Digital Promise Launches Web Tool To Find Ed Research

A new, free resource from Digital Promise aims to provide an easy way to hunt down research in education, teaching and learning topics and to uncover connections between those topics. Digital Promise is a not-for-profit that undertakes work for accelerating innovation in education. The latest initiative, Research Map, is intended for education leaders, policymakers, students and even ed tech developers who want to read up on the latest research about a given subject. Currently, the collection covers 99,170 entries published between 2005 and 2014.

The map offers three views, chord, network (pictured) and list.

The map offers three views, chord, network (pictured) and list.

The map offers three views, chord, network and list. Each one presents the same results, but in a different format. For example, the network view shows 12 research circles, one for each broad topic and sized based on the number of articles available for that topic. When the user selects a circle, blue lines appear between the topics; the thicker the line, the more connections that exist between given topics. For example, the topic, "teaching science" shows the most ample number of connections to "multimodal learning."

The chord view shows each of the research topics around a circle with "chords" drawn between them. The thicker the chord, the more representation the user will find among the article references.

The list view is text-based.

Simultaneously, the network and chord views also include two side panels, one for filtering results and the other with a list of papers or articles on the topic. That latter list can be displayed in multiple orders:

  • Most representative;
  • Most cited;
  • Most cited authors;
  • Most frequent keywords;
  • Most frequent journal sources;
  • Most frequent subject categories; and
  • Most frequent references.

The user can click on an article to go to a citation in Google Scholar, which provides a summary as well as a link to the article. What isn't shown is whether the article is openly available or behind a pay wall on a journal site.

The topics covered in Research Map encompass these:

  • Teacher learning;
  • Student motivation;
  • Attention and memory;
  • Teaching science;
  • Autism;
  • Teaching reading;
  • Special education pricing;
  • Online learning;
  • Cognition and learning;
  • Multimodal learning;
  • Language learning; and
  • Learning math.

Users who log into the site can save and print article references of interest in a "MyTiles" feature.

Behind the scenes the map uses an algorithm to "detect" groups of articles with densely shared links, based on ties between title, keywords, author, cited references and abstract content. The data analysis and visualization was done using BiblioTools and Data-Driven Documents (D3). After the map was built, Digital Promise developers reviewed the most cited and representative papers in each topic and subtopic to create labels and descriptions.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.