During the past decade, as national governments (more particularly in the USA and the UK) have scrutinised more closely the cost effectiveness and impact of research funding within higher education, they have become critical of the overall quality of educational research, in terms of its scientific rigour, its utility for practitioners and the manner in which it is assessed. This study addresses the reasons why the quality of educational research was questioned, and then examines the discussion framework for assessing quality which emerged. Following from this, the merits of possible internal and external criteria for the worth of educational research are considered. The links between these criterial sets and the function and purpose of qualitative and quantitative approaches to educational research are analysed. Finally, the question of whether educational research is an art or a science is addressed.