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Designing, Conducting, and Publishing Quality Research in Mathematics Education

Keither R. Leatham, editor
Publication Date: 
Number of Pages: 
[Reviewed by
Cristina Runnalls
, on
Designing, Conducting, and Publishing Quality Research in Mathematics Education is a volume of papers that describe in detail the process of producing quality research in mathematics education, beginning with developing a mindful research program, and ending with how to effectively communicate with reviewers, build on rejection, and publish for international impact.  Papers are written in a very thorough and helpful manner, with the aim of teaching young researchers the ins and outs of successful research in the field of mathematics education.  
The book is arranged in three parts, described in the title of the book. Part I discusses elements of design of research, especially as part of a larger program; Part II explores the process of conducting research through different lens and paradigms; Part III delves into the publishing process. Each part is described in greater detail below.
Part I offers a thorough description of several elements necessary when considering the design of quality research, including: the purpose and value of an integrated theoretical framework (Chapter 1), iterative steps key to a literature search (Chapter 2), a guide for research and curriculum development (Chapter 5), developing a research program (Chapters 3 and 4), and steps for a successful funding proposal (Chapter 6). 
While Part I focuses primarily on the establishment and development of new research, Part II delves into the process of conducting this research.  Some chapters addresses helpful ideas to consider when conducting research in the quantitative (Chapter 7) and qualitative (Chapter 8) paradigms, while others explore broader ideas of what it means to lead a research team using agile methods (Chapter 9), how to follow the research “where it takes you” (Chapter 10), and how to navigate yourself and others in constructing what it means to carry out quality research (Chapter 11). 
Finally, Part III dives into the realities of publishing quality research, doing so in a way that does not shy away from struggles with communication, rejection, and impact.  Topics range from a revisiting of theoretical frameworks (Chapter 12), best practices for communicating with and responding to reviewers (Chapters 13 and 16), as well as addressing and getting ahead of obstacles for publishing in different contexts (Chapters 14, 15, and 17).  A particular value in this section is that nearly all chapters are written by current or former editors of prominent mathematics education journals, offering an “insider” perspective into these ideas.
Several aspects of this book merit further discussion.  The first is the care with which each chapter is written, often in the form of providing tips, suggestions, and other helpful ideas for progressing in the field of mathematics education.  Much of the book is written from the perspective of a mentor, something that is sure to be invaluable to graduate students and early-career researchers.  Many chapters are written by experts in the field and offer tremendous insight into the inner workings of the publishing process (e.g., Chapters 12, 13, and others). Their writing seeks to demystify what happens in the process of producing, evaluating, and disseminating quality research and accomplishes this task well.  While there is some repetition across chapters, overall the structure and clarity of the book is strong. 
This book may be recommended most for mid-to-late career graduate students, and early-career scholars. It serves to offer a clear and often much-needed explanation to several aspects of educational research, such as the use of theoretical frameworks and the ins and outs of the publishing process.  Several chapters also offer great value as reference chapters, to be called upon any time a new project is undertaken (e.g. Chapter 2).  However, it may not be suited for very early-career graduate students or those who have had little to no experience with mathematics education research. Certain norms of the field (e.g., the general structure of a research paper, common quantitative/qualitative methodologies, etc.) are taken as known, which may make this book a difficult read for people exceptionally new to the field.  Still, this book may serve as an excellent resource for the novice researcher, or as a resource to be shared and discussed between mentors and mentees.


Dr. Cristina Runnalls is an Assistant Professor of Mathematics & Statistics at Cal Poly Pomona, with a focus on Mathematics Education. Her research focuses primarily on the mathematics education of emergent bilingual students, with additional work in both pre-service and in-service teacher education.