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Research Capacity Development

Research Development Fund (RDF)


RDF funding is available to Nelson Mandela University staff members conducting research, who do not currently have access to external grant funding. The RDF is intended to provide funding primarily in 3 categories as follows:

  • Seed funding for emerging researchers who are in the process of studying towards a further academic qualification. Staff MUST be registered and have received FPGSC approval for their research proposal before funds can be allocated.
  • Post PhD funding: This is meant to provide initial funding for researchers who have recently completed their doctoral qualification. The general expectation is that during the year of funding the researcher should prepare applications for external funding such as the NRF’s Thuthuka Grant.
  • Bridging funding for new staff at the Nelson Mandela University: Given that staff are not generally able to transfer their research funds from their previous employer, seed funding is made available to kick-start their institutional research activities.

Application process

The application can now be done online by clicking on this link.

The basis of the application is a funding proposal/research project plan which should give the Review Committee sufficient information to decide whether the project is feasible and will make a contribution to the Nelson Mandela University's Research Strategy.

Applicants need to develop a research proposal/research plan with clear outcomes to be considered for an RDF allocation and the research plan should match the project aims/objectives to specific activities and outputs.

Applications will follow a review process and applicants will be informed of the outcome of the review process.


Funding categories and limitations

Successful applications will be funded on the basis of a specific budget request detailing research related costs. Allocations will be limited to a maximum of R20 000 for SSH disciplines and a maximum of R35 000 for SET disciplines.

Funding may be requested in the following broad areas:

  • Project running costs: budget should be detailed and motivated sufficiently linked to each objective (this category DOES NOT include memberships to professional societies, journal subscriptions, or publication fees, see further notes below). If you include stationery items and printing costs in the budget section these should not include standard items but specifically printing of questionnaires and such direct research-related costs;
  • Student assistance (this is meant for the running of specific research activities and is not meant to fund bursaries or the research of a student). RCD encourages student assistantships for the purpose of supporting research activities of emerging researchers, and as a vehicle for motivating senior undergrad students to pursue postgrad studies.

Items that are not funded by the RDF are as follows:

-      Funding for degrees at the same level of qualification as already held by applicant.

-      Capital equipment (e.g. computers or computer related equipment), overseas travel, student registration costs (seek HR assistance in this regard), lecturer replacement (this category is covered through the Nelson Mandela University's Teaching Replacement Grant (TRG)), professional society memberships, journal subscriptions (unless strongly motivated where the journal cannot be sourced by Nelson Mandela Univeristy or via partner institutions).

-      Please note that any book purchases are to be made through the Library as per policy, they will then be bar coded and placed on permanent loan to you.


Progress reporting

All successful applicants will be expected to submit a satisfactory progress report at the end of each 12 month funding cycle to indicate their progress and any significant revisions or adjustments to the research project. RCD will call for these reports 2 – 3 months before the end of the funding cycle. All registered students will be required to submit a brief report from their promoter/supervisor with their assessment of the progress of the project.

The full grant amounts for each funding cycle can be claimed back from the grant recipient’s research account if a project and funding report is not submitted at the end of the 12th month of the funding cycle.


Further funding

The maximum duration of funding is three years. Renewal is not automatic and is contingent on the submission of a satisfactory progress report which provides evidence of significant progress made towards meeting the aims and objectives of the research plan. In addition, where staff members qualify for external funding applications (such as the NRF’s Thuthuka Programme) applicants would be advised to pursue this route.

Funds that remain unspent or unreported after any 12 month funding cycle will be returned to the RCD RDF budget account.


Expected outputs

Application category

Examples of Expected outcomes

Funding towards obtaining a postgraduate qualification

Evidence of:

-      Significant progress made towards obtaining the qualification; and

-      Including but not restricted to conference presentations and/or publications in DHET accredited journals)

Post-doctoral funding towards a specific research project
Bridging funding for new staff at the Nelson Mandela University

Evidence of:

-      Significant progress made towards meeting the aims and objectives of the project; and

-      Peer-reviewed accredited outputs (e.g. publication in DHET accredited journals) and/or conference presentations


Contact information
Dr Denise Schael
Acting Director: RCD
Tel: 041-504-2538

Ms Jadine Januarie
Workshop Co-ordinator
Tel: 041 504 2038