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What are the common guidelines?

Sandy Reed
November 15, 2018

For those seeking federal funding for their research, differences among funding agencies in proposal terminology and requirements can

make proposal writing seem daunting. But are the requirements for high quality research in education really different across agencies?

In 2013, the Institute for Education Sciences (IES) and the National Science Foundation (NSF) released the Common Guidelines for Education Research and Development. These guidelines articulate a shared framework which guides

funding decisions at IES and NSF. The Common Guidelines also serve to clarify the evidence that is expected for potential grantees and peer reviewers across funding agencies.

The Common Guidelines describe six types of research including:

  • Foundational research (Type #1) serves to test, develop, or refine theories of teaching and learning, or contribute to innovations that inform research in educational contexts.
  • Early-stage or exploratory research (Type #2) examines relationships to identify connections that may provide a basis for future interventions,
  • usually by establishing correlations, not causes.
  • Design and development research (Type #3) uses established theory to develop an intervention or strategy to achieve a goal, such as improving student engagement.
  • Efficacy research (Type #4) studies the effects of a particular program or intervention under "ideal conditions."
  • Effectiveness research (Type #5) examines the effectiveness of an intervention or strategy under "typical conditions.”
  • Scale-up research (Type #6) examines the effectiveness of an intervention or program for a wide range of populations and contexts.

The Common Guidelines provide requirements for each type of research. Download the full Common Guidelines

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