The establishment of formal research groups in higher education institutions
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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This article explores the significance for academic staff members of research groups established and formalised as part of research strategies at university faculties. It also explores the levels of participation and stresses the importance of such group-related activities with regard to the level of participation, perceived impact on research quality and researcher training. The study is based on data from a survey and in-depth interviews with academic staff at Norwegian universities as well as document reviews. It provides evidence that formalised research groups can have a positive effect on the quality of individual research as well as researcher training. The study reveals significant differences between fields of science with regard to the importance of such groups for research activities and quality. Nevertheless, it finds that they contribute to more institution-based research, and also in subjects and qualifications where the research has primarily been conducted on an individual basis, such as in the humanities. These groups cannot simply be understood as a legitimating device for scientific communities due to changing funding and steering criteria; rather they manifest themselves as modes of academic work serving as a supplement to, rather than substitute for, other forms of cooperation.