Towards Enacting Social Justice in Higher Education: A Case of Postdoctoral Research Fellows

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2 Citations (Scopus)


The purpose of this review was to identify the challenges confronting postdoctoral research fellows who are classified neither as staff nor students and have low socio-economic status. The three central questions were: What are the common themes in the literature and research on postdoctoral research fellows? What social justice issues arise from this research and literature? How can this literature and conceptualisation inform management of postdoctoral research fellows in terms of social justice? A total of 45 publications were reviewed. The full text of the systematically identified studies was stored in a marked folder on a computer desktop and screened by examining topics and abstracts. Each of the studies was analysed to identify six themes which are discussed using the lens of social justice, followed by suggestions for further discussion in the field. The literature portrays a culture that has undermined social justice issues and concerns. The findings challenge universities to imagine new directions for future research, and to become activists and take a pro-justice stance to formulate a culture, practices and procedures that benefit the marginalised. Universities can utilise these suggestions as a guide to evaluate their efforts and programmes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)77-96
Number of pages20
JournalInternational Journal of African Higher Education
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • marginalised
  • postdoctoral research fellow
  • review
  • social justice
  • transform
  • university

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


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