Calling practitioner researchers! Take a first step into publication

It's been a long time since those in the early years sector could patronisingly be dismissed as 'nice ladies who love children' (Stonehouse, 1989). Nowadays we recognise the crucial importance of the task and the professionalism that practitioners bring to the role. But professionalism is much more than qualifications and experience, critical though these are. A fundamental part of being a professional is reflective practice, engaging in professional, learning conversations and critical debate. These learning conversations are a key part of any early years qualification and usually continue into the workplace – but have you ever thought of taking that reflection further, through publication?

Some people can feel intimated about sharing their ideas with a larger audience and not know where to start. That is why two leading early years organisations, TACTYC and the Early Childhood Studies Degree Network (ECSDN) offer opportunities for those with something to say to take their first step into publication. Calls for papers from ECSDN specifically target students whilst TACTYC welcomes Reflections papers throughout the year from anyone working in the sector. We also have an annual award for the best paper submitted by a student.


TACTYC, the Association for Professional Development in Early Years, is an internationally recognised association with worldwide membership. Members come from a wide range of backgrounds; professionals working with children and families in day-care, education, health, play work and social service contexts as well as university and college lecturers, early years researchers, education consultants and local authority advisers. What unites us all is a strong commitment to high quality educational experience for young children and recognition that this depends on well-trained practitioners who themselves engage in on-going professional development. TACTYC advocates for young children, lobbying policy makers and preparing responses to government consultations. One of the most important aspects of TACTYC's work is disseminating research findings through the international Early Years Journal as well as Occasional Papers and the peer-reviewed Reflections section of our website (

TACTYC warmly welcomes students who join for a reduced rate, but you don't have to be a member to submit a paper to Reflections or to enter for the Student Reflections Award. Papers should be between 1,500 and 2,000 words long; they might be about research you yourself have carried out or perhaps a burning issue that you have an interesting new perspective on. The TACTYC website is accessed by readers in 111 different countries and the Reflections pages are amongst the most popular.

Early Childhood Studies Degrees Network

The Early Childhood Studies Degrees Network has been influential in the development of Early Childhood Studies Degrees and their variants since 1993. The ECSDN promotes and advocates education and research for the continuing development of a highly qualified early childhood graduate profession and workforce and provides critical perspectives on, and a forum for, the advancement of appropriate early childhood policies, initiatives and legislation. It is an organisation which provides support and up-to-date information for tutors and lecturers in institutions offering degrees in Early Childhood; so if you are are studying, or have studied, for a degree in Early Childhood it is likely that your institution is a member of ECSDN. We encourage students and graduates to contribute to the ECSDN and be proactive with issues relating to their education, practice and early childhood issues. The ECSDN has been at the forefront in developing quality within ECS degrees, with the development of QAA Early Childhood Studies Benchmark Statements (2007/2014); ECS degrees with Practitioner Options; and, more recently, ECS Graduate Competencies at Level 6.

ECSDN issue a regular call for papers (see Nursery Management: Early Childhood Studies Degrees Network - Paper round) with different topics for stages from Level 4 to Level 7. Word length varies from 1,000-1,500 (L4) to 4,000 – 4,500 words (L7). You can view previous papers at on the student papers tab, or ask your tutor for more information.

TACTYC and ECSDN also encourage students to attend their conferences where their voices are welcomed. As developing professionals, students have a passionate commitment to early years and strong convictions; many also engage in small-scale research projects they would like to share with a wider audience. There have been enormous changes in early years policy and practice over recent years and issues for early years practitioners are becoming increasingly complex. The struggle to maintain high quality provision and practice whilst 'challenging the school-readiness agenda' (McDowall Clark, 2017) is something that calls for ongoing professional debate. It is the students of today who will be the decision-makers and policy drivers of the future – so now is the time to join the conversation.

  • The closing date for entries for this year's Student Reflections Award is July 22nd. See

For further information contact:

Rory McDowall Clark (TACTYC)

Jackie Musgrave (ECSDN)


McDowall Clark, R (2017) Exploring the Contexts for Early Learning: challenging the school readiness agenda, Abingdon: Routledge. 

Stonehouse, A (1989) Nice ladies who love children: the status of the early childhood professional in society, Journal  of Early Child Development and Care Vol 52 (1): 61-79.

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