University of Rijeka, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences (CROATIA)
About this paper:
Appears in: ICERI2016 Proceedings
Publication year: 2016
Pages: 8847-8857
ISBN: 978-84-617-5895-1
ISSN: 2340-1095
doi: 10.21125/iceri.2016.0991
Conference name: 9th annual International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 14-16 November, 2016
Location: Seville, Spain
The research and discussions on the competencies in higher education, primarily teaching competencies followed by research competencies, have been present for many years now (Inlow, 1956; Elton, 1986, 1992, Lammers and Murphy, 2002; González and Wagenaar, 2005; Koster and Dengerink, 2008; Kovač, 2001; Ledić, 2009; Bai, 2010; McDermott and Braver, 2010; Turk and Ledić, 2016). The preceding studies which dealt with research competencies (Bai, 2010; McDermott & Braver, 2010) indicated that the key characteristics of a successful researcher entail a sound grasp of the nuances regarding scientific writing and publishing as well as possessing critical thinking skills. Apart from the mentioned competencies, Turk and Ledić (2016) in their research on the academic profession competencies identify additional competencies necessary to successfully conduct research activities occurring as a result of the recent changes in the international higher education. In this context Turk and Ledić (2016) suggest a new set of the research development competencies operationalized through the following knowledge and skills – understanding the main principles of scientific writing and publishing; using effective strategies for critical assessment of the scientific literature; continuous professional development and personal development planning within the underlying academic activities; and working in an interdisciplinary setting. The majority of the aforementioned studies on the academic profession competencies, especially those in Croatian research context, primarily focused on the senior academics. Only several studies dealt with the issues regarding junior academics (Golub, 2001; Adamović i Mežnarić, 2003; Brajdić Vuković, 2013), while the research on junior academics’ competencies have been completely absent.

The aim of this paper is to explore the assessments of importance and mastery of the research development competencies on a sample of Croatian junior academics. The research included a total of 1130 participants from seven public universities in Croatia. The applied research method was an on-line survey, and the research instrument used was a survey questionnaire. The results indicate that the junior academics assess the research development competencies as statistically significantly less important in comparison with the senior academics. Furthermore, the results show that the assessment of importance regarding these set of competencies increases with academic rank. This paper will further analyze the differences in assessment with respect to the independent variables of sex and research field of the research participants.

The data obtained is exceptionally indicative and interesting particularly in the context of current higher education policies in Croatia, which among other things, discuss the promotion terms and possibilities within the academic profession. In this context, the position of junior academics is particularly significant due to the fact that the recent promotion criteria in the academic profession is solely based on research productivity.
Academics’ competencies, research development competencies, junior academics.