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Free Content What is research? Educators’ conceptions and alignment with United States federal policies

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This study draws on two communities theory to address two major research questions related to conceptions of research in educational practice and policy. First, how do educators conceptualise research? Second, to what extent do educators’ conceptions of research align with recent US federal educational policies?


We conducted 90 semi-structured interviews with educators in the US, asking them what comes to mind when they think of research. We used open, axial, and selective coding to characterise educators’ conceptions of research. We also compared educators’ conceptions of research to two US federal educational policies that define scientifically-based research and evidence-based interventions.


Findings indicate that educators and policies defined research in similar ways, but each included some unique characteristics.

Discussion and conclusions:

Implications from the study include the need for increased communication between federal policymakers and educators and improved reporting by researchers to better attend to the needs of educators and policymakers.

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Keywords: definitions of research; educational policy; educators; research evidence

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Michigan State University, USA

Publication date: August 2020

This article was made available online on January 25, 2019 as a Fast Track article with title: "What is research? Educators’ conceptions and alignment with United States federal policies".

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