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Oxford solution to research quandary

ELT researchers will be all too familiar with the problem outlined here by Dr Hamish Chalmers: “When we embark on new research in education, it is imperative that we understand what is already known about our subject of interest. If we don’t, we risk wasting our time, energy and resources on addressing questions for which an answer is already known.”

The good news is that Dr Chalmers and his colleagues at the University of Oxford Department of Education have come up with a solution. It’s the International Database of Education Systematic Reviews (IDESR), a free-access review of systematic reviews, which is also designed as a clearing house for registrations of protocols for planned and ongoing systematic reviews.

Better still, the first area of education tackled by the Oxford team is second-language learning, including ELT. To check out the reviews curated

by the team following a wide- ranging search, simply go to and type in second- language education to access the searchable database.

IDESR is currently accepting protocol registrations in the field of second-language education. Enquiries can be sent to Dr Chalmers at


Melanie Butler
Melanie Butler
Melanie started teaching EFL in Iran in 1975. She worked for the BBC World Service, Pearson/Longman and MET magazine before taking over at the Gazette in 1987 and also launching Study Travel magazine. Educated in ten schools in seven countries, she speaks fluent French and Spanish and rather rusty Italian.
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