Educational researchers responded pretty well to COVID-19, but maybe we could respond even better

Joshua Rosenberg


The provocation/thesis of this short post is that educational researchers responded pretty well to COVID-19, but perhaps we could respond even better.

I was surprised to hear that special issue calls for proposals for COVID-19-related research were inundated with proposals.

As two examples that I am familiar with:

Also, many others responded by directly helping teachers, schools, and districts. And parents stepped in in heroic ways that aren’t given enough attention.

In the case of JTATE and the Spencer Foundation, the process was timely (and often modified to be easier for authors to quickly share their work).

But in this context of researchers quickly carrying out and sharing their work, and editors/funding agencies responding to the need for research and guidance (during the evolving pandemic), I wonder whether more work could be shared, and how this could be made easier.

Pre-prints could be one way, but they don’t seem very common in educational research. Searching EdArXiv, the number of pre-prints on COVID-19 is really small, especially [compared to other fields](

Could some work be shared as pre-prints? There’s no doubt that a lot of the work will be shared at a conference or in a research journal at some point, but if it were, it could be available to the public, other researchers, and even perhaps those working in schools/districts/state departments of ed as soon as it’s complete. This isn’t a panacea; while many (most?) journals allow for, some encourage submissions of papers that were posted as pre-prints, the practice is far from a norm, at least in my corner of educational research. So we need norms and culture that support sharing work earlier and also perhaps in more open way (so that data, too, could potentially be shared across the educational research community more easily).

As an aside, my Spencer Foundation proposal with Teya Rutherford, Rachel White, Daniel Anderson, Ha Nguyen, and Royce Kimmons on trying to understand districts’ responses (blog post #1, #2) wasn’t funded! Though, the data we generated is available and the initial technique we developed to generate it are both available, and, like I’m sure is the case for others, this proposal sparked new ideas for research.