Global Journal of Interdisciplinary Social Sciences
Open Access

ISSN: 2319-8834

Abstract

Reputational Yardsticks That Separate the Best from the Rest in Research: Driving the Accountability Agenda in the Zimbabwe Open University

Professor Chiome Chrispen & Professor Primrose Kurasha

This study examined ways of supporting the accountability agenda, by benchmarking information and establishing reputational yardsticks in the Zimbabwe Open University through research evaluation. The Zimbabwe Open University use reputational yardsticks where research undergoes rigorous peer review to ensure high standards for research quality and objectivity. As a result of donor fatigue, funding for research is mainly from the national purse. For this reason, the University wants to support research work that makes a difference. However in Zimbabwe there is no simple formula for identifying truly important research. This makes the task more difficult. As funding gets squeezed, researchers in the University face stiffer competition for resources, and it becomes more crucial than ever to develop reliable ways of spotting and supporting the best work. This research is a case study of one University informed by a purposive sample of 16 researchers. Findings appear to justify that reputational yardsticks support the accountability agenda. Arguments put forward are that interest in and demand for the evaluation of research is increasing internationally. It is seen as driven by the demand for good governance and management practices growing in profile on national and international stages. Reputational yardsticks are also justified by the fiscal austerity that is gaining ground in Zimbabwe. Research evaluation demonstrates that policymaking is evidence based and, particularly in the current economic climate, it makes economic sense to demonstrate accountability for the investment of public funds in research. Research evaluation provides accountability for public investment in research and produces evidence of the benefits of this investment to policymakers, research funders, institutional leaders and research managers. This research thus, conclude that given this growing need for effective and appropriate evaluation of research, it is increasingly important to understand how research can and should be evaluated in different contexts and to meet different needs. The study recommended more formative evaluations, as well as more comprehensive evaluations that cover wider outputs from research outside the standard measures, such as numbers and quality of publications

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