Where to Find Research

Searching For Research1

Where does one find the published research about Catholic schools?

  1. Catholic Education Journals
    Catholic education has two journals that regularly review Catholic school research: Catholic Education: A Journal of Inquiry and Practice.2 This scholarly journal, jointly founded by four Catholic universities--Fordham University, University of Dayton, University of Saint Louis, and University of San Francisco, and currently maintained by the University of Notre Dame, addresses research concerns as well features reviews of books which seriously treat of Catholic educational topics. The journal tends to use a broad definition in its treatment of research, featuring historical and philosophical research as often, if not more than it does quantitative research.

    The other source is Momentum,3 an organ from the National Catholic Educational Association. A more popular periodical, Momentum has recently added a refereed research section typically featuring a scholarly article selected by a guest editor well-known in the subject of the research. Included in each issue are book reviews, sometimes of books that focus on Catholic school research.
  2. Dissertation Abstracts International
    Because such a high percentage of Catholic school research is found in doctoral dissertations, the reader may wish to consult Dissertation Abstracts International.4 This is a monthly compilation of abstracts submitted by all the cooperating universities and colleges in the United States, Canada, and a few other countries. There are two sections. Section A, the first section, contains education with all its subtopics. Catholic school studies are mixed in with the others; all the studies are listed under the appropriate subtopic such as elementary, secondary, higher. The dissertations themselves are available in either photocopy form, sightly reduced, or microfiche or microfilm from University Microfilms International for a fee.
  3. National Catholic Educational Association (NCEA) & Doctoral Dissertations on Catholic Education Booklet
    Titles of Catholic educational topics have been published by NCEA since 1975. There is a booklet entitled Doctoral Dissertations on Catholic Education, 1968-1975,5 which covers studies done during the eight years, and another booklet, Doctoral Dissertations on Catholic Schools, K-12, 1976-19876 which treats of studies completed in the twelve years, and Dr. Thomas Hunt compiled titles and abstracts of Catholic educational investigations from 1991-1996.7 There is a complete listing of all the Catholic school doctoral dissertations produced by CEL graduates on this web site.
  4. Chief Administrators of Catholic Education (CACE)
    For those who regularly attend the annual NCEA convention, there is another way of becoming aware of recent doctoral studies. At the annual convention every year CACE sponsors three sessions on six pieces of the latest doctoral research. Each session focuses on two dissertations. The researchers make a presentation of the findings and respond to questions from the audience.
  5. Internet
    Another source for locating Catholic school research is on the World Wide Web. Unfortunately, there are few references to Catholic School Research when using the descriptor research on the Internet,8 and the few that exist are not organized. One encounters them by happenstance.

    Father Ron Nuzzi alerted us to The Catholic Internet by Tim DeRyan, a "comprehensive guide to all things Catholic that are available on the Internet. With over 3,000 website addresses and over 4,000 e-mail addresses, this directory supplies more information than most of us could ever use." The book is available.9 The on-line version of this directory is available at http://www.catholic-church.org/cid. Particularly useful at this website are the 10 most popular Catholic sites which include the archives of American University with its collection of Catholic documents, and the University of Notre Dame theology archives. Be warned that this site can become addictive.

    Some non-Catholic organizations have websites which often run articles about Catholic or private schools. There are too many to mention individually.
  6. Research Forum
    The Institute for Catholic Educational Leadership at the University of San Francisco features the McDermott Research Forum on its web site10 in which research articles originally printed in The Private School Monitor, (a section of the America Educational Research Association)11 are summarized as are articles from the research section of Momentum,12 the Catholic Education: A Journal of Inquiry and Practice,13 and copies of NCEA NOTES.14 In addition there is a complete listing of doctoral dissertations researched about Catholic schools listed by category from 1969--present.
  7. University Microfilm International (UMI) Database
    University Microfilm International's Dissertation Abstracts Database, with more than 1.5 million entries, is the one central, authoritative source for information about doctoral dissertations and master's theses.

    The database includes citations for materials ranging from the first U.S. dissertation, accepted in 1861, to those accepted as recently as last semester; those published from 1980 forward also include 350-word abstracts, written by the authors. Citations for master's theses from 1988 forward include 150-word abstracts. Of the 1.5 million titles listed, UMI offers over a million in full text. For these titles, the database citation includes UMI's order number.15

    Citations to research are more easily found in doctoral dissertations because the focus of chapter two of the dissertation is a review of the literature on which the investigation is based as well as literature that disagrees with the researcher's premise. Because of the relatively quick turn-around time of the dissertation, the references are up-to-date.
  8. ERIC
    ERIC (Educational Resources Information Center) dates back only to 1966 but houses important non journal materials. Each clearinghouse has its own address; researchers should start with www.searcheric.org . There is no-cost, public access to search the ERIC databases.


  1. Adapted from a two part column, See "Search for the Research: Part I, " NCEA NOTES, Vol. 32, No. 1, September 1998, and "Search for the Research: Part II, " NCEA NOTES, Vol. 32, No. 2, November 1998.
  2. Catholic Education: A Journal of Inquiry and Practice is published by Ave Maria Press, Inc. To order the journal, please use the following address: Catholic Education, Attn: Julie Wernick, University of Notre Dame, 150 I.E.I. Building, Notre Dame, IN 46556-5682. Subscriptions are priced as follows: $39.95 (U.S.) individual; $80.00 (U.S.) College Library; $50 (International) individual; $92.00 (International) College Library.
  3. Momentum is published by the National Catholic Educational Association. Subscriptions are part of the NCEA membership or issues can be purchased separately.
  4. University Microfilms International. (1938 to date) Dissertation Abstracts International. These documents are found in the reference department of the libraries. Titles can be ordered through any university library, by phoning 1-800-521-3042, or by visiting umi.com.
  5. Olsen. (1975) Doctoral Dissertations on Catholic Education, 1968-1975.
  6. Traviss. (1989) Doctoral Dissertations on Catholic Schools, K-12, 1976-1987.
  7. Hunt. (1998) Doctoral Dissertations in Catholic Schools in the United States, 1991-1996.
  8. When typing "Catholic School Research" several search engines will turn up a number of Catholic school websites. As a descriptor "research" seems to be a catch-all term for listings, general information, and examples.
  9. The book is available from The Fabian Corporation, 444 Shook Avenue, Stroudsburg, PA 18360-2913.
  10. www.soe.usfca.edu/icel
  11. Private School Monitor, published by ARPE, Associates for Research on Private Education, a special interest group of the American Educational Research Association. Thomas Hunt, University of Dayton, is the editor.
  12. Momentum is a publication of the National Catholic Educational Association, and is housed at the NCEA headquarters in Washington, D.C. Recently it has added a research section to the regular features of the journal.
  13. Catholic Education: A Journal of Inquiry and Practice is the joint efforts of Fordham University, Saint Louis University, the University of Dayton, and the University of San Francisco. It is currently published out of the University of Notre Dame.
  14. NCEA NOTES, Volumes 29-32.
  15. www.umi.com/umi/dissertations/