Research culture is defined by Hill (1999) as:
The many, often subtle, ‘point-sized’ rules and customs of research activity picked up and repeated by organisational members until their actions ‘blend’ into a collective attitude. Within this community the accepted research culture – even if it is unconsciously accepted by many – defines how each individual should think, act and make decisions about research.”
According to this definition, research culture is a system of widely shared and strongly held values regarding academic research. Research culture reflects the personality of each university and distinguishes one university from another. For a university, faculty or school to claim a strong research culture, research must be valued by the majority of its members.
According to the Schein’s (1985) conception of culture, research culture includes:
- Observed behavioural regularities when people engage in research, such as language and rituals
- The norms that evolve in research groups or research environments
- The dominant research related values espoused by the university such as ‘applied focus’ or ‘leadership in qualitative research’
- The philosophy that guides an organisation’s policy towards research
- The rules of the game for getting along with research in the organisation, “the ropes” that a newcomer must learn in order to become an accepted researcher
- The feeling or climate about research that is conveyed in an organisation by the physical and administrative facilities as well as the way in which researchers in the organisation interact with others.
Research culture serves many purposes beside guiding day-to-day activities. It also influences universities’ ability to implement strategy and deliver outcomes. As the below figure illustrates, Research Culture and Research Strategy are connected. Thus, developing research culture may depend on developing the institution’s Research Strategy.