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Mapping HRD and VET research across Europe
Thematic patterns derived from a project analysis

Sabine Manning - Research Forum WIFO Berlin
April 2007

Download study in PDF from the ERO Base in the ETV

Introduction (see below)
Section 1 - Range of research topics
Section 2 - Thematic aspects of research
Section 3 - Structure of the research field
Main outcomes

Annex > [Abbreviations] [Descriptors] [Research areas]



This study is a contribution to mapping HRD and VET related research, as part of a Cedefop supported project, carried out in the context of the European Research Overview (ERO). It is based on data provided by EU country reports (ERO National Research Reports - ENRRs) which have been supplied by the ReferNet, a Cedefop network of experts (see Reference). Detailed information on the ENRR projects under investigation can be obtained from the box below.
 Information on the ENRR projects

 > Go to Overview
 > Find column [3] Issues/ projects
 > Select a country and click the link [3] leading to section 3: Annex
 > View list of projects (including links leading to full details in the ERO Base)


The present study aims to trace thematic patterns of HRD and VET research derived from a project analysis. This analysis is based on a representative selection of research projects provided by the national experts who prepared the ENRRs of 2006. Their task was to compile, for each country, about ten projects regarded as important in the national context of HRD/VET research and development (R&D). These could be either national projects or EU supported projects coordinated by an institution in the country concerned. 
Altogether, the study involves a total of 221 projects, mostly referring to the year 2005, compiled from 23 countries. Of particular interest in this study is the comparison between two groups of EU countries: those who formed the EU before the extension of 2004 ('old' countries) and those who joined the EU in 2004 ('new' countries). The table below sums up the numbers of countries and projects involved, and the following figure shows the total sample of ENRR projects broken down by country.

Table 1
ENRR projects and countries involved in the investigation
  Old New Total Old countries New countries Total
Number 14 9 23 141 80 221
Percentage 61% 39% 100% 64% 36% 100%

Figure 1
Breakdown of ENRR projects (n=221) by country
'New' EU countries marked red; 'old' EU countries marked blue


Another special feature of this analysis is the comparison of outcomes with those of earlier studies included in the ERO series of mapping HRD and VET related research. These studies have attempted to identify thematic patterns and trends of research based on various evidence, in particular data related to projects contained in the ERO Base, to EU supported projects, to papers presented at European conferences, and to national institutions of R&D.
The following table provides an overview of the ERO mapping studies, including brief terms which will serve as reference both in the comparative analysis and in the figures below. 

Table 2
ERO studies: Mapping HRD and VET related research
Brief term Title of study (incl. author and year of publication) Investigated data (incl. source, years concerned and number of items) Publication details
ENRR projects Mapping HRD and VET research across Europe: Thematic patterns derived from a project analysis (Manning, 2007) R&D projects, selected in ENRRs, project period around 2005, total 221 projects/ 23 countries Study presented on-line 2007 
Web page
ENRR institutions Mapping HRD and VET research across Europe: Issues arising from an institutional analysis (Manning, 2006) Profile of institutions related to HRD/VET research, selected for ENRRs 2005, total 250 institutions/ 22 countries Theses presented at ECER 2006 (Geneva); 
Web page
ERO Base projects Overview of new member states activities in VET and HRD research (Vicenik, 2005) R&D projects, contained in ERO Base, up to 2005, total 179 projects/ 27 countries (old and new) Paper presented at ECER 2005 (Dublin)
Web page
EU projects Thematic profile of European research in vocational education: EU projects and VETNET ECER papers in comparison (Manning, 2004) EU supported projects, 1995 to 2003, total 30 Paper presented at ECER 2004 (Crete);
Web page
ECER papers Papers of the VETNET programme at ECER 1998 to 2003, total 131


The thematic analysis of the ENRR projects has been carried out by applying descriptors. These have been developed, as part of ERO, for mapping the contents of research resources in VET and HRD. Starting out from an original set of 12 descriptors, still used in the ERO Base, a more differentiated set of 25 descriptors has been applied for thematic analysis (see Descriptors of VET and HRD research). These descriptors serve to identify individual 'topics' of research (section 1 below) and, grouped by category, to present general 'aspects' of research (section 2 below). 

Furthermore, the thematic pattern of the ENRR projects is analysed according to major 'areas' of research (section 3 below). These areas have been defined as part of mapping the broad field of VET and HRD (see Areas of European research in VET and HRD). 

The following three sections provide the outcome, including the evidence presented in figures, of the comparative study:

1 - Range of research topics: This section produces the 'landscape' of research related to ENRR projects, also in comparison with EU projects, and highlights specific features of old and new countries, with a comparative reference to ERO Base projects.

2 - Thematic aspects of research (groups of topics): This section identifies the major orientation of themes addressed by ENRR projects, including comparisons with the thematic orientation of ENRR institutions, EU projects and ECER papers, and draws attention to specific features of old and new countries.

3 - Structure of the research field: This section focuses on the main areas of research, in particular the proportions between HRD and VET related themes, which characterise ENRR projects, compared to ENRR institutions, in both old and new countries. 

Go to > [Section 1] [Section 2] [Section 3] [Main outcomes] [Abbreviations] [Descriptors] [Research areas]

Set up: 10/04/2007
Update: 15/04/2008
Editor: Sabine Manning  © WIFO