22 SES 02 D, Academic Work and Professional Development
The project arose from a Donald Bligh funded workshop series about newer researchers working in the academic field of higher education. In 2012 we interviewed 42 such researchers, mostly from Europe and mainly working in publicly-funded institutions. We were interested in the educational and professional experiences of these researchers, how aware they were of current higher education policies and how such policies might be affecting them now and in future and whether they were involved in trying to shape policy (or wanted to do so in future). The context of this study is one whereby many publicly-funded European higher education systems are significantly cutting back on expenditure but where the numbers of newer researchers in the field of higher education still appears to be growing. The project also gives us some insights into how newer researchers might be contributing to the development of social science knowledge around higher education in Europe and committing to trying to change it. Many had identified a practical or practitioner problem to research for their doctorate. Not all had studied in institutions with research groups working in the same field. A good proportion had no background in the social sciences and came from a variety of disciplinary backgrounds.
Literature review and conceptual framework
Changes to HE policies influence the lives of both experienced and newer researchers ( Leisyte, Enders et al. 2008) but whilst established researchers can often adapt to and even benefit from new circumstances ( Bleiklie 2012), this can be more difficult for newcomers, particularly when as at present, the financial conditions of the Eurozone countries are threatening future careers and system as well as institutional stability. Despite this, newer researchers in HE may not always be fully apprised of recent policy changes to HE (Archer 2008). The effect of policies is also experienced differently in terms of the roles newer researchers hold, whether as student, administrator or new lecturer/researcher (Turner and McAlpine 2011). In the paper we draw conceptually on work in schools which examines the different relationships that those working in educational institutions establish with policy (Ball, Maguire et al. 2011a; Ball, Maguire et al. 2011b), which can broadly summarised in terms of being policy actors or more passive receivers of policy (policy subjects). We also look at the nature of the academic field of higher education as a subject-based ‘tribe’ ( Abbott 2001; Trowler, Saunders et al. 2012) in which practical and practitioner concerns are more important than theory ( Tight 2012) and where institutional leaders may resist learning from research (Deem 2006a). Finally, we also examine the extent to which newer researchers in higher education are building up both academic (social capital) and scientific capital in their contested academic fields (Bourdieu 1988) and how this might relate to their potential role in building a future for European higher education.
Abbott, A. (2001). The Chaos of Disciplines. Chicago, University of Chicago Press. Archer, L. (2008). "Younger academics' constructions of 'authenticity', 'success' and professional identity." Studies in Higher Education 33(4): 385-403. Ball, S., M. Maguire, A. Braun and K. Hoskins (2011b). "Policy actors: doing policy work in schools." Discourse 32(4): 625-639. Ball, S., M. Maguire, K. Hoskins and A. Braun (2011a). "Policy subjects and policy actors in schools: some necessary but insufficient analyses." Discourse 32(4): 611-624. Bleiklie, I. (2012). Collegiality and Hierarchy: Coordinating Principles in Higher Education The Global University. Ed A. Nelson and I. Wei. New York, Palgrave Macmillan: 85-104. Bourdieu, P. (1988). Homo Academicus. Cambridge, Polity Press. Clegg, S. (2012). "Conceptualising higher education research and/or academic development as ‘fields’: a critical analysis." Higher Education Research & Development 31(5): 667-678. Crossouard, B. (2010). "The (re-)positioning of the doctorate through the eyes of newly-qualified researchers." Twenty-First Century Society: Journal of the Academy of Social Sciences 5(3): 197-214. Deem, R. (2006a). "Changing research perspectives on the management of higher education: can research permeate the activities of manager-academics?" Higher Education Quarterly 60(3): 203 - 228. Enders, J. (2004). "Research Training and careers in transition: A European perspective on the many faces of the PhD." Studies in Continuing Education 26(3): 419-429. Leisyte, L., J. Enders and H. Boer de (2008). "The Freedom to Set Research Agendas — Illusion and Reality of the Research Units in the Dutch Universities. ." Higher Education Policy 21(3): 377-391. Tight, M. (2012). "Discipline And Theory In Higher Education ." Research Papers in Education(IFirst): 1-18 Trowler, P., M. Saunders and V. Bamber, Eds. (2012). Tribes and territories in the 21st-century: Rethinking the significance of disciplines in higher education. London, Routledge. Turner, G. and L. McAlpine (2011). "Doctoral experience as researcher preparation: activities, passion, status." International Journal for Researcher Development 2(1): 46-60.
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