Bad Lit Review = Bad Research Paper

EIME 2/19 from McKay School of Education on VimeoPDF of slides.

Main Message: Do a comprehensive, systematic literature review before publishing anything! There is a strong positive correlation between the quality of a published paper and it’s literature review.  Most problems found in academic papers are rooted in a weak literature review. (E.g. If the paper is rambles from topic to topic without a clear focus, or omits/mixes landmark studies, or just summarizes or lists research findings, or fails to build a clear rationale, or is boring or obtuse—the cause is likely linked back to the literature review.

Here are Rick’s six baby steps to making progress on creating a literature review (adapted from Cooper’s 1998 5 Stages for Writing Literature Reviews):

  1. Problem Formulation—Don’t know what it is yet.
    1. Like Goldilocks—Not too big or too small
    2. Like a skipping stone—It needs to fit perfectly (to fill a gap)
    3. Talk with professors or experts for advice
    4. Know your audience
  2. Literature Searching—”How am I going to limit myself?”
    1. Recommended database: ERIC.  (Rachel Wadham, Librarian over college of Education)
    2. It’s important to set boundaries to focus your direction, but don’t be afraid to expand or focus your research review.  Don’t make ad hoc decisions.
    3. As part of your problem statement, define inclusion criteria (or “who makes it into the club”).  Consider including: the purpose of your review, definitions, context, and timeliness.
      1. Only select articles that define the topic in a certain way
      2. Scope (e.g. last 10 years)
      3. research methods (e.g. Just quantitative)
      4. Sources (e.g. Just top tier, peer reviewed journals)
  3. Literature Evaluation & Summarizing (Minute 35)
    1. Make sure your lit review methodology is clear, consistent and systematic.
    2. Create check points for yourself where you get feedback along the way.  You can use this rubric from the IP&T 750 course syllabus.
      1. Title
      2. Summary of previous research
      3. Rationale for a literature review
      4. Lit review question
      5. key sources of literature to utilize—these databases, journals,search terms
      6. Literature review methods
      7. Journal you’re targeting
        1. What does that journal look for
  4. Analysis & Interpretation (Minute 40)
    1. Once you have read all of the micro, it’s time to make some macro conclusions.
    2. Don’t just critique.  Give some direction of what is suppose to be done.
    3. Try to visualize the data.  Make a table or chart or comic to summarize your findings.  Whatever helps the reader understand the literature the way you did.
  5. Writing & Structuring (Minute 42)
    1. Write a draft of a “Method: Criteria for Inclusion” section for your article.
    2. Articulate your theoretical framework.
    3. An indicator of a good methods section is to be able to replicate what was done.
    4. Go into this know that you will be revising it until you hate it.
    5. Get at least three levels of review on your article.
      1. Non expert
      2. Expert in your area. (e.g. Peer, colleague, academic)
      3. Expert from the specific field
      4. Create deadlines for yourself, otherwise it sometimes never gets done.
    6. Make writing a habit:
      1. Embrace imperfection, and just write
      2. Avoid avoiding
      3. Create a writing ritual/habit to compensate for excuses
      4. Set production goals/deadlines (use the baby steps)
      5. Get details right the first time
      6. Quit at a good place.  Be willing to work late if you are flowing
      7. Read like a writer, and write like a reader
  6. Publishing & Presenting
    1. The Parable of the Writer’s Heaven & Hell.
      1. All satisfaction from writing is derived from publishing, so DON’T WRITE UNLESS YOU FINISH!

About bryantanner

I'm obsessed with learning via the appropriate technology. My professional mission is to effectively deliver instruction to learners in a way that yields the greatest results for all stakeholders involved.
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