GROWING A RESEARCH AND PUBLICATION CULTURE: WHAT INCENTIVES AND REWARDS MAKE A DIFFERENCE?
Few higher education practitioners would argue the importance of quality research to underpin an organisation’s credible delivery of degrees and post-graduate programmes. Further, research contributes to a national and international profile for both institute and individual. Research brings in funding, and enhances career development. But what happens when vocational teachers, recruited directly from industry and trade, rather than academia, are required to support their new teaching role by producing research outputs and publications? The answer is reluctance, and sometimes, downright resistance.
So what can we do, and what do other organisations do, to encourage more staff to undertake research to inform their teaching? This paper will describe a project which sought to benchmark the supports and strategies to develop researcher capability offered across the majority of the 16 organisations which make up New Zealand’s Institutes of Technology and Polytechnics (ITP) sector. The first source of data was a survey of the rewards, incentives and organisational frameworks the different ITPs are offering. Next, the project team interviewed 22 colleagues from the home institute, across disciplines and faculties, experienced and novice, research-active and non-research-active. The ultimate aim was to identify a range of strategies which staff considered would offer compelling inducement to increase the quantity and/or quality of their research outputs.
We provide an overview of the findings of both internal and external motivators for individuals. For institutions, there were strong indications of the structures and practices participants felt enabled, or hindered their research activity. Positive change, rejuvenation of ‘writing lives’, and (re)engagement in learning calls for a whole-organisation approach. Developing a culture where research is visible and valued needs leadership support and staff goodwill.