Ongoing projects

Systemic factors contributing to academic research production in Quebec and Canada

Analyzing systemic factors contributing to research production in small and particular HES is a complex endeavour. First, although data from international organizations aggregate data for Canada, it is argued that there is not one but ten HES in the country (Gallagher & Dennison, 1995) since each province has full jurisdiction over its education system and their evolution followed distinct paths. Although charter universities in Quebec are similar to other Canadian universities (Trottier et al., 2014), the Quebec HES is the most distinct in the country because of the language (French), the influence of the Catholic Clergy, its college system (CEGEPs), its network of “public universities” (Universités du Québec), low tuition-fees and social-democratic values (Fisher et al., 2009). The Quebec system faces important issues related to its research capacity (Lacroix & Maheu, 2015) but it still counts one university in the SJTU top-100 and had two in the THES in 2012, Quebec researchers produce 29% of Canadian publications and are cited 19% more often than the country average (CREPUQ, 2010). The purpose of this study is therefore to identify systemic factors contributing to academic research production in Quebec and to compare these factors with those in Nordic countries in order to observe if there exist social-democratic communalities. The proposed project relies on three theoretical pillars: academic capitalism, political-economy and HES theories. The intent here is thus to study the impact of those eight systemic factors in the Quebec HES. It is already known that, in terms of academic traditions, Quebec university professors are recognized as having maximum autonomy regarding external demands (Gingras, 1999). Like their Nordic colleagues, Quebec academics benefit from a strong public support (1.9% of Quebec GDP is invested in universities); state funding accounting for 70% of universities’ budget compared to 52.5% in the rest of Canada (Lacroix & Maheu, 2015). Although there is no provincial data on this matter, it is known that public research funding in Canada is concentrated into universities which perform almost all the basic research and 36% of the overall R&D activities (Ibidem). More than half of university research funding comes from competitive sources, funded at a level of $538M by the federal government and $184M by the provincial government (CREPUQ, 2010). Excellence funding is given in the form of the Canadian Research Chairs and strategic funding takes the form of Canadian Networks of Excellence and the Quebec Research Policy. Regarding academic work, Quebec counts 4,335 researchers per million inhabitants (CSE, 2008), and enrolment in PhD program multiplied by four between 1968 and 2008 and graduation rates at the PhD level multiplied by five (Lacroix & Maheu, 2015). Yet there seems to be a vertical work division since the biggest institutions train 68.2% of PhDs and 54.6% of Master’s (Ibidem). The Quebec HES is also moderately connected to private actors since 10% of university research is funded by private sources and the university boards count a majority of external members, at least in charter universities (Trottier et al., 2014). It is worth noting that, like in Nordic countries, the Quebec Government has put in place initiatives to encourage university-industry collaborations from a top-down perspective (Trottier et al., 2014). Finally, the Quebec HES has an internationalization strategy since 2002 and 23% of its PhD students are international, but only 15% of the articles written by Quebec researchers are done in collaboration with foreign scholars, which is the lowest proportion in Canada (CAC, 2012). The objective is to compare systemic factors contributing to the accumulation of scientific capital in Quebec and the Nordic countries (namely Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden). More precisely, it aims to answer the three following research questions: 1) To what extent each factor contributes (or not) to academic research production in Quebec HES? 2) How do systemic factors contributing to Quebec research compare with systemic factors contributing to academic research production in Nordic countries? 3) Are there underlying social-democratic features supporting scientific capital accumulation in both the American and European context.

Funding: SSHRC Postdoctoral Fellowship

The Academic Profession in the Knowledge Society (APIKS)

The focus of the new research network is to understand how the emergence of the new realities created by the knowledge society affects the way academic work is organized and the values sustained by the academics. The work presented at the Seminar, the discussions held in three closed meetings during the seminar converge in identifying relevant changes in the way research, and knowledge production is organized. As described above, the main changes converge towards the new centrality of multi and trans-disciplinary research; the organizational diversity in knowledge production; the transformation in the forms of producing knowledge, and the new realities created by the new mechanisms of responsibility and accountability to their customers, sponsors and stakeholders demands (Olssen & Peters, 2005). All these changes create a new market-like reality that impose strong external controls over the research related activities, that are reinforced by the state-led auditing and assessment mechanisms. On the other hand, the new environment impose relevant constraints over the academic career and the academic ethos, which, in turn could have significant impact over the values and attitudes held by academics.

Collaborators: Glen A. Jones, Amy Scott Metcalfe, Grace Karram-Stephenson, and others.

Governance of research-intensive universities in Canada

The objectives of this study are: To expand knowledge of university governance in Canada by studying empirically: the commonalities and differences in the way major Canadian universities are governed and in their relationships to government; whether and how their governance is changing; and what forces and factors appear to be at work. ; To situate Canadian university governance in the context of developments abroad.; To investigate how university governance and management mechanisms foster scholarly activities on one hand, and activities that sustain the institution by responding to stakeholders’ needs and generating revenue, on the other.  The study will thereby contribute to understanding of the dimensions of university autonomy and of universities’ relationships to state, market, professional and disciplinary bodies and other entities.; To communicate the findings to a wide audience including: scholars and students of higher education, public policy and governance; public policy makers; university officials and members; and interested lay people, in Canada and abroad.

Principal investigators: Glen A. Jones, Julia Eastman, Claude Trottier

Collaborators: Christian Noumi, Sharon Li

 The longitudinal analysis of CEGEPs' internationalization process

A recent report (CI, 2014) reveals that the number of students participating in study abroad programs, the number of international students recruited by CEGEPs and the number of programs with an international component are all increasing. However, the number of institutional partnerships and the proportion of CEGEPs with a dedicated international office has declined between 2004 and 2014. Following Raby and Valeau’s (2007) framework, one might wonder if CEGEPs have not entered a post-institutionalization phase in which they require less support from a coordinated provincial structure. This study uses the surveys conducted in 2000, 2005, 2010 and 2014 by the Quebec Federation of CEGEPs.

Collaborators: Quebec Federation of CEGEPs, Véronique Angers, Kimon Niflis.

 Completed projects

 Systemic factors contributing to scientific capital accumulation in Nordic higher education systems (2012-2017)

In the global academic capitalist race, academics, institutions and countries’ symbolic power results from the accumulation of scientific capital (or research production), as acknowledged by rankings and other bibliometrics. Previous studies suggested Anglo-Saxon higher education systems (HES) dominated the academic field, but per capita analyses show that Nordic HES achieve comparatively higher results in terms of world-class universities, publications and citations. The objective of this thesis is thus to identify systemic factors contributing to the accumulation of scientific capital in Nordic HES. Following a hypothetical-deductive problem approach and a falsification process, seven systemic factors were hypothesized as having an impact and tested in Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden according to a multi-governance framework, and a convergent and parallel mixed-method design. The seven factors are: academic traditions, societal beliefs, public authorities, early-career researchers, funding streams, networking with non-academic actors and internationalization.

Funding: Vanier-Canada Scholarship, W. Garfield Weston Foundation; Ontario Graduate Scholarship

Collaborators: Evanthia Kalpazidou-Schmidt, Joel Jansson, Cynthia Field

 Globally-networked learning environments (GNLEs) in CEGEPs (2014-2015)

This study describes the design and implementation processes of globally networked learning environments (GNLEs) in a college environment and discusses how these processes may contribute to instructors' professional learning. A thematic analysis was conducted on five interviews with instructors working in Quebec general and vocational colleges (CEGEPs). The design and implementation processes were mapped out using Fretchling's (2007) logic modeling basic components. Findings suggest that GNLEs in a college context take the form of joint lectures or joint activities. Instructors reported that designing and teaching within a GNLE had led to pedagogical, intercultural and technology-related learning; and that learning was fostered by unforeseen challenges as well as long-standing partnerships.

Collaborators: Momina Afridi, Yishin Khoo

 The formulation of educational reforms and their impact on alternative schools (2008-2011)

This study wanted to see if there were any differences between Quebec school teacher’s educative values depending on the place they are working in (elementary school, high school, alternative school or regular school). The results show that high school teachers value security more than the elementary school teachers do. Moreover, alternative school teachers put freedom and participation to advantage more than the regular school teachers do. On the other hand, regular school teachers give more importance to security. Finally, alternative school teachers who work in an elementary school value self-actualization more than those who work in a high school.

Collaborators: Véronique Angers

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