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Locating & Reviewing Related Literature

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Mona Qahtani

on 30 January 2015

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Transcript of Locating & Reviewing Related Literature

General and specific purposes for reviewing the literature.
Primary versus secondary sources.
Steps to review related literature.
Internet searches.
Writing a review of literature (see McMillan page 85)

Discussion Topics

The Specific Purposes of a Review

Refine the problem.
The Specific Purposes of a Review

Identify specific methods for conducting the research.
The General Purposes of a Review

Relate previous research to the current problem being investigated.
Provide contextual understanding.
Contribute to the overall evaluation of the credibility of the research.
Indicate whether the nature of the research is targeted to the reader’s needs.

Chapter - 3
Locating & Reviewing Related Literature

Identify specific ways in which others have defined the general problem.
Identify delimitations related to the problem.
Identify operational definitions of the variables in the problem.

Establishing the conceptual or theoretical orientation.
Develop the significance of the research.

Establish the importance of the current study in the context of what is known at this time.
Integrate the results of the study within the broader context of what is known at this time.

Identify appropriate sampling strategies, instruments, and procedures.
Identify appropriate designs to use when conducting the research.

Identify contradictory findings.
Uncover studies or theories that contradict one another.
Identify reasons for the contradictions.

The Specific Purposes of a Review

Develop specific research hypotheses.

Prior studies contribute to understanding likely outcomes of the current investigation.
Prior studies identify relevant theories or the research related to them which can serve as the basis for specific hypotheses.

Learn new information.

Relevant information to the current study.
New information or ideas unrelated to the current study but of interest to the researcher.
Steps for Conducting a Review

General or specific.
Identify key terms.
Utilize the ERIC Thesaurus for searching.

Step 1 – Select a Topic and Key Terms.

Identify the keyword descriptors using the ERIC Thesaurus.
PsycINFO database.
For psychological research consult the Thesaurus of Psychological Index Terms available in most libraries or through the American Psychological Association (APA).
Step 2 – Identify Database and Access Software

Identify other databases for your topic.
Start your search with general terms first.

Steps for Conducting a Review

Step 3 – Conduct Search (ERIC and PsycINFO)

Educational Resources Information Center (ERIC).


ERIC – a federally funded information network that is designed to provide access to education literature.
Current Index to Journals in Education (CIJE) - abstracts of articles compiled from approximately 1000 educational journals and periodicals.
Resources in Education (RIE) - abstracts of research reports not published in journals (e.g.., conference papers; project reports; federal, state, and local agency documents; etc.).

Steps for Conducting a Review

Step 3 – Conduct Search (ERIC and PsycINFO)

PsycINFO is an online APA database of psychological literature available in most libraries or on a cost basis.
Abstracts of articles from approximately 1800 journals as well as books, book chapters, dissertations, reports, and other documents.
Educational emphasis is on human development, learning motivation, teaching methods, and teacher effects.

Steps for Conducting a Review

Step 4 – Identify the source as Primary or Secondary

Primary sources are articles that report original research.
Referred journals.
Non-referred journals.

Secondary sources are those that summarize or discuss original research.

Research synthesis and Meta-analysis

Research synthesis.
Define “effect size.”
Steps for Conducting a Review

Step 5 – Summarize and analyze the primary source information.
Record notes electronically, or using index cards.

Identify bibliographic information.
Summarize the research problem.
Identify all variables, subjects, and instruments.
Describe the procedures.
Summarize the results and conclusions.
Record important quotes, weaknesses of the study, relevance to the current problem, etc.
Code each article with your overall judgment of it.
Note the major focus of each article.

Internet Strengths & Weaknesses

General issues (the internet is a “flea market behind a library” metaphor).
Plethora of information available on the Internet.
Quality concerns.

Comparing ERIC and the Internet.

Database indexing.
ERIC indexes over 1000 journals and maintains a common database of all entries.
The Internet indexes each journal and entry separately.

Database organization
ERIC offers a set of standardized subject headings that can be used to search the database efficiently and effectively.
The Internet offers no consistency in the use of vocabulary by which databases are constructed or searched.

Quality control

ERIC entries are all reviewed and have met high standards for quality.
The Internet information is not reviewed for quality.

Currency of information

ERIC contains material that may be somewhat dated due to the submission, review, and database entry process
The Internet materials tend to be all over the board often without obvious dates or author attributions

Text availability

ERIC contains abstracts and bibliographic information and some full text sources
The Internet contains full-text of articles

Availability of other information

ERIC indexes journals mostly relevant to educational research in the United States.
The Internet provides access to research being conducted world-wide.

ERIC contains research-based information only.
The Internet provides many other types of information (e.g.., statistical databases, organization information, e-mail, etc.).

Internet Search Strategies

McMillan describes three search mechanisms:
1- Subject directories
2- Search engines
3- Meta-search engines

Internet Subject Directories

A subject directory is an online service that reviews and categorizes information on the web.
Assets and limitations.

Websites are reviewed and categorized using common standards, thus increasing the likelihood of a good hit.
The number of reviewed websites is small given the exponential growth of websites, thus a comprehensive search is unlikely.

Types of questions relevant for subject directories:
Which states have educational research associations?
Where would I contact the department of education in each state?
Where would I find a regional educational lab?
How many journals are published online?
Internet Subject Directories

WWW Virtual Library.
Educator’s Reference Desk.
Ask Ellysa to update this list.

Internet Search Engines

A service that categorizes websites by automated indexing of key terms in the website.
Search language.
Special search features.
Relevancy of hits.

Internet Search Engines

Alta Vista.

Useful to search multiple search engines due to the lack of consistency across individual search engines.
Unique search language of each search engine make “meta” searches difficult.
No meta-search engine includes all the major search engines.

Dogpile, MetaCrawler, Fazzle
A search engine that submits your search to several search engines.
Assets and limitations.
Internet Meta-search Engines

Scholar Communication Strategies

Social wetworking sites.
Newsgroups and blogs.
Associations, organizations, and university websites.

Citing Internet Resources

For general formats: See examples 3.6 to 3.11 on page 81.
American Psychological Association. How to Cite Information from the World Wide Web.
Research Navigator™ - see the Citing Your Sources section
Evaluating Internet Information


Who is the author?
What reputation and qualifications does the author have?
Is the information objectively presented?
Are the facts or statistics verifiable?
Is there a bibliography?
Is the information current?

Writing a Quantitative Review of the Literature

Group studies by topic.
Write the review in three sections.

Provide a brief summary of the major articles.
Analyze the studies.
Integrate in the discussion how the reviewed studies are relevant to the current research.

Avoid long quotations.
Establish the length of the review depending on the type of study, the intent to publish the research, and the topic.

Writing a Qualitative Review of the Literature

The purpose of a qualitative review is to introduce the purpose and the very general questions of the study.
Provides direction.
Does not limit, constrain, or predict results of the study (i.e., a discovery orientation).
Allows participant’s views to emerge.

Begins with an initial, preliminary review.
Continues with supplemental reviews as the study progresses.

Provides understanding of the results.
Provides meaningful analogies, scholarly language, for synthesizing, or additional conceptual frameworks within which the results become meaningful.

Review Evaluation Criteria

Does the review cover previous research adequately?
Does the review cover the actual findings from other studies?
Is the review current?
Does the review summarize and analyze previous studies?
Is the review organized logically by topic, not author?
Does the review briefly summarize minor studies and discuss major studies in detail?
Is the review of major studies related explicitly to the current research problem?
Does the review provide a logical basis for the hypothesis?
Does the review establish a theoretical framework for the study?
Does the review help to establish the significance of the research?

Share your thoughts about this chapter by answering the discussion questions posted on Yammer.

Thank You!
Jessica Briskin
Mona Qahtani
Presentation content by:
Dr. Roy Clariana
Edited by
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