Harnessing the Slipstream: Building Educational Research Capacity in Northern Ireland. Size Matters

Nov. 01, 2009

Source: Journal of Education for Teaching, Volume 35, Issue 4 November 2009, p. 355 - 371.

Northern Ireland is uniquely distinguished from England, Scotland and Wales, by being a society in transition, emerging from a prolonged period of civil conflict and political instability that has affected its infrastructure and has increased the need for co-ordinated and specialist research.

This article traces some of the systemic challenges and opportunities for educational research capacity building that arise from Northern Ireland being uniquely positioned as a small polity. It also critically appraises how initiatives elsewhere to build capacity in teacher education, while providing valuable exemplars, are unlikely to transfer readily to this context.

Rather, building on an expanded definition of research capacity, Northern Ireland needs to capitalize cautiously on the current climate of openness between policy-maker and researcher communities. In so doing, the goals are to develop a shared, cohesive agenda, provide a sound evidence base, improve research support and harness the strengths and pockets of excellence that exist.

All of these should simultaneously meet local research priorities, address the developmental capacity building needs of local researchers, while at the same time contributing to local, national and international knowledge production.

Updated: Nov. 09, 2009