23 SES 13 C, Bureaucracy and Instrumentalism in Education
Among many aspects of higher education internationalization, student mobility and national or institutional internationalization strategies have received major attention of scholars compared to limited number of studies on the internationalization of research (IoR) (Woldegiyorgis, Proctor, & de Wit, 2018). It might be due to perceptions of research as inherently international activity that it received less scholarly attention (Rostan, Ceravolo, & Metcalfe, 2014). Some scholars propose a term of re-internationalization of research, which is ongoing in the context of higher education globalization (Teichler, 2004). Although “academe has always been international in scope” (Altbach, 2004, p. 24), the increased competition among nations and universities to advance in World University Rankings (WUR) and in Research and Development (R&D) has triggered re-internationalization of research.
Often times this encourages the introduction of state- or institution-wide policies and regulations that put academics and graduate students under performative pressure to publish in international, peer-reviewed journals with high impact factor (e.g. Scopus or Web of Science indexed journals). The government and institution level strategies towards IoR are well documented (Antelo, 2012; Dewey & Duff, 2009; Jones & Oleksiyenko, 2011; Pohoryles & Cvijetic, 2002). They include but are not limited to requirements for international collaboration when applying for grants and use of quantity and impact (measured by journal impact factor or number of citations to article) of publications in certain list of international peer reviewed journals (Scopus, Web of Science Core Collection, etc.) as the main indicator for research productivity. The tenure and salaries of faculty often depend on such quantitative productivity indicators.
Despite state bureaucracy and university managers’ effort to internationalize local scientific communities (mostly russophone academia in case of Kazakhstan), the outcome mostly depends on how these policies and strategies are perceived by faculty. Compared to other aspects of the HE internationalization, IoR requires extensive collaboration on faculty level (Woldegiyorgis et al., 2018). Previous studies suggest that institutional strategies provide little input to the faculty research related activities (Trondal, 2010). On the contrary, internationalization policies designed for commercial ends or perceived as such can lead to resistance in academe (Turner & Robson, 2007).
Following the call for exploration of different approaches towards IoR in different contexts (Woldegiyorgis et al., 2018), this paper aims to investigate national and institutional IoR policies and faculty members’ responses to them based on the case of developing country - Kazakhstan. The country has joined the Bologna process and has, subsequently, introduced pertinent educational reforms. The Ministry of Education and Science of Kazakhstan (MoES) and local universities use publication requirements in indexed journals for decisions related to tenure and research grant allocation. Local academe has responded in varying ways with predatory publishing practices skyrocketing after the introduction of requirements to publish in journal listed in Scopus and Web of Science Core collection. Therefore, we stress the importance of the faculty level investigation since the success of HE internationalization largely depends on how faculty perceive and act in response to national or institutional strategies and policies. There is a need for dialogic approach towards internationalization with focus on engagement with academe in designing policies (Turner & Robson, 2007).
The central research question of the study is:
How do Kazakhstani academics conceptualize and respond to national and institutional level IoR policies?
In this study we link different conceptualizations of IoR policies to individual scholars’ responses to it. Faculty members responses are classified based on ‘ideal types’ that were developed based on existing literature and during the exploratory stage of the project. The description of ideal types is provided in expected outcomes section.
Research design: Case study We chose to employ case study research in the present research project. The definition of case study we adhere to is a more operational one that emphasizes precisely the methodological attributes of case study research. That is, it views case study as an approach to the investigation of a phenomenon: “case study research is […] an approach in which the investigator explores a real-life, contemporary bounded system (a case) or multiple bounded systems (cases) over time, through detailed, in-depth data collection involving multiple sources of information (e.g. observations, interviews, audio-visual material, and documents and reports), and reports a case description and case themes” (Creswell, 2013, p. 97; boldface and italics in original). Kazakhstan was selected as a case of developing country that has introduced wide range of state and institution level research internationalization strategies . The rationale for adopting country case study research in the project is as follows: we intend to understand a particular phenomenon (responses of Kazakhstani researchers to IoR policies) in depth within its natural environment of manifestation (Kazakhstani academia) without any intervention in or manipulation of relevant behavior on our part. Exploration of Kazakhstani academia will help to understand faculty level responses in other countries with non-anglophone and localised academic communities. Type of case study and the methods This qualitative research project is exploratory-interpretive in nature and follows an embedded single-case design (Yin, 2009). The embedded units of analysis within the case are the local scholars (faculty members and PhD candidates). The principal focus, however, is on studying the: 1) conceptualizations of IoR policies by local academics; and, b) responses of academics to IoR policies. One of the other reasons for using case study is that it allows the implementation of multiple sources of data which in this study consists of document analysis of state and institutional documents and individual semi-structured interviews. Snowball sampling was used to find participants for semi-structured interviews. We have already conducted initial data collection with scholars and research administrators from different universities and research institutions in Kazakhstan. The interviews with faculty members produced limited information in relation to predatory scholarly publishing as type of response. Therefore, additional interviews with research administrators closely working with faculty members were conducted, which, in turn, provided us rich data on variety of responses.
Based on the preliminary analysis of the findings we anticipate that the Kazakhstani academics might react to various national and institutional level IoR policies in four different ways: principled resistance, token conformity, gaming, and embracement. These can be grouped under the broader headings of resistance and adaptation. These preliminary findings coincide with prior research and also seemingly provide new insights. Resistance: principled resistance and token conformity When internationalization of research in non-English speaking countries is perceived as academic (neo-)colonialism, the response to it might be that of open, principled resistance. This type of scholarship can be considered as a “resistance to the cultural control, or the English supremacy” (Liu, 2017, p. 102) that is stimulated by the academic hiring/promotion systems geared towards IoR. The scholars might choose to exclusively publish in local venues in their native languages. However, in non-Anglophone, post-totalitarian contexts (such as Kazakhstan) where academic freedom is an issue and governmental organizations and educational institutions hold considerable administrative power, academics might resort to token conformity. In other words, faculty may refrain from publicly defying top-down IoR policies but, instead, choose to pretend to accept them, when in fact they do not approve of such policies at all. Adaptation: gaming and embracement Academics may turn to gaming in order to benefit from and exploit the systems informed by IoR policies. The scholarship is geared towards increasing research output with focus on quantity rather than quality. These practices might involve the use of corrupted co-authoring and salami publication strategies. When academics perceive internationalization of research as opportunity though, a different, more positive form of adaptation response can take place: embracement. Scholarship in this case might be primarily motivated by noble sentiments such as self-realization as a scholar, knowledge production, knowledge sharing, and doing high quality research.
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