Guidelines for analyzing literature - Ch 4 Galvan

Guidelines for analyzing literature - Ch 4 Galvan - Chapter...

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Unformatted text preview: Chapter 4 General Guidelines for Analyzing Literature Now that you have identified the preliminary set of articles for your review, you should begin the process of analyzing them prior to beginning to write your review. This chapter is designed to help you through this process. The end result will be two important products: (1) a working draft of your reference list and (2) a set of note cards that will contain specific, detailed information about each article, both of which you will need be fore you begin to write. ‘/ Guideline 1: Scan the articles to get an overview of each one. Obviously, you read the titles of the articles when you selected them, and you probably also read the abstracts (i.e., summaries) that most journals include near the be— ginning of each article. Next, you should read the first few paragraphs of each article, where the author usually provides a general introduction to his or her problem area. This will give you a feel for the author’s writing style as well as his or her general perspectives on the research problem. Then, jump to the last paragraph before the heading “Method,” which is usually the first major heading in the text of a research article. This is the para- graph in which it is traditional for researchers to state their specific hypotheses, research questions, or research purposes. Next, scan the rest of the article, noting all headings and subheadings. Scan the text in each subsection, but do not allow yourself to get caught up in the details or any points that seem difficult or confusing. Your purpose at this point is to get only an overview. - Note that by following this guideline, you will be pro—reading, which is a tech- nique widely recommended by reading specialists as the first step in reading a technical report. Because pre-reading gives you an overview of the purpose and contents of a re- port, it helps you keep your eye on the big picture as you subsequently work through the details of a research report from beginning to end. The information you gain by pre— reading will also help you group the articles into categories, as suggested in the next guideline. Example 4.1.1 shows in bold a typical set of major headings for a short research report in a journal. Example 4.1.1 Title [followed by researchers’ names and their institutional affiliations] Abstract [a summary of the complete report] [An introduction in which related literature is reviewed follows the abstract; typi- cally, there is no heading called “introduction.”] 31 __;._;..,.__;§ iris Chapter 4 General Guidelines for Analyzing Literature Method Participants [or Subjects] Measures {or Measurement, Observation, or Instrumentation} Results Discussion [or Discussion, Conclusions, and Implications] Longer articles will often contain additional headings such as Assumptions, Defi— nitions, Experimental Treatments, Limitations, and so on. Scanning each of these sections will help prepare you to navigate when you begin to read the article in detail from begin~ ning to end. The last heading in a research article is usually called “Discussion” or “Discus— sion and Conclusions.” Researchers often reiterate or summarize their research purposes, research methods, and major findings in the first few paragraphs under this heading. Reading this section of a report on research will help you when you read the results sec— tion in detail, which can be difficult if it contains numerous statistics. ‘/ Guideline 2: Based on your overview (see Guideline 1), group the articles by categories. Sort the articles you have amassed into stacks that correspond roughly to the cate- gories of studies you will describe. You may choose to organize them in any number of ways, but the most common practice is to first organize them by topics and subtopics and then in chronological order within each subtopic. Example 4.2.1 shows a possible group— ing of articles into categories and subcategories for a review of research literature on the relationship between stress and parameters of the immune system in humans. Example 4.2.11 I. Conceptualizing Stress (Definitions) A. Acute Time—Limited Stressors B. Brief NaturaliStic Stressors C. Stressful Event Sequences D. Chronic Stressors II. Overview of the Immune System A. Components of the Immune System B. Immune Assays III. Pathways Between Stress and the Immune System IV. Models of Stress, the Immune System, and Health V. Who Is Vulnerable to Stress—Induced Immune Changes Example 4.2.2 shows a possible grouping of articles into categories and subcate— gories for a review of research literature on the relationship between parenting style and child outcomes among Chinese and immigrant Chinese families. ' Based on Segerstrom, S. C., & Miller, G. E. (2004). Psychological stress and the human immune system: A meta-analytic study of 30 years of inquiry. Psychological Bulletin, 130, 601—630. 32 Chapter 4 General Guidelines for Analyzing Literature Example 4.2.22 I. Conceptualization of Parenting Styles A. Research on Western Populations B. Cross—Cultural Studies II. Parenting Style and Child Outcomes in Chinese Families A. Parental Control B. Parental Warmth III. Confucianism and its Impact on the Chinese Family Organizing the articles into categories will facilitate your analysis if you read all the articles in each category or subcategory at about the same time. For instance, it will be easier to synthesize the literature on the effects of parental warmth (see point 11—13 in Example 4.2.2) if all the articles on this topic are read together, starting with the most re- cent one. ‘/ Guideline 3: Organize yourself before reading the articles. It is important to organize yourself prior to beginning a detailed reading of the ar— ticles. You will need a computer, a pack of note cards to write your comments on, and several packs of self-adhesive flags that you can use to identify noteworthy comments. You can use different colored self~stick flags to mark different suthpics, different re— search methods, a review article or landmark study, or anything else that should be noted or might help you organize your review. If you are using a computer, you can use differ- ent colors of highlighting (available on modern word processing programs) instead of colored flags on note cards. ‘/ Guideline 4: Use a consistent format in your notes. After you have organized the articles, you should begin to read them. As you read, summarize the important points and write them on the note cards. Develop a format for recording your notes about the articles you will be reading, and use this same format consistently. Building consistency into your notes at this stage in the process will pay off later when you start to write the review. As has been noted, you will encounter consider- able variation across studies, and your notes should be consistent and detailed enough for you to be able to describe both differences and similarities across them. Example 4.4.1 illustrates the recommended format for recording your notes. Remember to note the page numbers whenever you copy an author’s words verbatim; direct quotations should always be accompanied by page numbers, and it will save you considerable time later in the process if you already have the page numbers noted. Make sure to double-check your quotes for accuracy. 2 Based on Lim, S.-L., & Lim, B. K. (2003). Parenting style and child outcomes in Chinese and immigrant Chinese families: Current findings and cross—cultural considerations in conceptualization and research. Marriage & Family Review, 35, 2143. 33 I. g. Chapter 4 General Guidelines for Analyzing Literature Example 4.4.1 Author(’s)(s’) Last Name(s), lnitial(s) Title of Article Publication Year Name of Journal/Volume Number/Page Numbers Notes (responding to the following questions): 1. What is the main point of this article? 2. Describe the methodology used. (Include numbers of participants, controls, treatments, etc.) 3. Describe the findings. 4. What, if anything, is notable about this article? (Is it a landmark study? Does it have flaws? Is it an experimental study? Is it qualitative or quantitative? and so on.) 5. Note specific details you find especially relevant to the topic of your review. (Make this as long as necessary.) The points in Example 4.4.1 are given as examples to guide you through this process. In an actual case, you may choose to disregard one or more of them, or you may decide that others are more appropriate. You may need to create several note cards per source. For example, you might have a card for each article on the main point of the arti- cle, another one on the research methodology used, and so on. It may also be helpful to use a separate card on which you make note of questions or concerns you have as you read a particular article, or on which you note any conclu- sions you may reach about the validity of the research. These notes can later be incorpo- rated into your paper, perhaps in your discussion or conclusion, and using a separate card for this will save you valuable time later. These cards will also be quite helpful if you de- cide to build tables that summarize groups of studies for presentation in your literature review. Guidelines for building such tables are presented in Chapter 7. For each article, one card should contain the complete bibliographic details, while the other cards on the article should be coded with just part of the bibliographic informa- tion such as the first author’s last name, a key word from the title of the article, and the year of publication. ‘/ Guideline 5: Look for explicit definitions of key terms in the literature. It should not surprise you that different researchers sometimes define key terms in r different ways. If there are major differences of opinion on how the variables you will be writing about should be defined, you will want to make notes on the definitions. In fact, if several different definitions are offered, you might find it helpful to prepare a separate set of cards containing just the definitions. To see the importance of how terms are defined, consider definitions of justice programs and entertainment—based justice programs in Example 4.5.1. It excludes pro- grams that are more than one hour long and ones that are based on real events from the 34 Chapter 4 General Guidelines for Analyzing Literature study. Another researcher who uses a definition without these exclusions might obtain different results. As a reviewer, you will want to note such differences in definitions be— cause they may help explain discrepant results from study to study. Example 4.5.13 Considered a particular “genre,” or general category of TV entertainment (Gitlin, 1979), “justice” programs (sometimes called police dramas, crime dramas, legal shows, or lawyer shows) were defined as half-hour or one—hour television pro- grams that focus on some aspect of the criminal justice system, such as law en- forcement, criminal prosecution, courts, or corrections. Furthermore, entertain- ment-based justice programs were defined as fictional; that is, characters and events are fictional, they do not portray real—life characters or actual events. Using these. . definitions, the researcher discovered 13 entertainment—based justice pro- grams being broadcast. . .which included: NYPD Blue... (p. 18). Make special note of authoritative definitions (i.e., definitions offered by experts), which you can quote or summarize. For instance, the authors of Example 4.5.2 cite a definition used by a professional association in their literature review. Example 4.5.24 The American Massage Therapy Association (2003) defines massage therapy as manual soft tissue manipulation, including holding, causing movement, and/or applying pressure to the body. Keep separate note cards with definitions of related terms. For instance, consider Example 4.5.3 in which the broader term “jealousy” is defined separately from the nar— rower term “romantic jealousy,” which are distinguished from the definition of envy. Note that while the literature review in which Example 4.5.3 appears was published in 2005, older definitions are offered. There is nothing inherently wrong with citing older definitions if they are still considered to be valid. Example 4.5.35 Jealousy is defined as “a complex of thoughts, emotions, and actions that follows loss or threat to self—esteem and/or the existence or quality of the romantic re1a~ tionship” (White, 1980, p. 222). Romantic jealousy is a set of thoughts, emotions, and responses following a perceived threat to a romantic relationship by a rival (Guerrero & Andersen, 1998b; Teismann & Mosher, 1978). Jealousy occurs when a person desires to protect a relationship with someone perceived as already pos— 3 Soulliere, D. M. (2003). Prime-time murder: Presentations of murder on popular television justice pro- grams. Journal of Criminal Justice and Popular Culture, 10, l2~38. 4 Dryden, T., Baskwill, A., & Preyde, M. (2004). Massage therapy for the orthopaedic patient: A review. Orthopaedic Nursing, 23, 327m332. 5 Fleischmann, A. A., Spitzberg, B. 1-1., Andersen, P. A., & Roesch, S. C. (2005). Tickling the monster: Jealousy induction in relationships. Journal ofSocial and Personal Relationships, 22, 49473. 35 Chapter 4 General Guidelines for Analyzing Literature sessed, in contrast to envy, which involves the desire for something or someone not currently possessed (Guerrero & Andersen, 1998b). Note that it is usually a good idea to present definitions of key terms near the be- ginning of a literature review. ‘/ Guideline 6: Look for key statistics to use near the beginning of your literature review. Keep a separate set of note cards with key statistics that you might want to cite near the beginning of your literature review. Example 4.6.1 shows the first sentence of a literature review on the economic adaptation of immigrants and refugees. Note that citing a specific percentage is a much stronger beginning than a general statement, such as “Many individuals in the United States are foreign—born,” would be. Example 4.6.16 About 10% of the United States population is foreignubom, a proportion that is expected to grow in the future (Doyle, 1999; US. Bureau of the Census, 2001). One of the issues. .. Citing statistics at the beginning of a literature review is optional, with some top— ics lending themselves more to the technique than others. However, if you pian to start with a reference to quantities (e.g., Some adolescents....; Frequently, voters prefer. . ..), it is desirable to provide a specific estimate if it is available. For many topics in the social and behavioral sciences, relevant statistics can be found on-line at www.census.gov. ‘/ Guideline 7: Pay special attention to review articles on your topic. If you find literature review articles (i.e., articles that consist solely of a literature review that are not just an introduction to a report of original research) on your topic or a closely related topic, read them carefully and make notes that will allow you to summa— rize them in your literature review. This was done by the authors of Example 4.7.1 in which they briefly summarized a previous review near the beginning of their own review. Example 4.7 .17 A recent review of five national college drinking surveys (O’Mailey & Johnston, 2002) summarized the major findings and trends that have accumulated over the past 20 years: more than two-thirds of college students drink alcohol, 40% are considered binge drinkers (i.e., consume five or more drinks at one sitting within the past 2 weeks), and rates of alcohol use have not changed substantially since the 19503. 6 Potocky~Tripodi, M. (2004). The role of social capital in immigrant and refugee economic adaptation. Journal of Social Service Research, 31, 59—91. 7 O’Hare, T., & Sherrer, M. V. (2005). Assessment of youthful probiem drinkers: Validating the drinking context scale (DCS«9) with freshmen first offenders. Research on Social Work Practice, 15, 110—1 17, 36 Chapter 4 General Guidelines for Analyzing Literature ‘/ Guideline 8: Prepare note cards with short notable quotations that might be used very sparingly in your review. Direct quotations should be used very sparingly in literature reviews. This is be— cause the use of too many quotations can interrupt the flow of the narrative. In addition, the writer of a review is usually able to summarize and paraphrase points more succinctly than the original author, who is obligated to provide more details on the research than ,is the reviewer. Nevertheless, there are instances in which an especially apt statement might be worthy of being quoted in a literature review. For instance, in Example 4.8.1, the writ— ers are reviewing literature on leadership in families, yet, near the beginning of their re- view they draw an analogy with leadership in business organizations. The quotation suc- cinctly summarizes a major point that the authors are making. Note that this is the only quotation they used in their review. Example 4.8.18 As stated by Bonnie and Nanus (1985), “A business short on capital can borrow money, and one with a poor location can move. But a business short on leadership has little chance for survival” (p. 20). Another appropriate use of quotations is when citing legal matters, where the exact wording is important and even a small change in wording might change its legal meaning. Example 4.8.2 contains such a quotation, which appeared as the first sentence in a review. Example 4.8.29 On November 18, 2003, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (SIC) de» clared that it could find no “constitutionally adequate reason for denying civil marriage to same-sex couples,” and ordered the state to begin issuing marriage li- censes to same—sex couples. Note that the quotations in Examples 4.8.1 and 4.8.2 are quite short. It is almost always inappropriate to include long quotations (i.e., longer than a few sentences) in a literature review. After all, a review should be an original synthesis, not a repeat of al— ready published materials. ‘/ Guideline 9: Look for methodological strengths. It is unlikely that you will find a single research article with definitive results about any aspect of the human condition. Inevitably, some studies will be stronger than others, and these strengths should be noted in your review. Ask yourself how strong the 8 Galbraith, K. A., & Schvaneveldt, J. D. (2005). Family leadership styles and family well—being, Family and Consumer Sciences Research Journal, 33, 220439. 9 Lannutti, P. J. (2005). For better or worse: Exploring the meanings of same-sex marriage within the 135- hian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered community. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 22, 548. 37 Chapter 4 General Guidelines for Analyzing Literature evidence is, and keep in mind that in your role as the reviewer, you have the right and the responsibility to make these subjective evaluations. The strength of a research article may come from the research methodology used. Do the research methods of one study improve on the data—gathering techniques of earlier studies? Does the article’s strength derive from the size and generalizability of its subject pool? Does a set of studies demonstrate that the same conclusion can be reached by using a variety of methods? These and other similar questions will guide you in determining the strengths of particular studies. Identifying methodological strengths is considered in more detail in Chapters 5 and 6. ‘/ Guideline 10: Look for methodological weaknesses. Remember that you should note any major weaknesses you encounter when re~ viewing research literature. The same process you used in identifying strengths should be used when identifying weaknesses. For instance, you should determine whether the au- thor’s research method has provided new insights into the research topic. Particularly, if an innovative methodology is used, does it seem appropriate, or does it r...
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