23 SES 06 B, Research Policies
In most western countries, currently R&D policies embrace a performance-based research funding in which evaluation is a central regulatory instrument of the scientific systems (Ozga, Seddon & Popkewitz, 2006). The growing of indirect financial provisions, the competitive performance indicators, the evaluation based on bibliometric criteria and publishing in refereed journals, have become central in scientific activity (Vincent-Lancrin, 2006). Often justified by the importance of knowledge in public policies as well as the need for more accountability, these measures tend to emphasize an instrumental character to educational research (Ozga, 2011; Lawn & Grek, 2012). In fact, transnational agencies, as OECD (2003), recommend a use-inspired basic research to solve contemporary educational issues. These trends reinforce a global standardisation on research topics, agendas and methodologies (Amos et al, 2002) and raise the “deployment of new kinds of ‘research’ knowledge” based in a performativity for education research (Ball, 2010, p. 124).
In this communication I will present an exploratory study focused on the strategies developed by educational researchers around these trends in R&D policies: How educational researchers conceive R&D policies? What kind of strategies do they develop? Do they play the game or are they get played by it?
The research questions rely on a conceptual framework that claims researchers as strategic actors (Crozier and Friedberg, 1979) with personal agendas and interests; the game is conceived as a mechanism of integration between researchers and R&D policies trends. Moreover, the strategies developed by researchers are themselves perceived as political, and part of the 'policy cycle’, as Bowe, Ball & Gold (1992) propose, considering that it is in the context of the practices that policy is interpreted and reinvented according to the actor experiences, values and interests. In the same way, Reynaud (2003) refers to autonomous regulation to describe how the local actors receive and (re)adjust to control mechanisms according to their interests, seeking to maintain or achieve margins of autonomy.
Considering the Portuguese scenario, an exploratory study was conducted to achieve two objectives. First, to capture in R&D policies transnational trends described above, I’ve focused on governmental R&D policies of the last 20 years, particularly the regulatory action taken by Foundation to Science and Technology (FCT), a central agency responsible for putting into action the main R&D policies, namely for funding and evaluation. Second, to understand how educational researchers conceive and strategically reinvent R&D policies, I’ve taken an exploratory approach on the R&D units* to seek indicators that could reveal researchers strategies, namely through the adhesion to FCT funding programs, reactions to FCT evaluations and changes in the organizational dynamics of R&D units, taking into account the constraints that the new R&D policies put on researchers (Brown & Schubert, 2000).
*- R&D units are recognized by the State as the prime units of the scientific system when it comes to funding and evaluation. There are 15 R&D units dedicated to “educational sciences and policies”. In most cases, these units are attached to a higher educational institution, that is, most of the researches of a unit are also university colleagues.
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