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Educational Evaluation
(University of Cambridge & University of East Anglia)

Potential Impacts

The research archive itself would provide access to a rich set of existing qualitative data which is not currently located in a single location or which is easily accessible to researchers or other users. The opportunities offered by the D-Space repository to store a wide range of data types (audio, video, images, texts etc) may encourage the participant researchers to consider extending the scope of the case records within the archive, and its existence would provide a focus for continued discussion and debate both between the participants in the Cambridge Conferences and with new audiences.

The separation of data, metadata and the 'semantic' layer would provide a basis for the exploration of innovative relationships between researchers and users of research evidence. For example, selected data and contextual resources could be incorporated into instructional materials. This would allow their use both by students undertaking formal education research methods courses and practitioner researchers who characteristically have fewer opportunities to engage with data and debates about methodology.

The development of the archive will also allow the systematic evaluation of a range of novel technologies that have been identified as having considerable potential for the archiving, discovery and reuse of data. Of particular interest is the potential of 'Semantic Web' approaches and technologies for the expression of complex relationships between the elements of complex data sets and 'networks' of resources. As such it would provide a useful model for the establishment of other archives in educational research and more broadly - in fact, in any field where case-based research, case studies, narratives and biographies are characteristically used. A natural extension of the project would be the systematic conversion to digital form of other, related, paper archives such as the extensive collections held at the Centre for Applied Research in Education at the University of East Anglia and archives reflecting and related to the work of the late Lawrence Stenhouse, and other examples.

A further impact in the area of data sharing could be the integration of the archive with other electronic catalogues, archives and libraries such as the British Education Index and Thesaurus, and with other electronic tools such as the kind of networked CAQDAS (Computer Aided Qualitative Data Analysis System) applications described by Muhr (2000) and Carmichael (2002). In the case of the BEI/BET, the development of a 'domain-specific' descriptive vocabulary grounded in the archive itself would provide a useful elaboration of the more generic vocabulary, which the BEI aims to provide. This project provides an opportunity to develop and implement and example of what Phil Sheffield, Manager of the BEI describes as 'connected special interest vocabularies'.

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