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Academic research

In this section you can access:

  • Open-access research journal portals
  • Professional research
  • Research bodies
“Teachers and students thrive in the kind of settings that we describe as research-rich, and research-rich schools and colleges are those that are likely to have the greatest capacity for self-evaluation and self-improvement.” Professor John Furlong, of the University of Oxford (

Published research can provide fresh insights into our practice, whether we are teachers, trainers or managers. It may be difficult to find research which exactly equates to our own setting. However, there will be research which could provide stimulation for discussion and considerations of aspects of our own settings. Such research can make us question our approaches and try something new. For example the work of John Hattie (Professor of Education and Director of the Melbourne Education Research Institute at the University of Melbourne, Australia), Helen Timperley (Professor of Education University of Auckland, NZ)  and Frank Coffield (Professor of Education at the School of Lifelong Education and International Development at the Institute of Education). These high profile educational researchers publish much of their work online, blog and upload films and talks to camera. 


Open-access research journal portals

Open access journals are avilable to everyone without charge. They are scholarly journals made up of research papers which are usually peer-reviewed. The aim of peer review is to maintain standards and to provide credibility. This means that a community of experts has considered acceptable the paper, perhaps giving comments about possible revisions. Even so, as a reader of such scholarly/academic research we ourselves must always read crtically. Critical reading involves asking approriate questions - this may require that you read the paper a number of times.

Universities and other institutions publish thier research but this is not always publicaly available. If you are a SET member you have access to EBSCP which is an online reference system accessible via the internet.

Each academic paper will have an abstract which is a brief summary of the paper's purpose. An initial reading of the title and abstract will help you decide whether to read further. 

Reading research papers help us to develop academic writing skills. Open access makes research available to read. Here is a list of some open-access journals you may find helpful.

Practitioner-led Action Research
Academic Research: Open-access research journal portals, CORE
Academic Research: Open-access research journal portals, STOR
Academic Research: Open-access research journal portals, JISC
Academic Research: Open-access research journal portals, NFER
Academic Research: Open-access research journal portals, DOAJ – the Directory of Open Access Journals
Academic Research: Open-access research journal portals, Oxford Open
Academic Research: Open-access research journal portals, Teaching in Lifelong Learning - The University of Huddersfield Press
Academic Research: Open-access research journal portals, Google Scholar
Academic Research: Open-access research journal portals – examples
Professional research

Professional bodies and government departments also publish research papers. For example, you may find useful research published by the Department for Education, Ofqual and the Education and Training Foundation.

Below are some examples of freely available research that you may find interesting and useful.  

SET members also have access to an interactive tool, designed to offer bite-sized summaries and access to in-depth research articles. This Professional Standards Research Tool aligns research resources to the twenty Professional Standards

Don’t forget university and college libraries - it’s not all online!  Your own institution may have a librarian - they are experts in finding relevant research.  The organisation you work for may have access to online journals.

Educational Action Research Methodologies as a basis for International Skills Partnerships
Effective Practices in Post-16 Vocational Maths 2014
Vocational Education and Training: the national agenda for research, development and evidence
Evidence Informed Decision Making: from classroom to boardroom 2016
Spreading a culture of research 2015
The role of the clerk to the corporation of further education colleges in England in ensuring high quality college governance
Future Apprenticeships: mediators’ perspectives on the new model
ETF sponsored FE and Vocational Research Conference 2016
Key Issues for Education and Training - seminars 2015
Dual professionalism tools for vocational college tutors
Consultation on Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) for the Education and Training Foundation
Outstanding Teaching Learning and Assessment, review of provider-led research projects NTU
Good Work: The Taylor Review of Modern Working Practices July 2017
The Further Education Workforce: what do we know and what is next?
Strategic Consultation: Mathematics and English.
DfE (2017) Identifying variation in learner outcomes by FE provider: research report July 2017.
What makes great teaching? Review of the underpinning research, Robert Coe, Cesare Aloisi, Steve Higgins and Lee Elliot Major, October 2014
Report of Professor Sir Adrian Smith's review of post-16 mathematics July 2017
Performance over professional learning and the complexity puzzle: lesson observation in England’s further education sector by Matt O'Leary
Professional research - further examples
Research bodies

Research bodies are wide ranging in their remits.  Their focus may be gathering data, investigating specific areas of educational practice, or producing publications or other materials to support the work of researchers e.g. peer-reviewed journals.

They are useful for all researchers as they present data that would be expensive or time consuming to gather. Many run conferences, provide libraries of resources and provide ethical guidelines based on many years of experience.

You can see details of a range of research bodies in this document.

Academic Research: Research bodies, Education Endowment Foundation (EEF)
Academic Research: Research bodies, British Educational Research Association (BERA)
Academic Research: Research bodies, Department for Education (DfE)
Academic Research: Research bodies, ELSEVIER
Academic Research: Research bodies, Office for National Statistics (ONS)
Academic Research: Research bodies, British Educational Leadership, Management & Administration Society (BELMAS)
Academic Research: Research bodies, The National Research and Development Centre for Adult Literacy (NRDC)
Academic Research: Research bodies, National Institute of Economic and Social Research (NIESR)
Academic Research: Research bodies, National Foundation for Educational Research (nfer)
Academic Research: Research bodies, The Centre for Educational Research and Innovation (OECD – CERI)
Academic Research: Research bodies, The Programme for International Student Assessment (OECD – PISA)
Academic Research: Research bodies, National Centre for the Study of Adult Learning and Literacy (NCSALL)
Academic Research: Research bodies – examples