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NRF rating application process

NRF changes to the online system landing page

A quick note to inform you that the NRF has made some changes to the landing page of the NRF Online Submission System

The summary of research outputs from the previous application system that was previously there, has been moved to the menu on the left. Applicants must still go to this summary if they have not approved/verified the migration of their outputs from the old NRF Online system to this system.

The summary of applications listed on the landing page is a list of all applications created on the NRF Online Submission System. This has been added for quick reference to where in the process an application is. Users should still go to My Applications – List of Applications to edit/complete an application.

We have also added the history of an application which shows the applicant actual dates and times of the process the application followed since creation. To view the History, the user/applicant can click on the icon under the “History” column. This function will also be given to DAs soon.

The noticeboard that has been added to the landing page will be used for announcements regarding upcoming calls and other important information. Users are requested to please look out for these.



The following persons are eligible to apply for evaluation and rating:

1.1 Permanent/fulltime (P/FT) researchers at UCT 
1.2 Fixed term contract researchers* formally affiliated with UCT (e.g. retired researchers, research associates/fellows) who are active researchers with a notable track record in research and/or postgraduate student supervision.
1.3 Fixed term contract/part time (C/PT) researchers* at UCT who are active researchers with a notable track record in research and/or postgraduate student supervision and could include
a) Persons holding joint appointments between a SA institution and a foreign institution;
b) Persons holding joint appointments between two institutions within SA (of which at least one appointment should be a formal association with an NRF recognised research institution).
1.4 Persons who are in the process of being appointed in full-time posts at UCT. A motivation confirming the researcher’s employment and intended start date must be provided in the relevant comments block on the rating application.

*The current contract must still be valid at the closing date for rating applications and institutions need to motivate the institutional benefits in terms of capacity building and/or student postgraduate training as well as the institutional commitment in terms of future support to enable the applicant to retain his/her association. They must provide some commitment in the relevant comments block that the association will still be in place two years after the rating becomes valid. Applications from researchers in these categories will be screened by a panel for validity of the claims before being processed.

Click here to download a copy of the NRF eligibility criteria.

Additional information for Y- and P-rated researchers

  • A doctoral degree or equivalent is a requirement when applying for consideration in the Y- or P-rated categories.
  • If you are a young researcher and completed your PhD in 2011 or later (within the last 5 years), you will need to apply under the 2017 call in order to be considered for rating in the Y category (40 years and younger) or P category (35 years or younger).


UCT internal review for NRF rating applications

  • The UCT internal closing date for rating applications is 14 - 18 November 2016.
  • If you are unable to meet the above deadline, the alternative closing date is Friday, 6 January 2017.
  • Applications are completed online, and applicants should click the “final submit” button when the application is complete, allowing the Research Office to access their applications.
  • The Research Office will solicit comments from an expert panel to help strengthen applications.
  • Applicants will receive feedback in late December, with the option to meet with a panel member if necessary.
  • If you are unable to meet the November deadline, the alternative closing date will be 6 January 2017. In this instance, feedback will be provided in late January.
  • Final submissions are due on 15 February 2017.


How to apply online

  • All applications must be completed online on the NRF's online submission system
  • See application guidelines and instructions
  • See instructions for NRF online submission system
    • You will need to register if you are a first-time user, or enter your ID and password to get started.
    • Click on the My Applications button and then select Create Application (on the left hand menu). This will open the option to apply to the call Rating Application.
    • Click on Apply. This is a once-off process. When logging in after that, click on the List of Applications button (on the left-hand menu), and then click on Edit to continue with your application.
  • Note: The Research Office provides a UCT application guide and template (which includes helpful comments) to be used in the preparation of a draft application. However, all information must be transferred to the NRF online system before submission for internal review.


Tips for application

  • First-time applicants are welcome to contact the Research Office to establish their rating-readiness.
  • Consult the rating guidelines before attempting to complete an application.
  • Consult the key research areas & types of research outputs document when completing an application.
  • Use the UCT application guide and template to compile your narrative sections (e.g. self-assessment), as this will allow you to spell- and grammar-check your work and also check the length. The narrative sections are limited to either 1 or 2 pages each; the online system will automatically delete extra text.
  • Only include published research output in your application, which reviewers can access in the public domain. This covers the period 1 January 2009 to 31 December 2016. Do not include publications that are in press, submitted or in preparation in your research outputs section. These should be listed in the section ‘Ongoing and planned future research’.
  • Include the impact factor of journals, together with citation records and an h-index – include this in your research outputs and narrative sections.
  • When adding multi-authored publications, or if you are not the senior author on a publication, it is important to outline your own contributions to the research/publication.
  • The NRF does not accept incomplete or late submissions. An incomplete submission will be returned to the applicant.


For more information on NRF ratings contact the Research Support Services