IDESR – International Database of Education Systematic Reviews

Ethical research should be undertaken with reference to what is already known. Systematic reviews are key in this regard, as they aim to locate, critically assess, and synthesise the totality of relevant, reliable evidence on a particular topic or question.

Systematic reviews are thus a crucial element on which the knowledge base in Education is founded. Currently there exists no single source dedicated to curating information about published systematic reviews in Education to which researchers and practitioners can turn to easily locate relevant research.

In addition, a key principle in conducting robust and trustworthy systematic reviews is to prospectively publish the protocol that informs the methods by which they will be prepared. Prospective publication of protocols helps to mitigate problems of publication bias and poor scientific practices such as outcome switching; it helps avoid unnecessary duplication of effort; and can be used to highlight opportunities for collaboration. Currently there exists no universal platform on which to publish such protocols in Education.

This innovative project is laying the groundwork for a free-at-the-point-of-access electronic register of published systematic reviews in all Education, and a space to register and publish protocols of planned Education systematic reviews. In the first instance this is being done by developing a proof of concept for the platform that focuses on the field of Language Teaching and Learning. This is being achieved by conducting an exhaustive search for published systematic reviews that address questions related to Language Education, and preparing their bibliographic information for inclusion in the database. Alongside this, a web-based system for researchers to submit and publish protocols of planned systematic reviews is being developed.

The final product will be a website that allows users to search for information about systematic reviews in language teaching and to register and publish protocols of planned systematic reviews. Search results will display the bibliographic references and abstracts of any relevant published reviews and protocols, and provide links to the online location of the full documents. Researchers planning a systematic review will use the platform to submit protocols for publication. These will be assessed for completeness by the team at Oxford, then a permanent record will be published on the website. Once published, owners of protocols will be able to update them to reflect the status of the review (e.g. in progress, completed, published). This project will seek larger funding on the basis of the Language Education prototype to extend its reach to all areas of education.

External advisory group members

Sarah Miller, Queens University Belfast and the Campbell Collaboration, UK

Robert Boruch, University of Pennsylvania, USA

David Gough, University College London, UK

Hilda Bastien, Bond University, Australia

Alex Quigley, Education Endowment Foundation, UK


Former team members: Judy Sebba OBE, Dr Penelope Woolf, Catherine Scutt, Jessica Briggs Baffow-Djan