The mission of the Social Publishers Foundation is to strengthen global capacity for mobilizing knowledge produced by practitioners to enhance social progress and individual wellbeing. The Foundation provides no-cost online publishing of project reports based on all types of practitioner research, including participatory research and action research.
The Foundation provides a platform for sharing and for the use of new knowledge, materials, and products generated by practitioner-led research. We do so to encourage the use of practice-based knowledge that has emerged through gathering and analysis of practice-based evidence. The Foundation operates from the view that publishing by practitioners and active citizens, including youth, is an important part of democratizing knowledge production in the twenty-first century in a responsible manner. The Foundation further believes that knowledge production can be and should be more horizontal and inclusive in nature. The ultimate goal of the Foundation is to foster the development of a global network of socially responsible practitioner research that contributes to sustainable development for individuals and communities and that empowers the marginalized, oppressed and ignored.
Social Publishers Foundation (SPF) was established as a non-profit educational and charitable foundation in 2014. The Foundation grew out of a critical analysis of changes needed in the production and dissemination of knowledge, in particular in relation to the knowledge used in planning for programs to serve people’s needs in the domains of education, wellness and healthcare, social work and social services, and community development. A central issue in such planning is the extent to which hierarchical “expert knowledge” overruns the knowledge of the people in the local contexts in which the programs are to be enacted. In recent decades, many challenges to what has been called the “knowledge monopoly” of experts have been raised. What is often missing in these challenges is a capacity to share knowledge that has been created through more horizontal and democratic procedures. When knowledge production is rigidly controlled through a monopolistic approach, the popular knowledges associated with working in local contexts are choked off and marginalized. SPF was established to help correct the unequal relations of knowledge and to strengthen the production of popular knowledges associated with practices in a number of crucial social domains.
To distinguish the work shared in the SPF knowledge base, we identify our publications as “practitioner research.” SPF holds to broad views of practice and of what practitioners do when they wish to create and disseminate knowledge. While we recognize that practitioners can produce knowledge using traditional social science research methods, the Foundation respects that efforts to break free of the monopolizing effects of traditional research need to be supported as well, and this means that diverse methods of gathering and analyzing evidence need to be embraced. We believe that practitioners are closer-to-the-ground of what works and what might work in addressing questions of practice in domains critical to healthy human and social development. Our efforts focus on knowledge production and dissemination based on practices in the field, whether these practices are by professional practitioners or by active citizens including youth working to make positive changes in local contexts.
The knowledge base we are creating consists of open-source reports of work done by practitioners and active citizens in diverse fields. The publications from SPF are designed for ease of reading and sharing with a global audience of people similarly engaged with varied forms of research efforts, for example, action research, participatory research, and oral histories, to find creative solutions regarding pressing social, environmental, and community development needs. Because people who are engaged in important community-based work may have little or no prior experience with research and writing, SPF is committed to providing mentoring and as much support as may be needed to produce a report. (see Annual Report).
This Annual Report presents the activities of Social Publishers Foundation (SPF) in the last year. This coming October 2019, SPF will complete the fourth year beyond the soft-launch phase of the Foundation’s website. We once again wish to acknowledge the contributions of time, effort, ideas, and funds provided by members of the SPF Board of Directors, Advisory Board, Review Panel, supporters, and the practitioner-researchers submitting their work to SPF for dissemination. From the establishment of SPF, our initiatives have maintained a steady focus on developing a platform for publishing opportunities for practitioner-researchers. In the Fall of 2019, the foundation will undergo a redesign of SPF’s web space to focus on publishing and disseminating practitioner research as well as providing resources for visitors searching for information on practitioner research.
Dual Language Publication and Global Exposure of SPF Activities
SPF initiated dual-language publications for German, Portuguese, and Spanish projects with English translations beginning in 2017. Two projects, one from Spain and one from the US, have been published in Spanish and English. To date, published projects in English only are from Austria, England, Germany, Sri Lanka, and the US.
Ongoing Outreach Efforts
SPF has continued to present at conferences and speaking engagements and to lead workshops encouraging practitioners to become practitioner researchers and to share their work through adding completed projects to the SPF knowledgebase. The Foundation also reaches out to a variety of organizations interested in practitioner research to explore potential partnerships and collaborations. In 2018-2019, conference presentations included CARN and ARNA. Proposals for other conferences are now being developed.
SPF continued to provide mentorship in writing grant proposals for practitioner research and/or for writing project reports for publication in the SPF knowledgebase. This service is provided to practitioner-researchers in collaboration with our partner organizations.
Start-up grants continued to be available in 2019-2020. SPF continues to seek funders who are interested in funding small to large grants for specific domains or issues. For example, SPF provides space for practitioner research and mentoring and dissemination of research findings from a US school district’s practitioner research. The district’s educational foundation provides up to $5K in funding per project to encourage and support “inquiry projects.” All educators in the district, including teachers, librarians, counselors, and other school staff are eligible to apply for grants.
A process of practitioner writing and editorial review leading to SPF publishing has been an ongoing effort since the launch of the Foundation’s website. The intention is to provide support and mentoring for the purpose of presenting practitioners’ good work in a well-organized, precise and comprehensive manner. Most of the published practitioner-research projects continue to be in the Education field at this time. SPF continues to seek projects based in a variety of topics in the fields of Wellness and Heathcare, Social Work and Social Service, and Community-based Participatory Initiatives.
Advisory Board and Review Panel
SPF now has 32 reviewers from around the world. The Foundation will continue to include scholars and practitioner researchers from a variety of countries on the Advisory Board and Review Panel for their input on current and emerging ideas and issues related to practices in the fields we are involved with and on questions concerning the research-practice gap.
SPF Fund Use
The Foundation’s expenditures (in percent) in the Fiscal Year 2018 included the following:
85%, SPF Website hosting, security, domain, domain privacy, and improvement
13%, SPF sponsorship to action research organization
1%, Government filing for SPF as a non-profit charitable organization
1%, SPF flyers for conferences