The starting point for the research team is the team’s work on the synthesis of research to bring together results of research. The aim is for research findings to have a combined effect on information, analysis and insight into education research, educational research and professional inquiry (Pollard 2005).
Many consider this approach of bringing together what we know through a formal process of review to be confined to a medical model of quantitative experimental outcome evaluations in statistical meta analysis. But the logic of using explicit methods of secondary research applies to all research questions and the inclusion of all types of primary study types. This is shown by the increasingly broad range of methods of synthesis including iterative idiographic approaches and the matching broad range of studies that these reviews include (for example, in meta ethnography). Synthesis can thus involve a variety of different conceptions of knowledge production and interpretation.
The increasing breadth of approaches to reviewing research literature raises fundamental issues about the range of questions and issues addressed by research in education and the possible range of answers or results of these research endeavours. In other words, a broad approach to synthesis depends on what one wants to know and what one would consider to be an appropriate answer. The fitness for purpose of different combinations of questions, methods and answers is this fundamental to the development of systematic review methodology and thus led the team to develop the current project to:
- to examine the relationship between the questions / issues that research studies in education are attempting to address, the type of answers that they seek and the research designs that they use to achieve this;
- to analyse these relationships between purpose, method and outcome in comparison with the wider social science literature and recent developments in mixed methods research (with particular reference to attempts to combine measurement of learning outcomes with other forms of analysis);
- to consider the implications of this analysis for knowledge claims in education (with reference to the Thematic Development project on this issue)
- to consider the implications of this analysis for reviews of knowledge in education (with reference to the Thematic Development project on this issue)
SSRU web: http://www.ioe.ac.uk/ssru/
SSRU's EPPI web: http://eppi.ioe.ac.uk