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Political Control: A Way Forward for Educational Research?

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Educational research in the UK has for some time been criticised in terms of both its relevance and its quality. Indeed, these issues of relevance and quality have been presented by some critics as linked with each other. One way forward that has been suggested is greater political (and thereby user and practitioner) control of research and its funding. This would presumably ensure the immediate practical relevance of future work, encourage flexibility of approach, and remove some responsibility from the ‘dead-hand’ of academic departments of educational research. This paper considers some of the counter-arguments, and contrary evidence, to this approach. It presents examples of projects by teachers, a large-scale study of teacher effectiveness contracted to consultants by the DfEE (as it then was), and of political self-censorship by intellectual fields. On this basis the paper suggests that the link between quality and relevance in research has been exaggerated, and that increasing political control of academic research alone is unlikely to lead to a marked improvement in quality.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Cardiff University

Publication date: 2002-09-01

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