Doing Your Education Research Project (Second Edition)

By Neil Burton, Mark Brundrett and Marion Jones

There exists a wealth of ‘how to’ literature aimed at supporting educational researchers.  Books on this subject range from step-by-step tutorials to sagacious theoretical discussions of specific research approaches.  The field is also punctuated by a number of seminal texts and definitive tomes, many of which tend to dominate the bibliographies of education research reports.  So, where does Doing Your Education Research Project stand in this already saturated market?  And what has it to offer such that it deserves revision and re-release?
Here we have a text aimed at guiding the education researcher, at whatever stage of their career, through the perils and pitfalls of carrying out a project.  The authors present their advice through comprehensive discussions of themes and ideas.  They include reflective prompts, practical tips, and well-selected lists of recommended further reading.  And, as if to reinforce the systematic nature of research activity, the book’s chapters have been usefully compiled into three main sections about planning, carrying out and writing up research:
  1. Think Before You Do – Planning
  2. Gathering Your Evidence
  3. Making Sense of the Outcomes. 
The opening chapter ‘The place of research within the classroom and school’ introduces and locates the text confidently and authoritatively.  Given the current political drive towards evidence-informed teaching (pp.6-7), Burton et al neatly justify the development of research skills among the teaching workforce.  They argue that since teachers, and teacher leaders, must continually strive to improve practice they need ‘a more enduring and robust capability for change’ (p.15) through the professional development of research skills. 
The book appears to have considered every aspect of research activity, to some degree.  And herein lies its limitations: it is practically impossible to present a balanced discussion of all competing themes in just 250 pages.  As a result some readers might feel short-changed by the chapter on quantitative data analysis, when it is compared with the book’s comprehensive treatment of qualitative data handling and presentation.  Also, some complex, crucial theoretical devices and concepts are given but a brief mention, which might baffle the un-initiated and demand exploration of time-consuming sidelines.  This will undoubtedly benefit the more eager component of the book’s readership, by prompting wider reading about historical and theoretical foundations of modern research paradigms.  However, those with little or no research experience would need some guidance in order to fully access the themes and ideas in the text. 
This is why Doing Your Education Research Project will make a superb resource as part of a module of academic study, supported by a tutor’s input.  Overall, the book is written with expert authority; the authors expound the complex and chaotic landscape of education research with rigour and verve.  But they have also struck the balance between providing guidance, while acknowledging that researchers must think for themselves, about their own singular route to success.  The result is a book that will ably encourage and support research students’ independent reading and research.
To conclude, this thoroughly revised and thoughtfully restructured second edition improves upon what was already a strong text.  It is a very good example of an authoritative guide to research, drawing from a wealth of literature and experience to create a single comprehensive text for the education research student.  Used well, it should ensure that research activity is thorough and well considered.  If you are searching for a single core research text, covering the complexities of methodology but with practical advice about conducting educational research, then look no further – this is the book for you.


No comments:

Post a Comment

Please add your comments & views. No tricky verification required...
Regards, DJA