Working Paper 84
Patterns and Dynamics in the International Research Collaborations: A Case of China-UK Collaboration Ties in Education Studies
Published October 2022

This study seeks to explore the patterns and dynamics of China-UK research collaborations in education studies over the past two decades. It applies two conceptual frameworks to analyse the structure and power relations in global social sciences, the global-national systems, and the academic dependency theory. An explanatory sequential mixed methods design is implemented. Bibliometric data is collected from Social Science Citation Index (SSCI) and Chinese Social Science Citation Index (CSSCI) from 2001 to 2020 and qualitative data is based on semi-structured interviews with eight China and UK based researchers engaged in collaborative research. Integrating both quantitative and qualitative data, this study has five main findings. First, international research collaborations appear to serve two purposes, as a platform to introduce nationally active researchers into the global system for Chinese researchers, and as a space to integrate social realties and theoretical frameworks based in different contexts for Chinese and UK researchers. Second, the social relations in China-UK collaboration seem to be equal and respectful rather than dominant and dependent. Third, Chinese researchers absorb much knowledge from UK collaborators in theoretical analysis and publication advice but remain autonomous in other aspects of international collaboration activities. Fourth, the awareness of the exclusion of non-Anglo-American social sciences in global social sciences can motivate researchers to publish to a wider audience and thus facilitate two-way knowledge exchange by overcoming language and platform differences. And fifth, the interpretation of first authorship requires more nuanced understanding of the various ways of assigning rewards and recognition, rather than equating it with leadership and dominance.

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