SMART – a way to conduct reflective research reviews

In view of all the research that is carried out in the field of educational science, the issue of how to best carry out reviews of research has been gaining more and more attention. This website provides information about a way to conduct research reviews called SMART, which stands for Systematic Mapping and Analysis of Research Topographies. 

We want to share our experiences of using SMART within the project “Research about teaching – a mapping and analysis of research topographies." The project, running from 2017 to 2021, was funded by the Educational Research Committee at the Swedish Research Council. These pages also contain additional information about SMART and how it emerged.

SMART was developed in part as an alternative to the systematic reviews that were developed at the EPPI center in England and which have also served as models for the Swedish School Research Institute’s work. The intention was not to replace but rather to supplement reviews of that kind, based on the assessment that a type of systematic review with a higher degree of scientific reflection was needed. In slightly simplified terms it can be said that, whereas the question “What works?” has been at the forefront of the previous type of review, the set of questions in focus for SMART is “What is the focus of the research? What assumptions is the research based on? and How can the research be developed and utilized?” It should be noted that one of the main conclusions from the project is that all reviews should be reflective, i.e. clear about its basic assumptions.

There are different pathways through these pages for those who want to learn more about SMART and the project. Those unfamiliar with the working method can go to the section “SMART – a short introduction,” which also includes references to literature where SMART is described in more detail. That section describes the emergence of SMART as partly a reaction to “what works” research, in recognition of the need for reflective reviews based on critical analysis of the research rather than on what is perceived as a need in schools.

Those of you who know the basics of SMART can explore how the method has been used and how it is currently being used in various studies. The section “Publications” contain references for the studies that have been published and, where possible, provides links to the publications themselves.

Last modified: 2024-02-01