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The AERA Task Force on Standards for Reporting on Humanities-Oriented Research in AERA Publications was charged with developing a set of standards tailored to humanities-oriented research in education to complement AERA’s Standards for Reporting on Empirical Social Science Research in AERA Publications.

The purpose of providing standards for humanities-oriented research in education is to assist researchers who are preparing manuscripts that are humanities-oriented, editors and reviewers who are charged with evaluating such manuscripts for publication, and readers of humanities-oriented publications who are interested in learning from and building on such work. An additional aim of these standards is to educate newcomers and others in the broader education research community who may not be familiar with humanities-oriented genres or with the purposes, goals and methods of humanities-oriented research. This latter purpose is particularly important because humanities-oriented research in education has a long history and continues to play a unique and indispensable role.

In adopting these standards, AERA emphasizes that they are intended to provide a framework of expectations by way of guidance for writers, readers, reviewers, and editors, rather than to define the conduct of humanities-oriented research, to specify its acceptable modes or formats, or to suggest that acceptability can be determined through application of a checklist of guidelines and procedures.

The Task Force devoted considerable deliberative effort to the question of whether “standards,” as opposed to “criteria” or “guidelines,” was an appropriate term for the norms used to evaluate humanities-oriented research in education. The primary concern was that to many the term “standards” connotes a sense of absoluteness and finality that seemed inappropriate to changing fields such as represented by several disciplines being considered. The Task Force eventually concluded that “standards” was sufficiently broad to encompass the kind of flexibility and judgment in application that evaluating humanities-oriented research requires, as is true also in the case of the Association’s publication of both Ethical Standards and Standards for Reporting on Empirical Social Science Research in AERA Publications.

This document is organized into three major parts. The first section of this document describes humanities-oriented research in terms of its primary methods, purposes, and content as well as its inherent controversies. In writing these standards, the committee recognized that certain qualities and characterizations explicit in this report overlap with those of the Standards for Reporting on Empirical Social Science Research in AERA Publications (henceforth, AERA’s Social Science Standards). At the most general level, humanities-oriented research in education may be distinguished from the conception of empirical research in education presumed in AERA’s Social Science Standards in terms of a division of labor, as opposed to a fundamental epistemological divide. That is, humanities-oriented education research differs from the conception of the Social Science Standards with respect to the questions on which they focus their investigations and the questions they leave largely to other investigators, as in the question of whether charter schools enhance social justice versus the question of whether they increase racial isolation. Differences may be substantive and, as a consequence, methodological boundaries may be blurred. In effect, the two sets of standards may overlap in research practice. Journal editors should understand that the overlap in approaches may lead to a blurring of traditional boundaries and must be sensitive to these differences in the review process

The second section of the document further elaborates the domain of humanities-oriented research by providing brief illustrations of several of the most common approaches: philosophy, history, arts-based education research, literary studies, and studies of the politics of knowledge. For each of these approaches, the primary aims, content and methods of research are described. The remainder of the document specifies standards for humanities-oriented research in AERA publications. Seven standards, each with a series of sub-standards that explicate and elaborate the major standard, are set forth: (1) significance, (2) conceptualization, (3) methods, (4) substantiation, (5) coherence, (6) quality of communication, and (7)ethics.


a. What Is Humanities-Oriented Research in Education?

The Task Force coined the term “humanities-oriented” both to capture a constellation of educational research approaches for which the Social Science Standards are not suited, and to include emergent approaches to educational research not easily identifiable with traditional humanities disciplines. Because “humanities-oriented” has no history of usage, it possesses a relatively high degree of open-texture. While in most instances examples of humanities-oriented research are self-evident, such as those given in this document, this is not always the case. It is more difficult, for example, to classify as humanities-oriented or not instances of policy analysis with a significant normative dimension. The open-texture of “humanities-oriented” cannot be altogether eliminated. The Task Force did its best to provide criteria by which such judgments could be made by reviewers and recommends that a procedure be put in place whereby this document may evolve over time.

To define the domain of the research to which its standards apply, the Task Force looked to the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) for guidance. The first two categories of humanities-oriented research in education, described below, are adapted from NEH’s definition of the humanities. The third category is adapted from the specific charge to the Task Force from the AERA Council.

The term “humanities-oriented research in education” includes, but is not limited to, the following: (1) studies of education in which the issues identified and methods employed fall within the purview of traditional humanities disciplines such as linguistics, literary theory, history, jurisprudence, philosophy, and religion; (2) studies of education that have a relatively heavy interpretive-theoretical emphasis that fall within the general purview of social science disciplines such as cultural studies and some branches or subdisciplines of cultural anthropology, sociology, economics, and political science; and (3) an array of other approaches to studies in education such as critical, arts-based, and narrative that are not exclusively identified with any particular discipline but that more closely resemble the general methods of the humanities relative to the methods articulated in AERA’s Empirical Standards.

b. Purposes of Humanities-Oriented Research in Education

The purposes of humanities-oriented studies have changed in concert with the historical contexts in which they have been embedded. The traditional humanities have their roots in the classical Greek idea of paideia, a form of general education designed to prepare young men for citizenship. The Renaissance humanists distinguished studies in the humanities from studies of divinity. By the 19th century, the humanities had come to be identified with a domain of intellectual activity distinct from the sciences and, by the 20th century, a domain distinct from the social sciences as well.

Throughout its history, humanities-oriented studies have retained, as a central purpose, the exploration and understanding of forms of human existence. In pursuit of this general purpose, humanities-oriented research undertakes investigations into the concept of self, knowledge and its grounds, the arts and their appreciation; the relationships reason vis a vis emotion; the ethical life; the just society, and the characteristics of the good citizen. Humanities-oriented research in education tailors such investigations to fit its more specific domain, as in how reason and emotion are represented in school practices, and what role education plays and ought to play in the formation of the citizenry.

Woven into the fabric of humanities-oriented research in education, as it is in humanities-oriented research more generally, are various forms of criticism. A fundamental purpose of such criticism is to render problematic unrecognized assumptions, implications, and consequences of various approaches to education practice, policy, and research, as well as to appropriately challenge what these approaches take for granted as beyond questioning. In this way, humanities-oriented researchers in education often seek to foster dissonance and discomfort with conventional education practice, policy, and research; and, in many cases, to suggest better alternatives.

c. Content of Humanities-Oriented Research in Education

The general domain of humanities-oriented research in education includes various inter-related questions about how and why education transpires in the way it does; the purposes and interests it may serve, intended or not; and the consequences that result. Topics are typically rife with value dimensions—political, ethical, and/or aesthetic—which can be, and often are, an explicit focus of investigation, critique and recommendations for improvement. Although ever present, these value dimensions of humanities-oriented research need not have an explicit focus. Some humanities-oriented researchers take an illuminative portrayal approach, in which they provide insightful and sometimes provocative characterizations of educational processes and their origins but refrain from proffering judgments about what is good or bad about them as well as from making recommendations about how they can be improved. By contrast, other humanities-oriented researchers take a normative argument approach, in which they directly pursue questions of value, taking an explicit position about the need for, and (sometimes) means of accomplishing, fundamental changes in the methods and aims of education.

d. Methods of Humanities-Oriented Research in Education

A distinctive feature of humanities-oriented research in education is its reliance on interpretive methods, which emphasize investigating the history, meanings, beliefs, and values that humans employ, respond to, and construct in the interpretation, production, and reproduction of social life. Interpretive methods focus on three kinds of objects: texts (books, articles, diaries, public documents, media accounts, sacred documents, etc.,); text analogues (reports, narratives or transcripts of ceremonies, rituals, performances, formal and informal meetings, classroom interactions, interviews, etc.); and artifacts (works of art, tools, students’ work samples, implements, etc.). Different areas of study have different foci. For example, cultural anthropology and history examine all three of these kinds of objects. Literary studies and philosophy focus heavily on texts. Narrative research focuses on texts and text analogues. Arts based research focuses on all three. In general, humanities-oriented research in education examines these objects in order to gain an understanding of the explicit and implicit messages and meanings of education, to point out the tensions and contradictions among them, and to compare and critique them on ethical or other value-oriented grounds. Specific kinds of interpretive methods and the other methods that augment them vary substantially across the spectrum of humanities-oriented research in education. Some of this variety is illustrated in examples to follow in Section III.

e. Empirical Aspects of Humanities-Oriented Research in Education

Humanities-oriented research seeks to examine the role and contribution of education in human existence through experience and observation. In pursuit of this general purpose, then, humanities-oriented research investigations are inextricably empirical. Because much work in the social sciences is also empirical, there is overlap between these two domains of research and standards appropriate for evaluating humanities-oriented research in education complement and sometimes overlap with AERA’s Social Science Standards.

Humanities- oriented research and the research most closely identified with AERA’s Social Science Standards are best thought of in terms of a division of labor. James Coleman’s celebrated work on educational inequality provides an illustration. Coleman first investigated the inputs and outputs of public schools vis-à-vis race and then subsequently pursued an analysis of the implications with respect to different conceptions of the of equal educational opportunity. The first part of this work – a large scale survey, regression analysis, and case studies—could be quite appropriately evaluated in terms of the Social Science Standards. These standards would be quite inappropriate, however, for evaluating the conceptual emphasis of his study in which Coleman argued that the concept of equal educational opportunity should be interpreted in terms of equal educational outcomes rather than the more commonplace equal inputs. This argument was made on philosophical merits and drew significant attention from philosophers, who appraised it on the basis of philosophical merits.

Coleman’s work on equality of educational opportunity is useful for illustrating the manner in which humanities-oriented research in education is linked to empirical research. Humanities-oriented research, especially in education, is often more seamless, however. For, a study of urban education might ask about the distinctions and categories in teaching. The empirical is the discursive practices that constitute the urban qualities and characteristics of the child, and how these practices generate principles that conceptualize, classify, order and differentiate the educational experiences provided for specific children within school settings. Whereas the Coleman example above separates phenomena and conceptual methods, this second example looks to the overlapping and dialogic qualities between what is studied and the conceptual categories implicitly or explicitly guiding the study.

These two examples represent two ways of addressing the "empirical", and also point to the intellectual diversity of humanities-oriented research attended to in the standards outlined in this document.

f. The Concept of Humanities-Oriented Standards

There are several unique problems in recommending standards for humanities-oriented research. The first is making a determination of what is to be included within the category in the first place. As noted above, all definitions of “humanities” include history and philosophy, many include some branches of sociology and cultural anthropology, and some include certain approaches within economics and political science. Developing standards for a domain of research about which there is considerable debate is a daunting task; consideration of standards for humanities-oriented approaches that cut across traditional disciplinary and methodological boundaries, such as narrative inquiry, arts-based education, and the politics of knowledge, is even more challenging. By necessity, then, the Task Force has examined only some of the possible disciplines and interdisciplinary areas in developing standards for humanities-oriented research in AERA publications, and believes that these will be illustrative of standards that might be adapted for still other disciplines.

A second problem encountered in developing standards for humanities-oriented research is that the established disciplines often are defined more by the problems they investigate than by their methods. While checklists of how to do research in one or another of the humanities are occasionally published, they tend not to deal with central methodological issues. Philosophy, for example, denotes a set of problems but not a method for attacking them, as is also largely the case for history, sociology, and cultural anthropology.

The third problem in developing standards is that not all forms of humanities-oriented research readily lend themselves to developing prescription or recommendations. Indeed, some approaches to humanities-oriented research are defined more by the challenges they pose to the conventions and norms of research methods -- and purposes -- than by their conformity with regard to either. The familiar vocabulary associated with conduct of experimental research simply does not offer guidance in developing standards for research that is designed not to establish proof, but to illuminate, critique, and value education phenomena.

g. Controversy Within Humanities-Oriented Research

Controversy is inherent in the kinds of broad, value-laden questions humanities-oriented researchers ask, to which answers are typically uncertain and provisional. Adding to the potential for controversy, humanities-oriented research in education frequently opens to critique, explicit or implied, the larger social, cultural, economic, and political contexts in which educational institutions and practices are embedded. “Critical” traditions in curriculum theory are illustrative of this role, as are “revisionist” history and “poststructuralist” analysis of educational policies and practices. Controversy in interpretation and understanding of education phenomena is a permanent feature of the dynamic scholarly conversations in which humanities-oriented researchers engage.

h. Reflexive Educational Research

An important kind of humanities-oriented research that merits special comment is reflexive educational research, or, educational research that has educational research itself as its object. This category encompasses multiple approaches and styles of reasoning. The issues explored here fall into at least two categories. The first is: an analytic category, which divides into two overlapping categories, methodological-epistemological and moral-political. The second is a genealogical category, which investigates the historical and epistemological sources that form what has come to be considered “commonsense” about education.

The first of the analytic categories asks questions about the meaning and relationships of central research concepts, such as “interpretation,” “understanding,” “qualitative,” and “quantitative” and also, “scientific,” “bias,” “objective,” “subjective,” “representation,” and “technical rationality.” This category also considers overlap and disagreement over methodologies, traditions and representations such as post-positivism, post-structuralism, pragmatism, arts-based research, feminism, and critical theory. The second analytic category consists of questions about the nature and extent of the value commitments in education research; research ethics; and, the politics of knowledge—the complex and myriad relationships among power, politics, research methodology, and knowledge production.

The genealogical category digs more deeply into questions about the very distinctions inherited as the commonsense of research that frame the kinds of controversies described above. It discursively investigates the relationship between epistemology and ontology and how they change in a historically contingent way. It focuses on how predecessor epistemological conceptions and assumptions persist in hidden and altered form in successor conceptions.

Educational researchers are committed to positions in each of these two broad categories, if only implicitly, and the nature of their commitments affects what they investigate as well as how they go about it.


In this section, five common genres or approaches are briefly described as illustrations of humanities-oriented research in education: philosophy, history, arts-based education research, literary studies, and studies of the politics of knowledge. For each of these genres, aims, content and methods are described. The point of these illustrations is to elaborate further what humanities-oriented research is about and what kind of work it does in the field of education. It is important to reiterate that the purpose here is illustrative, rather than restrictive or honorific. These illustrations should not be taken as delimiting the boundaries of humanities-oriented research or suggesting some kind of hierarchy of acceptable or recognized approaches.

a. Philosophy

Aims. Philosophy seeks answers to questions in a core set of areas—logic, epistemology, metaphysics, ethics, aesthetics, and political theory—characteristically emphasizing their normative dimensions, e.g., right behavior (ethics), good reasoning (logic), warranted claims (epistemology). Philosophy is also characteristically self-critical. Philosophers relentlessly scrutinize one another’s presuppositions and the adequacy of the methods by which inquiries into philosophy’s various domains proceed.

Content. In classical Greece the pursuit of knowledge per se was philosophy, where “natural philosophy” had to do with understanding what is typically thought of today as the empirical world. As the various disciplines developed, philosophy retained its core set of areas, which have the characteristic of cutting across the intellectual landscape. Maintaining its connection to other intellectual endeavors, philosophy spun off various philosophy ofs, such as philosophy of art, philosophy of religion, philosophy of law, philosophy of science, philosophy of medicine, and, of course, philosophy of education. These specialized areas pursue traditional philosophical questions identified within the endeavors under examination as well as particularized philosophical issues to which such endeavors give rise. A partial list of general domains of philosophical inquiry in education include the proper goals of education; the epistemic (cognitive) status of different aspects of curriculum and instruction; education, democracy, and social justice; citizenship education; multicultural education (pluralism in education); ethics of education, including the ethics of educational research; philosophy of science and educational research; the philosophy of mind (philosophical psychology) and the nature of teaching and learning; understanding as narratively structured; and the nature, scope and limits of reason and rationality.

Methods. Methods in philosophy of education, like in philosophy more generally, have a conceptual orientation. That is, philosophical investigation proceeds by tracing the implications of a given argument or picture of things, imaginatively testing it against contrary-to-fact contingencies, examining how it fits together with a broader conception of things, and so on. Though not unique to philosophical method, these features are relatively central to it, ranging from the work of logicians proving startling new things about the limits of logical systems, to phenomenologists attempting to drill down to unconditioned experience, to political philosophers describing the ideal conditions from which democratic and just deliberations would follow, to poststructuralists unmasking the role of power in determining scientific truth.

Beyond the general characteristic of a conceptual orientation, philosophical methods are too varied, nuanced, and contentious to be fruitfully enumerated and described. The choice of philosophical method is itself a rich source of ongoing philosophical examination and debate, consistent with the self-critical nature of philosophy mentioned above. But the issue of method is quite often interwoven with the development of a philosophical analysis as a whole. For example, a dispute between a poststructuralist philosopher of education and philosopher of education steeped in liberalism about the nature and extent of oppression in the public schools may be as much—or more—about methods of critique and analysis, and what these methods presuppose, as it is about competing views on oppression. Because method is typically interwoven in philosophical work in this way, philosophers of education rarely isolate and elaborate their methods in developing their analyses.

b. History

Aims. Historical research aims to uncover the past through interpretation of an array of appropriate primary and secondary sources. Often when reviewing the same sources, historians can and do disagree on interpretations of events and assessments of individuals and their actions. The issue of explaining why something happened versus when and where it happened is the most difficult challenge for the historian. Historical research aims to offer fresh, often provocative or counter perspectives based on discovery, development, and analysis of the best available evidence. There are occasions when a historical researcher is limited by the inability to gain access to certain sources. Thus, interpretations of a given topic may change dramatically with additional sources.

Content. Historical research in education focuses on topics that have significant, but often contested, social implications, such as the history of the “achievement gap” or the “gender gap” in educational resources and outcomes. For example, the history of access to elite higher education has generated enormous debate within the historical community. While previous debates have concentrated on the role of race in higher education admissions, researchers are now focusing on the greater role of legacies, social class, and athletic ability in elite college admissions. Historical research in education also involves the study of specific institutions and individuals and their roles in history. Biographies and collective biographies often reveal significant insight into educational change and events. Historians examine a range of normative issues, such as the values embedded in emerging educational structures and the aims of reform movements. They examine a wide range of empirical questions, including what happened in education (description), how it happened (process), and why it happened (causation).

Methods. The historical researcher has to identify and gain access to appropriate sources, determine how reliable and accurate the resources are, and analyze the perspectives or biases from which they were generated. Often drawing on concepts and methods from other disciplines, historians analyze documents such as letters, school policies, newspapers, journals, reports, diaries, narratives, and oral accounts. No single preferred method or perspective exists in historical research. Historical research is often considered both an art and a science because of the skills required to locate, evaluate, and analyze primary data as well as the creativity needed to construct a coherent and credible narrative. Because most historians do not approach a research project with a preconceived notion of an outcome (hypothesis), their approach to a topic is often driven by the primary sources that are deemed most relevant to the project and judged by the credibility of the interpretation.

c. Arts-Based Education Research

Aims. Arts-based educational research (ABER) aims to improve educational policy and practice through the use of premises, principles, and practices associated with various forms of art. Arts-based educational research is defined by the presence of aesthetic qualities (or design elements) within both the inquiry process and the research text. Many arts-based researchers have engaged in the use of literary forms of art, but the visual, plastic, digital, and performance arts have also been employed. Arts-based researchers attempt to use the expressive qualities of a medium to convey meanings about educational phenomena that are otherwise unavailable. They do this by enabling an audience to vicariously (re)experience, with both cognitive and emotional components, a set of educational phenomena through a research text that combines aesthetic form and substance. The result may be the generation of doubts or questions about the finality of commonplace, orthodox, or stereotypical perspectives. ABER does not aim to enhance certainty or assert knowledge claims about these topics. Rather, quality is judged by the capacity of the text to fulfill the interrogatory purpose that is also the hallmark of good art.

Content. Arts-based research is often misunderstood as focusing only on content associated with arts education or on artistic productions. To the contrary, the methods of arts-based educational research methods are equipped to study all matters educational, and, in fact, have been already used to explore elements and problematize orthodoxies within a variety of educational domains and disciplines. A few examples include: the work of the school principal; the meaning of student "at-riskness;" definitions of "good" teaching; the nature of "attention;" the experiences of homeless youth; the hidden curriculum within an arts classroom; the quality of social studies textbooks; the place of intercorporeality in the educational process; oversimplified conceptions of science education practice.

Methods. The methods employed by arts-based educational researchers are similar in many ways to those used by artists and by other qualitative researchers. Empirical details may be acquired through interviewing, participant observation, document analysis, etc.; data may also arise out of rigorous reflections on the previous experiences of the researcher with educational phenomena. The research may occur prior to the composition of the research text; more often research and composition will occur simultaneously. Within the research process a selection and recasting of the details into an aesthetic form is accomplished. Several phases may be identified in what has been called a “qualitative problem solving process” employed by many artists as well as arts-based researchers. The first phase involves the confrontation of seemingly random qualities in the people and settings under scrutiny. In the second tentative relationships between these qualities are apprehended. Within the third stage a single pervasive quality, central metaphor, or theme emerges. In the fourth phase this patterning principle is used as a qualitative control for choosing among and arranging qualities into an aesthetic form. Finally, after each component part of the document has been tested for its “fit” in the overall schema the work is judged complete.

d. Literary Studies

Aims. ‘Literary studies’ has been selected as an umbrella name for a diverse body of research whose illustrative types are delineated below. The use of ‘studies’ is important because neither of the more conventional categories of literary studies nor criticism encapsulate this broad-field domain. Studies, too, is meant to connect to but differentiate a body of research from a conventional use of literary devices in science-based research. Herein a literary-connection drives the research; it does not merely play a supportive role. All forms of literature—from narratives to poetics to dramatics—have potential use in literary studies. Like other kinds of humanities-oriented research, literary studies aim to exemplify, portray, and interpret elements of the human condition as they relate to education. In this domain, the significance of research ‘findings’ relates more so to evocation than to verisimilitude. For example, educational life is interrogated as a text with more or less ‘truthlike’ emphasis depending on the research purpose. Indeed, a fiction could be used or multiple texts could be played off against one another for educational purpose. In another formulation, methods of criticism are utilized and herein become a form of philosophy in which analysis and explanation predominate. Both studies could then be subjected to ‘criticism’ that applies typical standards of figurative or logical structure, coherence and the like.

Content. Contemporary literary studies employ processes of investigation that are comprised of pan-disciplinary, interdisciplinary, and new disciplinary formulations. Four principal types are these: (1) Applications of conventional literary analysis and literary criticism taken from the “modern language” tradition; an example is to describe the rhetorical structures in a piece of research. (2) Blurring of this tradition into modes of philosophical, historical, or social science inquiry; an example is to undertake a “history of ideas” for educational purposes from specific text documents. (3) Employment of text-based arts forms such as narratives, poetry, and dramatic scripts; an example is author creation of a short story to evoke educational meaning. (4) Textual products from the fields of cultural studies and “new literacies” in which language use is the focus; an example is analysis of the educational import of a media exemplar.

Methods. Literary studies are based in methodologies of writing and reading and use all of the forms and processes associated with literature and expressive texts. In literary studies, the role of language is central for meaning and exemplification. Further, as in much arts-based research, a marriage of language form and content is significant as much of what is said educationally occurs through how it is said; rhetorical form of the research ‘reporting’ is itself crucial.

As other forms of humanities-oriented research, the undertaking of a literary study also has much to say about educational research itself. The basic structure of this domain is a relationship established between the writer of the study and its reader. Arising from contemporary literary theory as its most important disciplinary source, literary studies shares with all forms of inquiry a degree of openness and indeterminancy. Ambiguity and tentativeness of interpretation are its strength. Undermined are research claims of strong certainty and of acceptance of anything taken for granted. Application of ‘results’ of this research domain are not in a ‘generalizable’ form but connect across particulars as a reader finds meaning for his or her own educational purposes from reading a study written by another.

e. Studies of the Politics of Knowledge

Aims. Studies of the politics of knowledge entail different problematics; that is, the interaction of methods, concepts and theories in ordering inquiry. Although not exhaustive, two problematics compared are "critical" (theory, pedagogy) and "post" (modern, structural, feminist, histories of the present) Each problematic expresses an interest in politics and power in schooling but with different epistemological and ontological distinctions to those concepts in studies of, for example, policy, curriculum, teacher education, and pedagogy.

Critical problematics ask, for example, about the social interests served and disadvantaged in school practices. Power is articulated in how school knowledge serves unequally different social and/or economic interests. Research is to realign power relations to promote agency (voice) in social reconstruction.

Post problematics focus on knowledge as systems of reason that generate principles about what is known, done, and hoped for. Power is embodied in the distinctions and differentiations that order and divide subjects and subjectivities. Research provides a cartography of how the objects of schooling become knowable components of reality, and are shaped, fashioned and change over time in diverse conditions.

Content. The critical problematic considers knowledge as serving social interests and thus comprise the materiality of schools. Post studies assume knowledge as having material effects through structuring what is “seen” and acted on. The political in critical studies is through ideological critique and questions of (dis)empowerment. The political in post studies is to make visible the principles generated to differentiate and divide subjects and subjectivities.

Critical studies are to provide direction to enable agency of the excluded subject. They are subject driven, both teleological and progressive, and intent on identifying the best paths for rectification. Posts are more concerned with interruption and “troubling” the commonsense as a counter-praxis. Agency is through making visible the arbitrary and contingent qualities of subjects (subjectivities) and thus to make possible futures other than those that currently exist.

Urban education illustrates the distinctions in knowledge and power. Critical studies of urban schools typically focus on power in the selection of school knowledge as producing repressive conditions or acting on people to create inequalities. Post studies focus on urban-ness, that is, the production of cultural spaces that constitutes, differentiates and abjects.

Methods. Studies of methodology note that there are only four techniques used for collecting information: talking to people (interviews and surveys), participant observations, non-participant observations, and reading what a culture says about itself in the texts of schooling.

The different problematics uses these techniques in constructing methods. The critical problematic uses at least one or more of these techniques (such as interview or textual analysis) to identify patterns in data, then interprets the significance of those patterns through analysis that illuminates relationships between actors as evidence of power that inserts inequalities. The posts problematic uses those same techniques but with different methods that relate to its aims. Methods are interpretive strategies that take the texts of archives, interviews as events rather than data. The events are studied discursively, for example, to identify the rules and standards that order reflection and action, and the changes that occur through multiple historical interactions and mediations which have no single origin.


One of the prominent features of humanities-oriented research in education is its wide variation in genre, form, and format. To accommodate this variation, the standards designated here are general. Two features deserve emphasis: (a) The appropriateness of any of the standards is contingent upon the purpose and rhetorical form and structure of particular scholarly work that is under review for publication. (2) Not every standard is applicable or appropriate for every piece of humanities-oriented scholarly work.

Authors of humanities-oriented manuscripts intended for publication in AERA journals will take into account the standards for publication employed in the area of humanities-oriented scholarship exemplified, including specialized journals. Such standards will be employed by a subset of the reviewers with appropriate expertise, adjusted as appropriate for AERA journals’ more general audience.


Humanities-oriented educational research occupies different and sometimes overlapping scholarly spaces: within the boundaries of formal disciplines, at the intersection of different humanity disciplines, and in interaction with traditions such as reported in the Social Science Standards.. Thus, humanities-oriented research has multiple and interdisciplinary literatures through which problems and methods are formulated. This bringing together of different spaces in the formulation and production of research may be viewed as part of joining an ongoing conversation in which issues related to education and schooling are addressed. Advancing such conversations requires drawing uon and integrating available literatures and may involve engaging the available scholarship from different fields of research to illuminate the particular problem at hand.. Works that employ feminist, post-structuralist, post-colonialist, and arts-based approaches, will more obviously depart from the orthodoxies found within other disciplinary traditions, having been designed to explore new paths to the production of informative educational research texts.

1.1 Significance of Topic. The topic of the manuscript should be significant to the scholarly community in one or more of the following ways: is timely and important;

addresses an issue that has been neglected; is intrinsically interesting or edifying; fills a gap in current knowledge; raises significant questions about extant knowledge.

1.2 Appropriateness of Topic. The topic of the manuscript should be appropriate (significant) to the themes and audience of the AERA journal to which it is submitted.

1.3 Use of Scholarly Literature. The manuscript should demonstrate familiarity with and mastery of current literature relative to the topic. In some humanities-oriented research, this process overlaps with traditional formulations from diverse or competing literatures; more typically familiarity is manifest in the comprehensiveness or in the manner of the research representation itself. Further development takes off in a holistic way from the interpretation.

1.4 Scholarly contribution. Manuscripts should make a clear scholarly contribution, which can take different forms, including joining and advancing a conversation within its existing boundaries; radically redirecting a conversation; and trenchantly disregarding or speaking back to elements within the prevailing research culture.


Humanities-oriented research in education employs a broad range of methods that typically fall under the descriptors interpretive, qualitative, and conceptual, but may also include quantitative methods. The more specific methods employed depend on the area of humanities-oriented research in question as well as different strands within areas.

In general, humanities-oriented researchers are much less disposed to explicate the methods they employ in their work, particularly in a separate section of a manuscript, than are researchers whose work fits more closely with that exemplified by AERA’s Social Science Standards.

This is due in part to tradition. But it is also due to the character of much humanities-oriented work in which varied, open ended methods are embodied within the portrayals and discussions of the phenomena under study.

2.1 Identification of Methods. Taking the characteristics of humanities-oriented research methods into account—the broad range to be accommodated and relative difficulty in meaningfully separating the execution of methods from the other dimensions of studies—authors of humanities-oriented manuscripts should be attuned to audiences of AERA journals and should craft their manuscripts to be as explicit about methods as the rhetorical form and structure of their work permits.

2.2 Appropriateness of Methods. Where appropriate, explication of methods may include explanation of how they are suited to accomplishing the aims of the work. This is determined in large part in terms of how well the methods fit with the overall conceptualization and design of the work.

2.3 Execution of Methods. The particular methods employed in a work should be applied in a manner that is effective in terms of the particular criteria that apply to those methods.


Manuscripts should provide a conceptualization of the work that brings its topic(s) and method(s) together in terms of some discipline, school, tradition, emergent approach, or specifically tailored conceptual framework. As indicated previously, much humanities-oriented research is relatively seamless with respect to topics under investigation and methods employed. Humanities-oriented researchers often do not explicate the conceptualization their work exemplifies. For example, they may provide a genealogical or feminist or pragmatic analysis without an explicit indication they are working within these frameworks. As in the case of methods, this lack of explicitness is often quite appropriate in specialized publications, but, also as in the case of methods, authors of humanities-oriented manuscripts for AERA publications should be attuned to the need to be relatively explicit about the conceptualization of their work in communicating with more general audiences.

3.1 Identification of Perspective. The perspective—scholarly tradition, school, conceptual framework—and the methods it employed should be made explicit, consistent with the rhetorical form and structure of the manuscript.

3.2 Identification of Aims. The aim(s) the inquiry should be made explicit, consistent with the rhetorical form and structure of the manuscript.

3.3 Conceptualization of the Inquiry. The conceptualization and design of the inquiry should be suited and adequate to accomplishing the aims of the work.

3.4 Scope and Limits of the Inquiry. The score and limits of the inquiry should be stated explicitly, where appropriate, and should align with the perspective, aims, and conceptualization of the inquiry.

3.5 Use of the Scholarly Literature. The manuscript should make effective and accurate use of the relevant scholarly literature in its conceptualization, particularly with respect to identifying its perspective and aims.


Substantiation may mean either the establishment of the warrant for arguments, the adequacy of interpretations, or the credibility and usefulness of a portrayal of educational phenomena for raising significant questions or prompting exploration of new possibilities. The standard of substantiation varies in what it requires of a particular manuscript, depending on its conceptualization, including any theoretical framework, as well as its methods. In all cases, the standard of substantiation requires the careful selection of various materials (the scholarly literature, archival evidence and documentation, appropriate examples, empirical data collected by the author) for inclusion in the manuscript that supports its proffered portrayal or argument.

4.1 Warrant/Credibility. Substantiation is achieved in two general ways (not necessarily exclusive): (1) by establishing knowledge claims and arguments, pertaining to representations and explanations of educational phenomena are warranted; or (2) by providing interpretations and portrayals of educational phenomena that are sufficiently credible, persuasive, and/or effectively interrogatory.

4.2 Use of Scholarly Literature. Manuscripts should make judicious, effective, and accurate use of the relevant scholarly literature in supporting their portrayals or arguments when appropriate; whether in it is in a particular section or through the weaving of literatures within the arguments of the text

4.3 Use of Empirical Evidence and Other Intellectual Resources. Manuscripts should, as appropriate, include observational data, archival evidence and documentation, and other intellectual resources, (thought experiments, evocative imagery, artful reconfigurations of education phenomena) in supporting their portrayals or arguments.

4.4 Critical Qualities. Manuscripts should demonstrate a critical self-awareness on the part of authors regarding their perspectives; manuscripts should seek to buttress portrayals or arguments by anticipating and responding to objections, counter-examples, and counter-arguments, as appropriate.


The standard of coherence is inextricable from the standards of significance, explication of methods, and conceptualization. But whereas these focus on cogently formulating the plan or design, Coherence, like Substantiation focuses on the effectiveness of a manuscript in accomplishing its aims. The standard of coherence requires effectively encompassing methods, data, other intellectual resources, as appropriate, within a given conceptualization, school, or tradition. Coherence relates to the skilled application of the principles and procedures of reasoning and meaning construction in different traditions.

5.1 Internal Coherence. Internal coherence demands the presence of compelling confirming and disconfirming evidence that enables readers to understand and/or re-experience educational events, concepts, value systems, or issues in a comprehensible and illuminating way. The various elements identifiable within the text should be internally coherent in that they fit with the inquiry’s topics, aims, methods, and conceptualization.

5.2 External Coherence. The inquiry should be externally coherent; it should exhibit an awareness of and, as appropriate, should engage alternative or competing cultural, social, political, or intellectual perspectives.


The purpose of the quality of communication standard is to promote clarity through attention to an author’s presentation and writing style, including choice of title, abstract, and headings.

Clarity of presentation is essential for effectively reporting all types of education research. However, clarity is especially important in preparing manuscripts in the humanities-oriented tradition because words and ideas themselves—their political meaning and other contextual connotations, and their historical usage—are often central to the exploration of education phenomena, and often are used in specialized ways. Generally, tables or graphs are unavailable to summarize or explain the findings of humanities-oriented researchers in education, increasing the burden placed on clarity of presentation and writing. Additionally, because humanities-oriented research in education often is multidisciplinary, authors have the added burden of writing in a manner that makes their work accessible to researchers in the several disciplines referenced. For AERA publications aimed at a general scholarly audience, it is important that authors consider the possible need to explain or translate terms or references that are commonplace within their discipline or theoretical approach.

Authors of humanities-oriented publications must pay special attention to selection of titles for their journal articles. Central characteristics of some modes of humanities-oriented research involves turns of phrase and artistic representations designed to call attention to unexamined assumptions or to highlight critical aspects of social phenomena. Titles that may be freighted with meaning in the context of a manuscript can nevertheless fail to fully inform the potential reader of the subject matter. Additionally, humanities-oriented research in education often is multidisciplinary and titles should be provided that are meaningful in the context of the disciplines involved in the research.

6.1 Clarity of manuscript for the intended audience. Humanities-oriented research prepared for AERA journals, or for other journals intended for a non-specialty audience, must be especially attentive to the clarity of writing, the avoidance of jargon, and the possible requirement to translate or illustrate central concepts likely to be unfamiliar to general readers.

6.2 The title of the manuscript. The title should convey what the article is about. The title should use terms that will facilitate its discovery through electronic indexing and searching, and that will serve this purpose as well in the future as at the present.

6.3 The abstract. When an abstract is called for, it should provide a summary of the article that is self-contained, concise, and accurate. Presentation of the abstract should be in accordance with the format and structure required of the AERA publication or, recognizing that AERA does not have a journal devoted to each recognized field of humanities-oriented research, to the journal to which it is to be submitted. The “structured abstract” movement is gaining adherents in the empirically-oriented research approaches, but in its most comprehensive form is often inappropriate for humanities-oriented research. However, if appropriate, abstracts should identify the question or problem addressed; describe the mode of analysis or methods of interpretation; state the conceptual orientation of the study; and state the main conclusions and implications.

6.4 Headings and subheadings. Headings and subheadings used in the article should both make clear the logic of the inquiry and facilitate the reader’s comprehension of central points in the line of reasoning.


AERA has developed and issued a set of ethical standards for the conduct of research to which its members and those who participate in all AERA programs, including publishing, are expected to adhere (see Ethical Standards of AERA at ). It is assumed that authors seeking publication in AERA journals are familiar with and adhere to these general ethical standards. The present document refers only to those ethical issues that are directly relevant to humanities-oriented research. The AERA Standards for Reporting on Empirical Social Science Research in AERA Publications describes a number of important ethical dimensions of empirically-oriented social science research and spells out standards that derive from those dimensions. Many of the standards in that document that relate to interactions with human subjects also apply to humanities-oriented research.

One purpose and result of the work of the AERA Humanities Task Force has been to broaden the conversation about the forms education research may take, what forms research may take, and what purposes it may serve. Part of this has been recognition of the fact that for some forms of humanities-oriented research, such as philosophical analysis of an influential educational construct or an arts-based analysis of an educational phenomenon, there is no distinction in time or space between “conducting” and “reporting” research. Thus consideration of ethics in humanities-oriented research entails far more than standards for “reporting” research: ethics is integral to, and woven into, the entire scholarly enterprise.

Traditionally research ethics has concerned conduct among persons. In humanities-oriented research, this conduct may be direct or indirect. Direct conduct concerns fidelity between researchers and participants as well as with fellow researchers. Matters of ethics include but are not limited to, fair treatment of all participants, adherence to agreements regarding privacy and confidentiality, and appropriate presentation and representation of perspectives. Indirect conduct involves integrity of scholarship, including but not limited to appropriate use of sources and accurate citation of others’ ideas and research.

Authors have the responsibility to indicate in manuscripts for publication the ethical decisions that shaped how an inquiry was designed or undertaken and, where appropriate, to indicate how texts and other data were organized, maintained, and analyzed in line with confidentiality guarantees and data protection plans. This includes considerations with respect to informed consent, confidentiality agreements, and any incentives offered for participation. In instances where researchers altered descriptions or combined data into composite portraits to mask the identity of locations, institutions, or individuals, these decisions should be described.

Humanities-oriented research is expected to reflect the highest standards of ethical practice with respect to both human participants and the execution of professional conduct and judgment. Humanities-oriented research should be: the work of the authors with appropriate attribution to others and without plagiarism or misappropriation of the writing or ideas of others; and open to further analysis. Funding sources or other sources of support that may raise issues of conflict of interest should be noted.

7.1 Human Consent/Access to Information. It should be clear how the research has honored human consent agreements and any other agreements pertaining to gaining access to the research site or to texts, text analogues, and artifacts, including but not limited to transcriptions of talk, visual representations, graphical displays, and archival data that could inadvertently compromise guarantees of anonymity and/or the confidentiality of information. When Institutional Review Board (IRB) approval is relevant, it should be explicitly stated that a given inquiry was carried out in accordance with IRB approval.

7.2 Perspectives and Voice. Ethical and political issues involved in the presentation, representation, and analysis of data that are relevant to evaluating the research should be acknowledged within the text or within appended or footnoted material, as appropriate. Ethical issues related to authorship, ownership, and voice should be acknowledged, where appropriate. The issues of power involved in whose versions of events are privileged and who decides about which events or aspects are included and/or omitted should be acknowledged. It should be clear how participants’ perspectives were respected and honored.

7.3 Bias. An important characteristic of much humanities-oriented research in education is that it directly takes on questions related to values, morals, and ideals based on the assumption that no research (and no researcher) is free of bias or is neutral when it comes to values. Thus, although humanities-oriented research should describe any potential conflicts of interest that could influence the analysis, such as sponsorship or funding by a party with a vested interest, the researcher’s perspective and position should be acknowledged in the research, as appropriate.

7.4 Trail of Evidence/Reasoning. Texts, text analogues, artifacts, visual representations, and archival data should be maintained in such a way that other researchers who understand the purpose and procedures of the research could trace the trail of evidence or follow the line of reasoning that led to the researcher’s conclusions.

7.5 Funding/Sponsorship. Funding support should be acknowledged in a publication note, where appropriate. In special circumstances, where sponsors cannot be acknowledged by name, a description of the nature of the sponsor should be provided.