The advancement of knowledge through research has long been a major objective of South African universities. This advancement may be achieved by engaging academic staff in scholarly activities that deepen their understanding of current issues that challenge government and society. Therefore,building capacity in research is crucial, in that it reinforces the institution’s ability to improve its overall impact on research. In that regard, most higher education institutions in South Africa strive for being ‘excellent’ in research. However, the 21st century has brought some challenges to institutions of higher education in South Africa. One of the objectives of this study is to examine factors influencing research productivity, and further recommends possible solutions that could lead to the improvement of the research environment.