The politics of collaborative research: Doing ethnography with an industry partner

Year: 1998

Author: McInerney, Peter

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

In the 'marketised university' what counts in educational research is increasingly being driven by a competitive environment where the search for industry partners to fund research projects becomes an all consuming passion. But efforts to generate income through collaborative ventures involve a potential threat to the independence and integrity of universities. What are some of the methodological issues involved in this form of research? How might they be taken on board in the field work? This paper examines these questions through the lens of the ARC funded Teachers' Learning Project, a joint partnership between the Flinders Institute for the Study of Teaching and the Department for Education Training and Employment in South Australia. It describes how an ethnographic research methodology was utilised to open up the dialogic spaces for teachers to engage in 'purposeful conversations' about their learning, the dominant discourses confronting educators and the culture and institutional practices which enhance school reform. The paper tackles the politics of collaboration by explaining how research findings from the project were workshopped through reference groups involving the industry partner and teachers in the field and how the accounts were checked out with practitioners.