Joshua R. Polanin

Principal Researcher

Joshua R. Polanin, Ph.D. is a principal researcher in the Research & Evaluation program at American Institutes for Research (AIR). He has extensive experience in quantitative methodology and has published over 50 peer-reviewed journal articles across education, criminology, public health, and methodology, including more than 20 peer-reviewed, published meta-analyses. Dr. Polanin has also designed and evaluated multiple studies of social emotional learning programs. Dr. Polanin’s primary responsibility at AIR is to lead, as Project Director, the What Works Clearinghouse (WWC) Statistics, Website, and Training (SWAT) contract, which assists the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) in the conduct of the WWC by providing institutional support, methodological investigation, and technical assistance training. He is also a co-founder of the Methods of Synthesis and Integration Center (MOSAIC), an inter-disciplinary collection of research synthesis projects conducted at AIR.

Read our Q&A with Josh Polanin about his experience in quantitative methodology, particularly systematic review and meta-analysis.

In addition to his primary role, Dr. Polanin leads several systematic reviews and meta-analyses. As Principal Investigator (PI) of the National Science Foundation (NSF) project Effects of the Engagement, Exploration, Explanation, Elaboration, and Evaluation Instructional Model: Systematic Review and Innovation Through New Meta-Analysis Methodology, he leads a large-scale systematic review and is working to create the first open-source, collaborative relational database specifically for conducting systematic reviews. He is also the Co-PI of two meta-analysis grants sponsored by IES: How Effective are Various Types of College Aid Programs? A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis of the Evidence and Exploring Heterogeneity in English Learner Intervention Effects with Meta-Analysis. In the past, Dr. Polanin was the PI of two National Institute of Justice-funded systematic reviews and meta-analyses, The Consequences of School Violence: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis and A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Interventions to Decrease Cyberbullying Perpetration and Victimizations.

Dr. Polanin provides methodological training and guidance to researcher who wish to conduct high-quality systematic reviews and meta-analyses. He is a Senior Research Fellow at the International Initiative for Impact Evaluation (3ie), where he helps researchers conduct evidence syntheses. He is a Co-PI of the IES-funded Meta-Analysis Training Institute, as well as the NSF-funded Modern Meta-Analysis Research Institute. Dr. Polanin has conducted workshops during annual conferences at the American Education Research Association, Society for Research on Educational Evaluation, and Society for Prevention Research. He has also taught workshops at Stats Camp, the University of Maryland’s Quantitative Methods series, and for the Campbell Collaboration. 

Previously, Dr. Polanin was the PI of two methodological projects to advance the science of research transparency and reproducibility. At Development Services Group, Inc., he held leadership positions on two WWC contracts, serving as the Deputy Project Director and Quality Control Manager. He was also senior methodologist on multiple randomized-controlled trials focused on preventing school violence.

Finally, Dr. Polanin serves on several committees and has received several awards. He is on the editorial board of Review of Educational Research and helped to found the American Education Research Association Special Interest Group, Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. In 2016, he won Employee of the Year while at Development Services Group, Inc. In 2017, Dr. Polanin won the Emerging Researcher award from the University of California Berkeley’s Berkeley Initiative for Transparency in Social Science. In 2018, he won the Reviewer of the Year award from the Review of Educational Research. In 2020, he won the Early Career Award from the Society for Research on Educational Evaluation. Dr. Polanin holds a Ph.D. from Loyola University Chicago and completed an IES Postdoctoral Fellowship at Vanderbilt University’s Peabody Research Institute.

Joshua Polanin

Institute of Education Sciences Postdoctoral Fellowship, Social and Educational Policy, Vanderbilt University; Ph.D., Research Methodology, Loyola University Chicago; B.S., University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign