Developmental Sequence in Reviewing - From a Class Paper to a Publishable Review - Conference Proposals and Article Types

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

Developmental Sequence in Reviewing
From a Class Paper to a Publishable Review
Conference Proposals and Article Types

Bruce (1994) found that students’ interactions with the research literature were developmental. At first (e.g., as undergraduates), they tended to conceptualize the work of reviewing almost like a scavenger hunt, reflected in questions such as: “Can we count our textbook as one of the references?” or “If we use two chapters from the same book, does that count as one or two?” Simplistic, linear conceptualizations of the process of reviewing are a major impediment to a successful literature review. It is not until students are fully immersed in the research that they begin to use reviews to shape their thinking, identify areas of research that are needed, and see how their work could make a contribution. Table 5.2 illustrates the developmental progression.

Table 5.2

Levels of understanding about the literature review process

List—a collection of references without in-depth knowledge of content

Search—an emphasis on the strategies for locating relevant materials

Survey—a representation of immersion in the knowledge base

Vehicle for learning—the reviewer interacts with material and is influenced by it

Research facilitator—the literature review shapes the reader’s thinking and guides original research

Tool for entering the professional dialogue—a synthesis/final representation of the researcher’s interaction with and evaluation of the literature

Adapted from Bruce, 1994

Access to a high-quality academic library is a must when conducting a literature review. This can be a particular challenge for international scholars if they do not have reliable internet connections, if their libraries do not have access to the journal articles, or if the cost of downloading an article or book is prohibitive. Even scholars who do have a well-equipped academic library may find that books or articles have to be ordered through interlibrary loan, which can be time consuming. At other times, academic authors have a wealth of resources available to them but do not use them wisely; for example, they may use whatever search engine pops up first rather than select the best one, given their topic and purpose. In every case, the best advice is to find a way to link with a research library, begin the search early to allow time for interlibrary loan materials to arrive, consult with an academic librarian, and to augment efforts with technology tools, such as Google Scholar.

Activity 5.3 highlights the behaviors that enable academic authors to produce publishable reviews.

Activity 5.3: Capabilities of Reviewers of the Literature

What attributes do reviewers need to have in order to produce a high-quality, publishable literature review? As you read through the list below, indicate which of these characteristics are personal strengths or weaknesses that you will need to shore up in order to succeed:

· Information literacy, defined as “a set of abilities requiring individuals to recognize when information is needed and have the ability to locate, evaluate and use effectively the needed information” (Association of College and Research Libraries, 2000, p. 2)

· Ability to understand the methodological qualities of studies

· Willingness to invest time and mental energy

· Capacity for processing a huge amount of material

· Attention to details and accuracy

· Ability to form a mental landscape of the literature

· Tolerance for ambiguity when coping with an unstructured problem

· Commitment to making a contribution (Lather, 1999)

Online Tool

Watch textbook author Michael Quinn Patton discuss “Literature Reviews: Common Errors Made When Conducting a Literature Review” on YouTube