Writing for Publication: Transitions and Tools that Support Scholars’ Success - Mary Renck Jalongo, Olivia N. Saracho 2016
From a Class Paper to a Publishable Review
Conference Proposals and Article Types
As this chapter has discussed, a high-quality literature review is much more than kneading together a handful of sources to produce the typical graduate student paper. The simple truth is that, despite all of those papers and projects completed during graduate study, you may not have amassed that much practice in writing a review that meets the standards for a publishable review. Students sometimes respond to this observation with consternation and ask, “Why didn’t somebody teach me this earlier?” What they fail to recognize is that the work of reviewing is a complex, developmental task. Just as a child cannot skip over learning to read and immediately achieve a fifth-grade reading level, it is not possible to dramatically accelerate the process of learning to review. When you first begin reviewing, the emphasis is on becoming familiar with leaders in the field and learning how to cite and write for academic purposes. Becoming an expert and producing a publishable review of the literature requires several important things: (1) full immersion in the literature, (2) a mental “landscape” of the field, (3) a talent for organizing ideas and marshaling evidence, and (4) the academic writing skills to guide readers through the sequence without confusing them along the way. Be aware also that readers, reviewers and editors of scholarly publications want to know “what you think of the literature, its strengths as well as its weaknesses, whether or not it constitutes a major breakthrough in the thinking on the topic, what it adds to the knowledge base, and so on” (Merriam, 1998, p. 55).
Whether you are a graduate student or a widely published professional, there is always more to learn about the work of reviewing. Ideally, a review of the literature uses a collection of carefully selected sources to arrive “big picture” understandings of a topic that will advance thinking. There is an art to reviewing that novices do not yet recognize. A beautifully written review is more like a landscape painting than a still life because it takes a point of view (Reuber, 2011), presents a coherent composition (Notar & Cole, 2010), reveals the contours of the field, portrays those areas that are illuminated and those that remain in the shadows, and invites the readers to place themselves in the picture. Reviewers are motivated by the desire “to be of use” (Lather, 1999) and to further readers’ understandings of the “body of knowledge” (BoK), defined as the cumulative, research-supported knowledge achieved by “building on each other’s [research] results” (Iivari, Hirschheim, & Klein, 2004, p. 314). As with a landscape painting, one major contribution of an expert, published literature review is to support readers in getting the “the lay of the land” on a topic of significance in their fields.
Association of College and Research Libraries & American Library Association. (2000). Information literacy competency standards for higher education. Chicago: Authors.
Bruce, C. S. (1994). Research students’ early experiences of the dissertation literature review. Studies in Higher Education, 19(2), 217—230.CrossRef
Cooper, H. M. (1998). Synthesizing research: A guide for literature reviews (3rd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Ely, M., Vinz, R., Downing, M., & Anzul, M. (1997). On writing qualitative research: Living by words. New York: Routledge.
Foster, R. L. (2009). Publishing your dissertation [Editorial]. Journal for Specialists in Pediatric Nursing, 14(1), 1—2.CrossRef
Hart, C. (2009). Doing a literature review. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Holbrook, A., Bourke, S., Fairbairn, H., & Lovat, T. (2007). Examiner comment on the literature review in Ph.D. theses. Studies in Higher Education, 32(1), 337—356.CrossRef
Holdstein, D. H., & Aquiline, D. (2014). Who says? The writer’s research. New York: Oxford University Press.
Horsley, T., Dingwall, O., & Sampson, M. (2011). Checking reference lists to find additional studies for systematic reviews. The Cochrane Library. Retrieved January 12, 2016, from http://www.cochrane.org/MR000026/METHOD_examining-reference-lists-to-find-relevant-studies-for-systematic-reviews
Iivari, J., Hirschheim, R., & Klein, H. K. (2004). Towards a distinctive body of knowledge for information systems experts: Coding ISD process knowledge in two IS journals. Information Systems Journal, 14(4), 313—342.CrossRef
Jalongo, M. R. (2007). Beyond benchmarks and scores: Reasserting the role of motivation and interest in children’s academic achievement. An ACEI Position Paper. Childhood Education, 83(6), 395—407.CrossRef
Jalongo, M. R., & Heider, K. (2014). Re-examining the literature review: Purposes, approaches, and issues. In O. N. Saracho (Ed.), Handbook of research methods in early childhood education. Charlotte, NC: Information Age Publishing, 753—782.
Lather, P. (1999). To be of use: The work of reviewing. Reviews of Educational Research, 69(1), 2—7.CrossRef
Lawlor, J., & Gorham, G. (2004). The reference handbook. Dublin, Ireland: Dublin Institute of Technology.
Lopez, L. M. (2012). Assessing the phonological skills of bilingual children from preschool through kindergarten: Developmental progression and cross-language transfer. Journal of Research in Childhood Education, 26(4), 371—391.
Lovitts, B. E. (2005). How to grade a dissertation. Academe, 91(6), 18—23.CrossRef
Lovitts, B. E. (2007). Making the implicit explicit: Creating performance expectations for the dissertation. Sterling, VA: Stylus Publishing.
Machi, L. A., & McEvoy, B. T. (2009). The literature review: Six steps to success. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.
Merriam, S. B. (1998). Qualitative research and case study applications in education. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Merriam, S. B. (2009). Qualitative research: A guide to design and implementation. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Mertler, C. A., & Charles, C. M. (2005). Introduction to educational research. Boston: Allyn & Bacon.
Murray, F., & Raths, J. (1994). Call for manuscripts. Review of Educational Research, 64(2), 197—200.CrossRef
Ngai, E. W. T., & Wat, F. K. T. (2002). A literature review and classification of electronic commerce research. Information & Management, 39, 415—429.CrossRef
Neuman, W. L. (2009). Understanding research. Boston: Allyn & Bacon.
Notar, C. E., & Cole, V. (2010). Literature review organizer. International Journal of Education, 2(2), E2. Available: www.macrothink.org/journal/index.php/ije/article/view/319
Ravitch, S. M., & Riggan, M. (2012). Reason and rigor. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Reuber, A. R. (2011). Strengthening your literature review. Family Business Review, 23(2), 105—108.CrossRef
Toracco, R. (2011). Writing an integrative literature reviews: Guidelines and examples. http://docseminar2.wikispaces.com/file/view/Literature+review+paper_Torraco.pdf
Tunon, J., & Brydges, B. (2006). A study on using rubrics and citation analysis to measure the quality of doctoral dissertation reference lists from traditional and nontraditional institutions. Journal of Library Administration, 45(3/4), 459—481.
Webster, J., & Watson, R. T. (2002). Analyzing the past to prepare for the future: Writing a literature review. Management Information Systems Quarterly, 26(2), 3.
Zaphorozhetz, L. (1987). The dissertation literature review: How faculty advisors prepare their doctoral candidates. Doctoral thesis, University of Oregon.