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About the ArtsEdSearch Criteria

The ArtsEdSearch Review Panel process is conducted in two stages applying the two sets of ArtsEdSearch Criteria. AEP developed these criteria in consultation with the American Educational Research Association and the American Evaluation Association.

In Stage One, AEP reviews submitted studies against the Absolute Criteria to determine eligibility for inclusion in ArtsEdSearch. AEP does not make any quality assumptions about the study in Stage One and only determines whether the study fits within the scope of ArtsEdSearch. Studies meeting all Absolute Criteria advance to Stage Two, during which the ArtsEdSearch Review Panel evaluates studies against Quality Criteria.

American Educational Research Association (AERA): Definition of Scientifically Based Research

American Educational Research Association (AERA): Standards for Reporting on Humanities-Oriented Research in AERA Publications

American Evaluation Association Guiding Principles for Evaluators

Stage 1 Review: Absolute Criteria Checklist
  • The study describes a formal research project or evaluation, as opposed to a journalistic or descriptive account and intends to answer one or more questions or investigate one or more hypotheses.
  • The study involves the collection of new data and is not a review of existing literature or research (meta-analyses that use prior studies as data and analyze them to investigate a research question or hypothesis are eligible).
  • The study focuses on learning in the arts via a structured program, project or component (which can occur in school or outside of the school day)) and not simply an isolated arts activity or experience.
  • The study examines one or more outcomes of arts education for students or educators.
  • The study includes and explains how the researcher(s) measured or observed outcomes, including a description of methods used for data collection and analysis.
  • The author(s) describes one or more findings on the outcomes of arts education for students and/or educators yielded from the study‚Äôs methods.
  • The study is available via print, email request or electronic download.
Stage 2 Review: ArtsEdSearch Review Panel

The ArtsEdSearch Review Panel will rate each study based on the following considerations:


  • The report fully and explicitly describes methods used and population(s) observed in the research.
  • The identified methods are substantially and logically related to the research objectives, questions or hypotheses.
  • The statement of the study design includes specific attention to issues of reliability and validity.
  • The report identifies the population(s) observed and explains sampling procedures when appropriate.
  • The report identifies the population(s), if any, to which the findings can be generalized.
  • If the research seeks to establish causal explanations, the study substantially reduces plausible competing explanations for results through one or more of the following:
    • Experimental or carefully controlled quasi-experimental design.
    • Other robust designs, such as longitudinal research, case-control methods, statistical matching or time-series analyses.
    • Naturalistic or ethnographic research that carefully analyzes and examines descriptive data.
    • Triangulation of multiple methods.

Findings Criteria

  • The findings include the development of a logical, evidence-based chain of reasoning.
  • Data and analysis within the article adequately support the findings.
  • The study fully and candidly presents any limitations to the findings, including remaining threats to validity and possible alternative explanations.
  • The study is clearly written and avoids sensationalism or speculations outside of the methodology and findings.

Reporting Criteria

  • If the research is ethnographic or naturalistic, the report substantially quotes or excerpts original sources (for example: interviews and observation notes).
  • The study includes enough access to the data and methodology for secondary analysis, replication or the opportunity to further test findings.