Quality in Educational Research

ESRC TLRP Seminar Series

The series began with a broad overview of kinds of evidence and ways in which issues of quality in evidence may be addressed. The opening seminar thus examined the nature of evidence, and the evaluation of its quality, and how this evaluation may differ between disciplinary sites. In examining also the receipt of facts from discipline to discipline, the seminar led to discussion about the respect, or quality, accorded to evidence emerging from different kinds of research in education. This was followed by an examination of notions of evidence in a range of disciplines and professions, with a proposition that validation of evidence’s quality in those disciplines comes from the evidence’s sufficiency rather than its nature.

Subsequent events address quality in specific kinds of research. The second event addressed quality issues in interpretative research. Professor Martyn Hammersley provided the keynote papers, focusing on the problematics of the notion of quality here, and looking at the extent to which research should be ‘scientific’ and the relationship of research with politics, policymaking and practice. He discussed the need to develop common ground in qualitative research and stressed the functional relativity of evidence.

The third event will focus on clarifying standards of excellence in practice-based and action research. Strong arguments have been made for the validity of such research but issues around its quality still abound. A range of questions surround this issue concerning the tacit knowledge of practitioners, and connect with those in the first event of the series, with the problem being that evidence is often being expected to travel without the tacit knowledge and context of the practitioner accompanying it. The ESRC project of Professor John Furlong will form the keynote of this event, with contextual issues picked up subsequently by Stephen Steadman from the ESRC TLRP project, Learning During the First Three Years of Postgraduate Employment. Examining learning at work and the development of expertise, the project will offer material for discussion from related work in three sectors: nursing, engineering and accountancy.

Seminar 1, April 26th 2005, University of Leeds: Quality in evidence


Seminar 2, July 7th 2005, University of Oxford: Assessing quality in case study and qualitative research


Seminar 3, December 1st 2005, University of Oxford: Clarifying standards of excellence in practice-based research


Seminar 4, March 27th 2006, University of Birmingham: Quality in nomothetic and mixed method research.


  • Terezinha Nunes, Department of Educational Studies, University of Oxford
  • Kathy Sylva, Department of Educational Studies, University of Oxford
  • (Transcripts for Seminar 4 can be obtained by negotiation with Natasha MacNab (n.a.macnab@bham.ac.uk)

Seminar 5, June 1st 2006, University of Birmingham: Crossing paradigms. Is there common ground across epistemologies on what constitutes quality?


Conference Presentations

2004 - Cardiff Conference

2005 - Warwick Conference

2006 - Glasgow Conference

2007 - Cardiff Conference