What Counts As Research?

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City Lights Bookstore, SF

What Counts as Research? a brief summary according to Erickson, Lieberman and Hammersley.

Frederick Erickson

  • Juxtaposes a positivist, scientific perspective of educational research with a critical description, hermeneutical analysis.
  • Research should include the humanities.
  • Arts and humanities should receive the same funding benefits as the sciences
  • Focusing on the importance of taking on a critical perspective to qualitative research
  • talks mostly from a sociocultural/humanities perspective
  • Critiquing the system from the “outside” in many respects (as a university-based researcher).
  • It seems as though Erickson is preaching to the choir in this article; it is arguable whether or not people who fundamentally believe scientific research to be purely positivist would be persuaded by this article.


  • Are causal relationships ever able to be conclusively determined, then?

Ann Lieberman

  • School-university connection, and how to successfully connect scholarship and activity, research and practice, etc.
  • Talks about the changing roles and relationships and how research is not cut and dry, never static.
  • 'Insider's perspective, and where new meaning of research is stemming from the conflicts of assumptions, power struggle relationships and agendas of the various participants
  • Idealistic and pertinent, yet with little contribution to how this conversion might take place.
  • Discusses idea of “scholarly activity” as “an embrace of what appear to be two ideas that do not fit comfortably together” (p. 8); historically, scholarship was just that: scholarship (and not action). I wonder if we are moving slowly away from pure scholarship—or, will scholarly activity remain just a subsection of one field?


  • Maybe the role of a “translator” is helpful and acceptable?
  • Is “what counts” necessarily going to be different for a university researcher and a k-12 teacher? Is a “translator” needed to help bridge the two?

Martyn Hammersley

  • Scientific, evidence based' teacher research may be relied to heavily upon
  • Solutions to educational problems can be found through simpler, practical enquiries
  • Few practicing teachers utilize the research that is generated
  • Critiques Hargreaves, mainly in that scientific, “evidence based” research doesn’t impact schools where Action Research might.
  • “Practical enquiries are no substitute for academic research; just as the latter is no substitute for them” (p. 179).

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