Excellence is to be shown by rigorous theoretical thinking, methodological consideration and empirical foundation and by grounding conclusions and recommendations and the underlying research in a thorough knowledge of the existing literature in all relevant fields. This may include discipline-based as well as inter-disciplinary concepts and approaches that provide the intellectual spirit and consistency to elaborate these inputs into a coherent and convincing argument.
Relevance is to be shown by links of research to problems in the real world of higher education and attempts to contribute to understanding and solving those problems. Obviously, observation of reality unavoidably is theory-laden; 'pure' observation and 'pure' data do not exist. But we do not focus on theories for their own sake; we see them as tools to help solve intellectual puzzles and practical problems.
Research in CHEPS is mostly empirical. Intellectual effort to construct frames of thought lays the groundwork but should regularly be put to the test of consistency with empirical observation, while empirical work is supposed to contribute to the further development of our theoretical foundations.
And perhaps the most important thing to say about the CHEPS way of research is that there is not only one way to do it. The intention of this text is to give an impression of some expectations that researchers in CHEPS have with regard to the type of research that counts: excellence and relevance are the keywords. It is not meant to set limits to anyone's imagination or effort that contributes to a better understanding and analyses in the field of higher education studies.