The role of theory in the justification of research findings

The role of theory in the justification of
research findings
(in NOMAD as an example)
Morten Blomhøj and Paola Valero
Our agenda:
1. The journal NOMAD’s mission, review
policy and process
2. Two reviews of a paper
3. Frequent comments in reviews that point to
the role of theory in justifications
The mission of NOMAD
The most important aim of the journal is to stimulate,
support and foster Nordic researchers and postgraduate students in mathematics education and to
develop mathematics teaching and teacher-education in
theory and practise at all levels of the educational
system. We hope that Nomad will promote Nordic
studies in mathematics education and spread their
results both inside and outside the Nordic countries.
The editorial committee strives to attain good contacts
with the readers. The editors welcome articles about
reports and surveys of research and development
works, discussions of basic questions in mathematics
education, theoretical analyses and empirical studies.
NOMAD’s review policy
A double blind process
Open guidelines
Supportive feedback to author
Sharing reviews among reviewers
Choosing reviewers (internal and
• Language support
The review process
- from submission to publication
n iterations
with author(s)
Review process
6 weeks
Review report
to author(s)
Review reports
to editors
Paper to
to print
Purposes of the review process
Judge the quality of a paper for publication
Inform the editors on whether the paper is suitable
for publication according to the four categories of
(a) Publish the paper as it is
(b) Publish after a revision based on the review
(c) Encouraging a new version for a new review
(d) Rejection
Provide the author with a feedback on the quality
of the paper and concrete suggestions for
improving the paper
Two reviews
Raymond’s first submitted manuscript
Collaborative and mathematical monitoring moves
among student-teachers: A study of group dialogues
from problem-solving in geometry
The task:
Read one review and try to find comments that address
issues of justification
If you were an editor, how will these statements help
you in detecting problems in the justifications
provided in the paper?
What do we get from reviewers?
• Some general evaluative statements
– More detailed
– Less detailed
• What’s behind the statements?
• What reviewers suggest authors to do
“There is no clear research “question”
(or aim, or focus, or contention)”
What’s behind?
• Missing clarity about what is elucidated in the paper.
• No clear formulation of a question and no
argumentation for the relevance of the study.
• Problems on the argumentative structure of the paper.
• Delimit the aim and focus of the paper (in relation to a
larger research study)
• State (more clearly) what the paper is about
• Justify the importance of the research question (in
relation to: research, practice in general, personal or
social needs, etc).
“What you promise to do in the paper
is not what you actually do”
What’s behind?
Missing theoretical foundation for transformation of the
overall research interest into the research question and to
the object of the actual study.
• Accommodate the formulation of the “question” to what is
actually done.
• Revisit the consistency among the elements of the paper,
especially: the research interest, the question, the
theoretical elements, the analysis and the findings. It is
fatal, if the problems also involve the design and methods
of empirical studies.
• Give the paper another direction, if the empirical material
allows it.
“What do you mean by...?”
“Where does x concept come from?”
“The role of theory y in the paper is not clear”
What’s behind?
• Problems in the presentation of theoretical elements of the paper.
•Unclear or missing arguments for why and how (theoretical) concepts
are helpful in relation to the empirical material
• Distinction of different levels of theory and consistency among them
• Problems with concepts as tools
• Problems with frameworks
• Problems with approaches
• Problems with paradigms
• Define your key concepts explicitly
• Argue for the importance of the concepts in the
• Articulate your concepts with the methodology
and results: Show their application or use
• Revisit and critique your concepts
“I cannot see the basis for your conclusions”
“There is no sufficient evidence
for your conclusions”
What’s behind?
• Missing information about how the data emerged or was
• The data presented is not sufficient
• The analysis is weak
• The analysis does not lead to the presented conclusions
• The theory presented does not provide insight into the
data and the analysis
• Expand the empirical basis
• Connect theory, methodology, analysis and results
How to get the 2,5 ECTS
• Pick a published paper relevant for your own
• Present and characterise the paper in detail and
describe its relevance for your work.
• Analyse the paper with particular regard to
identifying and examining the justification of the
research findings.
• Your report (8-12 pages) should be sent to
Mogens and Morten before January 20.
Quality criteria for research papers (in NOMAD)
1. The paper should explain its problématique: what are the
goals?, what is the motivation?, which are the research
question(s) and what is the context for the research?
2. Declaration of the research paradigm.
3. Research design and methods should be explained and
the coherence in relations to the research questions
should be established.
4. Theoretical statements and theses should be explained,
argued and made plausible to the reader.
5. In empirical research (examples of) data and results
should be presented clearly and strictly separated from
their interpretation.
6. The research findings should be related carefully to the
research questions and justify explicitly.
Quality criteria for papers in NOMAD
The research and its findings should be embedded in
existing research literature.
The mathematical content should be carefully explained
and analyses of teaching situations and students’ work
should be related as closely as possible to the
mathematical content.
The paper should make plausible to reader the
relevance of the research to mathematics education.
10. The criteria of relevance for the Nordic scene.
11. Originality. The paper should present something new.
12. The validity of the research should be discussed in the
13. The technical quality of the paper.
Inspired by Dörfler (1993)