Talbott, E., Maggin, D. M., & Van Acker, E. Y., & Kumm, S. (2017). Quality indicators for reviews of research in special education. Exceptionality, 1-21. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/09362835.2017.1283625
||Reviews of research in special education have a unique place in the scientific literature, with the potential to inform a broad audience about the effectiveness and acceptability of assessment and intervention strategies for a heterogeneous group of children and youth. Results from reviews are useful to school leaders, practitioners, parents, policymakers, grant funders, researchers, journal editors, and reviewers. Despite an international movement toward the implementation of evidence-based practices, which includes quality indicators for reviews of research, the field of special education has not yet embraced its own set of review indicators. In this manuscript, we make the case for and propose a set of quality indicators for special education, with the goal of making all reviews in the field trustworthy, transparent, and systematic. Attaining a high level of quality in research reviews will then help researchers guide consumers to select the most effective interventions for youth with disabilities.
Research in special education can appeal to a broad audience, including practitioners, parents, policymakers, grant funders, researchers, journal editors, and reviewers (Cooper & Hedges 2009). Each of these constituents employs wisdom and experience, often through conversations with influential members of their social networks, to interpret findings from research and make sound decisions in selecting, implementing, and communicating effective assessment and intervention strategies (Daly, 2010; Kavale, 2001). Constituents benefit from rigorous reviews that assist them in becoming wiser, better consumers of research. It is the responsibility of special education researchers to combine and communicate the results of our work to this diverse group of constituents. An essential first step in doing so is to conduct a broad range of clearly reported, objective, and transparent reviews of research with a set of quality indicators. Despite the emphasis in recent years on developing and disseminating discipline-specific quality indicators for a wide range of research designs (e.g., Moeller, Dattilo, & Rusch, 2015; Trainor & Graue, 2014), there remain none for systematic reviews, arguably the most important vehicle for describing and disseminating research findings in special education.