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European research networks in vocational education and training

An analysis of participation and network relations 

Introduction

The following analysis of project related networks in vocational education is a joint undertaking which has arisen out of two research contexts: 

  • data collection and accompanying studies on European project work in vocational education, which have been undertaken by the Research Forum WIFO in collaboration with CEDEFOP and its Research Arena (CEDRA) for the last five years (see ERO Gateway);
  • a study, carried out at the Institute for Business Studies, Free University Berlin, investigating the relationship between actors and networks in the media industry; this study provides both the research framework and the empirical tools for the network analysis (see project outline).
The first of the accompanying studies on project work in vocational education (see presentation 2002) was concerned with European communities of researchers, guided by the following research questions: What are the major forms of collaboration (types of 'community')? How is the membership of these communities structured in terms of country of origin and gender? To what extent are individual researchers involved in various collaborative activities (communities)? 

The present study is related to a similar context of communities and researchers, but it focuses on the relationship between these researchers in selected networks. Networks are essential for facilitating collaboration, exchange of knowledge and mutual learning. How have research networks in vocational education developed across Europe? What are the patterns of participation and involvement of researchers in project partnerships, thematic networks and publishing teams? The analysis in this presentation centres on European research project partnerships and three networks which have had particular impact on promoting collaboration between researchers: FORUM, CEDRA and VETNET (see annex for details). 

The analysis has been supported by applying UCINET, a Windows programme for matrix and social network analysis (Info). A brief guide to the network analysis is enclosed as PDF document (Analysing project-based research networks).

The major outcome of this analysis is expected to support efforts of efficient and productive collaboration among European researchers in vocational education and training. What matters in this context is to produce both sound analytical results (also as a contribution to more general research on networks etc) and concrete outcomes, to be taken up by network coordinators and other actors in European VET research. 

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