“Research is research, and politics is also politics in politics of education. We researchers conduct research in the field of science and using scientific methods, and political decisions referring to the research results are not in our hands, even though we participate in the discussion,” says Sonja Kosunen, Professor of General Education.
Kosunen started as a professor at the University of Eastern Finland this summer and refers to recent, public discussions about educational policy, on which researchers have been encouraged to comment.
“Researchers can and should actively interact with society. However, discussing research results does not mean that the researcher presents their opinion or gives policy recommendations."
The opposite is often true: research results typically leave plenty of room for political decision-making, which is always value-based.
“Based on my own research, I can, for example, describe the mechanisms that lead to the emergence of social inequalities, but it is ultimately up to the decision-makers to assess what should be done with the situation. The goal may be to reduce inequalities, in which case they can use research data to help them decide what to do. On the other hand, doing nothing is also political decision-making,” Kosunen explains.
In any case, the studied phenomena are almost always complicated, and the results do not always provide simple answers to what should be done.
“I understand that many would want unambiguous recommendations and instructions from researchers – after all, we are experts in our own fields, and we participate in discussions concerning this field. However, drawing up recommendations is not integral to research.”