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Everyone's Favorite Punching Bag Returns! The Annual Meetings of AERA

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The Annual Meetings of the American Educational Research Association are coming up. This year, ~10,000 (?) people will converge on New York from March 24-28. Why do many researchers hate AERA?

1) AERA is too big and too long.

2) Because there are too many people on the program, the quality of the average paper is low.

3) Because the quality of the average paper is low, many scholars who do high quality work don't submit their work to AERA.

4) Because there are too many concurrent sessions, most sessions are sparsely attended, so the feedback quality is low unless you have an unusually insightful discussant.

5) As a result of the above, AERA continues to suck.

Can AERA become something more than a convenient punching bag that we pull out each spring? I'm pessimistic about the potential for fundamentally reshaping this meeting, but perhaps you aren't, or have ideas.

For more punching, see the Hessinator here and here.
5 Comments

Paper quality is not the result necessarily of the numbers. There is also a HUGE variability in the quantitative ratings that are used so frequently without any check on the reviewing process itself.

I agree with Sherman. I had a piece rejected that was accepted by a respected journal...given the expense of staying in NY for a week, I'm glad that was the case.

This is my first time, so I can't comment on anything else, but given the other conferences I've been to, I'm keeping my expectations low.

Punching, punching, complaining, complaining and yet, no fundamental change. Sounds just like the institution of public schooling we all think/write/learn/teach about!

I think AERA would do well to do more over the course of the academic year through technology (webcasts, VCs, etc.). Online presos can be just as good and, arguably, more interactive than the awful paper sessions at the f-2-f conference. Of course, if AERA is truly like the institution of public schooling, our chances of getting technology integrated any time soon are not great. Sorry, more complaining...

Sherman and Philip, good point. It's both too big and too arbitrary. It still seems to me that the odds of filling that many sessions with exceptional scholarship are low...

Interesting chain of reasoning, eduwonkette. By this logic, shouldn't the annual meeting of the American Psychological Association suck too? Attendance at the 2007 meeting in San Francisco was nearly 10,000 members, affiliates and students, and the convention program was just as imposing as AERA's. I think we need to face the possibility that AERA sucks because a lot of education research -- certainly not all, but a lot -- sucks. There are more sophisticated arguments to be made, around issues of professional authority and jurisdiction, a la Andrew Abbott, or David Labaree's claims about ed schools' (and hence ed school researchers') romance with progressivism, but shouldn't we acknowledge the fact that there's a lot of schlock out there? I don't think doing so necessitates throwing out the baby with the bathwater.

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Recent Comments

  • skoolboy: Interesting chain of reasoning, eduwonkette. By this logic, shouldn't the read more
  • eduwonkette: Sherman and Philip, good point. It's both too big and read more
  • Jon Becker: Punching, punching, complaining, complaining and yet, no fundamental change. Sounds read more
  • philipkovacs: I agree with Sherman. I had a piece rejected that read more
  • Sherman Dorn: Paper quality is not the result necessarily of the numbers. read more

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