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Scientific Framing of Curriculum Research: Experts or Algorithms?
Inland Norway University of Applied Sciences (INN University), Norway.
University of Gävle, Faculty of Education and Business Studies, Department of Educational sciences, Educational science, Education.ORCID iD: 0000-0001-6594-6145
Departement of Education, Uppsala University, Uppsala, Sweden.
2017 (English)Conference paper, Oral presentation with published abstract (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

Mapping research in relation to research interest is a common act of performing a research review. This kind of activity is an important part of being a researcher both to portray the competence of knowing a field and to frame specific research theoretically and analytically. The act of showing belongingness and relationship to different paradigms and thinkers (Kuhn, 1962) or various epistemic cultures (Knorr-Cetina, 1999) has over time been given different forms within the community of research. In relation to the act of framing research by different systematic research strategies we raise questions on: who inhabits and cultivates the field of curriculum research according to different strategies for scientific communication? Our theoretical framework is based on an argument that acknowledge the importance of investigating scientific reasoning (Hacking, 1992) and epistemic cultures (Knorr-Cetina, 1999) for understanding the intellectual organizing of knowledge, and by that exemplify how scientific ‘facts’ and ‘truths’ are constructed and legitimized, which is knowledge perceived as ‘common sense’ (cf. Gramsci 1992) within different scientific fields.

We investigate four common systematic research strategies for performing research reviews, most used and reproduced within the community of researchers. We have first the handbooks where experts of a specific field are given the legitimacy to portray a specific field of research; second, the systematic search strategies performed with the help of various databases such as e.g. Web of Science, Scopus or ERIC; third, the investigating act of systematically browsing through research journals of special interest within a specific field, and fourth, the systematic research reviews performed by special institutes set up for performing these tasks, such as e.g. Danish Clearinghouse or EPPI centre, which in turn are used as a source by some researchers for illustrating the findings of more restricted and specific research questions.

Focusing on four different forms of performing systematic research reviews we describe, analyze and compare the various forms with regards to:

  • how knowledge of/in a research field is constructed,
  • what kind of research that is selected and privileged

 In particular, we are interested in the potential movement of research reviews from an act of collective ‘intellectualizing’ among ‘experts’ to an act of ‘technologizing’ dependent on algorithms and terminology embedded in various databases, in which the amount of data is more important in ‘evidence-making’ than the perceived expertise of the source. To put it differently, the databases with their vast aggregation of data, organized by algorithms and terminology, are perceived as the authority and not the authors or the epistemic cultures in which the authors are embedded.

We use the field of curriculum research to elaborate on the different forms of research reviews and their consequences for knowledge produced. Within the field of curriculum research, handbooks have had a dominant position in describing the field. Also, explicit research reviews within different journals have been important among researchers in the framing of the field of curriculum. However, in the contemporary, bibliometric analyses grounded in database searches and systematic research review performed by special institutes are more and more employed. 

Method

Dependent on which strategies used by researchers for framing different research fields we especially hypothesize on the importance of epistemic cultures and how these epistemic cultures historically have transported research, and how this is transformed, or even disappeared, with the entrance of various databases. First, we chose the collaborative act of ‘experts’ producing handbooks as an example of ‘intellectualizing’ dependent on that some researchers are given, or have taken, the role of ‘experts’. Second, we perform bibliometric searches, for reason of illuminating variances, by using Web of Science and Scopus as examples of ‘technologizing’, where databases more than individual researchers or research groups have transformed into the epistemic culture per se. Third, we will systematically browsing through research journals within the curriculum research field using explicit research reviews, within different journals (e.g. Journal of Curriculum Studies, Curriculum Inquiry, Educational Reviewer). This has been an important practice among researchers within the field of curriculum and hence it is important to capture this approach for framing the field. Fourth, we will analyze some systematic research reviews from special institutes (e.g. Danish Clearinghouse or EPPI centre) addressing curriculum research questions This has to a growing extent become a regular way to produce research reviews. Consequently, we are in a position to elaborate on how the field of curriculum research is portrayed by using different strategies for framing a research. This is most important for understanding how the field of curriculum research today is reproduced in various research settings.

Expected Outcomes

The preliminary results indicate that for example the use of handbooks portrays the curriculum field by mostly internationally well-recognized curriculum theory researchers, with resembling results for the use of review articles. The use of Web of Science and Scopus to map the curriculum field portrays both a broader and a narrower picture of the field, where more subject specific topics are included while some research is excluded as a consequence of the character of the corpus of journals and data in the databases. This leads to a picture of the curriculum field where actors are publishing on topics and journals more loosely connected to the core for what can be called curriculum research, this since subject specific topics are not in the same way highlighted in the handbooks. The findings of the reviews from the institutes are still to be elaborated. However, the findings so far indicate that there are important differences in the way a field is portrayed depending on which approach is applied. In sum, the results indicate that the approaches we apply shape how a field is portrayed, and by that also how a specific research field can be interpreted and understood. This is important knowledge and should have consequences for example in the way we guide PhD candidates for performing a systematic research review, as well as adding to researchers’ knowledge of the complexity and challenge of the task. It also indicates notions on how a research field is framed in the contemporary, is it made by ‘experts’ of the field or by algorithms and database specific terminology, which is situated outside well-recognized epistemic cultures? What are the consequences of this movement from defining frames of a research field among peers into a technologizing of this act?

References

Gramsci, A. (1992) Prison Notebook. G. Lawrence & Wishart: London.

Hacking, I. (1992). 'Style' of historians and philosophers. Studies in the History and Philosophy of Science, 23(1), 1-20.

Knorr Cetina, K. (1999) Epistemic Cultures: How the Science Make Knowledge. Harvard University Press.

Kuhn, T (1962) The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. Chicago: University of Chicago Press

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2017.
National Category
Pedagogy
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:hig:diva-27208OAI: oai:DiVA.org:hig-27208DiVA, id: diva2:1221552
Conference
ECER 2017 'Reforming Education and the Imperative of Constant Change: Ambivalent roles of policy and educational research', 21-25 August 2017, Copenhagen, Denmark
Available from: 2018-06-20 Created: 2018-06-20 Last updated: 2019-10-04Bibliographically approved

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