Writing for Publishing in Technology Enhanced Learning Research


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This is a presentation that I gave for the Write-TEL 2 (http://www.napiereducationexchange.com/pg/groups/12872/writetel-2/) writing workshop series. I provided a perspective on writing to get published in the area of technology enhanced learning. The basic thrust of the presentation is that good research naturally leads to a good research paper.

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Writing for Publishing in Technology Enhanced Learning Research

  1. 1. Writing for Publishing in Technology Enhanced Learning Research Dr. Iain Doherty Associate Professor eLearning Pedagogical Support Unit,Centre for the Enhancement of Teaching & Learning, The University of Hong Kong 29th June 2012
  2. 2. Overview• Do I Know What I’m Talking About?• What Will I Cover In This Presentation?• How Will This Presentation Help You To Write Better Papers?• Questions and Answers. 2
  3. 3. What Are My Credentials• I have acted in an editorial role for significant journals.• I have reviewed extensively for both conferences and journals.• I have a reasonably successful track record with my publications. 3
  4. 4. Just Say Yes• Can you answer yes to all these questions for your research? – Was an important educational technology issue identified? – Were the goals of the research clearly specified? – Was the method rigorously applied to the intervention? – Are the research results clear and significant? – Are the research conclusions clear and important? 4
  5. 5. Reeves on Technology Research• “[Technology research studies] do not constitute basic research in the classic scientific sense, nor are the studies focused on enhancing practice in an unambiguous manner. The main criterion for success of this research is that papers about it are accepted for presentation at conferences largely attended by other researchers and/or published in academic journals that few people read” (Reeves, 2000, p.4). 5
  6. 6. Reeves on Technology Research• “A detailed analysis of such studies (Reeves, 1995) found that most are riddled with problems such as specification error, lack of linkage to theoretical foundations, inadequate literature reviews, poor treatment implementation, major measurement flaws, inconsequential learning outcomes for research participants, inadequate sample sizes, inaccurate statistical analyses, and meaningless discussions of results” (Reeves, 2000, p.4). 6
  7. 7. Answering “Yes” Is Not Enough• Let’s say that answering “Yes” to all these questions is a necessary but not sufficient condition for getting published.• In other words answering “Yes” means that you’ve got a solid bit of research.• However, you still have to write up that research in a way that will get you published.• Writing up the publication can be thought of as a science i.e. there is a formula. 7
  8. 8. 1. Write For Your Audience• Researchers know what they did in their research.• The audience is interested in knowing what the researchers did in their research.• This means you must constantly ask the question, “Will the reader fully understand what I did, why I did it, what I learned from doing it and what they might learn?”.• Write with the aim of leaving the reader with nowhere negative to go in terms of questioning the research. 8
  9. 9. 2. Was An Important Issue Identified?• This relates to the background section of your paper: – What was the issue that you identified? – Why did you consider it to be important? – Did you locate the issue in the relevant literature? – Why did you decide to progress with research having carried out the literature review? – What did you consider to be the potential value added from conducting the research? 9
  10. 10. 3. Were Research Goals Clearly Specified• This relates to the method section of the paper: – Theoretical goals through reasoning logically about e.g. different pedagogical theories in relation to technology use in education; – Empirical goals through testing hypotheses about what might happen as the result of a particular technology education intervention; – Action goals such as determining the impact of a particular technology intervention in a local context. 10
  11. 11. 4. Was A Research Method Identified?• This relates to the method section of the paper: – Quantitative involving collection of data + statistical analysis; – Qualitative such as observations, interviews, and case studies that involve the collection of qualitative data; – Literature review to synthesize extant literature in the field; – Mixed method involving both quantitative and qualitative methods. 11
  12. 12. 4. Was The Method Rigorously Applied?• This relates to the method section of the paper: – No matter which method you choose, you need to show that you have applied it rigorously; – If you choose to collect data using a randomized control trial then show that the trial was conducted appropriately; – If you choose to apply a mixed method approach using design research then show that the mixed method approach was rigorous. 12
  13. 13. 5. Reporting Results• This relates to the results section of your paper: – Only report results that are justified by the data that you gathered; – Avoid muddying results in the result section with discussion. – Signpost readers to the discussion section when findings are particularly important; – Use tables, graphs etc. where appropriate to help readers’ understanding of your results. 13
  14. 14. 6.Engaging in Discussion• This relates to the discussion section of the paper: – The discussion section provides you with the opportunity to comment on significant findings; – This section also provides you with the opportunity to hypothesize about reasons for particular findings. – Sometimes results are contrary to what was expected and you can provide possible explanations for this phenomenon; – Remember that readers will undoubtedly question your findings to try to pre-empt. 14
  15. 15. 7.Coming to Conclusions• This relates to the conclusion section of your paper: – This is a critical section in your paper; – This is the section where you can sum up why your research is important; – You can also signal where you might go next with your research; – The conclusion should speak to the introduction i.e. your introduction provides a signpost to what you ultimately discovered. 15
  16. 16. Not Too Many Idealists Around These Days• “A commitment to development research may also put careers at risk. I believe that most IT researchers desire to focus their research on more important problems, but knowing that their work is ultimately judged by tenure and promotion committees on the basis of quantity rather than quality, they are compelled to take the path of least resistance and conduct whatever studies yield the most publications” (Reeves, 2000, p.11). 16
  17. 17. Final Comments• In the end good research is required in order to write a good paper.• When the research is solid the structure and the content of the paper follow naturally from the research that was conducted.• This is not to deny that writing skills are needed but writing skills can not (or at least should not) be able to carry the day.• Good luck  17
  18. 18. References• Brown, A. L. (1992). Design Experiments: Theoretical and Methodological Challenges in Creating Complex Interventions in Classroom Settings. The Journal of the Learning Sciences, 2(2), 141-148. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/1466837• Collins, A., Joseph, D., & Bielaczyc, K. (2004). Design Research: Theoretical and Methodological Issues. The Journal of Learning Sciences, 13(1), 15-42. Retrieved from http:// www.jstor.org/stable/1466931 18
  19. 19. References• Kember, D. (2003). To Control or Not to Control: The Question of Whether Experimental Designs are Appropriate for Evaluating Teaching Innovations in Higher Education. Assessment and Evaluation in Higher Education, 28(1), 89-101. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/02602930301684 19
  20. 20. References• Laurillard, D. (2008). The Teacher as Action Researcher: Using Technology to Capture Pedagogic Form. Studies in Higher Education, 33(2), 139-154. Routledge. Retrieved from http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/03075070801915908 20
  21. 21. References• Reeves, T. C. (2000). Enhancing the Worth of Instructional Technology Research through “Design Experiments” and Other Development Research Strategies. Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association (pp. 1–15). New Orleans, LA, USA. Retrieved from http://it.coe.uga.edu/~treeves/ 21
  22. 22. References• Reeves, T. C. (2006). Design Research From A Technology Perspective. In J. van den Akker, S. Gravemeijer, S. McKenny, & N. Nieveen (Eds.), Educational Design Research (pp. 52-66). London: Routledge.• Sandoval, W. A. (2004). Developing Learning Theory by Refining Conjectures Embodied in Educational Designs. Educational Psychologist, 39(4), 213-223. http://dx.doi.org/10.1207/s15326985ep3904_3 22
  23. 23. Contact Details• Email: idoherty@hku.hk• HKU Website: http://www.cetl.hku.hk/elearning-pedagogical-support-uni• Personal Website: http://www.iaindoherty.com• Linkedin: http://hk.linkedin.com/in/iaindoherty• SlideShare: http://www.slideshare.net/iaindoherty 23