Inside Higher Ed’s Scott Jaschik Discusses What He Looks for When Covering Education Research
Inside Higher Ed’s Scott Jaschik Discusses What He Looks for When Covering Education Research

May 2019

The following Q&A is one in an occasional series of conversations with policy and opinion leaders with an interest in and commitment to education research. Scott Jaschik is editor and co-founder of Inside Higher Ed. He co-leads its editorial operations, overseeing news content, opinion pieces, career advice, blogs, and other features. He can be reached at  

Q. What factors do you consider when determining whether a new research study is worth covering?

A. Does the study relate to a current area of interest, or something that is important in higher education? I'm also always prone to go for a study that challenges conventional wisdom in some way.

Q. How do you decide if research is of high enough quality to cover?

There isn't a precise formula, but some of the questions I ask: Has the study been peer-reviewed or subject to scrutiny in some way? (Could be for a journal, a scholarly meeting, etc.) Does the sample size seem large enough and broad enough? (I tend to be skeptical of small sample sizes at one institution.) Does the research seem free of conflict of interest? (I appreciate studies that note funders.)

Q. What areas of current education research are ripe for expanded coverage?

Equity issues in higher education are of great interest. Coming out of admissions scandals, research on the advantages of the wealthy in higher education is of great interest. Affirmative action and the impact of ending it. The evolving faculty role, as more colleges rely on non-tenure-track faculty members, or on online instructors. Quality in online education and for-profit higher education.

Q. What advice do you have for researchers and other science communicators to make research findings more accessible to reporters and other non-researchers?

Please give us one paragraph that is written for us, not fellow scholars. Can you say, in a paragraph, what the findings are and why they matter? To the extent possible, can you link to current policy issues?

Q. What are some best practices that researchers and science communicators should consider when pitching research?

Short email pitches outlining what I said in my answer to the previous question. Being able to talk without too much jargon. Being able to show why the numbers matter (“This suggests problems for those who advocate policy X...”). Being able to relate the research to other studies. Being responsive. If a reporter calls, he or she wants a speedy answer, likely not on a traditional academic's calendar.

Editor’s note: Visit the website of the Education Writers Association for an overview of Scott Jaschik’s “Top 10 Higher Education Story Ideas for 201920.”

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