Between Excellence and Quality : The European Research Area in Search of Itself

Guédon, Jean-Claude Between Excellence and Quality : The European Research Area in Search of Itself., 2009 [Preprint]

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English abstract

The Bologna process aims at fostering a European Higher Education Area. In this presentation, we shall focus on the research side of this project and examine how a European Research Area can be designed and implemented. We begin by criticizing the use of neutral and largely undefined words such as “area” and submit that the European Union should design a research topography positioned between two worlds, a smaller one comprised of the member states on the one hand, and a bigger one corresponding to the rest of the world. Distinctions between science and society, and applied versus pure or theoretical science should also be revisited along the lines suggested by the concept of “mode 2” production of knowledge introduced by Michael Gibbons and his colleagues in 1994. Finally, the concepts of quality and excellence should be carefully distinguished. The former deals with minimum standard assurance while the latter identifies the very best. This distinction will require universities carefully to delineate their own internal behavioural boundary between quality assurance and the quest for excellence. We believe the European project should clearly focus on quality thresholds and leave the issue of competitive excellence to member states. With these tools in place, this paper identifies how a networked, distributed approach to research (largely inspired by the free software movement) is the best solution for European universities to address the concern for quality without inhibiting the quest for excellence. Finally, an implementation strategy is sketched: it targets mainly (but not exclusively) younger researchers while underscoring the importance of fully supporting Open Access to both the literature and the data.

Item type: Preprint
Keywords: European research, theory of science
Subjects: A. Theoretical and general aspects of libraries and information. > AB. Information theory and library theory.
Depositing user: E-LIS Canadian Staff
Date deposited: 03 Feb 2009
Last modified: 02 Oct 2014 12:13


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