Fostering collaborative educational research: An EERA Network case study
The book ‘Research and Schooling in Rural Europe: An Engagement with Changing Patterns of Education, Space and Place’ by Gristy, Hargreaves and Kučerová, was published in 2020, with seminal chapters on educational research schooling in rural Europe. It was quickly and widely reviewed and praised. According to Redford(2021, p 633), it is a book ‘that sets a new standard for educational research and schooling in rural Europe.
This book is a hugely important contribution to the field. Its development and success are a direct result of collaboration through an EERA network. The book includes contributions from a wide range of authors from across Europe, for some their first publication in English.
We asked one of the book editors, Cath Gristy, and Link Convener of Network 14, Laurence Lasselle, to explain the process. They explained how at each stage of the book’s journey, the editors and authors made excellent use of the resources available within EERA (European Education Research Association) and its networks: Network Members, ECERs (the European Conference on Educational Research) and Network Funding.
Context – EERA Network 14 and ECER
As with all EERA Networks, EERA Network 14 (Communities, Families and Schooling in Educational Research) fosters communications between researchers and aims to facilitate collaborative research. Its major activity always takes place during the European Conference for Education Research (ECER), organised annually by EERA.
ECER is organised around 34 EERA Networks. Researchers from across the world submit their proposals to EERA Networks in the form of academic papers, symposia, posters etc. Proposals are then reviewed by reviewers within each network. Accepted proposals are subsequently presented at the annual conference. The format of the conference offers plenty of networking opportunities, as it has a packed programme of sessions of 90 minutes, breaks for tea and coffee and lunches and other social events, meetings with publishers and Network meetings.
Network 14 is one of the original EERA networks . It was created by Dr Linda Hargreaves and Prof Rune Kvalsund in 1995. A group of European researchers started to share interests in the role and the place of small (or rural) schools in educational research. Over the years, the study of the relationship between school and community and place-based education would become one of the most popular thematic streams. More and more conference proposals regarding the topic were submitted to ECER, leading to more ECER sessions and more participants. An early collaborative work of the Network stream can be found in the special issue of the International Journal of Educational Research in 2009.
In 2012, Cath Gristy – one of the current fourteen EERA Network 14 co-convenors, attended her first EERA conference and participated in EERA Network 14 sessions. Here she met a group of researchers, including Linda, Rune and Silvie Rita, who shared an interest in education in rural places.
Initial concept developed at the EERA network-funded seminar 2013 in Prague
Every year, EERA finances various projects fostering Network activities, including researchers’ collaboration and publication. This NW14 group set out to begin a publishing project.
With an awareness of the importance of including the growing number of researchers from Eastern Europe, they successfully bid for EERA network funding to finance a seminar in Prague in 2013.
The group of seminar attendees (which included colleagues from Serbia, Montenegro and Croatia) worked together on a plan to promote research and publications in the field. Indeed, it was clear that there was a significant body of research work on education in rural places from Eastern Europe that was not available in English. One reason for this was the financial challenges many researchers were facing. By the end of the seminar, the plan for collaborative work coalesced around a collective book.
An Informal Meeting within ECER 2015 Budapest
The outline proposal was developed by Cath, Linda and Silvie Rita at an informal meeting of the group who met with other international rural educational researchers from Canada and Australia while participating in ECER 2015 (Budapest). The goal of the proposal was to gather a unique set of European scholars from a range of social science disciplines, including education, geography, pedagogy, psychology, and sociology, who would elaborate on the context and challenges faced by rural (or small) schools and their communities in several European countries, including the Eastern and Central European countries.
The book proposal to the US publisher IAG (Information Age Publishing) ‘Current research in rural and regional education’ Series, managed by Michael Corbett and Karen Eppley in 2016, was successful.
Further development of the proposal at ECER 2016 Dublin
ECER 2016 (Dublin) offered the opportunity for the three book editors (Cath Gristy, Linda Hargreaves and Silvie Rita Kučerová) to meet some of the book contributors and to give an oral report of the book progression at the Network meeting taking place during the conference (cf. the Network report).
At the same conference, Cath and Linda convened a two-part symposium entitled ‘Educational Research and Schooling in Rural Europe: An Engagement with Changing Patterns of Education, Space and Place’, focusing on a series of case studies located in Norway, Serbia, Czechia, Finland, and England., The three editors met and supported the contributing authors to ensure the good progress of each chapter. Contributions were now covering 11 countries: Austria, Czechia, Finland, Hungary, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Serbia, Spain, and the United Kingdom.
Second successful EERA Network Funding in 2017
The editors were keen to support authors who were publishing in English for the first time. All contributors had published their research findings in national academic journals or reports and/or regularly presented their contributions at English-speaking conferences, including ECER. However, some had not contributed to academic journals or books published in English for academic purposes.
The three editors were successful in their bid for Network Funding to support the book publication in 2017. Their application was in the spirit of Network 14 and EERA. It ensured the best development of a community of scholars from various fields and different countries, including enhancing their writing skills. It fostered scholarly collaboration and the dissemination of high-quality research.
After the Publication: Book reviews and Participation Activity in Network 14
By 2019, the 395-page, 16-chapter book was ready for publication. It was now time to make it known to the community outside Network 14.
The editors approached key international journals in the field as well as potential reviewers, all with links to Network 14 and/or ECER. Within 18 months, six reviews – all recommending the book – were published: Hernan Cuervo for the Journal of Research in Rural Education, Paul Flynn for the British Journal of Educational Studies, Rebecca Ipe for the International Review of Education, Robyn Henderson for the Australian and International Journal of Rural Education, Laurence Lasselle for the Center for Educational Policies Journal and Morag Redford for the Journal of Education for Teaching.
Contributors continue to be active within Network 14 by submitting proposals to ECERs, and one of them joined the Network 14 co-convenors team in 2021!
Tips for publishing within the EERA Network
- Engage with a community of scholars within an EERA Network and beyond
- Build the community around a strong and topical idea
- Submit symposium proposal to ECER
- Identify publication opportunities
- Look for EERA funding opportunities
- Disseminate the publication
University of Plymouth (UK), Plymouth Institute of Education
Cath is a Lecturer at Plymouth University in the United Kingdom, and her current research focuses on issues of inclusion and education in rural contexts. She is one of the co-conveners of EERA Network 14 (Communities, Families and Schooling in Educational Research).
Senior Lecturer, University of St Andrews (UK), School of Management
Laurence is a Senior Lecturer at the University of St Andrews in the United Kingdom, and her current research focuses on widening participation in Scottish Higher Education with a particular focus on access to Higher Education for Scottish rural and remote communities. She is the link convener of EERA Network 14.
Other blog posts on similar topics:
Cath Gristy, University of Plymouth, United Kingdom, Linda Hargreaves, University of Cambridge, United Kingdom, and Silvie R. Kučerová, Jan Evangelista Purkyně University, Czechia, Educational Research and Schooling in Rural Europe: An Engagement with Changing Patterns of Education, Space and Place, Information Age Publishing, INC, 2020; 406 pp, ISBN: 978-1-64802-163-3.
A volume in Current Research in Rural and Regional Education, Series Editors: Michael Corbett, University of Tasmania, Australia and Karen Eppley, Penn State University, USA, Series Editors
Link to book: https://www.infoagepub.com/products/Educational-Research-and-Schooling-in-Rural-Europe
Hernan Cuervo (2021) Book review of “Educational research and schooling in rural Europe: An engagement with changing patterns of education, space and place.”, Journal of Research in Rural Education, 37:5, 1–5, DOI:10.26209/jrre3705
Paul Flynn (2022) Education research and schooling in rural Europe. An engagement with changing patterns of education, space and place, British Journal of Educational Studies, 70:2, 261-262, DOI:10.1080/00071005.2021.1978773
Rebecca Ipe (2021) Educational research and schooling in rural Europe: An engagement with changing patterns of education, space and place, International Review of Education, 67, 715–717, DOI:10.1007/s11159-021-09916-8
Robyn Henderson (2022) Book Review: Gristy, C., Hargreaves, L., & Kučerová, S. R. (Eds.). (2020). Educational Research and Schooling in Rural Europe: An Engagement with Changing Patterns of Education, Space, and Place. Information Age Publishing, Australian and International Journal of Rural Education, 32:2, 151–153, DOI: 10.47381/aijre.v32i2.343
Laurence Lasselle (2021) Book Review: Gristy, C., Hargreaves, L., & Kučerová, S. R. (Eds.). (2020). Educational Research and Schooling in Rural Europe: An Engagement with Changing Patterns of Education, Space, and Place. Information Age Publishing, CEPS Journal, 11 (Special Issue), DOI:10.26529/cepsj.1301
Morag Redford (2021) Educational research and schooling in rural Europe: an engagement with changing patterns of education, space and place, Journal of Education for Teaching, 47:4, 632-633, DOI: 10.1080/02607476.2021.1928482
 Maria P. Figueiredo, Ian Grosvenor, Marit Honerød Hoveid, and Natasha MacNab (2014) The dynamic and changing development of EERA networks, European Educational Research Journal 2014 13:4, 404-417, DOI: 10.2304/eerj.2014.13.4.404
You can find other blog posts from the EERA Network 14 here.