ECER 2002 VETNET Roundtable

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View charts on European communities of VET and HRD researchers

Sabine Manning, ERO Moderator
Toni Griffiths, Chair of the Board of VETNET 

Roundtable on the role of networks

Tracing communities of VET and HRD researchers in Europe

A roundtable of European networks and partnerships in VET and HRD, provided as part of the European Research Overview (ERO) and hosted by VETNET
ECER 2002, Lisbon, Friday 13 September 2002, 13:00 to 14:00 hours, Fac. PES - Room 10



The VETNET roundtable at ECER, now in its 5th year, addresses coordinators and members of European networks and project partnerships involved in research on vocational education and training (VET) and human resource development (HRD). It is intended to facilitate information sharing and collaboration among researchers who are active in a diverse and changing pattern of project work. This initiative is supported by the platform of the European Research Overview (ERO) developed as part of the CEDEFOP Research Arena (CEDRA).

The special subject of debate this year is the profile of European research communities of VET and HRD based on an initial survey of researchers and networks in this field. Its outcome raises issues of how to develop strategies for networking and community building.

Outline: European communities of VET and HRD researchers

Since the mid-nineties considerable efforts have been made by the European Commission, CEDEFOP, EERA and other organisations, to promote research collaboration in VET and HRD and to build a community of researchers in Europe. However, the perception of this 'community' has been rather vague. In a first attempt at capturing its shape, ERO related data of researchers (n= 893) have been analysed, 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 main outcome of this survey will be presented diagrammatically (view set of charts). Below, selected observations are set out which may be taken up in discussion at the roundtable.

(1) There is no overall community of researchers; instead, there are various individual communities which (potentially) support each other in developing interrelations between researchers. While the 'close' type of community (e.g. FORUM) promotes targeted collaboration, the 'loose' type (e.g. ERO-Call) supports long-term communication.

(2) There is a common pattern of country representation, with a low proportion of researchers from Central-Eastern and Southern Europe and also France. The exceptional profile of certain 'close' communities (e.g. high proportion of French authors in the Research Report team) draws attention to alternative ways of stimulating involvement. 

(3) If the country representation of researchers is judged against the overall population concerned, countries show  widely differing proportions (with Finland at the top and Spain at the bottom of EU countries). This may reflect both internal national ratios and specific European levels of activity.

(4) The pattern of gender representation in networks is remarkably varied (the proportion of women ranging from about 1/5 in Cedra to ½ in VET&Culture). However, there is an equal proportion among authors in the ECER/VETNET proceedings. 

(5) The degree of 'community' involvement of individual researchers has been measured in terms of their membership of networks or publication teams. The proportion of the highly involved researchers (2 or more memberships) is small (7 per cent of the total sample of researchers). This suggests that collaboration across various communities goes along with a concentration of activity among a few ‘multi-functional’ researchers.

Note: The results of the survey and the views expressed above are those of the author, Sabine Manning.


The roundtable is an open event, combining the general purpose of a meeting point of collaborating researchers and the special aim of discussing the survey.

In the first part of the session, the participants are asked briefly to introduce themselves, to describe their activities in research projects, partnerships and networks, and to address issues and problems related to these activities. This exchange is carried out around the table, while a form for filling in project data to be included in the ERO Base is being circulated. 

In the second part, the moderator takes up selected issues put forward by the survey outlined above. The major outcome of the second part of the roundtable should be greater awareness of how everyone can both benefit from and contribute to collaboration in European research, supported by ERO and VETNET.

We are looking forward to your active participation in the ECER 2002 Roundtable!

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Set up: 18/07/2002
  Latest update: 06/10/2002
 Contact: Sabine Manning