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Nylander, E., & Tan, J. (2022). Typifying educational research in Singapore and Sweden: A comparative bibliometric approach based on topics 2000-2020. International Journal of Comparative Education and Development. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1108/ijced-12-2021-0128
International Journal of Comparative Education and Development
With the advancement of novel forms of text mining techniques, new possibilities have opened up to conduct large-scale content analysis of educational research from an international and comparative perspective. Since educational research tends to convey great variation based on country-specific circumstances it constitutes a good testbed for context-rich depictions of the knowledge formation within a given research field.
In this article, the authors compare the educational research that has been produced by scholars in Singapore and Sweden. The article begins by providing a rich overview of what has characterised the formation and institutionalization of educational research in public policy. After this background they map the knowledge formation of education by means of a comparative bibliometric approach using words from abstracts, titles and keywords published in 9017 peer-reviewed articles between 2000 and 2020. First, the authors describe the dominant topics in each country using topic modelling techniques. Secondly, the authors identify the most distinguishing discourses when comparing the two countries.
The findings illustrate two ideal-types for conducting educational research: Singapore being more centralised, practically-oriented, quantitative and uncritical, whereas Sweden is decentralised, pluralistic, qualitative and critical in orientation. After having mapped out the prevailing topics among researchers working in these locations, the authors connect these findings to larger debates on rivalling knowledge traditions in educational scholarship, the role of the state and the degree of autonomy within higher education.
Through large scale text mining techniques, researchers have begun to explore the semantic composition of various research fields such as higher education research, research on lifelong learning, or social science studies. However, the bibliometric method has also been criticised for creating “mega-national comparisons” that suffer from a lack of understanding of the national ramifications of various research pursuits. The authors’ study addresses these shortcomings and provides a rich depiction of educational research in Singapore and Sweden. It zooms in on the relationship between each country's institutional histories, research priorities and semantic output.
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