The Australian Educational Researcher

, Volume 40, Issue 4, pp 493–507 | Cite as

Changing boundaries—Shifting identities: Strategic interventions to enhance the future of educational research in Australia

  • Neil Harrison
  • Sue Bennett
  • Dawn Bennett
  • Janette Bobis
  • Philip Chan
  • Terri Seddon
  • Sue Shore


This paper reflects on the geography of Australian educational research in the context of the ERA 2010 and 2012 assessments results. These results reflect significant changes to the nature of educational research over the past decades, where this research is conducted and by whom. We recap the historical changes to the formation of educational institutions and their impact on research outputs to demonstrate that interdisciplinary work is growing in a context where there has been a shift in research outputs away from the traditional area of school education. The ERA results demonstrate a high level of research activity in the intersections between previously distinct discipline areas, particularly in the scholarship of teaching and learning. The future of ERA itself is addressed in order to propose interventions that might make a difference to an ecology that is anchored in traditions and tends towards inertia. Finally, we argue that efforts by universities to build research capacity are likely to continue to be competitive, to focus on the individual rather than on departments and schools, and to be subject to an increasingly pervasive culture of accountability. Against this discourse of accountability, and an accompanying loss in autonomy and creative ‘think-time’, we propose that academics in education actively engage in a community of research. We conclude with interventions designed to build a high-quality, analytical and theoretically intensive research culture to underscore educational research in Australia.


Educational research ERA Research assessment Collaboration Research leadership Shifting identities 


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Copyright information

© The Australian Association for Research in Education, Inc. 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Neil Harrison
    • 1
  • Sue Bennett
    • 2
  • Dawn Bennett
    • 3
  • Janette Bobis
    • 4
  • Philip Chan
    • 5
  • Terri Seddon
    • 5
  • Sue Shore
    • 6
  1. 1.School of EducationMacquarie UniversityNorth RydeAustralia
  2. 2.University of WollongongWollongongAustralia
  3. 3.Curtin UniversityBentleyAustralia
  4. 4.University of SydneyDarlingtonAustralia
  5. 5.Monash UniversityClaytonAustralia
  6. 6.Charles Darwin UniversityCasuarinaAustralia

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