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Scholarship, research and the evidential basis of policy development in education

Humes, Walter and Bryce, Tom (2001) Scholarship, research and the evidential basis of policy development in education. British Journal of Educational Studies, 49 (3). pp. 329-352. ISSN 0007-1005

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Abstract

The starting point for this paper is the ongoing debate about the relation between research and policy in education. Recent developments in England and Scotland are reviewed in the context of political and academic arguments about the nature and function of research activity. The defensiveness of the research community in the face of professional and political attacks is examined critically. A case study of the Higher Still programme is used to illustrate the complexity of the relationships between evidence, ideology, values and professional practice. It is argued that the research community needs to become more politically sophisticated and to advance a clearer vision of its social function in advanced democratic societies if its potential contribution to educational development is to be realised. The dangers of a retreat to a narrow empirical role are highlighted.