Whose Truth Are We Looking For?From the purity of academic quality to the ‘dirtyworld’ of research NOMA Summer School 2013 From Principles to Practice: HE Policy and Research Project Management Monday 21 January, 2013; University of Western Cape Peter Maassen University of Oslo
Reformulate:From the (relative) purity of Master and PhDwork to muddy, multi-arena and multi-layeredworld of research
Diverse research-arenas and -realitiesContext (national, institutional, disciplinary) determinesnature of diversityEssential general distinction:Basic (fundamental, curiosity-driven, etc.) research, incl.:•Review•Supervision•Editorial work versusWork which is research-based or –related, for example:•Contract research work•Advisory work•Evaluative work•Expert work
Specific nature of Social Science/Humanities ResearchLack of conceptual/theoretical agreementLarge, diverse set of methodological choicesContext determined relevance of research problemsGrowing complexity of social phenomenaLack of funding for basic researchLack of (tenured) academic positionsChallenging relationship with governmental policy making practicesRelatively low status
Specificity of Research in the area of Higher Education“Paradoxically, many politicians and administrators in this field aswell as the academic profession itself, while trying to persuadesociety that systematic scholarship is superior to practitioners’experience and anecdotes, are most skeptical about the value ofscholarship and research if it comes to their practical turf, i.e.higher education.”(Teichler, 2000, p. 4)
Tendency in HE research: double-isolatedness1. Study HE as an isolated sector2. Build HE studies on previous HE research, isolatedfrom general social sciences and humanities
Otto von BismarckPolicies and laws, like sausages, cease toinspire respect in proportion as we know howthey are made„Politics concerns the understanding of the possible“
Challenges for HE Policy ResearchLegitimacyRelevanceContinuityConnectedness/embededness
Relevant Literature; examples, focusing on changedynamics (structural and cultural) in universities andhigher education systems:Ramirez and Christensen (2012)The formalization of the university: rules, roots, and routesChristensen, Gornitzka and Maassen (2013)Global Pressures and National Cultures: A Nordic University Template?
Possible career options for HE Policy PhD holders, incl.1.Academic career (inside HE institutions)2.Academic career (outside HE institutions)3.Administrative career (inside HE institutions)4.Administrative career (outside HE institutions)5.Bureaucracy (Policy related)6.Private sector, incl. consultancy (Quick and dirtyresearch?)7.Advocacy work
Of relevance:What are the main factors that influence your choice ofresearch problem/research questions?Where do you want to position yourself in the field: asfar away as possible from policy (and other) practices,or as close to these practices as possible?What does the growing expectation with respect to theimpact of academic research mean for your researchcareer?