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To view any of the RCBN Occasional Papers for free just follow the links to abstract or paper. Hard copies are also available to those without internet access and can be ordered from the Cardiff office. To view these from our website you will need Adobe Acrobat Reader, which is free to download from the Adobe website:

Please scroll down to each individual paper and click on the links to view the abstract and/or the full paper.

Gorard, S., Prandy, K. & Roberts K. (2002) An Introduction to the simple role of numbers in social science research, Cardiff University School of Social Sciences Occasional Paper 53
Abstract | Paper

Taylor, C. (2002) The RCBN Consultation Exercise: Stakeholder Report, Cardiff University School of Social Sciences Occasional Paper 50
Abstract | Paper

Taylor, C. (2002) The RCBN Consultation Exercise: Stakeholder Report (EXECUTIVE SUMMARY), Cardiff University School of Social Sciences
Abstract | Paper

Gorard, S. (2002) Warranting research claims from non-experimental evidence, Cardiff University School of Social Sciences Occasional Paper 48
Abstract | Paper

Gorard, S. (2002) How do we overcome the methodological schism (or can there be a 'compleat' researcher)?, Cardiff University School of Social Sciences Occasional Paper 47
Abstract | Paper

Gorard, S. (2002) When should we use multi-level modelling?, Cardiff University School of Social Sciences Occasional Paper 46
Abstract | Paper

Gorard, S. (2001) A changing climate for educational research? The role of research capability-building, Cardiff University School of Social Sciences Occasional Paper 45
Abstract | Paper

Gorard, S. (2001) The role of cause and effect in education as a social science, Cardiff University School of Social Sciences Occasional Paper 43
Abstract | Paper

Gorard, S. (2001) The way forward for educational research?, Cardiff University School of Social Sciences Occasional Paper 42
Abstract | Paper

 

Abstracts:

Gorard, S., Prandy, K. & Roberts K. (2002) An Introduction to the simple role of numbers in social science research, Cardiff University School of Social Sciences Occasional Paper 53
Social science is facing increasing demands for research involving 'quantitative' approaches. Among these are the need, expressed by policy-makers, for practical evidence about what works, and the demand, exemplified by the new ESRC guidelines for research training, that all researchers learn something about techniques of analysis involving numbers. At the same time, however, traditional 'quantitative' approaches are facing a major upheaval caused by growing criticism of null hypothesis significance testing (NHSTs), the increasing availability of high quality numeric datasets, and the development of more and more complex forms of statistical analysis. This paper shows how a re- consideration of the nature and function of probabilities (or uncertainties) in research suggests a new approach to research training that will be more appropriate than traditional courses on statistics for all learners, and that will help researchers explain their findings to policy-makers.

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Taylor, C. (2002) The RCBN Consultation Exercise: Stakeholder Report, Cardiff University School of Social Sciences Occasional Paper 50
One of the early objectives of the ESRC Teaching and Learning Research Programme (TLRP) Research Capacity Building Network has been to undertake an extensive consultation exercise in order to identify the priorities for research capacity-building and to generate a database of expertise from across the UK educational research community. This report provides an account of the first element of the consultation exercise, interviews with twenty-five key stakeholders each representing the major constituencies of the UK education community. In particular, they were asked about the current state of educational research in the UK, why it is like this, and how educational research could continue to move forward.

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Taylor, C. (2002) The RCBN Consultation Exercise: Stakeholder Report (EXECUTIVE SUMMARY), Cardiff University School of Social Sciences
This is a summary of Occasional Paper 50 above.

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Gorard, S. (2002) Warranting research claims from non-experimental evidence, Cardiff University School of Social Sciences Occasional Paper 48
This paper contains a preliminary consideration of the nature and role of warrants for research conclusions in educational research. It focuses on warrants for conclusions drawn from findings based on non-experimental evidence. The paper describes some of the standard non-experimental designs, and their need for a warrant in the form of a logical and persuasive link between the evidence produced and the conclusions drawn (with appropriate qualifications and caveats). It describes social scientific warrants, and suggests that the elimination of plausible rival alternative explanations for the evidence is a key approach (and one that is independent of the method used). The paper then briefly discusses the nature of warrants as used by practitioners and policy-makers, and examines some objections to the 'scientific' basis of warranted practice. It concludes by suggesting that the much publicised criticisms of the quality and relevance of educational research may be, at least partly, misdirected. What critics may have objected to is not so much poor research, but inappropriately warranted conclusions (i.e. overclaiming).

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Gorard, S. (2002) How do we overcome the methodological schism (or can there be a 'compleat' researcher)?, Cardiff University School of Social Sciences Occasional Paper 47
This paper considers a variety of approaches to combining research findings drawn from what are traditionally deemed 'quantitative' and 'qualitative' methods. These include models for Bayesian syntheses, new political arithmetic, complex interventions, and design experiments, as well as the more usual literature review and 'new' realism. I argue here that none of these approaches pose insurmountable epistemological or technical problems. Rather, opposition to the use of such models stems from wasteful 'paradigm' wars fed perhaps by fear of the unknown, and leading to pointless methodological schism. The 'compleat' researcher should presumably be prepared to find, use and critique all evidence relevant to their quest, regardless of its form.

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Gorard, S. (2002) When should we use multilevel modelling?, Cardiff University School of Social Sciences Occasional Paper 46
This paper is intended to be a consideration of the idea of multilevel modelling. It is not a guide on how to design or perform such an analysis. There are several references in the text to sources that teach the practicalities perfectly well, and the technique is anyway not that different from other forms of regression or analysis of variance. Rather, the paper outlines a role for statistical analysis in research, describes what multilevel modelling is, why it is used, and what its limitations are. It does so in the hope that some readers will be enthused sufficiently to become appropriately critical 'consumers' of research using this approach, so building research capacity, and easing pressures on 'specialist' reviewers. Anyone who can read or perform standard multivariate analyses (such as linear regression) can understand, referee, or conduct a multilevel model.

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Gorard, S. (2001) A changing climate for educational research? The role of research capability-building, Cardiff University School of Social Sciences Occasional Paper 45
As part of the Teaching and Learning Research Programme, the ESRC have funded a totally new kind of project, which is likely to be watched with interest by others in social science more generally. This Research Capacity-Building (RCB) project (grant number L139251106) is an innovative attempt to invigorate an entire research field. Among its aims are to support and encourage: the management of complex projects, a widening of methodological approaches, the further combination of different approaches from different contributory disciplines, the melding of theory-building and method, and the creation of new models for transforming findings into usable forms. These aims are not unique to educational research, much less teaching and learning research. They would be seen by many, not least the ESRC (Marshall 2001), as appropriate for other social scientific endeavours such as sociology, psychology, economics and geography. Education is being used as a testing ground for a new approach to capacity building, and whatever the results are they will be a valuable guide for future projects with similar aims in any substantive area.

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Gorard, S. (2001) The role of cause and effect in education as a social science, Cardiff University School of Social Sciences Occasional Paper 43
This paper is intended as a stimulus to discussion on the nature of cause:effect models, and their role in educational research. It is clearly not intended to be definitive. Nor is it based on new evidence. It considers in turn models based on no causation at all, models based on causation alongside other explanatory processes, models based solely on causation, and variations of the latter. Among these are purportedly weaker forms of causation, including Granger causation, social determinants, and so-called fuzzy generalisation. Cause:effect models have been based variously on temporal and spatial conjunction, the impact of interventions, and theoretical explanations. The paper concludes that cause:effect provides a powerful, persuasive and near-universal explanation for social and psychological processes, despite our inability to detect it directly. Because of this inability, cause:effect models are more impressive if they have all three of the characteristics just noted. This conclusion, if accepted, has implications for the nature of educational research.

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Gorard, S. (2001) The way forward for educational research?, Cardiff University School of Social Sciences Occasional Paper 42
Educational research in the UK has for some time been criticised in terms of both its relevance and its quality. Indeed, these issues of relevance and quality have been presented by critics as somehow linked with each other, and with a dearth of large-scale 'quantitative' evidence about teaching and learning. It is, therefore, interesting to consider the recent Hay/McBer research into teacher effectiveness, one of many responses, in the light of these criticisms. To what extent has the work used quantitative evidence in a high quality piece of research to address relevant issues for practitioners and policy-makers? The answers presented in this brief account of the research are that it is clearly important work, uses a variety of numeric and other data sources, but that the design is not one that the research community should set out to emulate. Despite considerable prior adjustment to the sample, in favour of the publicised findings, it remains the case that only 55% of the teachers rated 'outstanding' in a dichotomous classification by Hay/McBer actually achieved pupil-results higher than would be expected (once prior attainment and contextual variables were taken into account). This success rate in identification is insufficiently better than would occur by chance for the researchers to then present the characteristics of these supposedly outstanding teachers as ones that other teachers should take note of. If this report is being presented by the DfEE as the form of research that they and other client bodies are seeking, then we must conclude that quality is linked neither to research relevance, nor is it necessarily an outcome of the use of quantitative evidence per se.

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This page was last updated 18th February 2004
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