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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

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Click here for complete draft document.
Click here for overview, linked table of contents, and tips on joining the discussion and providing input