The mission of the Social Publishers Foundation is to build global capacity for social progress and human wellbeing. The Foundation provides an online space for nonprofit publishing of practice-based research evidence (PBRE) such as practitioner research, participatory research, and action research, including new knowledge and materials for attaining positive impacts on educational and other social practices tied to social support systems worldwide.
The Foundation provides a platform for sharing and for the use of new knowledge, materials, and products generated by practitioner-led research. The Foundation does so in order to encourage the use of practice-based knowledge, foster global collaboration among practitioners, and strengthen social practices related to various forms of social supports globally. Social supports include the full array of educational and human service systems established by nation states, geographical regions, and communities to meet the human needs of their populations. Social support systems are essential to civil society and are not driven by a profit-motive but exist based on a commitment to improving the overall quality of life. Social support systems include a focus on human and community development, promoting wellness, preventing social problems, and addressing the remediation of problems interfering with education, health, and the overall quality of life.
The Foundation also provides opportunities for potential social publishers through crowdfunding of research projects and product-development projects and start-up grants to practitioners around the world to facilitate research and development. The Foundation further endeavors to obtain donors to help practitioners produce and disseminate their practice-based research evidence (PBRE) by providing special grants. Currently, two special grants are available (see Grants).
The Foundation operates from the fundamental view that publishing by practitioners is crucial for building global solidarity for social progress. Therefore, the Foundation supports social publishers in strengthening socially beneficial practices and encouraging collaborations among practitioners as well as between practitioners and university-based researchers to adapt research-based products to specific needs in local contexts. The ultimate goal of the Foundation is to foster the development of a global network of socially responsible publishers that contributes to sustainable development for individuals, communities, and societies.
This Annual Report presents the activities of Social Publishers Foundation (SPF) in the last year. This coming October, SPF moves into the second year beyond the soft-launch phase of the Foundation’s website. We 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 growing number of 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 to provide funding and publishing opportunities for practitioner-researchers.
Partnerships for knowledge mobilization. In our effort to disseminate practitioner-researchers’ projects, partnerships have been formed with a southern California school district’s educational foundation (La Mesa Spring Valley Education Foundation [LMSVEF]), a university located in Lincoln, England (Bishop Grosseteste University, or BGU), and a Journal for publishing action-research projects by school librarians. SPF provides mentorship in writing grant proposals for practitioner-research and/or for project outcomes for publication on the SPF knowledgebase to practitioner-researchers in collaboration with our partner organizations.
Grants awarded. For the partnership with LMSVEF, a fund of US$20K was allocated for the first year (Fall 2016 to Spring 2017). In this period, seven grant applications were approved and funded, some of which are now in the process of preparing final reports. Another new grant category, the Rowell collaborative action research grant, was established in Fall 2016. One application was approved and funded for a project. This project was completed and published on the SPF knowledgebase. SPF also is accepting start-up grant applications.
Knowledgebase. Currently, most of the published practitioner-research projects are in the Education domain. The Education knowledgebase includes projects from Child and Youth Services, School Counseling, School Psychology, and Teaching and Learning areas.
Ongoing outreach efforts. SPF has continued to present at conferences 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 action research to explore potential partnerships and collaborations.
Reaching Out to South America. As part of the ARNA 2017 conference in Cartagena, Colombia, in June, SPF provided a pre-conference workshop about the Foundation. This was an effort to inform the conference audience regarding practitioner-research and funding and publication opportunities that SPF affords. SPF also participated in a conference workshop on publishing action research along with presenters from print journals focused on action research and educational action research.
Bilingual Presentation of practitioner-research on the SPF knowledgebase. SPF published the first bilingual report of practitioner-research at a northern California school. The report was written by Daniela Azuela, who collaborated with two school staff on her project. This first bilingual presentation of a project represents SPF’s initial effort to include a broader readership and authorship in the SPF knowledgebase.
SPF logo change and the website. The logo of SPF has been changed to include the words “practitioner research.” This change was an effort to represent the SPF intention and mission more visibly by adding the key words (practitioner research) to the logo. As in the previous year, the website has been maintained diligently, technical issues have been resolved, and security updates have been continued.
Advisory Board and Review Panel. SPF expanded membership of the Advisory Board (7) and Review Panel (23). SPF plans to include scholars and practitioner-researchers from a variety of countries on Advisory Board and Review Panel. Currently, the Advisory Board members are from 3 countries including South Africa, United Kingdom, and United States. The Review Panel includes members from Brazil, Canada, the United Kingdom, and United States.
CHALLENGES & OPPORTUNITIES
Practitioner research: Differing views. Practitioner-research is continuing with a trend of growing interest and involvement worldwide accompanied by efforts to address skepticism. This trend is evident on two broad fronts. First, the past association of practitioner-research as a primarily activist-oriented pursuit tied to ideas about social change has grown and matured in many ways. Practitioner-research also has gained stature in the context of professional development and closing the gap between research and practice in a fairly wide variety of public- and private-sector social domains. Secondly, many practitioners remain cautious regarding whether practitioner-research is truly intended as a means to empower them as respected producers of knowledge about practice or whether it is yet another technocratic device to impose a narrow and constraining view of the relation of evidence and practice. As this debate continues in the years to come, SPF will continue to serve as a tangible example of what can be done when practitioners are encouraged to break out of the mold and find their voices as producers of knowledge and contributors to public dialogue regarding the intersections of education and human service practices and policy-making.
Diversifying the epistemological base. At present SPF concentrates on practitioner-research conducted in the traditions of the social sciences, including quantitative, qualitative, and mixed-methods approaches to data collection and analysis and reporting of results. Moving forward, SPF has an opportunity to explore being more inclusive in knowledge production through the exploration of other forms of wisdom generation such as storytelling, oral history, dancing, and graphic recording.