Manuscripts should be from 3,000 to 5,000 words in length, in English and in MS Word format and emailed to BestPractices@bestpracticesjournal.com or kkinsler@hunter.cuny.edu. Alternatively, a single hard copy may be submitted, along with an electronic copy on disc to Best Practices Journal; Prof. Kimberly Kinsler, Editor in Chief; Dept. of Educational Foundations; Hunter College School of Education, 695 Park Avenue, New York, N.Y. 10065.  All manuscripts should be original contributions and should not be under consideration by any other publication at the same time.

Two types of articles are welcome: (1) studies of local action research or inquiry projects aimed at improving the achievement of students and/or the operation of schools at the elementary and secondary levels and (2) documented critical commentary on mandated curricula and imposed policies and practices that have noteworthy consequences on students and local stakeholders at these levels.  For papers of the first type, particularly welcome are studies conducted by site-based inquiry teams, involving whole grades or subject areas; representative school-wide team projects; and multiple school collaborations focused on improving the learning and achievement of historically marginalized and underachieving groups of learners. All contributors should be aware that they are addressing an international audience and should follow all human subjects requirements appropriate for their locale and inquiry conditions. 

Guidelines for Writing Action Research Inquiry Projects:

Contributors should consult both the American Psychological Association (APA) Publication Manual for general formatting guidelines and any standard action research text for content-specific assistance for reporting action inquiry.  In general, articles are expected to have the following sections, which should contain the content briefly described under each section name: 

Title page: The title page should contain three basic elements: (1) the title of the article, which should capture, as briefly as possible, the nature or focus of the inquiry project, (2) the names of the authors of the article, and (3) the authors' school affiliation(s), including the address(es) of the school(s) and the email address of the primary author. 

Abstract page: The abstract should be approximately four to six sentences in length and give a very brief summary of the article, including the purpose of the study or the problem the study was designed to resolve, the participants in the study, the findings and their interpretation, and the lessons learned.   

The Introduction/Preface:This untitled section should frame the study and introduce the research problem.  The introduction should make a case for the need to conduct the study or the importance of the problem to be solved.  It should be no longer than one double spaced page. This section should end with a Purpose Statement and/or Research Questions the inquiry is intended to solve.   

Narrative/Literature Review. The section should provide background knowledge and frame the problem to be solved. It should also describe why and how the researchers developed the particular research or inquiry plan reported.  Consequently, this section should begin by contextualizing the problem in some detail, i.e., describing the school; relevant or perceived contributing demographic or cultural characteristics; and the origins, evolution, and current nature of the problem or inquiry focus.   

Describe the early problem solving process.  This description should include the formation of the problem solving team, e.g., the process initiators and the selection of site-level researcher/ participants, etc. Then state how the researcher/participants developed and formulated their initial understanding of the problem and possible intervention strategies.  This description should relate key conversations and contrasting views discussed in team meetings; explorations of and knowledge learned from the traditional research literature; and any other data (sources) sought, gathered, analyzed and interpreted. Your changing conceptualizations or understandings of the problem should also be reported, as well as how and why particular contributing factors were targeted among the possibilities uncovered, and why a particular intervention strategy was selected.   

Conclude this section by restating the objective of the research intervention, and any associated research questions or explanatory understandings sought in the inquiry process.   

Study Design and Data Sources: Describe the study's planned intervention, i.e., your action plan.   This description should be detailed enough that a reader could replicate the intervention, if desired.  This section may be modeled on the traditional research reporting format for this section, i.e., divided into three subsections focused sequentially on 1) the participants in the study, i.e., what particular group(s) of students, classes, or subject and grade levels were targeted for the intervention, and how they were chosen; 2) the various instruments used. Studies must use both qualitative and quantitative data assessment sources and this section must briefly describe each instrument and give the reason for, or the intended contribution of, each data source. For example, assessments intended to provide benchmark, or formative information, should be noted. If an intervention involves the use of an instructional innovation, its key features must be noted in this section.  3) Implementation. In this section the author(s) should describe sequentially each step in the actual intervention. Give approximate dates (e.g., the month(s) alloted for the training of instructors or observers, if relevant. Give dates when each phase was started and ended, and dates when each assessment was administered.  Conclude by reporting on the gathering of your final, post intervention assessments.   

Data Analysis: Relate how the data from each data source were analyzed and the results of these analyses.   

Discussion of Results: In this section discuss the findings, their implications, and the data interpretation process.  Include the groups and/or nature of individuals involved or consulted in this process, any conflicting interpretations that may have emerged among stakeholder groups, and how these conflicts were resolved. Here also discuss any irregularities and problems that occurred during the action plan implementation process and how these occurrences may have affected the outcome.  Then discuss the conclusion(s) reached from the inquiry process. 

End this section by discussing whether school stakeholders feel the problem of the study was resolved or improved, why or why not, and the future actions (or action plan modifications) that are intended as a result of the study. 

References: See the Publication Manual for the American Psychological Association for specifics. 

Tables and Charts: Tables should be typed and numbered, and submitted as part of the manuscript.    Supply succinct and clear titles and captions for all tables and charts.  All tables and figures should be placed after the references, with their proper location indicated in body of the text. 

Variations in the structure and write up of action research articles are permissible, provided that the article is readable, logically sequenced, and contains the essential elements needed to understand and replicate the study, if so desired. 

The Review Process

All manuscripts will be sent to from 2-3 referees: 1-2 practitioner referees from the authors' school level (i.e., elementary or secondary), subject area, or administrative capacity; the other reviewer will be from the higher-education action research community. 

If the manuscript meets the basic requirements of the Journal, 2-3 reviewers will be located by the Journal Editor, who will send each reviewer a copy of the paper electronically and a manuscript form.  The reviewers will read the manuscript and complete the Editor's Review Form, selecting one of the recommendation options and critiquing the paper.  The reviewers will send their review forms to the Editor, who examines the reviews and completes and Editors' Summary Review Form.  The Editor will then forward the Manuscript Reviews and Editors' Summary Review Form to the author.   

If the paper is not suitable for the Journal, the Editor will inform the author(s), with an explanation as to why the paper is outside the Journal's scope.    

There are three possible review decisions for suitable articles submitted to Best Practices

1. Accept in the present form: Based on at least two reviews, the Editor decides that the paper is ready for publication in the present form.  The Editor sends the two reviews and the Editors' Summary Review Form to the author with an acceptance letter, which includes any comments from these forms. If editorial changes are required, authors will be requested to submit their final manuscript, along with the required forms and electronic files. 

2. Conditional acceptance/Re-review required: Based on at least two reviews, the Editor decides that the paper is not ready for publication, but of interest to the Journal. This is neither an acceptance nor a decline.  The Editor sends the reviewers' comments and the Editors' Summary Review Form to the author and requests revisions.  If the author(s) wish to proceed, they will revise the article and resubmit the paper along with a letter that explains how the reviewers' comments have been addressed.  The revised paper and cover letter are to be forwarded to the Editor.  The Editor may choose to return the revised paper to one or all of the original reviewers and await their response.  Upon receipt of the reviewers' new comments, or directly following their re-reading of the manuscript, the Editor will complete a new Editors' Summary Review Form.  The Summary Review is then sent to the author. 

3. Declined: Based on at least two reviews, the Editor decides that the paper is not appropriate for publication.  The editor sends the editors' reviews and the Editors' Summary Review Form to the author, with the reviewers' comments, alerting the authors that no further revisions will be considered.  A manuscript that has been declined may not be resubmitted to the Journal unless it has been substantially revised and is offered as a new submission.