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Micro-Level Qualitative Indicators for RNPE

Mapping research networks can show the members’ position, the intensity and quality of connections, and the level of accessibility and knowledge sharing (Cross et al., 2001; Heimeriks et al., 2003; Hoekman et al., 2010). Some networks mechanisms and processes are identified as crucial such as communication, collaboration, and competition (Bornmann et al.,

2008; Garfield, 1972; Garfield et al., 1978; Grossman, 2002; Heimeriks et al., 2003; Hood and Wilson, 2001; Katz and Martin, 1997; Leydesdorff and Persson, 2010; Luo, 2007); and motivation, coordination, and leadership (Bakken et al., 2009; Hagen et al., 2011; Jayasingam et al., 2010; Yukl, 2008).

We cannot always find in the literature specific measures to deal with collaboration in the egocentric network participatory analysis. Perhaps this is because some researchers, mainly from exact areas of sciences, have a fear of the lack of objectivity in qualitative indicators. We reply with the obvious argument that any indicator may be mathematized, transformed into a quantitative one, and seen through statistical procedures. For the fiercest critics, we clarify that RNPE comes to evaluating behavior and attitudes, relationship between people who develop a unique activity as the new scientific knowledge production activity in all areas of knowledge. We also remember that when making an evaluation collaborative activity in research networks will ultimately be regarded as always evaluating the knowledge groups and networks produce the results you get. In this sense, it is worth remembering the principles to guide the evaluation of research proposed by the Leiden Manifesto (Hicks et al., 2015), which can be seen in Chap. 5.

Integrating results of the literature review, about indicators, with the valuable suggestions collected from the practice of excellence researchers (expert on conducting research and on building research networks), we present a proposal for micro-level qualitative indicators for RNPE (Table 6.3).

Differently from the quantitative indicators, qualitative ones can be directly discussed with people. Each suggested indicator is self-explainable and can be enriched by the evaluation of the participating members. They can be transported to an individual evaluation form and can be freely discussed in group meetings. They can integrate workshops, meetings, and evaluation seminars in which subgroups reveal their positions and aspirations from the motivation brought by these indicators. They may compose the script of an analysis made by a senior researcher during a working meeting. It is important that these indicators should be creatively used in an RNPE. The tendency of RNPE is to encourage group cohesion and the sense of belonging, necessary for the maintenance, development, and qualification of the research network.

In addition to the quantitative and qualitative indicators, there is a wealth of information in the literature that may contribute to RNPE. Remember that participatory evaluation, dialogue, and discussion with

Table 6.3 Micro-level qualitative indicators for RNPE

Indicator

Description

Motivation

Themes; publications; network’s prestige; personal and epistemological affinities among researchers; taking part in a consolidated group or network.

Interest and competition

Themes; graduate training; laboratories; leader’s position and other members’ positions in relation to the leader.

Communication

Fluid, permanent, constant; access to knowledge, access to methodologies; ethical principles; information on objectives, findings, results, difficulties and restrictions; critiques

Cohesion

Routine and work division maintenance and balance; personal conflicts management; epistemic clarity; routine and task execution monitoring

Scientific cooperation or collaboration

Continuous, discontinuous, punctual (one-project-only), guided by personal affinities, guided by knowledge complementarity, common projects with diverse entities (firms, universities, foundations, NGOs), bilateral or multilateral cooperation, benefits and fragilities

Interaction

Teamwork: inside the work, teaming-up, each one does their

part

Horizontal interaction: same or similar-level research topics; same-level agreements

Vertical interaction: sequential research; themes between students (apprentice) and researchers (experts)

Exchange of ideas, tasks, resources

Discussion: individual work (accounts, calculations,

equations) brought to the collective discussion—what is to be done; interpretation of findings; newideas; decisions on what to do with the results; decisions on self-evaluation

Incentives

Rules (and incentives) setting and their divulgation; transparent distribution of financial, organizational, thematic, bibliographic and physical resources; coauthorships

Research themes

Multi, trans, interdisciplinarity; themes diversification; national and international dimensions of the research themes; societal impact of themes

Time

Intragroup production; extragroup collaboration; deadline setting; management and enforcement; time management

Coauthorship policy

Organization and division of tasks; decision about research topics to be exposed; writing responsibilities; authorship order; student presence in articles

Table 6.3 (continued)

Indicator

Description

Coauthorship work share

Discussion; interpretation; writing; wording; copy editing; proofreading; version; commentaries to be observed

Leadership and knowledge management

Knowledge integrative vision, findings and results

management, epistemic rigor and vigilance, task division, accountability, fostering of interaction, and collaboration and cohesion of research groups and networks

Source: The authors, 2016

members, the actors of collaborative networks, all should be permanent, in-person or via the Internet. In phases 4 and 5, we obtain internal results and can disseminate them in workshops, colloquium, and meetings with RN people. Whenever we get objective measures to deliberate, we are planning for excellence. Frequent evaluative communication favors the production of knowledge, contributes to achieving a strong science performance, and at the same time it adds to education of new generations with the induction of self-practices and self-requirements of ethical personal behavior and of good habits in scientific practices. Conclusively, participation maintains the cohesion, formation, and integration of members.

 
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