The Nature of Research: Inquiry in Academic Contexts

The Nature of Research: Inquiry in Academic Contexts

The Nature of Research: Inquiry in Academic Contexts

The Nature of Research: Inquiry in Academic Contexts


Increasingly, new academics are entering higher education without conventional research training and without a clear idea of what research actually involves. This is particularly true of academics who enter from having spent time in a profession including many in the newer disciplines. In addition, institutions of higher education which do not have a tradition of research are increasingly competing for research funding. The Nature of Research looks at this background and discusses what is wrong with academic research and discusses what is wrong with academic research today, what needs to change for it to survive, how to allow new kinds of research to flourish, directions for future action and how academic research can teach us to live in today's complex and uncertain society. The aim of the book, then, is to provide a stimulus to thinking about the nature and role of research with a view to considering what might be appropriate in the next century. Since research is so central to university life, looking at research will tell us much about what the university of the future might be like.


What you participate in, that you become.

(Henryk Skolimowski)

This was no ordinary city. It had become a place of pilgrimage for those who were looking for what was of value in their lives. While all of the buildings had an air of tranquillity about them, there was one which was particularly striking. Dominating the side of the hill on which it was situated, here was a palace of no mean proportions. Designed to reflect the heights of human endeavours and to personify all that was beautiful, the architect had become renowned for the process of inquiry which had characterized its design and building. So as she entered, her spirit was lifted and she experienced a sense of joy that infused the light, airy walls and galleries. Standing in the central hall, she had a sense of her own special place in the universe.

There were a few people milling about, quietly taking in the lofty space. Others sat in silence on low benches or cross-legged on the white marble floor deep in contemplation and meditation. Her urge was to continue, yet it was apparent that for some, this entrance space was enough. At the far end, a wide staircase, its red carpet contrasting with all the white and glass of the walls, floors and ceilings, seemed to draw her in. and so she advanced, going slowly up, then wandering here and there, wherever it seemed she had to go. This was her quest, her journey. She passed through halls and galleries. Some were like the art galleries of the past with pictures on the walls and sound and light installations. Some halls had exhibits in cases. She had heard tell of places called museums. She thought they might have been like that. At times there were collections of objects in cases together with a series of questions: what might these objects mean, how does she make sense of them? She wandered into a dark space where there were

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