PROFRES Research School

The Interdisciplinary, Interprofessional and Practice-Near Research School - Shaping Future Welfare

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University of Stavanger, University of Agder, Nord University, University of South-Eastern Norway, Western Norway University of Applied Sciences, Molde University College and Volda University College Established 2014 PhD candidates 60 Public Defences 57 Academic staff 21


Director: Birgitta Haga Gripsrud Administrative contact: Camilla Melhuus Line Øyvind Nystøl

PROFRES 2.0 is funded by the Research Council of Norway in the period 2022-2030.

Bildet viser logoen til forskerskolen PROFRES.

PROFRES aims to be an arena for research on changing professional practices in the areas of health, welfare and education

This includes doctoral work which is based on “research issues” especially relevant to professional practice – which is potentially but not necessary inter-professional in nature. Such research issues often presuppose an interdisciplinary approach both in research and in practice. The research school’s primary goal is to educate researchers who are then positioned to develop critical, constructive and action-oriented knowledge about and for professions and professional practices in a state of change.

The research school’s programme comes in addition to the universities doctoral programmes and ensures that PhD candidates can avail of a high-quality meeting place that is focused on professions-oriented and practice-near research.

PROFRES 2.0 is funded by the Research Council of Norway in the period 2022-2030.


The research school PROFRES is the result of a collaboration between the University of Agder, University of Stavanger, Nord University, University of South-Eastern Norway, Western Norway University of Applied Sciences, Molde University College and Volda University College.

PROFRES is coordinated from the University of Stavanger. PROFRES shall:

  • Contribute to increased knowledge and reflection on interdisciplinary and interprofessional research about professional practice in relevant contexts
  • Contribute to increased knowledge and contribute to reflection on conditions and what characterizes cooperation between practice oriented professions
  • Develop the ability to identify, analyse and evaluate practice-near research questions
  • Contribute to increased understanding of the differences and similarities between professions in a state of change
  • Contribute to increased understanding for- and development of- a knowledge based practice
  • Increase the ability to implement relevant knowledge for the various professions
  • Function as a meeting place where doctoral candidates can gain qualifications and prepare themselves for national and international research careers
  • Improved completion rates in doctoral programmes

The research school aims to have relevance to both the PhD candidates and the higher institutions they are recruited from. In addition, it may provide the health, welfare and education sectors with important expertise with regards to developing more knowledge-based services, and consequently be an important venue for developing professions as a research field.  

Through collaboration between researchers and candidates from the health, welfare and the educational sectors, PROFRES aims to be a multidisciplinary arena for strengthening professions oriented and practice-near research. Mutual meetings between doctoral candidates and researchers from different professional backgrounds, as well as participation in courses and symposia, will give candidates insight into issues relevant to practice in a professional landscape undergoing change. It also provides knowledge of comparative approaches. The research school will furthermore contribute to develop a joint academic and research fellowship in order to improve services within the health, welfare and education sectors (critical-constructive).

Academic content

How to meet changing professional practices?

Changing professional practices refers to the constant changes within the welfare state related to profession’s regulatory framework, governance, and the development of knowledge. This development demands an increasing knowledge-based practice and assurance of quality in welfare services. These changes provide a greater complexity in the professional practices we wish to study (health, welfare and education). Facing these changes, the following key topics stand out.

Over the years welfare services have become more fragmented. Professionals and service users, patients and students need to better collaborate across service units and management levels in order to ensure coordinated services. Research shows that interprofessional education (IPE) is key to improving collaboration in practice (IPC) and there is a need for research into both areas, at macro, meso and micro levels. The exploration of different aspects of collaboration can contribute to knowledge development of the phenomenon of inter-professionalism and collaboration. In addition  the challenges it may entail, and how to achieve functioning collaboration between service users, professionals, teams as well as organisations are studied.

In addition to knowledge development the PhD candidates must be prepared to implement this knowledge in order to change complex practices in accordance with research results. Ability to conduct critical discussions of research results in light of both the overall social and professional values is of significance. This includes openness to practical judgments in a professional practitioner’s daily life, particularly those issues, where it is no simple matter to conduct research and collect evidence.

Comparisons can be done on many levels and is likely to produce constitutive features of what is being compared. That may involve analysing similarities and differences between the various professions with respect to professional practice and concepts of knowledge, within a country or across borders. It can also involve comparing professional practice within one profession over time. Comparison may arise spontaneously in discussions in multiprofessional groups and it can also be a planned activity when concepts and theories from the various professions are compared. Both unique and synthesizing features will be assessed which assumably will enable understanding of integration and differentiation of professions.

This is a relatively new term used in the public sector. In this context, innovation should be understood as creative thinking that will enable research to find its potential to change practice for the better. A critical perspective is therefore necessary. Innovation can include both changes that trickle down from top management and those developed from the bottom up through professional practice. According to The Official Norwegian Report 2011: “Innovation in care” (Innovasjon i Omsorg) doesn’t need to be based on new research or technical knowledge, but it can be concerned with knowledge that is employed in a new context or in a new way.

Active involvement of those that are partners in the research, be they users or practitioners, is increasingly on the research agenda. "Collaborative Research" and "co-research" are approaches that involve different stakeholders, who bring together their knowledge, experience, biographies and narratives to create a significant impact on the research process. This happens in the interface of the personal, the professional and the institutional. It requires understanding of interaction, communication, power relations, different cognitive approaches and methodological measures, which, when seen together, can constitute a practice-relevant methodology.

A common feature in the practice fields of health, welfare and education is how the professions are largely based on relationships with the patient, the pupil, the user or the next of kin. The research school will throw a spotlight on how conditions for professional relations change in light of structural changes taking place. Characteristically, the relational side of the profession challenges the traditional distinction between the personal and the professional. Developing professionalism in a context where relations and emotions are dominant requires an understanding of intra-and inter-personal, institutional and societal dimensions of relations. The focus on relations also allows for issues related to ethics and gender.

Professions in the welfare state must safeguard the central principles of equality, in the broadest sense and also in terms of access to services. Gender equality is a concept that comes from an ethical concept of equality used to denote terms, obligations and rights between men and women. Professional practice takes place within contexts characterized by greater variations in relation to ethnicity, sexual orientation, social class and social gender as a socially and culturally defined term. Increasingly, professionals have to relate to users with diverse backgrounds and needs, and professional practice must be anchored in a "culturally sensitive" or analytical approach. There is a need for research that can stimulate such an approach and that relates to the tension between equality and diversity in professional practice.


Find information regarding admissions to PROFRES research school.

  • PhD candidates that are registered as PhD candidates at one of the partner institutions.
  • PhD candidates working with a research approach and dealing with issues in line with the thematic profile of the research school.

 It is estimated that approximately 60 doctoral candidates will participate in the research school.

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