British Educational Research Association (BERA) Conference

Activity: Participating in or organising an event typesParticipation in conference


There has been growing interest in the advancement, role and contributions of education research in the UK. Shifts in attitudes towards and support for education research from government, universities, policymakers and practitioners has seen new actors involved in the production and use of education research, and enhanced debates about its status, value and contribution to society. To better understand and capture the current ‘State of the Discipline’ BERA has launched a major project which aims to comprehensively map Education as “a field of practice, and as a significant and central element of social and political policy in the four nations of the UK” (BERA, 2021). Recent research has pointed to the wide range of research traditions, identities and methods encompassed by education research, and has highlighted examples of specialist methodologies, bodies of knowledge and practices associated this work (Furlong and Whitty, 2017; Wyse, 2020). The complexity, dynamism and diversity of the discipline and the formal and informal structures and processes shaping it have been well-captured in large-scale reviews (Boyle et al., 2021; Oancea et al., 2021). However, there have only been limited recent attempts to understand the characteristics and perspectives of those engaged in education research in UK universities.

The HE Education Research Survey was a large-scale survey of education researchers in the UK. It forms a core part of BERA’s State of the Discipline work. The survey gathered information from over 1500 respondents about their experiences and perceptions of working in the area. Through the survey we set-out to provide robust and rich data about the state of education as an academic discipline and to understand the opportunity for, and engagement in, research activity for staff working in UK higher education institutions. Researchers based in all university education-related departments across the four nations of the UK were invited and encouraged to participate. The survey was also distributed widely through a range of relevant networks, associations and events.

In this session we present early findings on the following key areas: the demographic characteristics of education researchers in the UK; participants’ research areas, interests and aspirations; views on their institution, workload and conditions; methodological approaches; and engagement with networks and subject associations, such as BERA. These analyses are also complemented with the presentation of data and findings from the open response items in the survey which encouraged participants to share their views on current, broader debates relating to education research in the UK (e.g., cultures of performativity, ‘what works’ research, the research impact agenda) and to describe what it is like to be an education researcher in HE today.

Through sharing these initial findings with delegates, we hope to develop a dialogue with colleagues (and potentially with those who have participated in the survey too). In the spirit of collaboration and co-construction, questions and comments from audience members will be invited as part of the session, with a view to using this feedback to inform further analyses and the final write-up of the report.

BERA (2021) Education: the state of the discipline. Available from:
Boyle, C., Stentiford, L., Koutsouris, G., Jindal-Snape, D., Benham-Clarke, S., & Rivera, J. S. (2021). Education: The State of the Discipline: A systematic scoping review of the literature on the structures & processes that influence research activities in the UK. British Educational Research Association. education-the-state-of-the-discipline-systematic-scoping-review
Furlong, J. and Whitty, G. (2017) Knowledge traditions in the study of Education, In: Knowledge and the Study of Education: An International Exploration, Symposium Books: Oxford
Oancea, A., Xu, X., Robson, J., McDermott, T. and Scutt, C. (2021) Educational research in the United Kingdom, 2010-2020, Research Intelligence, Winter 2021/22 – Issue 149.
Wyse, D. (2020). Presidential address: The academic discipline of education. Reciprocal relationships between practical knowledge and academic knowledge. British Educational Research Journal, 46(1), 6–25.
Period2022 → …
Event typeConference
LocationLiverpool, United KingdomShow on map
Degree of RecognitionNational