Private higher education institutions (PHEIs) have increasingly emphasized research output alongside their core teaching functions to enhance their credibility. However, empirical investigations into PHEIs and their research output are limited. Some scholars have criticized PHEI research output as insufficient. To address this challenge, the examined PHEI implemented initiatives to foster researcher development and reduce the workload of specific staff members, thereby creating capacity for improved research output. These new researchers are tasked with acquiring essential research-related skills and adjusting their attitudes towards research. This study aims to explore the perspectives of these 'new researchers' regarding Researcher Development within the studied PHEI. Utilizing a qualitative methodology with a phenomenological approach, this research investigates Researcher Development, focusing on the processes, experiences, and factors that contribute to the growth and professional maturation of those engaged in research activities. Phenomenology was chosen for its ability to capture human experiences and perceptions. In-depth semi-structured personal interviews were conducted with eight 'new researchers' from five different campuses of the PHEI. All interviews were conducted via MS Teams and lasted approximately one hour each. Data analysis followed Braun & Clark’s (2013) six-step thematic analysis, guided by Evans’ (2011) Componential Structure of Researcher Development, employing inductive, deductive, and axial coding. Academically, this study contributes to the limited knowledge base on PHEIs, their research output, and Researcher Development. Practically, the insights gained can help the PHEI identify areas necessitating strategic attention and leverage key themes to enhance their research initiatives.
Portia Webb, The Independent Institute of Education's Varsity College, South Africa