An oasis of data for research-hungry language teachers

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OASIS is a much-needed resource in the research data desert

Inge Alferink tells Gill Ragsdale about the OASIS Project

Oasis was launched in 2018 to address the obstacles teachers face in using research. How does it work?

Oasis-database.org is a publicly-accessible source of summaries of research articles in the fields of language learning, language teaching, and multilingualism. It summarises articles in a single page with minimal jargon, and includes information about what a study was about, why it is important, and what the it found.

Our aim is for parents, teachers, teacher educators, policy makers, and other interested people outside of academia to have access to research findings.

The idea came from teachers?

Teachers are telling us they want research but they don’t have access or they don’t have time. Conversely, researchers worry that their research doesn’t get to the people beyond their immediate colleagues. So, it’s a two-way thing – a bridge.

Where do you get the summaries?

We currently have three journals – Language Learning, The Modern Language Journal and TESOL Quarterly – who have agreed to ask all their authors to submit summaries of their articles. Eventually, the aim is for all the relevant journals and authors to become involved.

As authors write their own commentaries, this is quite different to reading a blog or news report, which may interpret or edit the original article.

How can authors get involved?

Anyone can send in a summary of their work if it is published in an SSCI (Social Sciences Citation Index) listed journal. OASIS does not review the quality of the research, so it is important that it only accepts content from peer-reviewed journals. It is not a perfect process and some poor research still gets published – but it’s the best quality control available for published research at present.

And the response?

We have over 1300 users and feedback has been very positive so far. We also have support from organisations such as the Association for Language Learning (ALL).

We have been using these summaries with school teachers. In the Netherlands, there is a group who are using this for the basis of their monthly staff discussion.

We are on twitter and whenever there is a new summary it is tweeted out with a reference and link to the original paper. We also run a monthly newsletter.

  • Inge Alferink is a post-doctoral researcher on language pedagogy at York University and co-ordinator for the project.
Image courtesy of Library