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Steve Williams

In this issue, my name appears for the first time as editor of this journal. At such times of transition, it is appropriate to look back a little bit; to speak some words of thanks; to make some introductions; and to look forward a little bit, as well.

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Steve Williams

One of the most compelling memories from my early days in graduate school is of reading Begle and Gibb's (1980) chapter, “Why Do Research?” What captured my attention the most was their discussion of a letter from Bernard K. Forscher (1963) to the editor of Science.

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Steve Williams

This month, I have the happy task of announcing that the Journal for Research in Mathematics Education has put in place a Web-based system for the submission, review, and tracking of manuscripts. The new system, which has been developed with the support of both NCTM and Brigham Young University, is the culmination of a process that began under Ed Silver. Together with Pat Kenney, Ed began to make greater use of available technology for communicating with reviewers and authors. At Ed's urging and with the support of the JRME Editorial Panel, we decided to take the next logical step and bring the entire process under one Webbased umbrella.

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Steve Williams

In his July 2001 editorial, Ed Silver discussed one of the least enjoyable aspects of his work as editor—writing letters to notify authors that their manuscripts had been rejected for publication in JRME (Silver, 2001). I have been writing such letters for over a year, and I have come to appreciate his assessment of the task. In a later editorial, Ed discussed a subset of those rejection letters in which he encouraged authors to revise and resubmit their manuscripts for further review (Silver, 2002). This is a somewhat happier task, but still a difficult one.

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Steve Williams

The Journal for Research in Mathematics Education is distinctive among scholarly journals for many reasons, one of which is its roots within the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM), an organization of practicing teachers. Because both the Council and the community of mathematics education researchers have so fully supported its development, JRME has grown in both stature and size until its branches reach far beyond its North American roots. Today, JRME has international prominence and is viewed as one of the top mathematics education research journals. Its authors, reviewers, and readers include many in the international research community. As has been the policy with previous editors, we do our best to see that each manuscript is evaluated by at least one researcher from outside the United States. I believe this policy has significantly strengthened JRME's contribution to the scholarly conversation in our field.

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Steve Williams

I have now edited JRME long enough that people are beginning to know what I look like and are increasingly likely to talk with me about the journal at professional meetings. I enjoy these conversations because they provide valuable feedback for me and my staff. Recently, I have been told by several readers that they would like more research articles to appear in each issue. They point out that this would provide better representation of the range of research currently being done in our field and would increase the likelihood of individuals being able to find articles that are of particular interest to them.

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Steve Williams

One of the most important and difficult tasks we undertake as an editorial staff is choosing reviewers for manuscripts. As others have pointed out (Silver, 2003; Smith, 2004), reviewers play two vital roles for JRME. First, they have the responsibility of representing the scholarly community of mathematics educators in evaluating articles and making recommendations about publication. In this role, they must be honest and candid in their appraisals to insure that our scholarly discourse maintains its integrity. Second, reviewers often assume an educative role as they offer suggestions, insights, and encouragement to authors. By doing this, reviewers insure that our scholarly discourse maintains its humanity. As an editor, I am appreciative that most JRME reviewers are sensitive to both roles and fulfill them well. I am especially gratified when I consider that the work put into writing reviews is voluntary and completed by a large group of very busy people.

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Steve Williams

After my initiation into research as a graduate student, I began to hear what many may think is the “conventional wisdom” regarding JRME. I hear it more often now as editor while fielding inquiries about potential submissions: “I know JRME usually doesn't publish quantitative research, but. …” I assume this conventional wisdom is mainly the result of casual observation, conversations among colleagues, general comments, and well-intentioned advice. It almost seems as though there is a folklore regarding what JRME will or will not publish. Similar statements are often made about other kinds of manuscripts, including theoretical or philosophical works, methodological papers, reports of action research, or studies with unpopular conclusions.

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Steve Williams

Among mathematics education research journals, JRME is unique. Because the Editorial Panel is a committee of NCTM, the question of how JRME can best contribute to the overall mission of the Council is a crucial one. The question is not whether JRME plays such a role but can JRME, a major research journal, do more to support NCTM's goals? This question is timely, because a focus on research is one of the strategic initiatives set for NCTM by the Board of Directors. Coupled with the current political climate, this initiative has led to an increased push to provide credible, research-based answers to questions generated by teachers, administrators, policymakers, and parents.

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Steve Williams

I recently received an e-mail from a colleague in a mathematics department who challenged the efficacy of “reform” mathematics curricula. For evidence, he provided the case of his daughter, whom he considered to be “behind” in mathematics until she was rescued by a move to a new school that offered a more traditional curriculum. My colleague also paid his daughter to do a lot of mathematics problems over the summer, which he implied was an activity lamentably missing in her previous mathematical experience. At the time, I considered receiving such an e-mail as an occupational hazard for a mathematics educator, something like a mathematician receiving the occasional proof of angle trisection. In both cases, it is a safe bet that the two parties involved will have quite different views on the problem as well as on what would constitute reasonable analysis and evidence.