Professor Jenny M. Lewis (University of Melbourne)
This guest entry is by professor Jenny M. Lewis, who is an Australian Research Council Future Fellow at the University of Melbourne, Australia. In 2010-12 she was Professor of Public Administration and Public Policy at Roskilde University, Denmark. She held a grant from the Australian Research Council from 2008- 2010, to examine academic collaboration and research performance. The following is based on this study, and a book: “Academic Governance: Disciplines and Policy”, will be published by Routledge in 2013. Find out more about her work here.
Attempts to increase research collaboration can be seen in the type of grants available in many national funding systems, around the world. However, if these are aimed at one particular model of collaboration, the effects may be deleterious rather than beneficial, both to the academics conducting research, and to the nations that hope to benefit from the fruits of these collaborations. Research policy and funding should bear these differences in mind when seeking to stimulate collaborative research, so as to gain better outcomes across a range of disciplines. The following summarizes some findings published in a recent article in Higher Education (Lewis et al 2012).
There are profound differences in how academics in different disciplines do research, and it could be expected that this is also true of how they collaborate. Collaborative working in (biological and physical) science has been extensively studied, but the literature examining collaboration in the humanities (particularly), and also in the social sciences, is much smaller. So how do academics (other than biological and physical scientists) collaborate? And are there substantial differences between disciplines in the how and why of collaboration?
Improving research policy requires a more thorough understanding of the variety of collaboration types across disciplines. It seems that (more…)
dr. Richard Watermeyer (University of Cardiff)
In this guest entry, dr. Richard Watermeyer from University of Cardiff examines the public engagement agenda and shift towards using “impact” as a core element in evaluating the quality of research in UK.
This guest entry draws on the article “From Engagement to Impact? Articulating the Public Value of Academic Research”.
In recent years the UK’s Higher Education (HE) community has been tasked with responding to a mandate of increased transparency, openness and a willingness to more proactively and fluently engage with public constituencies, particularly cohorts outwith the realms of common or established interaction, in the pursuit of greater social inclusion and cohesion.
Advocates of engagement in HE have mobilised around a discourse of dialogue, upstream engagement and knowledge co-production co-opted from the burgeoning disciplinary field of Science and Technology Studies (STS) and proponents of a public understanding of science movement, which/who emerged in the UK in the mid-1980s and promulgated the social responsibilities of the scientific community and the social and economic advantages of a more integrated and cohesive arrangement between scientific experts and lay publics, predicated on the latter’s early dialogical integration and sustained involvement in the deliberative aspects of the research process. (more…)
In June 2012, the research group HEIK at the Faculty of Education in University of Oslo held an international open seminar titled “The challenge of the Research, Development & Innovation (RDI) role of Higher Education Institutions: different national policy debates and institutional developments in Finland, Norway, Denmark and Sweden“.
We are delighted to be able to offer you the possibility to listen to these presentations here on the Hedda blog as well.
Speakers at this seminar included Mats Benner (Lund University and Uppsala University), Peter Maassen (University of Oslo), Bjørn Stensaker (University of Oslo) and Kaare Aagaard (Århus University).
The main starting point for the seminar was that in recent decades one can identify a series of large scale reforms, where higher education increasingly has to deal with complex tasks beyond the traditional teaching and research activities. A growing number of societal problems call for a closer connection between innovation and higher education – however, what do we really know about current RDI policies in the Nordic countries and what have been the experiences this far?
You can download the background paper further reflecting on the topic of the seminar at the HEIK homepage, and listen to the introductory presentation and presentations of four country cases here. (more…)
On May 14-15, the The National Science Foundation of the US organized the start-up meeting of the Global Research Council. The idea behind is to create “a new virtual organization dedicated to improving international collaboration among science and engineering funding agencies“, with a long term goal to foester “multilateral research collaboration across continents to benefit both developing and developed nations“.
The establishment got some attention in the media, amongst else in a recent article in University World News. The article at UWN argues that the establishemnt has taken place as a general response to increased globalization of research practices and that this also implies a greater standardisation of assessment of proposals. Further, it is argued that increased collaboration patterns across the globe also refer to a need for further coordination of international metrics.
The main goal at this first meeting was to create a Statement of Principles on Merit Review, creating a sort of standard for good practice in reviewing merit. While they do not have a legal nature, it does set a certain set of principles that can be seen as transferable across the world. While the approach of soft law and use of non-legal instruments has shown considerable success within Europe – the question will become whether a similar approach would work world wide, or will this end up being a rather symbolic process? (more…)
This guest entry is written by Zhanna Saidenova, who is a graduate of the Hedda Master Programme in Higher Education. Currently, she works as a research advisor at the Department of Culture Studies and Oriental Languages. In this post, she gives her views on the challenges humanities are facing in the current Norwegian research environment.
The times when universities could engage in free science and knowledge transfer and operate rather independently from their stakeholders have passed, possibly for good. The policies set by the European Union and Commission, national and local governments and an important role of external funding connected to them play an ever increasing role in the way higher education institutions create their strategies and operate. But although the discourses of “entrepreneurial university”, “academic capitalism”, “new public management” and “valorisation” of higher education research have marched into the academic life a decade ago, humanities in Norway are still struggling to implement this kind of thinking to their every day environment.
Humanities find themselves in a disadvantaged position compared to the hard sciences when it comes to the policy attention and funding at the moment. The Research Council of Norway, for example, focuses mainly on life sciences and new technologies, while humanities have to compete very hard to secure their external funds from the government. One can argue that natural sciences are more “expensive” in terms of equipment and project costs. However, even when it comes to networking events, hard sciences are secured with much bigger funds than soft sciences. The most successful projects that get the EU funding are subsidized even more by the Research Council and universities in Norway, making strong research environments stronger and weak – much weaker: the University budgets are fixed as a rule. Not surprisingly, the strong environments usually belong to hard sciences. Just a quick look at the calls for proposals in Framework Program 7 helps you realize that hard sciences have a rather beneficial position. (more…)
The relationship between scientific evidence and policymaking is not always as straight forward as one might assume, highlighted in recent climate change debates and issues around stem cell research.
In order to highlight some of these issues, 52 experts led by University of Cambridge, have developed a list of 40 “key unanswered questions”.
The participants included a wide range of approaches to science and policy, from government, to NGOs, various thematic fieleds on academia and industry. They first invited all participants to send in questions they considered important and ended up with 239 questions that were further voted on and discussed during a workshop.
The results of this were published in an interactive open-access journal PLoS ONE. The areas that were included were: questions about the effectiveness of science-based decision-making structures; the nature and legitimacy of expertise; the consequences of changes such as increasing transparency; choices among different sources of evidence; the implications of new means of characterising and representing uncertainties; and ways in which policy and political processes affect what counts as authoritative evidence. You can view the article and the various topics here.
Some of the questions they highlight include: (more…)