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Teacher Education Research – a reference to a European Research Space

Susann Hofbauer Julia Planer

This blog is based on the paper presented in the EERA 2015 Conference Network Meeting. The European Educational Research Association (EERA) and its annual European Conference of Educational Research (ECER) do not only offer independent advice on educational research to European policy-makers, administrators and practitioners. The EERA also aims to increase public awareness of educational research and development across Europe. In Analogy, ECER functions as a platform to exchange ideas and options amongst European researchers and to promote cross-border collaboration in research. To be part of the conference, authors submit a paper proposal to one of the 33 thematically distinctive networks of the EERA (for example ‘Curriculum Innovation’ or ‘Sociologies of Education’). A team of reviewers is then provided with access to the abstracts in order to give advice to the author and to decide if the proposals are rejected or accepted. To ensure the research quality of the contributions, the reviewers have to take into account the following review criteria:

Proposals should

    • be directly related to a topic of interest for educational research;
    • involve systematic enquiry of an empirical or analytic nature and should make reference to a theoretical framework;
    • set out the background, method, results and implications should clearly and in a manner which is accessible to an international audience;
    • take account of the European and/or international context;
    • enhance a European dialogue by referring, for example, to current European policies or intellectual and educational tradition

21 years later, we want to reflect on whether these ambitions have been fulfilled so far by analysing the papers presented at ECER, which can be seen as forming the scientific texture of the conference. We aim to provide a comparative and historical view on the developments of education research and try to shed light on the creation of a common European Education Research Space.

After focusing on all papers submitted between 2009 and 2012 (∑=8560) according to the countries of origin of the submitting authors and collaborative projects (results: Keiner & Hofbauer 2014), we took a differentiated look at the paper abstracts submitted to Network “Teacher Education Research” (∑= 410). In doing so, we investigated the reference to Europe and to particular national and cultural units (for example ‘Flemish’) within the papers. Then we analysed the proposals with regard to the international institutional cooperation initiated by the authors resulting in ECER proposals.

The results show that the ECER mainly functions as a platform for presenting national findings to an international audience: While in 30% of all cases, authors do completely without national reference, 48 % of the papers include one national unit, leading to the conclusion that researchers mostly present research findings of their country of origin. Cultural comparisons are rare as well, with only 4-7% of the papers including cultural units. Bearing in mind that European reference is a selection criterion in the peer reviewing process, it is striking that more than 60 % of all papers do not mention Europe at all. This leaves merely 20-30% papers treating Europe more than superficially. In the context of doing Europe, we also found a low amount of international cooperation in research (10 %).

However, one cannot deduce from these findings that EERA and ECER have failed in promoting a European discussion. Naturally, the presentation of national surveys may arouse European debates within the paper sessions of ECER. In the background of our findings we agree with the statement Europe is a “unity in diversity through national identities” (Schratz 2014: 11).

Our implication is not to exclude such authors who cannot connect their research with a European context. The question occurs, however, if the review process as a research quality feature and controlling organ should be rethought. We want to foster research on educational research as a means to reflect on objectives of the research community and whether they are met or not. In other words, we aim at ECER being both actor and observer in these developments.


Gretler, A.(2007): The International Social Organisation of Educational Research in Europe: Reviewing the European Educational Research Association as an Example — Facts and Questions. In: EERJ. Vol 6(2). Pp. 174-189.

Keiner, E.&Hofbauer, S. (2014): EERA and its European Conferences on Educational Research: a patchwork of research on European educational research. In: EERJ. Vol. 13(4). Pp. 504-518.

Schratz, M.(2014): The European Teacher: Transnational Perspectives in Teacher Education Policy and Practice. In: CEPS Journal. Vol. 4(4). Pp. 11-27.