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This paper reports on a phenomenographic investigation concerning the perceptions of primarily early career academics on the value and importance of educational research, and the challenges and enablers of establishing and building educational research capacity, within a new university in a developing country. The study was conducted as part of a three year project which itself is based within a longitudinal programme of collaboration between the Royal University of Bhutan (RUB) and the University of the Highlands and Islands (UHI). The paper outlines the transnational collaborations between the two universities to date, before considering key issues in the development of educational research and an educational research culture within universities that are not research intensive, and for whom educational research is a nascent or emerging area.
The rationale and methodological approach for the phenomenographic investigation, which seems to be the first phenomenography to address perceptions relating to the development of educational research within the context of a new university, are then considered. The main findings resulting from the phenomenographic process of thematic analysis are subsequently presented. This includes a synthesis and articulation of the findings in the form of a phenomenographic ‘outcome space’ that pertains to the academics’ motivations and perceptions in relation to the development of educational research at RUB. The paper then articulates how the findings of the phenomenography were applied in identifying and implementing tangible interventions to support the participants to engage in conducting and disseminating educational research projects relating to dimensions of their own educational practice. The paper concludes with recommendations and lessons learned relating to the development of educational research capacity in emergent and transnational collaborative contexts.
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