Transitions in the manifestations of the research culture of Spanish universities

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Abstract

© 2016 HERDSA. Universities must adapt to the challenges of social competitiveness and its new demands but there is still little evidence of how these changes are perceived by the academics. This paper provides insight on this matter and analyses the research culture of five Spanish universities from the perspective of the different academic bodies. A qualitative methodology was employed in the study based on 43 in-depth interviews with institutional leaders (vice-rectors and managers), responsible for research activity, (directors of research centres) and individual researchers (doctoral and postdoctoral researchers). The results point to a clear change in the institutional mission that moves from an institutional model where teaching and research cohabitate together towards another where research activity intensifies. The manifestations of the new research culture is characterised by the quest for efficiency and competitiveness at all levels and bodies. Despite the changes in the university model, participants perceive that the traditional and new models coexist and affect the university structure, the functioning of the centres and departments and the dynamics of the research teams which causes dissatisfaction of the researchers that in this context have to deal with the increasing pressure to publish and obtain external funding to assure ‘survival’. The research culture is also characterised as one that moves towards the scarcity of support measures for training, the confusion perceived between the political discourse and academic practice and the attempt to reposition the university in a social context, through redefining its role and fostering transfer activities.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)311-324
JournalHigher Education Research and Development
Volume36
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 23 Feb 2017

Keywords

  • Higher education
  • research culture
  • researchers
  • university

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