Consumer’s Guide to Research: EWA 2017

Thank you for attending the Consumer’s Guide to Research, presented by Holly Yettick, Director of the Education Week Research Center. Materials related to the presentation are all here.

Here is the link to the press release exercise:



Here is a link to the slide deck shown during the presentation:



Need more info? Email me at


Everything You Wanted to Know About Education Journalists But Were Afraid to Ask

In 2015, the Education Writers Association hired the research center  I direct to conduct a first-of-its kind study of education journalists in America.  In May 2016, EWA released State of the Education Beat 2016.

If you are an education researcher who is interested in getting your work out to the public, I would recommend reading this report in order to gain a better understanding of:

  • Who are education journalists?
  • Where and how do they work?
  • How and why did they enter the profession?
  • What are their perceptions of the field?
  • What challenges do they face?


You can download the full report here:

You can find long and short versions of the report and related material on EWA’s website.




EWA New-to-the-Beat Seminar

Here’s the news release exercise for the seminar.

press release exercise ewa 2016

Here’s the slide deck I used during the presentation.

EWA2016_new to the beat_yettick

Here’s an interviewing guide for covering ed research


Here are some resources to use for finding and vetting ed research.


Here’s a resource for evaluating research

HOW TO READ RESEARCH official version

Here are some additional resources from the Shortenstein Center at Harvard

Resources for Ed Researchers Who Want to Reach out to the News Media

  • Reporters rarely mention peer-reviewed education research in news media coverage. Some of the reasons may surprise you, according to research I describe in my April 2015 Educational Researcher article.
  • As with almost any human interaction, trust is key. For instance, reporters will need to be able to trust that you will not waste their time with rambling treatises, that you will call or email right back on deadline, that you will provide accurate information and patient, clear explanations. Trust is obviously a two-way street. It is fine to ask a reporter, before your story runs, can you read me back any quotes you use from our interview? It’s also fine (and often wise) to ask, what is the focus of your story?  Develop trusted relationships with reporters when they are not on deadline and you are not swamped with end-of-semester grading.(Summers are typically a slower period for ed journalists.) Go out for coffee or for lunch. Offer to vet studies in your field that reporters are considering covering. Offer to recommend experts or research related to topics in the news. Provide journalists with background information on the big issues they are covering. Toss out a few story ideas based on your area of expertise but don’t give up if one person doesn’t bite–maybe someone else would be interested. Or maybe this same reporter will be interested in your future story ideas.
  • “Off the record.” Three words: Don’t say it. Or-use it sparingly. You might have seen it in movies but, quite honestly, the vast majority of things people have told me “off the record” have been of little interest to anyone other than themselves. One of the main jobs of a reporter is to sift through all the irrelevant (albeit often interesting) things people share during the course of an interview and select the relevant information. So constantly saying “this is off the record” just makes you sound kind of self important-like-you think everything you say is Watergate-style important and relevant when, quite honestly, it probably isn’t. It’s also a waste of time, both for you and for the reporter. Reporters have little use for information they cannot share with the public.  There’s nothing worse than listening to someone go on and on without taking a breath only to conclude with “that’s all off the record,” or, its evil twin, “you can’t use my name.” Although anonymous sources are fairly common in some kinds of political reporting, they are frowned upon in most other types of reporting. At the very least, you need a good reason to remain anonymous-as in-you might be arrested, or tracked down by a violent ex-spouse.  That said..
  • At times, people really do have important information that they hesitate to share freely using their own names. If something is truly off the record,  or if you do need to remain anonymous, keep the information to yourself unless you  trust the journalist, in which case, an occasional “off the record” or “don’t use my name” is definitely appropriate. In my experience, journalists do honor that trust, but I don’t know every journalist in the world so I am sure there are those who do not. If you do need to be anonymous, it is a good idea to explain the stakes you face if you are exposed and have a detailed discussion of what you mean by “anonymous” (e.g., whether or not you are comfortable naming your institution, your role, etc.). The reason is that…
  • There is no one standard definition of journalistic terms like “anonymous” “off the record” or “on background.” Journalists have no AMA-we are not licensed with a standard set of rules that everyone follows. If you are using these terms, make sure you define them with individual reporters. Ditto for “embargo.” Clarify what you mean. For instance, can journalists share the embargoed material with the people they interview during the embargo period, as long as those people agree not to disseminate the material?  Or are you assuming that no one will see the material or even be interviewed about it before the embargo lifts?
  • Sometimes academics can get overly wedged into their specialty siloes. Expand your views of your own expertise. That doesn’t mean that early childhood experts need to chime in on higher ed. But you can probably speak intelligently on topics closely related to your subspecialty, especially if you have taught them in class. If you can’t speak to a topic, try to refer the reporter to someone else who can.
  • Remember that most reporters work for outlets with a geographic focus.  So don’t try to pitch a story about Wyoming to a reporter who covers a specific school district in California. Many times, you will have more success if you take the time to find the right person for your story idea than if you bomb everyone with a mass email. For instance, Education Week has reporters who cover specific areas of education, including education research. Look at the home page to figure out who’s covering what.
  • Everyone wants to be covered by the New York Times but there is only one New York Times. Don’t ignore your local outlets because you think they are “crappy.” (They are probably under-resourced and they probably aren’t entirely crappy either any more than your university is crappy because it’s not Harvard.) True, you want national exposure but where do you think national reporters get many of their ideas? From the local outlets you think are too crappy for your work. Also, the wire services are extremely important disseminators. If they pick up a story about your work that runs in your “crappy local rag,” you will get all kinds of national/regional exposure.
  • Do: get to know reporters’ pet interests. These are the longterm projects they have pitched, the big series they have completed. Don’t: Call up the day after a major feature runs on, say,  unschooling and say, I have a story for you on unschooling–unless you can really expose something incredibly brand new or interesting, or if the story is one piece of an ongoing issue that has been in the news for days or weeks, that reporter is done with unschooling for the time being.
  • Remember that news outlets compete. This means that it doesn’t typically help your case to say, “You should want to cover this. The TV station up the street already did.” If you have a piece of news that you feel certain everyone will want to cover, it is often fairest to treat everyone equally by alerting every outlet at the same time. For a complicated story, you can try issuing the study to everyone at the same time and then “embargoing’ it until, say, a week later so everyone can have a fair shot of reporting on your work. Or, you may try instead to work exclusively with one reporter at one outlet who is interested in the topic and willing to put in the time to do a good job.  If a reporter comes across your work and is interested in covering it-or covering it when it is ready for public consumption- he may feel duped if you then turn around and distribute your work to everyone in the world at the same time you share it with him. Depending on the situation, consider giving the first shot to the person who “discovered” your work and you may be rewarded with loyalty in return.
  • Reporters don’t necessarily have the time or expertise to read your journal articles. Try creating study snapshots like these. Or write up a news release like this. Reporters also love “top ten” lists. (So do audiences.) This AERA list of the most frequently viewed articles of 2014 got some good play.  Could you work with journal editors in your field to create a similar list about your subspecialty?

DIY: With social media, academics have an unprecedented opportunity to reach the public without the assistance of the news media. 

  • Write op-eds about your own research or the research you know very well, i.e. your area of expertise. If you submit a piece that is simply based on your opinion, you are just another Jo Schmo with an opinion and people with opinions are a dime a dozen. Make sure you read the guidelines before you submit your piece, sticking to length and topic limits.
  • Try blogging. Or writing for an established blog.
  • Try Tweeting your own research and the research of others. If a news outlet covers your research, Tweet it, Facebook it, share it with everyone–the author will be appreciative and many people don’t think to do that–even people who work in public relations! Tweet at least once a day for a few weeks and see what happens. Follow journalists and they may follow you. A few basic tips: Typically, each Tweet should be a discrete thought, not the second sentence of a lengthy paragraph of strung-together Tweets. Tweeting visuals (photos, graphs, videos) attracts more attention than Tweeting plain text. Use hashtags to help people find your Tweets (Try starting with #edresearch). Need inspiration? Here are a few examples of academic education researchers who are very active on Twitter:
    • Sherman Dorn, Arizona State, @shermandorn
    • Susan Dynarski, University of Michigan, @dynarski
    • Sara Goldrick-Rab, University of Wisconsin, @saragoldrickrab
    • Tressie McMillan Cottom, Virginia Commonwealth University, @tressiemcphd
    • Morgan Polikoff, University of Southern California,  @mpolikoff


Resources for Reporters New to the Education Beat

This document contains resources reporters can use to find education research.

This INTERVIEWING GUIDE may help you come up with questions to ask yourself and researchers as you cover educational research.

This list of academic Journals provides the names of publications that may be good sources of news articles. This resource also contains tips on accessing journal content behind pay walls.

Do you cover a specific geogaphic area?  Check out this guide top Findinglocalresearch

Need one of the ewaHANDOUTS ?

I want to cover peer-reviewed ed research but I’m not sure where to start..

Here’s a list of peer-reviewed journals that generated at least one story or blog idea for me during the spring/winter of 2014, when I was filling in for Sarah Sparks on Education Week’s  Inside School Research blog.peerreviewedjournalsforedwriters

Peer-reviewed Journals That Might Interest Education Writers

I got at least one blog idea from these journals during the spring/winter of 2014, when I was filling in for Sarah Sparks on Education Week’s  Inside School Research blog.


The American Educational Research Association’s journals:

These were probably my most frequent source of ideas. Subscriptions are currently free to working journalists who contact AERA’s PR people. The American Educational Research Journal in particular is a good source of potential stories as well as a journal that is viewed by academics as being one of the most prestigious in the field. (Supposedly one article in this journal can get you a tenure track job!)


American Educational Research Journal

Review of Educational Research

Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis

Educational Researcher


Other journals that were the source of blog items/stories:


Economics of Education Review (It seems like almost every article in this journal is a potential news story.)

 Teachers College Record (Another virtual fountain of newsy pieces.)

Journal of Research on Educational Effectiveness

Educational Policy (Not a top journal but very timely! I got multiple ideas here.)

Education Finance and Policy

American Journal of Education (Good source of multiple stories.)

Journal of Policy Analysis and Management

Sociology of Education (Many stories here)

American Sociology Review

Journal of Political Economy

Journal of Educational Research

Journal of Educational Data Mining

Educational Technology & Society

IEEE Transactions on Affective Computing

Sleep Medicine

Annual Review of Sociology

Journal of Experimental Education

Journal of Research in Music Education

American Journal of Sociology

Journal of Adolescent Health

Journal of Educational Psychology

American Economic Journal: Economic Policy

International Journal of Play

School Effectiveness and School Improvement (Another story fountain)

Annual Review of Psychology (Love the way this publication is written in accessible language.)

Here’s a link to a handout on research-related resources for ed writers

Here’s a link to a listing of some resources for ed writers interested in covering research.

Download it as a word doc:



Research Resources for Reporters

Note: This list is in no way, shape or form meant to be exhaustive!


The American Educational Research Association


The American Educational Research Association (AERA) is the world’s largest organization of educational researchers. The association publishes several of the top-rated peer-reviewed journals in the education field. The journals most likely to interest reporters are Review of Educational Research, Educational Researcher (briefer, more accessible articles[i]), American Educational Research Journaland Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis.


AERA Media Resources –


  • Sign up to receive a complimentary electronic or print subscription to any of AERA’s journals.
  • Bookmark “Trending Research Topics” for full access to recent research on hot topics. The page is periodically updated with new topics and articles.
  • Contact AERA Communications for help identifying research and researchers that can add context to stories.
  • Contact AERA Communications for toll-free links to research articles to include in news stories.
  • Sign up to receive AERA news releases, including embargoed releases on forthcoming research.
  • Attend the AERA Annual Meeting as a member of the media. Each year, 2,500+ sessions feature emerging research in every area of education.
  • Review the AERA Annual Meeting program and request research of interest (and presenter contact information) from AERA Communications.


The American Economic Association


The AEA’s media relations department is available for questions about the Association, the American Economic Review (AER), Journal of Economic Literature (JEL), Journal of Economic Perspectives (JEP), the American Economic Journals: Applied Economics, Economic Policy, Macroeconomics, Microeconomics, and EconLit.


To ask questions or sign up for the Association’s announcements and press releases, contact AEA’s media relations department at:

Phone: (615) 322-2595

Email: kristine.b.etter@Vanderbilt.Edu



The American Psychological Association (APA Public Affairs) offers journalists:


APA is an organization for psychologists and academics who study psychology, including educational psychology. They publish too many journals to mention, many of which contain articles related to education, learning and schools. Check out the Journal of Educational Psychology and Developmental Psychology. Also, APA offers:


  • Access to thousands of experts available for interviews. APA’s media referral service database can quickly provide reporters with the contact information for APA members who are researchers and clinicians and can comment about psychological aspects of breaking news. Contact APA Public Affairs with a referral request and a staff person will respond right away.
  • News on the latest psychological research from more than 80 peer-reviewed journals published by APA.  To receive news releases and media advisories contact APA Public Affairs.
  • Copies of APA journal articles on request.
  •  Various RSS feeds for several sources of psychology research and news, including APA’s Monitor on Psychology magazine and APA journals.


The American Sociological Association


The American Sociological Association publishes several peer-reviewed journals that might interest ed reporters, including Sociology of Education, American Sociological Review, and Contexts (a peer-refereed journal aimed at both sociologists and non-sociologists.)


  • ASA has more than 700 sociologists in its Experts Database, which consists of subject matter experts who have agreed to speak with the media. ASA can also facilitate interviews with sociologists who have not registered for the database.
  • Journalists can sign up to receive ASA news releases, including embargoed releases, on sociological research as well as media advisories featuring sociologists who can address particularly timely topics. Email to sign up.
  • Journalists can receive complimentary access to the ASA Annual Meeting. Each meeting features approximately 600 sessions and more than 3,000 studies on a wide range of timely topics.
  • By request, journalists can receive free copies of individual studies in any ASA journal. Journalists can receive free access to Contexts.



Association for Education Finance and Policy


The Association for Education Finance and Policy is a rapidly-growing organization with a peer-refereed journal (Education Finance and Policy) and an annual conference. The journal and conference both feature a lot of research on timely topics such as teacher evaluation, and school choice.


  • Contact Executive Director Angela Hull at or 573-814-9878 or visit
  • AEFP provides free, universal access to papers presented at its annual conference, where journalists can register for free.
  • AEFP can provide you access to specific articles from its journal.


Society for Research on Educational Effectiveness


SREE research tends to be timely and relevant. The organization holds two annual conferences and also publishes the peer-reviewed Journal of Research on Educational Effectiveness.



Phone: 202.495.0920

Text: 202.495.0920

Fax: 202.640.4401


News/ non-academic publications that cover educational research


  • Education Week (I currently write for this publication.) Archives are searchable back to 1981. Subscriptions start at $29 for six months.
  • The Chronicle of Higher Educationand Inside Higher Ed cover both research on higher ed and research by higher ed professionals who study K-12. Chronicle subscriptions are $78 per year. Inside Higher Ed offers free access.
  • Phi Delta Kappan  ($95 annual fee to join Phi Delta Kappa International)
  • Hechinger Report (no cost)
  • Education Next  (Note: I was part of a team that submitted a piece to this journal that was, sadly, rejected!)This publication runs a mixture of accessible, brief peer-reviewed articles and journalism on education, plus commentary. The right-leaning Hoover Institution publishes the journal. My dissertation research indicates that this is the source of peer-reviewed education research that journalists are most likely to mention in their coverage.


More academic journals




Other Resources


  • American Institutes for Research
  • RAND
  • National Bureau of Economic Research
  • Regional Education Labs
  • Institute of Education Sciences
  • ERIC (search engine)
  • What Works Clearinghouse
  • Mathematica Policy Research
  • SRI International
  • National Council on Measurement in Education: Check out their testing glossary.
  • National Education Policy Center (Note: My dissertation advisor directs this center and I worked for them as a doc student.) This organization is housed at the University of Colorado Boulder’s School of Education. If you are going to mention or cover research from an advocacy-oriented think tank, check out their Think Twice project, which provides brief, accessible peer reviews of think tank studies. In the past,  the organization has been accused of being overly focused on critiquing right-leaning think tanks but that claim is somewhat difficult to assess since there are more right-leaning than left-leaning think tanks and also because they do critique reports from organizations with a variety of different orientations. (For instance, the last three reports have been on studies by the right-leaning Manhattan Institute, the centrist/non-ideological National Bureau of Economic Research and Sonecon, Inc., a consulting firm led by a former advisor to the Clinton and Obama administrations.) NEPC also commissions research reports, and aggregates content from other sites. They can hook you up with experts (most university-based) who are their “fellows.” The research tends to focus on questions of educational equity. They are often attacked for accepting money from a group funded by teachers’ unions. They also receive funding from the Ford Foundation and other sources.
  • Center on Reinventing Public Education. (Note: My current boss, Paul Teske, is one of their affiliates.) This organization is affiliated with the University of Washington. They tend to focus more on improving school choice than on critiquing it.
  • ETS (Note: I worked here during two different summers.) ETS is the non-profit organization that brought you the GRE, the SAT, the Praxis and other exams. The organization also does research on a variety of topics related to education.
  • ACT ACT is ETS’s competitor in the non-profit world, producing the ACT college admissions exam. This organization also produces research.



[i] Note: I have an article in press here.