Educational research: Pursuit of truth or flight into fancy?

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Abstract

This article observes the apparent determination of some educational researchers to distance themselves from any claim to the truth of their published work and poses the question: is educational research concerned in some sense with the truth in relation to the matter which is the focus of its enquiry or is it not? It argues that either it is so concerned or it probably collapses into incoherence. It explores, first the relationship between propositions (of the kind found abundantly in educational research reports) and truth claims, before exploring five classical theories of truth. Truth, it is pointed out is itself not a monolithic concept and it is possible to deny some notions of truth without necessarily denying all. It goes on to illustrate the way in which different theories of truth are associated with different paradigms of educational research and finally explores in more detail the senses in which truth claims persist in two influential pieces of writing (Guba & Lincoln's Fourth Generation Evaluation and Stronach & MacLure's expressly postmodernist approach to educational research in Educational Research Undone) even as their authors wrestle to deny it.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)597-616
Number of pages20
JournalBritish Educational Research Journal
Volume25
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Dec 1999

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