Public and private research funding in the US: Implications for university-based researchers

Year: 2004

Author: Mayer, Diane

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

The US federal government’s recently established research arm, the Institute of Education Sciences (IES), suggests an inability on the part of the education research community to provide large-scale rigorous studies from which generalizations can be made to support education policy decisions. By defining, instigating and supporting particular types of research and evaluation, IES aims to support the identification and implementation of educational practices supported by rigorous evidence. It has instituted new guidelines requiring funded projects to employ randomized-trial designs, while another initiative, the What Works Clearinghouse, provides an online database of research findings that the Department of Education has decided meet the new federal guidelines for methodological rigor. These features of the context for education research funding support in the US are analyzed and implications drawn for university-based researchers. The particular case of teacher education researchers is examined. It is argued that education researchers need to be able to ‘read the field’; that is, they need to explore the purposes for which research in their field is supported and used, the contexts and the relationships of those who judge it, and the criteria by which it is being judged.