Review of the Related Literature - From Mixed-Methods Research to a Journal Article - Conference Proposals and Article Types

Writing for Publication: Transitions and Tools that Support Scholars’ Success - Mary Renck Jalongo, Olivia N. Saracho 2016

Review of the Related Literature
From Mixed-Methods Research to a Journal Article
Conference Proposals and Article Types

The review of the literature is critical in conducting mixed methods research studies. In the literature review process, researchers rely on mixed methods research synthesis. This consists of “an interpretation of a selection of published and/or unpublished documents available from various sources on a specific topic that optimally involves summarization, analysis, evaluation, and synthesis of the documents” (Onwuegbuzie, Collins, Leech, Dellinger, & Jiao, 2007, p. 2).

As with literature reviews in qualitative and quantitative research, the purpose of is to inform the researcher about:

· What has been done and what needs to be done

· Which variables other researchers consider to be important to the topic

· What relationships exist between theory/concepts and practice

· Limitations of previous studies and ways to avoid duplicating them

· Which major research techniques and designs have been used thus far

· Contradictions and inconsistencies in the extant research literature

· Strengths and weaknesses of the different research techniques that have been used (Onwuegbuzie, Collins, Leech, Dellinger, & Jiao 2010).

A literature review helps to shape a well-defined theoretical/conceptual framework to guide the research process. In the following example, Arnon and Reichel (2009) demonstrate how their review of the literature has shaped their conceptual framework and enabled them attain a high level of synthesis:

The “good teacher” is an idiomatic phrase, a prototypic concept of the desirable, ideal teacher that is expressed by many people. In fact, different people comprehend it differently and assert different characteristics for the good teacher. The image of the good teacher reflects people’s personal experience (Bannink & Van Dam, 2007) and the norms and values of their culture (Schwab, 1973).

In the portrait gallery of the ideal teacher, as designed by a long list of educational philosophers from ancient to postmodern times, we find variety in the images of teachers and their basic qualities and values. We note, for example, the teacher as midwife (Socrates), as an artist in the use of knowledge (Plato), as a role model (Aristotle), as a liberator (Freire), as an educator in accordance with nature (Rousseau), as an existentialist (Frankel), as a mediator (Feuerstein), as child centered (Neill), and as a postmodernist (Foucaul) (Arnon & Reichel, 2007; Reichel & Arnon, 2005, p. 173).

As this example illustrates, the review of the literature is extensive, thorough, and current. The writer refers to primary sources that focus on the research problem (Boote & Beile, 2005). Some researchers believe that the purpose of the literature review may be slightly different for quantitative and qualitative methodologies. Technically, quantitative is a test of a theory whereas the very purpose of qualitative can be to allow a theory to “bubble up” from the data—for example, grounded theory. The commonality is that, both in quantitative and qualitative research, the findings from others’ studies are appropriately compared, contrasted, and related to the present study. When reviewing others’ research, writers assess their findings with respect to trustworthiness, credibility, dependability, legitimation, validity, plausibility, applicability, consistency, neutrality, reliability, objectivity, confirmability, and/or transferability (Leech & Onwuegbuzie, 2010; Onwuegbuzie, Leech, & Collins 2012). The review of the literature for a qualitative study requires you to assess findings for each empirical study in all three paradigms: qualitative, quantitative, or mixed methods research (Leech & Onwuegbuzie 2010). In addition, the review of the literature should provide a concise and logical description of the validity of inferences for each reported study to provide authenticity (Dellinger & Leech, 2007).