The Tooley report on educational research: Two philosophical objections

Educational Philosophy and Theory 32 (2):249–252 (2000)


The report on educational research, commissioned by the Office for Standards in Education, written by James Tooley with assistance, and published under the title Educational Research: a critique, set out to ‘help provide some badly needed evidence to inform the debate about the quality of educational research’ . Whether this ‘snapshot’ actually upholds Hargreaves' contention that there is a considerable amount of ‘second rate educational research’ is far from clear, although Tooley does conclude that the majority of studies surveyed lacked a clear focus, employed sloppy methodology and displayed partisanship. Now, those whose work was critiqued might, with some justification, grumble about Tooley's own ideological bias given his well‐known right‐wing, market‐oriented views about education. Concern could also be directed at the report's methodological inadequacies, including the procedures adopted to select the journal sample, the categories employed for analysis, and the validity of the conclusions reached. I leave all of these for others to address. Rather, I shall examine two basic distinctions which Tooley adopts and deems important for his investigation into the state of educational research in Britain. The first is between empirical and non‐empirical research, the second is between quantitative and qualitative empirical research. Philosophically, both of these distinctions are highly problematic and as a philosopher Tooley should, at the very least, have acknowledged their contentiousness rather than simply taking them for granted. The purpose of this short note is to indicate why Tooley's reliance on these two distinctions will not do

Download options


    Upload a copy of this work     Papers currently archived: 72,743

External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library


Added to PP

21 (#540,147)

6 months
1 (#386,989)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

References found in this work

No references found.

Add more references

Citations of this work

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Theorizing Education and Educational Research.Christiane Thompson - 2012 - Studies in Philosophy and Education 31 (3):239-250.
Why Should States Fund Schools?Harry Brighouse - 1998 - British Journal of Educational Studies 46 (2):138 - 152.
Causation: A Realist Approach.Michael Tooley - 1987 - Oxford University Press.
The Prisoner's Dilemma and Educational Provision: A Reply to Ruth Jonathan.James Tooley - 1992 - British Journal of Educational Studies 40 (2):118 - 133.
An Analysis of the Canadian Research and Development System for Agriculture/Food.F. L. McEwen & L. P. Milligan - 1992 - Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics 5 (1):107-109.
Tooley's Solution to the Inference Problem.Theodore R. Sider - 1992 - Philosophical Studies 67 (3):261 - 275.
Public Institutions for Cooperative Action: A Reply to James Tooley.Stewart Ranson - 1995 - British Journal of Educational Studies 43 (1):35-42.