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 Prof Ben Cousins’ research productivity soars in 2013

Prof Ben Cousins’ research productivity soars in 2013​


Prof Ben Cousins, SARChI Chair in Poverty, Land and Agrarian Studies (at the Institute for Poverty, Land and Agrarian Studies (PLAAS), had an extraordinarily productive year in 2013. He co-edited a special issue of a leading international journal, published four books, six book chapters, five peer-reviewed journal articles, four other articles in popular media and delivered twelve presentations during the year.  Prof Cousins also won the prestigious Elinor Ostrom Award on Collective Governance of the Commons. He was one of three recipients in the senior researcher category for ‘his multi-disciplinary approach to explore how property rights and collective action arenas interact in agrarian settings where community management of land is crucial, for actively engaging with public policy in these areas, as well as for developing a community of scholars studying aspects of the commons’.

He laughingly indicates that many of his publications are the result of projects that ‘closed out’ in earlier years and that culminated in published works in 2013. Many of Prof Cousins’ scholarship activities and outputs are directly linked to his current research programme on Land Reform, Food Systems and Agrarian Change in South Africa. This programme entails multiple partnerships including the supervision of a large pool of post-graduate students and links with international scholars as well as leading researchers from national and regional institutions. The research programme has a strong focus on research capacity development, as required by the National Research Foundation for the holders of SARChi Chairs. Prof Cousins believes that students become highly motivated when they are given opportunities to publish.

As is evident in Prof Cousins’ research profile for 2013​, most of his output is derived from collaborative projects or partnerships with other scholars. He believes that many social scientists and their students tend to work in isolation from each other, but that there is great potential for large, collaborative research programmes that address key issues in the social sciences and humanities as well as pressing social problems such as poverty and inequality.

For Prof Cousins, productive research is often based on strongly collaborative work.  He indicates that ‘finding the right partners is crucial’. The partners should share the same vision, and have common understandings and values. He acknowledges that the operational processes of partner institutions are sometimes poorly aligned and that this can cause problems, but argues that partnerships founded on relationships of trust are likely to succeed.  His impressive list of outputs  provided  here for the year 2013 would seem to bear this out.

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