02 SES 12 A, Mapping VET Research and Publication
The research project „Open Access in Vocational Education and Training Research”, which has been running at the Federal Institute for Vocational Education and Training (BIBB) since 1/2019 and will be completed in 6/2021, has reached its final stage. The project aims to uncover the technical and structural, and policy-oriented and normative conditions as well as conditions inherent in the academic research system that influence the acceptance, dissemination and use of the open access (OA) publication model in vocational education and training (VET) research. The project focuses on researchers of VET in German-speaking countries only. VET research, as an interdisciplinary research field, comprises of various related academic disciplines rather than one stand-alone discipline (cf. Sloane 2006; Weiß 2008). Therefore, we propose that various outcomes of the research project will be transferable to other fields of the social sciences and the humanities.
Based on a sociology of knowledge and media theory approach, the methodological build-up of the project follows a mixed-methods design, combining qualitative and quantitative research methods. In the framework of group discussions with academic authors from the interdisciplinary field of VET research, which were conducted in 2019, qualitative empirical data were gathered. Following the analysis of these group discussions, the project team designed an online survey in 2020. It was sent out to approximately 5.000 authors of VET research, 22 % of which completed the survey. Selected results from the multivariate quantitative analysis of the online survey will be at the heart of our presentation.
Based on an analysis of the online survey, the first part of the presentation will outline the aspects most relevant to authors when publishing their own research. However, since authors are never merely just writers of academic publications but also users thereof, we will dive deeper into the selection criteria applied by authors when using, i.e. researching and reading, publications for their academic work. In order to illustrate authors’ research and reading practices, we will present results from a factor analysis displaying varying selection criteria by authors when choosing to use publications for their work. In addition, authors’ views on and awareness of open access as a publication medium that is not only digital, but also easily accessible and free of charge, will be presented. Finally, we will close our presentation by outlining selected results regarding authors’ opinions on print publications as opposed to the digital format of academic literature.
The empirical database of our research project is based on a mixed methods design, combining qualitative and quantitative research methods. In order to explore the research field qualitatively, we conducted structured group discussions in the form of focus groups with academic researchers from the field of VET at different locations in Germany (cf. Krueger/Casey 2014), who were primarily addressed in their capacity as authors. Group discussion were analysed using qualitative content analysis (cf. Mayring 2014; Kuckartz 2018). The objective of the group discussions was to identify researchers’ publishing, research and reading practices in the face of OA, thereby paving the way to uncover conditions affecting their attitude towards the OA publication model. We propose that these technical and structural conditions, policy-related and normative conditions, as well as conditions inherent academic research system may play an important part in how researchers of VET research view OA. Following the exploration of the research field through group discussions, the project team built an online questionnaire, into which they fed results from the group discussion analysis. The online questionnaire was sent out to approximately 5.000 academic researchers who were either members of relevant academic societies, research associations and institutions or were listed as authors of VET research publications, e.g. in BIBB’s VET Repository, in the Spring of 2020. The response rate of the survey was rather high with 32% of respondents participating and 22% completing the survey. Consequently, our analysis is based on responses from over 1.000 researchers from the field of vocational education and training. In order to account for differences in academic experience in publishing and researching literature based on academic status, age or gender, participants’ demographics were included in the survey. This enabled the research team to thoroughly grasp and further describe the sample and consider respondents’ social and academic backgrounds.
The analysis of the online survey reveals different types of research communication practices, i.e. of literature publishing, literature research and reading practices among authors of VET research. Our data demonstrate how authors vary in applying publishing practices and preferences depending on their academic status and experience, affecting issues such as choice of publication medium and quality assurance procedures to varying degrees. Moreover, we are able to identify the criteria most important to respondents when researching literature as readers and as part of their academic work. Finally, we take a closer look at the role of open access, i.e. attitudes, concerns and prevailing knowledge on this digital publication format among respondents, thereby zooming in on the technical and structural, policy-related and normative conditions, as well as conditions inherent in the academic research system influencing the acceptance, dissemination and use of OA in VET research.
Mayring, P. (2015) Qualitative Inhaltsanalyse. Grundlagen und Techniken. [Qualitative Content Analysis. Foundations and Techniques]. (12th ed.). Weinheim, Germany: Beltz. Krueger, R. A., & Casey, M. A. (2015). Focus Groups. A practical guide for applied research (5th ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications. Kuckartz, U. (2018). Qualitative Inhaltsanalyse. Methoden, Praxis, Computerunterstützung. [Qualitative Content Analysis. Methods, Practices, Computerized Support]. (4th ed.). Weinheim, Germany: Beltz. Sloane, P. (2006). Berufsbildungsforschung. [Vocational Education and Training Research]. In: ARNOLD, Rolf; LIPSMEIER, Antonius (Hrsg.): Handbuch der Berufsbildung. [Handbook of Vocational Education and Training Research]. (2nd ed.). Wiesbaden, Germany: Springer; pp. 610-627. Weiß, R. (2008). Nach der Evaluation ist vor der Evaluation. Zur Berufsbildungsforschung im BIBB [Evaluation is always followed by another evaluation. On vocational education and training research at BIBB]. In Neue Forschungsverständnisse in den Sozialwissenschaften. Konsequenzen für die Berufsbildungsforschung im Bundesinstitut für Berufsbildung [New Research Understandings in the Social Sciences. Consequences for Vocational Education and Training Research at the Federal Institute for Vocational Education and Training]; Euler, D., Howaldt, G., Reinmann, G., Weiß, R., Eds.; Bundesinstitut für Berufsbildung: Bonn, Germany; pp. 75–93, ISBN 078-3-88555-825-5. Available online: http://www.bibb.de/dokumente/pdf/WDP_94_Screen.pdf (accessed on 25 April 2017).
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