Drawing on data from 399 Swedish doctoral theses, this chapter explores the epistemological foundations of higher education research. Using an analytical framework whose elements are the institutional organization of researchers and knowledge, the object of study, and the object of knowledge, we found that higher education research is mainly a concern for the older universities and for research subjects within the educational sciences and, secondarily, the social sciences. The prime objects of study are topics related to teaching, followed by issues of system policy, institutional management, and knowledge work. Studies of academic work and quality are almost non-existent, and comparative studies and international perspectives are rare. Regarding the object of knowledge, doctoral students’ choices of research approaches, theories, and methods point to a diversified analytical toolbox, although dominated by text-based analyses and qualitative methods, especially interviews and documentary studies, and a range of learning and institutional theories.
Bingley: Emerald Group Publishing Limited, 2016. 69-93 p.