Ends on April 5, 2019

Call for Papers: Portraiture as a Method of Social Inquiry

Harvard Educational Review

The Harvard Educational Review (HER) is planning an upcoming Symposium on portraiture as a method of social inquiry. Portraiture is a methodology that brings together the empirical rigor of scientific inquiry with careful attention to aesthetics “to capture the complexity, dynamics, and subtlety of human experience and organizational life” (Lawrence-Lightfoot & Davis, 1997, p.xv). In doing so, portraiture highlights the importance of the relationship between researcher and subject, the context of participants’ lives, and the search for goodness in social science research. (Lawrence-Lightfoot, S., & Davis, J. H. (1997). The art and science of portraiture. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.)

This Symposium intends to (1) illuminate the unique strengths of portraiture as a methodology and distinguish the method from other qualitative genres (e.g. ethnography, case study, and narrative inquiry); and (2) provide a forum for portraits across multiple educational contexts to highlight the method “at work” by demonstrating the wide range of issues in education that can be revealed and interrogated through this form of phenomenological inquiry. 

Submission types

For this Symposium we are looking for two different types of submissions from scholars, students, practitioners, and policy makers in the field of education:

Portraits based on original, empirical research. These pieces would use the method of portraiture to document and analyze some dimension of the field of education, defined broadly, and would include reference to literature relevant to the topic. These may include portraits of classroom life, teachers, families, or other people or spaces related to education. The findings should be clear, and the arguments set forth should emerge from the analysis of the data presented in the manuscript. Accepted manuscripts typically include clear implications of the research and are accessible to HER’s generalist readership.

Methodological essays which strive to deepen the field’s understanding of portraiture as a means of social science inquiry. Essays may draw upon empirical data or offer a clear description of portraiture and how it is related to and distinguished from other qualitative methodologies. These pieces may also focus on the author’s experiences using portraiture and may include personal reflections or anecdotes. All essays should engage with the constraints and affordances offered by the method, and should include reasoning, evidence, and examples to support the author’s thesis.

 Submission guidelines

Submit your manuscript at https://hepg.submittable.com/submit in the Call for Papers: Portraiture as a Method of Social Inquiry


  • HER accepts manuscripts from 3,000 to 9,000 words, which should include: abstract, keywords, body of the text, references, plus appendices and graphic elements, if appropriate. We reserve the option to return any manuscript that does not meet this length.
  • All text must be double spaced, type size must be at least 12 point with 1-inch margins on all sides, and paper size should be set to 8.5 x 11, even if printed on A4 paper.
  • Manuscripts are reviewed anonymously. Any references that identify the author/s in the text must be masked or made anonymous (e.g., instead of citing "Field & Bloom, 2007,” cite “Author/s, 2007”). For the reference list, place the citations alphabetically as "Author/s. (2007). Details omitted for blind review." Articles can also be blinded effectively by use of the third-person. For example, rather than "in an earlier article, we showed that" substitute something like "as has been shown in Field & Bloom, 2007.” In this case, there is no need to mask the reference in the list. Finally, please do not submit a title page as part of your manuscript. We will capture that information in the submission form.
  • The journal defers to author preference in decisions about naming and capitalization of racial, ethnic, and cultural groups. Manuscripts should be internally consistent in this regard.
  • Authors should refer to The Chicago Manual of Style for general questions of style, grammar, punctuation, and form, and for footnotes of theoretical, descriptive, or essay-like material.
  • Authors should use the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association for all reference and citation formats. References must be in APA format. Manuscripts with references and/or citations in another form may be returned to the author/s.


Immediately after the abstract, provide a maximum of 6 keywords based on the ERIC list of index descriptors (see: http://www.eric.ed.gov/ ). Authors may choose to include one or two “free” keywords not included on the ERIC list of descriptors if they wish to do so. The keywords will be used for indexing, and to improve detection in scholarly searches.

Please see our Guidelines for Authors for detailed information regarding formatting, references, and the review process. Remember that all submissions should be complete manuscripts of 9,000 words or less inclusive of abstract, keywords, body of the manuscript, appendices, and graphic elements. 

If you have questions about submitting a manuscript, such as its topic, relevance, or format, please contact the editors at HER_community@gse.harvard.edu.

Thank you for your interest.