Replication Research in Special Education

  • Research Project

What We Do

CASPER members Bryan Cook, Bill Therrien, and Michael Coyne guest edited a 2016 special issue of Remedial and Special Education investigating the degree to which and how replication research is conducted in special education. CASPER members Jason Travers and Chris Lemons were also lead authors on articles in the special issue. See below for abstracts and links to articles.

Replication Research and Special Education

by Jason C. Travers, Bryan G. Cook, William J. Therrien, & Michael, D. Coyne

Replicating previously reported empirical research is a necessary aspect of an evidence-based field of special education, but little formal investigation into the prevalence of replication research in the special education research literature has been conducted. Various factors may explain the lack of attention to replication of special education intervention research, including emphasis on quantity of publications, esteem for novel findings, and barriers to publishing high-quality studies with null or negative effects. This article introduces the special issue on replication of special education intervention research by first providing an overview of concepts and issues related to replication. Specific attention is then given to replication as it relates to group design and single case experimental design research, two prominent albeit philosophically different empirical methodologies. We then briefly describe how replications using these research designs can be conducted in complementary ways to better understand intervention effects and advance evidence-based practices in special education.

Publication: Replication Research and Special Education

Replication of Special Education Research, Necessary But Far Too Rare

by Matthew C. Makel, Jonathan A. Plucker, Jennifer Freeman, Allison Lombardi, Brandi Simonsen, & Michael Coyne

Increased calls for rigor in special education have often revolved around the use of experimental research design. However, the replicability of research results is also a central tenet to the scientific research process. To assess the prevalence, success rate, and authorship history of replications in special education, we investigated the complete publication history of every replication published in the 36 journals categorized by ISI Web of Knowledge Journal Citation Report as special education. We found that 0.5% of all articles reported seeking to replicate a previously published finding. More than 80% of these replications reported successfully replicating previous findings. However, replications where there was at least one author overlapping with the original article (which happens about two thirds of the time) were statistically significantly more likely to find successful results.

Publication: Replication of Special Education Research, Necessary But Far Too Rare

A Replication By Any Other Name: A Systematic Review of Replicative Intervention Studies

by Bryan G. Cook, Lauren W. Collins, Sara C. Cook, & Lysandra Cook

Replication research is essential to scientific knowledge. Reviews of replication studies often electronically search for replicat* as a textword, which does not identify studies that replicate previous research but do not self-identify as such. We examined whether the 83 intervention studies published in six non-categorical research journals in special education in 2013 and 2014 might be considered replications regardless of using the term replicat* by applying criteria related to (a) the stated purpose of the study and (b) comparing the findings of the study with the results of previous studies. We coded 26 intervention studies as replications. Authors of 17 of these studies reported that their findings solely agreed with the results of the original study(ies). Author overlap occurred for half of the replicative studies. The likelihood of findings being reproduced did not vary as a function of author overlap. We discuss implications and recommendations based on these findings.

Publication: A Replication By Any Other Name: A Systematic Review of Replicative Intervention Studies

Progeny Review: An Alternative Approach for Examining the Replication of Intervention Studies in Special Education

by William J. Therrien, Hannah M. Mathews, Shanna Eisner Hirsch, & Michael Solis

Despite the importance of replication for building an evidence base, there has been no formal examination to date of replication research in special education. In this review, we examined the extent and nature of replication of intervention research in special education using an “article progeny” approach and a three-pronged definition of replication (direct, conceptual, intervention overlap). In this approach, original articles (i.e., parent studies) were selected via a stratified, random sampling procedure. Next, we examined all articles that referenced the parent articles (i.e., child studies) to determine the extent and nature of the replication of the original studies. Seventy-five percent of the parent studies were replicated by at least one child study. Across all parent studies, there were 39 replication child studies. Although there was a high overall replication rate, there were a limited number of conceptual replications, and no direct replication studies were identified.

Publication: Progeny Review: An Alternative Approach for Examining the Replication of Intervention Studies in Special Education

Recommendations for Replication Research in Special Education: A framework of Systematic, Conceptual Replications

by Michael D. Coyne, Bryan G. Cook, & William J. Therrien

Special education researchers conduct studies that can be considered replications. However, they do not often refer to them as replication studies. The purpose of this article is to consider the potential benefits of conceptualizing special education intervention research within a framework of systematic, conceptual replication. Specifically, we advocate for the value and importance of replication research that includes both closely aligned and distal conceptual replications. We acknowledge the challenges associated with conducting replications in applied school-based research and also provide recommendations for how to design, conduct, and report replication studies in special education research with the goal of supporting the identification of effective practices for individuals with disabilities.

Publication: Recommendations for Replication Research in Special Education: A framework of Systematic, Conceptual Replications

Related Lab

  • Research Lab

Consortium for the Advancement of Special Education Research

CASPER’s mission is to advance open science in special education and related fields by (a) conducting meta-research, (b) providing recommendations and resources, and (c) conducting and disseminating open research.