
Paper presented at the 7th Northumbria Conference, August 2007, Stellenbosch, South Africa