Science sometimes gets it wrong — whether due to incorrect assumptions, the limits of what can be seen, researchers allowing their bias to influence findings or introducing human error. But the beautiful thing about a system based on constant questioning is that it also self-corrects — even if it takes a while. The Department of Science and Technology is trying to effect that kind of reflexivity. The 20-year anniversary of the 1996 white paper on science and technology, which led to the legislation that paved the way for SA’s current research system, is celebrated in 2016. The white paper attempted to pull together a functioning research system out of the detritus of apartheid. Science and Technology Minister Naledi Pandor hopes to present a new white paper in 2017 to govern the science, technology and innovation landscape. "We’ve been looking at the progress that we’ve made and areas in which we have to do more," she says. Her department — of which she has been at the helm for nine...

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