Conceptions of Research: a phenomenographic study

Angela Brew

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

171 Citations (Scopus)


This article reports on an investigation into the variation in how research is experienced by established senior researchers. It provides a new, discipline-neutral, non-technical framework for interpreting how academics are responding to the challenges of the changing context of higher education. The study identified four qualitatively different ways in which research is understood. These are differentiated according to whether they have an external product orientation or an internal process orientation; and whether the researchers themselves are in the forefront of their awareness or whether they appear to be incidental to their awareness. In the context of concern about the nature and role of research in the economy and about how it should be funded, and at a time when knowledge is said to be in crisis, the article suggests that the framework can contribute to rational analysis and decision-making.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)271-285
Number of pages15
JournalStudies in Higher Education
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2001
Externally publishedYes


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