Understanding and Evaluating Research: A Critical Guide shows students how to be critical consumers of research and to appreciate the power of methodology as it shapes the research question, the use of theory in the study, the methods used, and how the outcomes are reported. The book starts with what it means to be a critical and uncritical reader of research, followed by a detailed chapter on methodology, and then proceeds to a discussion of each component of a research article as it is informed by the methodology. The book encourages readers to select an article from their discipline, learning along the way how to assess each component of the article and come to a judgment of its rigor or quality as a scholarly report.

Literature Review

Literature Review

Learning Objectives

  • Recognize the many purposes of a literature review
  • Appreciate why the different research methodologies conduct their reviews when they do
  • Appreciate the role of keywords and search engines and that there is an array of available documents, varying in type and source
  • Elucidate the three key steps involved in conducting a literature review
  • Explain what is meant by critically engaging with previous literature, relative to the research question
  • Indicate awareness of what is involved in synthesizing previous literature
  • Describe nine possible approaches for organizing the literature review section
  • Identify and prioritize the seven characteristics of a good literature review
  • Explain the technical conventions for writing an effective literature review
  • Appreciate the significance of transitioning from a summary, to a critical evaluation, to identifying a gap in previous literature


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