A follow-up note on prescriptive statements in nonintervention research studies – This is pretty awesome and sad

A follow-up note on prescriptive statements in nonintervention research studies.

Shaw, Shana M.; Walls, Stephen M.; Dacy, Breana Sylvester; Levin, Joel R.; Robinson, Daniel H.

Journal of Educational Psychology, Vol 102(4), Nov 2010, 982-988.
doi: 10.1037/a0020924


  1. Robinson, Levin, Thomas, Pituch, and Vaughn (2007) examined 74 articles reporting nonintervention studies (i.e., studies with no researcher-manipulated variables) that appeared in 5 educational journals in 1994. Of these articles, 22 contained prescriptive statements (e.g., if teachers or students did X, then student outcome Y would result). In the present study, we examined 243 journal articles published between 1995 and 2005 that cited any of the 22 earlier studies and found that (a) 25 articles (10%) repeated the prescriptive statement and (b) 411 subsequent articles between 2005 and mid-2008 cited the 25 articles that contained repeated prescriptions, with 1 article alone cited 132 times. Thus, recommendations based on nonintervention research were found, to some extent, to be perpetuated by educational researchers. Implications of these findings for educational researchers and consumers are discussed, as well as future directions for this type of research. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2010 APA, all rights reserved)

This isn’t something that should surprise any of us. It’s good to see it written up. I think many of us make this mistake either out of ignorance or malice. I’ve heard the logic before, it’s published so I can use it as evidence for my study.

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