Ten Themes

What is research capacity? Research capacity and TEL SPNECRE Tens of things

In a series of seminars, focus groups and interviews, groups of researchers involved in cross-disciplinary projects (some describing themselves as interdisciplinary, others as multi-disciplinary) or who had ‘discipline-hopped’ and had to adapt to new norms and practices, described what the ‘points of focus’ were for discussion, controversy, ‘creative’ tensions and in some cases breakdowns in communication and collaboration.

These were often the issues, concepts and terms that highlighted differences, or where careful examination revealed similarities; in some cases, our participants reported, these were areas where only after some considerable time did people realise that “we may be using the same words, but we mean very different things”.

Without suggesting that alarm bells should ring every time any of these words is mentioned at a meeting of TEL researchers, these may be worth some consideration. Do we understand these in the same ways? If not, can we articulate how they are understood and enacted? What do these different understandings bring to our collaborations? Is it important that we reach an agreed meaning, or is recognition of difference a more important and valuable outcome?

Learning
What are the different views, metaphors and theories of learners and learning that are used?

Participation
What is the nature and purpose of participation, what are its limits and how does it contribute to research quality?

Design
Can learning activities and learning outcomes be designed in the same way as software systems or other technology?

Ethics
What is the role of ethical frameworks: qualification to conduct research, framing for the research, or part of the emergent research process?

Technology in research
What are the benefits of using technology in research processes (data collection, analysis, communication) and what new challenges and issues does it raise?

Evidence
What counts as evidence and how is it used in support of claims made by researchers?

Quality
How is high quality research recognised and what is the role of peer review and publication in this?

Accountability
What are the responsibilities of individuals and research groups to funders, participants, and potential research beneficiaries?

Ownership
Who owns research data, research outcomes and holds intellectual property rights; who adjudicates in the event of contestation of these?

Inter-, Cross- and Multi-disciplinary Working
How can we frame working practices across disciplines in relation to all of the above? Is the intention to solve a common problem, gain insights into our own practice, create new knowledge, or some combination of these?

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