Enhancing the Quality of Research in Europe: Theoretical Perspectives on and Guiding Principles for Researcher Development


‘Europe does not perform particularly well in terms of truly outstanding research’ the European Commission Directorate General for Research observed in 2005. Ten years on, the same observation could justifiably be made, with expectations that the combined forces of the European Higher Education Area and the European Research Area would prove a match for the research superpower status of the USA remaining largely unfulfilled. What, then, should Europe be doing to address this problem? What it has done is focus on doctoral education, perceiving it as the cornerstone upon which will be built Europe’s future world class research excellence. Yet this chapter argues that measures to improve European doctoral education do not go far enough; they barely scratch the surface of what needs to be addressed if ‘the new academic generation may be trained to become creative, critical and autonomous intellectual risk takers, pushing the boundaries of frontier research’. The chapter’s overarching message is that whilst structures and systems may support researchers during and after their doctoral programmes, these alone will not achieve high quality research and, by extension, high quality researchers. Doctoral training, it is argued, must incorporate consideration of how researcher development occurs, and the author’s original conceptual model of researcher development is presented as a basis of recommendations for developing policy and practice, not only for developing early career European researchers working for their doctorates and at post-doctoral level, but for developing all researchers working in Europe, and enhancing the quality of European research.


Researcher professionalism European Research Area Professional development Research leadership Academic acculturation 


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of LeedsLeedsUK

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