Since 2004, the Zeitschrift für Erziehungswissenschaft (ZfE) has been published by the Wiesbaden publishing house VS Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften, the outcome of a merger between Westdeutscher Verlag and Leske + Budrich. This publishing house seeks to internationally disseminate specialist knowledge through publications of the highest scientific standards, thus furthering the objectives of ZfE as the flagship of German research in educational science.
The ZfE is a representative forum for the entire discipline of educational science. It publishes highly rated, peer-reviewed articles on current developments in educational science on a quarterly basis, making the findings of interdisciplinary research accessible to all those with a professional interest in the field. ZfE is distinguished by its editorial staff, its scientific advisory board and most especially by the topics selected for detailed consideration. These topics reflect the broad, interdisciplinary character of educational science and its relevance to people of all ages. Furthermore, through the selective publication of English-language contributions, the journal keeps pace with scientific developments beyond Germany.
ZfE readers thus have at their disposal a periodical that showcases international and interdisciplinary developments in broad areas of educational science in a reliable, reasoned and comprehensible manner.
Educational science has undergone fundamental change since the late 20th century. It is now the second most popular subject taken at German Universities. Since the mid-20th century, educational science has become an established and professionalised discipline that covers a broad spectrum of research fields; it comprises around 25 subspecialities, creating a considerable need for overarching research findings relevant to all areas. In terms of personnel, educational science has undergone – and continues to undergo – a generation shift in the institutes of higher education, partly as a result of German reunification and partly due to the retirement of 60% of faculty members.
Educational science is no longer a discipline that can be separated from the findings of other disciplines, or that maintains a provincial identity of its own. Rather, it has become a prime example of an interdisciplinary science, benefiting from having opened up to the humanities and social sciences, and currently to the natural sciences.
The process of European integration has produced macrostructures such as the European Educational Research Association; numerous collaborative projects are in progress within Europe; and there is a great interest in German educational science in Eastern Europe and in Asia.
In light of these changes, there is a growing need for international research findings to be integrated into educational science in Germany. Moreover, the discipline no longer focusses exclusively on the education and instruction of children and adolescents. In the past few decades pedagogical intervention has expanded to include lifelong processes. In turn, educational science now covers the entire lifespan of the modern individual.
These and other decisive developments in systems of education, as well as in the corresponding disciplines, created the need for a journal that could draw together the different strands of research. It is thanks to the initiative of a committed team of editors and the enterprising support of publisher Edmund Budrich that this research-based educational science journal was founded at the close of the 20th century ̶ itself a century of education ̶ with the first issue appearing in spring 1998.
ZfE was the first educational science journal in Germany to apply a rigorous peer review procedure. It is already well established in the scientific community and enjoys a growing reputation. The journal has been listed in the Social Sciences Citation Index since 2007. In July 2009 it reached a journal impact factor of 0.545, making it the highest ranking German educational science journal.
The conditions outlined above were central to the founding of ZfE, which led to the development of the following guiding principles:
Each issue is dedicated to a specific topic, but also contains general sections and review articles.
The thematic section of each issue leads with an an encyclopedic article covering the history, semantics and current state of research on the topic under consideration. This aims to provide readers who may be unfamiliar with the topic with a sound introduction to the issue. The thematic section continues with a number of articles on recent findings and developments in German and international interdisciplinary research on the same topic.
The general section contains articles from all fields and areas of educational science including general education, social education, adult education, comparative educational science, teacher training, psychology of education, sociology of education, among others.
Periodically there is a discussion section intended to facilitate scientific exchange on controversial topics. It contains reactions to articles, highlighted areas of debate and occasional interviews.
The review section contains a collective review of literature concerning the main topic of the issue, as well another collective review of recent publications that are also documented in a selected bibliography. In order to ensure against favourable bias, all reviews are commissioned by ZfE and no unsolicited reviews are accepted.