I am really pleased that Anthony Schmidt has agreed to write a guest post for me to introduce his very useful ELT Research Bites website. Many thanks to Anthony for the post. Over to him:
What is ELT Research Bites?
ELT Research Bites is a collaborative, multi-author website that publishes summaries of published, peer-reviewed research in a short, accessible and informative way. It is intended to be of use for teachers in ELT but will also be of interest to those undertaking MA, Dip.TESOL/DELTA, and other related programmes.
What are the aims of the site?
There is a lot of great research out there. This research ranges from empirically tested teaching activities to experiments that seek to understand the underlying mechanics of learning. They include everything from pronunciation to pedagogy to neurolinguistics. The problem is, however, that this research doesn’t stand out like the latest headlines – you have to know where to look and what to look for as well as sift through a number of other articles. In addition, many of these articles are behind extremely expensive pay walls that only universities can afford. If you don’t have access to a university database, you are effectively cut off from a great deal of research. Even if you do find the research you want to read, you have to pour through pages and pages of what can be dense prose just to get to the most useful parts. Reading the abstract and jumping to the conclusion is often not enough. You have to look at the background information, the study design, the data, and the discussion, too. In other words, reading research takes precious resources and time, things teachers and students often lack. By creating a site on which multiple authors are reading and writing about a range of articles, we hope to create for the teaching community a resource in which we share practical, peer-reviewed ideas in a way that fits their needs.
Why did I start Research Bites?
I started Research Bites as a series on my personal blog in 2014 (http://www.anthonyteacher.com/ ). I wanted to share some of the interesting research I was reading as part of my own professional development. The beginning of Research Bites also happened to take place during a period in which evidence-based teaching began to grow in popularity, especially in online communities such as Twitter. My Research Bites posts quickly became the most popular posts on my site, and I think this context further inspired me to continue writing the series. I thought I had hit on a very useful and interesting idea and wanted to expand it – reach a wider audience with research that fell beyond my own interests. Up to this point, all the research articles summarized were based on my own interests – EAP, ESL in higher education – which may not have had an appeal to everyone. Therefore, I decided to reach out to people I had met on Twitter who shared a similar interest in research and blogging. I contacted a number of folks, all of whom supported the idea but few who had time to take on another project. From the dozens of people I reached out to, I built a small core of 3 or 4 bloggers and had promises from guest contributors. I moved the site to its own domain and since then it has been slowly growing in popularity and content. We have been able to meet our goal of at least one article per week and hope to continue this goal indefinitely. We are also always on the lookout for contributors and welcome all feedback.
Find ELT Research Bites here: http://www.eltresearchbites.com/