A study of Computing doctorates in South Africa from 1978 to 2014

Ian D Sanders, Patricia M Alexander


This paper studies the output of South African universities in terms of computing-related doctorates in order to determine trends in numbers of doctorates awarded and to identify strong doctoral study research areas. Data collected from a variety of sources relating to Computing doctorates conferred since the late 1970s was used to compare the situation in Computing with that of all doctorates.

The number of Computing doctorates awarded has increased considerably over the period of study. Nearly three times as many doctorates were awarded in the period 2010–2014 as in 2000–2004. The universities producing the most Computing doctorates were either previously “traditional” universities or comprehensive universities formed by amalgamating a traditional research university with a technikon. Universities of technology have not yet produced many doctorates as they do not have a strong research tradition.

The analysis of topic keywords using ACM Computing classifications is preliminary but shows that professional issues are dominant in Information Systems, models are often built in Computer Science and several topics, including computing in education, are evident in both IS and CS.

The relevant data is in the public domain but access is difficult as record keeping was generally inconsistent and incomplete. In addition, electronic databases at universities are not easily searchable and access to HEMIS data is limited. The database built for this paper is more inclusive in terms of discipline-related data than others.


Tertiary education; Information Systems; Computer Science; Information Technology; Doctorates awarded

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.18489/sacj.v0i57.294

Copyright (c) 2015 Ian D Sanders, Patricia M Alexander

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