R&D Institutions

Resultado da avaliação 2007 na área de Estudos Literários

Unidade de I&D

Instituto de Estudos Portugueses [LIT-LVT-Lisboa-4030] visitada em 14/02/2008

Classificação: Poor

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Sobre a unidade

The Institute of Portuguese Studies (IdEP) was established in 1993 within the Department of Portuguese Literature in the Faculty of Human and Social Sciences of the New University of Lisbon, but as an independent research centre. Since then, the Institute has, in its own words, had periods of greater and lesser productivity. 2007 saw change and reorganisation of the research staff and their projects into 3 very broad research lines, Literature and Multimodality, Portuguese Culture and Transculturality, and Portuguese Studies and Multipolarities, under the direction of 3 senior academics.


The Institute describes its general objectives in the appropriate section of the report submitted to the FCT In the report submitted to the FCT, namely to broaden and intensify research in the area of Portuguese and Lusophone Studies, through three research lines. The Institute intends to carry out research into aspects of Portugal’s cultural heritage, disseminating their results through the traditional media with the added dimension of the new technologies, namely the internet, online PhD courses, electronic publications. Emphasis is placed on the edition of manuscripts of works that are not easily accessed. The international profile of the Institute will be enhanced through collaborations with foreign universities and international networks as well as the creation of an Erasmus Mundi Masters in Portuguese Studies in conjunction with other European Universities. The Institute emphasised its commitment to lifelong learning and the promotion of Portugal’s cultural/artistic heritage, contributing to these aims by organising open courses. Documentation made available to the panel during the site visit, a printout of the Institute’s website, however, provides slightly different information, with less generic and more focused objectives, such as publication of the journal Incidências, offering e-learning courses in Portuguese Studies, providing training opportunities to national and foreign Masters and Doctoral students, organising of the Institute library with an online bibliographical database, open to students and the wider community. Many of the objectives are vague and do not differ significantly from those of other, comparator institutes. Furthermore, the objectives are not explicitly linked to any of the three research lines; thus any interconnectedness is only suggested by titles such as Portuguese Culture, Portuguese Studies.


The administrative structure of the Institute is perfectly transparent. It is managed by an elected Director, assisted by a Vice-Director, and a Scientific Committee made up of all the effective members. The duties and responsibilities of the Director and the Scientific Committee are set out clearly, and impinge on all aspects of the running and maintenance of the centre: budget, plans of activities, membership, regulations, protocols with other Institutions. The Institute has 13 full members with PhD, 23 associated members with a Ph.D. and 14 researchers (Lecturers, MA and PhD Students). There is also an external advisory committee constituted by prestigious international scholars. Their role is not spelled out.



The IdEP’s report does not foreground the works published by members of the Institute, a failing that cannot be wholly attributed to the constraints of the FCT template. Numerous publications are detailed in individual curricula, but the overwhelming sense emerging from the documentation is that while the Institute is enriched by the presence of a number of dedicated researchers whose scholarly credentials are beyond question, their collective oeuvre either predates the existence of the Institute or could have been produced without any significant intellectual input from this research centre. Members of the IdEP may reasonably claim ownership of a body of seminal works on canonical Portuguese author, works, periods and cultural movements, but it is not clear whether these have had a direct impact on the workings or organisation of the Institute in particular, or the subject area in general.


22 masters and 5 PhDs were completed during the period in question. Individual members of the Institute have been involved in supervising and training postgraduates. Research training programmes are projected for the future.


During the period under scrutiny, members of IdEP have organised a series of seminars, national and international congresses on topics related to their own personal research and the more formally constituted research lines. It is not clear from the documentation how widely these events and subsequent volumes of proceedings or selected essays have been disseminated nationally or abroad.


As the logical sequence of open-courses promoted in previous years by the Department of Portuguese Studies, the IdEP has targeted specific activities across as range of topics (music, the new technologies, film, literature, destined for non-academic audiences, fulfilling their objective of promoting life-long learning and the dissemination of scientific knowledge in society.


The Institute has appropriate management structures in place, but these do not guarantee the efficient implementation of aims and objectives. The Institute refers in its report to a series of plans but does not state clearly how these will be actioned, or specify the time frames involved, with the exception of major conferences that demand prior organisation. Regrettably, the panel was unable to elicit more detailed information during the site visit, therefore issues of management could not be clarified.


A number of activities and projects are planned for the future. The Institute will continue to offer open courses on a range of literary and cultural themes, commemorate significant dates in Portuguese history and literary production. These courses will be incorporated into the projected e-learning programme. 4 International Symposia will be held, in 2008, 2009 (two) and 2010. Three national conferences will also be organised. The Centre library will be opened up to the public. Members of the Institute will produce anthologies, among other outputs. The question of research networks is being explored, as well as collaborations with Institutions of Higher Education in Europe and the wider Portuguese-speaking world.


A small core within the Institute may accurately be described world-class scholars, however, research activity is not carried out at a uniform level. The scientific objectives are stated, but there is no sense of precisely how they will be achieved. In addition, it is not clear from the documentation how some of the researchers listed actually contribute to the groups, although the panel acknowledges that there is more than one way to participate in a research initiative.


Because the evaluation panel did not have the opportunity to enter into a fruitful dialogue with the Management Team, there was no opportunity to obtain more detailed information on how IdEP’s strategies will be delivered.


The research active staff associated with the Institute are well qualified and carry out the usual functions one would expect in an Institution of Higher Education, namely researching, supervising, teaching and examining students. Furthermore, there is a considerable pool of academic experience and expertise. The 3 research lines incorporate such traditional activities as the production of anthologies, textual editing, the production of a dictionary of reference works like the dictionary of Vicentine characters, book history and cultural heritage, but also look to the new technologies for modes of disseminating scholarship, addressing themes arising out of globalisation, posing questions related to what might be broadly designated Lusofonia, and undertaking investigative work on African Studies. However, despite the statement that researchers may contribute to different research groups, it is not clear from the documentation where this transversality occurs. The report does not specify which areas are given priority, or indeed how consistently or how urgently these lines of research are actually pursued.


During the site visit, the panel of evaluators were told that the Institute has the support of the University and the Faculty in which it is housed was also clearly expressed. The Institute has a set of objectives and a Management Team to help researchers achieve them. However, these factors have not, to date, produced optimum results.


The current Director and Principal Researchers of the Institute are incontestably world-class academics within their own subject areas. However, two out of the three are nearing retirement age, which throws up the vexed question of continuity. Unfortunately the site visit did not shed any light on the issue of long term plans for the continued work of the Institute.


The Institute provides some research opportunities and training to scholars based in Lisbon and elsewhere.


Two of the research areas being explored in the Institute are in the national interest, namely the study of Portuguese Baroque poetry, and The History of the Book, areas that do not always receive the attention they deserve, nationally or internationally. Research carried out under the heading of African Studies is also timely and relevant, given Portugal’s colonial and postcolonial history. However, notwithstanding logistical obstacles, the projects being carried out in these areas could be associated with comparable research undertaken within other Institutes and Institutions.


The Institute has not yet fully engaged with the issue of internationalisation, although future plans do begin to contemplate the need for initiatives in this area. For example, outputs such as the work pertaining to Catherine of Braganza would be of considerable interest to an English-speaking readership, as would other research undertaken in the Institute. If the journal Incidências is to continue, the Management Team might seek ways of distributing this internationally.


While the Institute has the expressed support of the institution in which it is housed, and of the researchers who constitute its members, it is difficult to state what differentiates the work of the Institute from that which could be expected from academics based in a Department of Portuguese Studies or comparator research centres. Researchers in the Institute might wish to review the totality of their projects and research lines, deciding which do intend confer distinction and individuality, and which do not. Added value from the Institute might be deemed to derive from the open courses.


The Institute of Portuguese Studies has been classified as poor. This evaluation does not constitute a judgement on the intellectual merits of the body of researchers, or on all of the work being carried out in the Institute. Rather, it arises out of a combination of administrative and strategic weaknesses or omissions. Members might argue that their research and publications give the Institute a distinctive identity. However, the vagueness of its objectives, the absence of a clearly established hierarchy of priorities, the apparent lack of transversality, and the fact that there is not always an absolute correspondence between named researchers/collaborators and lists of publications, even taking into account the restrictions on space within the report, all detract from the apparent substance and coherence of this Institute’s contribution to future scholarship.


The intellectual endeavours of the Institute might conceivably continue under the auspices of the Department of Portuguese Studies, with funding generated by the open courses. If, on the other hand, there is a consensus view that the Institute should pursue its scientific mission, members should embrace a policy of renewal, both in terms of their objectives and the constitution of the research and Management Teams. Senior members might contemplate moving to valuable advisory roles, a concerted attempt could be made to attract younger scholars, to continue its work, every attempt should be made to map out priorities and tasks with clearly defined timelines, duly monitored by the Director, Vice-Director and Principal Researchers, to ensure fulfilment of objectives.
Sobre os grupos de investigação
Literature and Multimodality [RG-LIT-LVT-Lisboa-4030-2622]
Portuguese Culture and Transculturality [RG-LIT-LVT-Lisboa-4030-2623]
Portuguese Studies and Multipolarity [RG-LIT-LVT-Lisboa-4030-2624]

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