The State of Young Scientists

  • GloSyS Survey- Global Young Academy

Convener: Bernard Slippers

Academics, employers, and policy makers recognize the importance of global networks for achieving scientific excellence and solving international problems. Young scientists occupy a unique and pivotal position in this regard. Widely recognized as being among the most creative and energetic researchers, young scientists can also be more mobile and better trained than ever before. They thus constitute a vast pool of global talent that stands to change the geography of knowledge in fundamental ways. Young scientists also play an increasingly important role in the new knowledge economy, where research and innovation are the drivers of economic growth, socioeconomic development and enlightenment for countries around the world. Young scientists are often the key innovators and creators that provide the intellectual capital needed to grow strong national research and innovation systems. Understanding precisely how young researchers can succeed in and contribute to the knowledge landscape, and what obstacles they encounter in the process across the world is the subject of the GloSYS project. By exploring the global state of young scientists and identifying their opportunities and concerns, the GloSYS project aims to initiate change and catalyze improvement in the global system of science. SAYAS is partnering with the GYA to develop a project investigating the state of young scientists in Africa.

More information on this GYA project can be found here.

  • The postgraduate survey

Convener: Alta Schutte

A flagship SAYAS initiative begun in 2012, SAYAS launched the ‘SAYAS Survey of Young Scientists’, an online survey completed by Honours, Masters and Doctoral students and Postdoctoral Fellows in South Africa. The survey aimed to provide a deeper understanding of the profile and general needs of young scientists in the country for alignment of strategic activities targeting their support and development. Between September 2012 and January 2013, 1021 young scientists completed the survey and the results have been published in a report that was launched during the 2013 SAYAS General Assembly. The most interesting finding was that a total of 43% of Honours, Masters, PhD and Postdoctoral respondents indicated that the reason for performing their postgraduate studies is that they wanted to pursue an academic career. This figure elevated to 58% in the categories of PhD's and Postdoctoral scholars. This highlights a knowledge gap regarding the developmental needs of the country (e.g. industry) and career planning by postgraduate students. These results will be shared in detail with the DST, NRF, SAASTA and other key stakeholders. SAYAS envisages this as a 2 yearly survey, which will dovetail with a planned survey of post-doctoral fellows in South Africa. These surveys will inform SAYAS activities for the future.

This report can be found here.

  • Research leaders development programme

Conveners: Sershen Naidoo and Jeff Murugan

This project combines the format of workshops and guides targeting young academics and focuses on the soft skills that young and emerging researchers need to transition from early to mid-career.