‘A’ rating for Prof Herman Wasserman confirms international standard of research at Stellenbosch University

The Department of Journalism Chair, Prof Herman Wasserman, established himself among the leaders in his field internationally with the recent ‘A’ rating he received from the National Research Foundation (NRF). The NRF promotes South African research and innovation interests across the country and internationally. One of the ways they do this, is by benchmarking South African academics against their peers around the world.

Prof Wasserman’s ‘A2’ rating puts him among the leaders in his field internationally. NRF ratings are allocated based on a researcher’s research outputs and impact as perceived by international peer reviewers. The rating system identifies researchers who count among the leaders in their fields of expertise and gives recognition to those who consistently produce high-quality research outputs. The ‘A’ category is the highest rating category and indicates that a researcher is viewed as one of the best in the world in their respective fields. A-rated researchers are unequivocally recognised by their peers as leading international scholars in their field for the high quality and impact of their research outputs. This is a significant milestone for Prof Wasserman and confirms Stellenbosch University’s (SU) research reputation both nationally and internationally. According to SU’s Research, Innovation and Postgraduate Studies Division, the University currently has 21 A-rated (A1- and A2-rated) researchers among its academic staff. “A faculty is only as good as its human capital. It is a faculty’s most important asset. The achievement enhances the reputation of the faculty as being one that has outstanding research scholars among its staff,” said the Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, Prof Anthony Leysens.

It is an exceptional achievement for Prof Wasserman – one which he says he will cherish and relish. “I consider it one of the highlights of my career, as it is based on the frank, anonymous assessment of my work by a group of international peers. Being rated as an international leader in my field is an immense honour for me individually, but also a recognition that the research being done in South Africa can hold its own in the field internationally,” said Prof Wasserman.

An award or achievement of this magnitude does not signal an end to one’s academic achievement or career journey; rather, it is a continuation of a stellar journey which continues to explore new territories. Prof Wasserman is currently working on a few projects relating to disinformation, media and information integrity. These include leading a group of international researchers in a multinational project on information disorder in the Global South, as well as being involved in several other projects focusing on disinformation in collaboration with international researchers, practitioners such as fact-checkers and journalists as well as postgraduate students. He is excited about the new developments in the field of journalism and media studies, and the challenges and opportunities they bring to his field. “We congratulate Prof Herman Wasserman. This means a lot to SU, not only for maintaining the pool of our A-rated professors at 21 but raising the profile and research impact of the University. According to Google Scholar, Prof Wasserman has a citation count of 5 927 with an H-index of 40. This is while serving as the chair for Journalism and building a career in media practice and research,” said Prof Sibusiso Moyo, Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Research, Innovation and Postgraduate Studies at Stellenbosch University.

When asked about words of inspiration for the next generation of researchers at Stellenbosch University, Prof Wasserman was modest and humble. “It might sound like a cliché, but a research career is a marathon, not a sprint,” he said. A researcher should “find their passion and stay with it for the long run”. “Do not be afraid to measure yourself against the best in your field, nor to make mistakes, as long as you learn in the process. Take risks and move out of your comfort zone, reach out to like-minded scholars, build networks, and invest in collaborations. Most importantly, have fun while doing it,” he says. On behalf of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences’ academic, research and administrative communities as well as the Stellenbosch University at large, we would like to congratulate Prof Herman Wasserman on his latest academic achievement and wish him the best for his journey ahead.