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Educational Research : Lunda / Christian Spring 2017: Home

Library resources for researching and writing a literature review in education

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Welcome Educational Researchers: Gathering your articles

Reviews of the literature are also referred to as secondary research

 

This activity is a process

 

As you explore the education databases, you are gaining clues on what is known about your research topic, and what search terms work best for your area of interest.

 

Keep in mind that even "unsuccessful" searches are valuable - they inform your future searches. 

 

As you conduct your database searches, you begin to narrow down and define the criteria for what is to be included (and what is not to be included) in your review. 

 

Through your research, your searches, you begin to become an authority as you become familiar with the articles you find on your topic.

 

Through this process of getting to know the research, you can write your literature review, contextualize the research, explain to your reader (who has not done all of the secondary research you have done) the significance of what is known and how it all fits together.

 

 

Types of articles

When conducting database searches in education, there are 5 main types of articles you will come across:

1. Empirical Research studies This is an article that describes the research that the author conducted on the topic.  You will know it is an empirical study you are reading if it includes a Methods and Results section.  Most empirical studies will also refer to the paper itself as a "study" usually in the abstract.


2. Literature Reviews  Some articles are all about reviewing the work of other authors on a topic.  This type of article can be valuable for understanding the history or scholarly dialogue on an issue.

3. Theoretical Work Some articles describe a theoretical viewpoint, for example feminist theory, constructivist theory, or other and discuss a topic through the lens of the theory, citing other sources into the discussion.

4. Opinion Pieces Some articles are based on the opinion or classroom practices of the author without any supporting citations of theory or research.

5. Guides "Guides recommend specific strategies and/or explain how practitioners might implement particular curricula, programs, or models" (Duke & Ward, 2009). 

Duke, T. S., & Ward, J. D. (2009). Preparing information literate teachers: A metasynthesis. Library & Information Science Research, 31(4), 247-256.