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## 3.4: Components of a Research Project

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## Learning Objectives

• Describe useful strategies to employ when searching for literature.
• Describe why sociologists review prior literature and how they organize their literature reviews.
• Identify the main sections contained in scholarly journal articles.
• Identify and describe the major components researchers need to plan for when designing a research project.
• Describe the importance of a research proposal.

In this section, we’ll examine the most typical components that make up a research proposal and research project, bringing in a few additional components to those we have already discussed. Keep in mind that our purpose at this stage is simply to provide a general overview of research design. The specifics of each of the following components will vary from project to project. Further, the stage of a project at which each of these components comes into play may vary.

## Searching for Literature

Familiarizing yourself with research that has already been conducted on your topic is one of the first stages of conducting a research project and is crucial for coming up with a good research design. But where to start? How to start? As you search for literature, you may have to be fairly broad in your search for articles.

I’m guessing you may feel you’ve heard enough about electronic gadget addiction in this chapter, so let’s consider a different example here. On my campus, much to the chagrin of a group of student smokers, smoking was recently banned. These students were so upset by the idea that they would no longer be allowed to smoke on university grounds that they staged several smoke-outs during which they gathered in populated areas around campus and enjoyed a puff or two together.

A student in my research methods class wanted to understand what motivated this group of students to engage in activism centered around what she perceived to be, in this age of smoke-free facilities, a relatively deviant act. Were the protesters otherwise politically active? How much effort and coordination had it taken to organize the smoke-outs? The student researcher began her research by attempting to familiarize herself with the literature on her topic. Yet her search in Sociological Abstracts for “college student activist smoke-outs,” yielded no results. Concluding there was no prior research on her topic, she informed me that she would need an alternative assignment to the annotated bibliography I required since there was no literature for her to review. How do you suppose I responded to this news? What went wrong with this student’s search for literature?

In her first attempt, the student had been too narrow in her search for articles. But did that mean she was off the hook for completing the annotated bibliography assignment? Absolutely not. Instead, she went back to Sociological Abstracts and searched again using different combinations of search terms. Rather than searching for “college student activist smoke-outs” she tried, among other sets of terms, “college student activism.” This time her search yielded a great many articles. Of course, they were not focused on prosmoking activist efforts, but they were focused on her population of interest, college students, and on her broad topic of interest, activism. I suggested that reading articles on college student activism might give her some idea about what other researchers have found in terms of what motivates college students to become involved in activist efforts. I also suggested she could play around with her search terms and look for research on activism centered on other sorts of activities that are perceived by some as deviant, such as marijuana use or veganism. In other words, she needed to be broader in her search for articles.

While this student found success by broadening her search for articles, her reading of those articles needed to be narrower than her search. Once she identified a set of articles to review by searching broadly, it was time to remind herself of her specific research focus: college student activist smoke-outs. Keeping in mind her particular research interest while reviewing the literature gave her the chance to think about how the theories and findings covered in prior studies might or might not apply to her particular point of focus. For example, theories on what motivates activists to get involved might tell her something about the likely reasons the students she planned to study got involved. At the same time, those theories might not cover all the particulars of student participation in smoke-outs. Thinking about the different theories then gave the student the opportunity to focus her research plans and even to develop a few hypotheses about what she thought she was likely to find.

## Reviewing the Literature

Developing an annotated bibliography is often one of the early steps that researchers take as they begin to familiarize themselves with prior research on their topic. A second step involves a literature review in which a researcher positions his or her work within the context of prior scholarly work in the area. A literature review addresses the following matters: What sorts of questions have other scholars asked about this topic? What do we already know about this topic? What questions remain? As the researcher answers these questions, he or she synthesizes what is contained in the literature, possibly organizing prior findings around themes that are relevant to his or her particular research focus.

I once advised an undergraduate student who conducted a research project on speciesism, the belief that some species are superior to or have more value and rights than others. Her research question was “Why and how do humans construct divisions between themselves and animals?” This student organized her review of literature around the two parts of her research question: the why and the how. In the “why” section of her literature review, she described prior research that addressed questions of why humans are sometimes speciesist. She organized subsections around the three most common answers that were presented in the scholarly literature. She used the same structure in the “how” section of her literature review, arranging subsections around the answers posed in previous literature about how humans construct divisions between themselves and animals. This organizational scheme helped readers understand what we already know about the topic and what theories we rely on to help make sense of the topic. In addition, by also highlighting what we still don’t know, it helped the student set the stage for her own empirical research on the topic

The preceding discussion about how to organize a review of scholarly literature assumes that we all know how to read scholarly literature. Yes, yes, I understand that you must know how to read. But reading scholarly articles can be a bit more challenging than reading a textbook. Here are a few pointers about how to do it successfully. First, it is important to understand the various sections that are typically contained in scholarly journals’ reports of empirical research. One of the most important and easiest to spot sections of a journal article is its abstract , the short paragraph at the beginning of an article that summarizes the author’s research question, methods used to answer the question, and key findings. The abstract may also give you some idea about the theoretical proclivities of the author. As a result, reading the abstract gives you both a framework for understanding the rest of the article and the punch line. It tells you what the author(s) found and whether the article is relevant to your area of inquiry.

After the abstract, most journal articles will contain the following sections (although exact section names are likely to vary): introduction, literature review, methodology, findings, and discussion. Of course, there will also be a list of references cited, lists of references cited are a useful source for finding additional literature in an area. and there may be a few tables, figures, or appendices at the end of the article as well. While you should get into the habit of familiarizing yourself with articles you wish to cite in their entirety , there are strategic ways to read journal articles that can make them a little easier to digest. Once you have read the abstract and determined that this is an article you’d like to read in full, read through the discussion section at the end of the article next. Because your own review of literature is likely to emphasize findings from previous literature, you should make sure that you have a clear idea about what those findings are. Reading an article’s discussion section helps you understand what the author views as the study’s major findings and how the author perceives those findings to relate to other research.

Thinking about the overarching goals of your research project and finding and reviewing the existing literature on your topic are two of the initial steps you’ll take when designing a research project. Forming a clear research question, is another crucial step. There are a number of other important research design components you’ll need to consider, and we will discuss those here.

Decisions about the various research components do not necessarily occur in sequential order. In fact, you may have to think about potential ethical concerns even before zeroing in on a specific research question. Similarly, the goal of being able to make generalizations about your population of interest could shape the decisions you make about your method of data collection. Putting it all together, the following list shows some of the major components you’ll need to consider as you design your research project:

• Research question
• Literature review
• Research strategy (idiographic or nomothetic, inductive or deductive)
• Research goals (basic or applied)
• Units of analysis and units of observation
• Key concepts (conceptualization and operationalization)
• Method of data collection
• Research participants (sample and population)
• Ethical concerns

## Research Proposal

At the stage before actually starting the research it is often a good idea to write a research proposal detailing all of the decisions made in the preceding stages of the research process and the rationale behind each decision. This multi-part proposal should address what research questions you wish to study and why, the prior literature, theories you wish to employ along with hypotheses to be tested (if you are doing deductive research, how measurement will be done, what research method to be employed and why, and desired sampling strategy (or who the subjects are.  Also, do not forget to include a budget.  Funding agencies typically require such a proposal in order to select the best proposals for funding. Even if funding is not sought for a research project, a proposal may serve as a useful vehicle for seeking feedback from other researchers and identifying potential problems with the research project (e.g., whether some important constructs were missing from the study) before starting data collection. This initial feedback is invaluable because it is often too late to correct critical problems after data is collected in a research study.

## KEY TAKEAWAYS

• Writing an annotated bibliography can be a helpful first step to familiarize yourself with prior research in your area of interest.
• Literature reviews summarize and synthesize prior research.
• Literature reviews are typically organized around substantive ideas that are relevant to one’s research question rather than around individual studies or article authors.
• When designing a research project, be sure to think about, plan for, and identify a research question, a review of literature, a research strategy, research goals, units of analysis and units of observation, key concepts, method(s) of data collection, population and sample, and potential ethical concerns.
• A research proposal is also important to consider.
• Find and read a complete journal article that addresses a topic that is of interest to you. In four to eight sentences, summarize the author’s research question, theoretical framing, methods used, and major findings. Reread the article, and see how close you were in reporting these key elements. What did you understand and remember best? What did you leave out? What reading strategies may have helped you better recall relevant details from the article?
• Using the example of students’ electronic gadget addictions, design a hypothetical research project by identifying a plan for each of the nine components of research design that are presented in this section.

• Preparing my thesis
• Examples of thesis and chapter formats when including publications

The following examples are acceptable ways of formatting your thesis and chapters when including one or more publications.

## Essential requirements

All theses with publications must have the following:

• Declaration
• Preface – noting collaborations, and contributions to authorship
• Acknowledgements
• List of tables, figures & illustrations
• Main text/chapters
• Bibliography or list of references

## Main text examples

• Chapter 1: Introduction
• Chapter 2: Literature review
• Chapter 3: Methods
• Chapter 4: Paper 1 & general discussion
• Chapter 5: Paper 2
• Chapter 6: Regular thesis chapter – results
• Chapter 7 : Regular thesis chapter/general discussion tying in published and unpublished work
• Chapter 8: Conclusion
• Appendices - May include CD, DVD or other material, also reviews & methods papers
• Chapter 2: Methods
• Chapter 3: Paper 1
• Chapter 4: Regular thesis chapter
• Chapter 6: Regular thesis chapter, final preliminary study
• Chapter 7: General discussion
• Chapter 5: Regular thesis chapter
• Chapter 6: Regular thesis chapter
• Chapter 7: Regular thesis chapter, final preliminary study
• Chapter 8: General discussion
• Chapter 4: Paper 2 - e.g. data paper, including meta analyses
• Chapter 5: Paper 3
• Chapter 6: Paper 4
• Chapter 7: Paper 5
• Chapter 3: Major paper
• Chapter 4: Normal thesis chapter, final preliminary study
• Chapter 5: General discussion

## Chapter examples

• Introduction – including specific aims and hypotheses
• Introduction – including specific aims, hypotheses
• Methods – results (including validation, preliminary) not included in the paper
• Results (including validation, preliminary) not included in paper
• Discussion – expansion of paper discussion, further method development
• Resources for candidates
• Orientation and induction
• Mapping my degree
• Principles for infrastructure support
• Peer activities
• Change my commencement date
• Meeting expectations
• Working with my supervisors
• Responsible Research & Research Integrity
• Guidelines for external supervisors
• Pre-confirmation
• Confirmation
• At risk of unsatisfactory progress
• Unsatisfactory progress
• Add or drop coursework subjects
• Apply for leave
• Return from leave
• Apply for Study Away
• Return from Study Away
• Change my study rate
• Check my candidature status
• Change my current supervisors
• Request an evidence of enrolment or evidence of qualification statement
• Change my project details
• Change department
• Transfer to another graduate research degree
• Late submission
• Withdraw from my research degree
• Check the status of a request
• Re-enrolment
• Extension of candidature
• Lapse candidature
• How to cancel a form in my.unimelb
• Resolving issues
• Taking leave
• Finishing on time
• Accepting an offer for a joint PhD online
• Tenured Study Spaces (TSS) Usage Guidelines
• Tenured Study Spaces Procedures
• Research skills
• Academic writing and communication skills
• Building professional and academic networks
• Research internships
• Commercialising my research
• Supplementary PhD Programs
• Writing my thesis
• Thesis with creative works
• Research Integrity in my Thesis
• Graduate researchers and digital assistance tools
• TES Statuses
• Submitting my thesis
• Depositing multiple components for your final thesis record
• The Chancellor's Prize
• Career planning
• Publishing my research
• Getting support
• Melbourne Research Experience Survey
• Quality Indicators for Learning and Teaching (QILT)
• Current Students

## How To Write A Research Paper

Step-By-Step Tutorial With Examples + FREE Template

By: Derek Jansen (MBA) | Expert Reviewer: Dr Eunice Rautenbach | March 2024

For many students, crafting a strong research paper from scratch can feel like a daunting task – and rightly so! In this post, we’ll unpack what a research paper is, what it needs to do , and how to write one – in three easy steps. 🙂

## Overview: Writing A Research Paper

What (exactly) is a research paper.

• How to write a research paper
• Stage 1 : Topic & literature search
• Stage 2 : Structure & outline
• Stage 3 : Iterative writing
• Key takeaways

Let’s start by asking the most important question, “ What is a research paper? ”.

Simply put, a research paper is a scholarly written work where the writer (that’s you!) answers a specific question (this is called a research question ) through evidence-based arguments . Evidence-based is the keyword here. In other words, a research paper is different from an essay or other writing assignments that draw from the writer’s personal opinions or experiences. With a research paper, it’s all about building your arguments based on evidence (we’ll talk more about that evidence a little later).

Now, it’s worth noting that there are many different types of research papers , including analytical papers (the type I just described), argumentative papers, and interpretative papers. Here, we’ll focus on analytical papers , as these are some of the most common – but if you’re keen to learn about other types of research papers, be sure to check out the rest of the blog .

With that basic foundation laid, let’s get down to business and look at how to write a research paper .

## Overview: The 3-Stage Process

While there are, of course, many potential approaches you can take to write a research paper, there are typically three stages to the writing process. So, in this tutorial, we’ll present a straightforward three-step process that we use when working with students at Grad Coach.

These three steps are:

• Finding a research topic and reviewing the existing literature
• Developing a provisional structure and outline for your paper, and
• Writing up your initial draft and then refining it iteratively

Let’s dig into each of these.

## Step 1: Find a topic and review the literature

As we mentioned earlier, in a research paper, you, as the researcher, will try to answer a question . More specifically, that’s called a research question , and it sets the direction of your entire paper. What’s important to understand though is that you’ll need to answer that research question with the help of high-quality sources – for example, journal articles, government reports, case studies, and so on. We’ll circle back to this in a minute.

The first stage of the research process is deciding on what your research question will be and then reviewing the existing literature (in other words, past studies and papers) to see what they say about that specific research question. In some cases, your professor may provide you with a predetermined research question (or set of questions). However, in many cases, you’ll need to find your own research question within a certain topic area.

Finding a strong research question hinges on identifying a meaningful research gap – in other words, an area that’s lacking in existing research. There’s a lot to unpack here, so if you wanna learn more, check out the plain-language explainer video below.

Once you’ve figured out which question (or questions) you’ll attempt to answer in your research paper, you’ll need to do a deep dive into the existing literature – this is called a “ literature search ”. Again, there are many ways to go about this, but your most likely starting point will be Google Scholar .

If you’re new to Google Scholar, think of it as Google for the academic world. You can start by simply entering a few different keywords that are relevant to your research question and it will then present a host of articles for you to review. What you want to pay close attention to here is the number of citations for each paper – the more citations a paper has, the more credible it is (generally speaking – there are some exceptions, of course).

Ideally, what you’re looking for are well-cited papers that are highly relevant to your topic. That said, keep in mind that citations are a cumulative metric , so older papers will often have more citations than newer papers – just because they’ve been around for longer. So, don’t fixate on this metric in isolation – relevance and recency are also very important.

Beyond Google Scholar, you’ll also definitely want to check out academic databases and aggregators such as Science Direct, PubMed, JStor and so on. These will often overlap with the results that you find in Google Scholar, but they can also reveal some hidden gems – so, be sure to check them out.

Once you’ve worked your way through all the literature, you’ll want to catalogue all this information in some sort of spreadsheet so that you can easily recall who said what, when and within what context. If you’d like, we’ve got a free literature spreadsheet that helps you do exactly that.

## Step 2: Develop a structure and outline

With your research question pinned down and your literature digested and catalogued, it’s time to move on to planning your actual research paper .

It might sound obvious, but it’s really important to have some sort of rough outline in place before you start writing your paper. So often, we see students eagerly rushing into the writing phase, only to land up with a disjointed research paper that rambles on in multiple

Now, the secret here is to not get caught up in the fine details . Realistically, all you need at this stage is a bullet-point list that describes (in broad strokes) what you’ll discuss and in what order. It’s also useful to remember that you’re not glued to this outline – in all likelihood, you’ll chop and change some sections once you start writing, and that’s perfectly okay. What’s important is that you have some sort of roadmap in place from the start.

At this stage you might be wondering, “ But how should I structure my research paper? ”. Well, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution here, but in general, a research paper will consist of a few relatively standardised components:

• Introduction
• Literature review
• Methodology

Let’s take a look at each of these.

First up is the introduction section . As the name suggests, the purpose of the introduction is to set the scene for your research paper. There are usually (at least) four ingredients that go into this section – these are the background to the topic, the research problem and resultant research question , and the justification or rationale. If you’re interested, the video below unpacks the introduction section in more detail.

The next section of your research paper will typically be your literature review . Remember all that literature you worked through earlier? Well, this is where you’ll present your interpretation of all that content . You’ll do this by writing about recent trends, developments, and arguments within the literature – but more specifically, those that are relevant to your research question . The literature review can oftentimes seem a little daunting, even to seasoned researchers, so be sure to check out our extensive collection of literature review content here .

With the introduction and lit review out of the way, the next section of your paper is the research methodology . In a nutshell, the methodology section should describe to your reader what you did (beyond just reviewing the existing literature) to answer your research question. For example, what data did you collect, how did you collect that data, how did you analyse that data and so on? For each choice, you’ll also need to justify why you chose to do it that way, and what the strengths and weaknesses of your approach were.

Now, it’s worth mentioning that for some research papers, this aspect of the project may be a lot simpler . For example, you may only need to draw on secondary sources (in other words, existing data sets). In some cases, you may just be asked to draw your conclusions from the literature search itself (in other words, there may be no data analysis at all). But, if you are required to collect and analyse data, you’ll need to pay a lot of attention to the methodology section. The video below provides an example of what the methodology section might look like.

By this stage of your paper, you will have explained what your research question is, what the existing literature has to say about that question, and how you analysed additional data to try to answer your question. So, the natural next step is to present your analysis of that data . This section is usually called the “results” or “analysis” section and this is where you’ll showcase your findings.

Depending on your school’s requirements, you may need to present and interpret the data in one section – or you might split the presentation and the interpretation into two sections. In the latter case, your “results” section will just describe the data, and the “discussion” is where you’ll interpret that data and explicitly link your analysis back to your research question. If you’re not sure which approach to take, check in with your professor or take a look at past papers to see what the norms are for your programme.

Alright – once you’ve presented and discussed your results, it’s time to wrap it up . This usually takes the form of the “ conclusion ” section. In the conclusion, you’ll need to highlight the key takeaways from your study and close the loop by explicitly answering your research question. Again, the exact requirements here will vary depending on your programme (and you may not even need a conclusion section at all) – so be sure to check with your professor if you’re unsure.

## Step 3: Write and refine

Finally, it’s time to get writing. All too often though, students hit a brick wall right about here… So, how do you avoid this happening to you?

Well, there’s a lot to be said when it comes to writing a research paper (or any sort of academic piece), but we’ll share three practical tips to help you get started.

First and foremost , it’s essential to approach your writing as an iterative process. In other words, you need to start with a really messy first draft and then polish it over multiple rounds of editing. Don’t waste your time trying to write a perfect research paper in one go. Instead, take the pressure off yourself by adopting an iterative approach.

Secondly , it’s important to always lean towards critical writing , rather than descriptive writing. What does this mean? Well, at the simplest level, descriptive writing focuses on the “ what ”, while critical writing digs into the “ so what ” – in other words, the implications . If you’re not familiar with these two types of writing, don’t worry! You can find a plain-language explanation here.

Last but not least, you’ll need to get your referencing right. Specifically, you’ll need to provide credible, correctly formatted citations for the statements you make. We see students making referencing mistakes all the time and it costs them dearly. The good news is that you can easily avoid this by using a simple reference manager . If you don’t have one, check out our video about Mendeley, an easy (and free) reference management tool that you can start using today.

## Recap: Key Takeaways

We’ve covered a lot of ground here. To recap, the three steps to writing a high-quality research paper are:

• To choose a research question and review the literature
• To plan your paper structure and draft an outline
• To take an iterative approach to writing, focusing on critical writing and strong referencing

Remember, this is just a b ig-picture overview of the research paper development process and there’s a lot more nuance to unpack. So, be sure to grab a copy of our free research paper template to learn more about how to write a research paper.

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• USC Libraries
• Research Guides

## Organizing Your Social Sciences Research Paper

• Types of Research Designs
• Purpose of Guide
• Design Flaws to Avoid
• Independent and Dependent Variables
• Glossary of Research Terms
• Narrowing a Topic Idea
• Extending the Timeliness of a Topic Idea
• Applying Critical Thinking
• Choosing a Title
• Making an Outline
• Paragraph Development
• Research Process Video Series
• Executive Summary
• The C.A.R.S. Model
• Background Information
• The Research Problem/Question
• Theoretical Framework
• Citation Tracking
• Evaluating Sources
• Primary Sources
• Secondary Sources
• Tiertiary Sources
• Scholarly vs. Popular Publications
• Qualitative Methods
• Quantitative Methods
• Insiderness
• Using Non-Textual Elements
• Limitations of the Study
• Common Grammar Mistakes
• Writing Concisely
• Avoiding Plagiarism
• Footnotes or Endnotes?
• Generative AI and Writing
• USC Libraries Tutorials and Other Guides
• Bibliography

## Introduction

Before beginning your paper, you need to decide how you plan to design the study .

The research design refers to the overall strategy and analytical approach that you have chosen in order to integrate, in a coherent and logical way, the different components of the study, thus ensuring that the research problem will be thoroughly investigated. It constitutes the blueprint for the collection, measurement, and interpretation of information and data. Note that the research problem determines the type of design you choose, not the other way around!

De Vaus, D. A. Research Design in Social Research . London: SAGE, 2001; Trochim, William M.K. Research Methods Knowledge Base. 2006.

## General Structure and Writing Style

The function of a research design is to ensure that the evidence obtained enables you to effectively address the research problem logically and as unambiguously as possible . In social sciences research, obtaining information relevant to the research problem generally entails specifying the type of evidence needed to test the underlying assumptions of a theory, to evaluate a program, or to accurately describe and assess meaning related to an observable phenomenon.

With this in mind, a common mistake made by researchers is that they begin their investigations before they have thought critically about what information is required to address the research problem. Without attending to these design issues beforehand, the overall research problem will not be adequately addressed and any conclusions drawn will run the risk of being weak and unconvincing. As a consequence, the overall validity of the study will be undermined.

The length and complexity of describing the research design in your paper can vary considerably, but any well-developed description will achieve the following :

• Identify the research problem clearly and justify its selection, particularly in relation to any valid alternative designs that could have been used,
• Review and synthesize previously published literature associated with the research problem,
• Clearly and explicitly specify hypotheses [i.e., research questions] central to the problem,
• Effectively describe the information and/or data which will be necessary for an adequate testing of the hypotheses and explain how such information and/or data will be obtained, and
• Describe the methods of analysis to be applied to the data in determining whether or not the hypotheses are true or false.

The research design is usually incorporated into the introduction of your paper . You can obtain an overall sense of what to do by reviewing studies that have utilized the same research design [e.g., using a case study approach]. This can help you develop an outline to follow for your own paper.

NOTE: Use the SAGE Research Methods Online and Cases and the SAGE Research Methods Videos databases to search for scholarly resources on how to apply specific research designs and methods . The Research Methods Online database contains links to more than 175,000 pages of SAGE publisher's book, journal, and reference content on quantitative, qualitative, and mixed research methodologies. Also included is a collection of case studies of social research projects that can be used to help you better understand abstract or complex methodological concepts. The Research Methods Videos database contains hours of tutorials, interviews, video case studies, and mini-documentaries covering the entire research process.

Creswell, John W. and J. David Creswell. Research Design: Qualitative, Quantitative, and Mixed Methods Approaches . 5th edition. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, 2018; De Vaus, D. A. Research Design in Social Research . London: SAGE, 2001; Gorard, Stephen. Research Design: Creating Robust Approaches for the Social Sciences . Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, 2013; Leedy, Paul D. and Jeanne Ellis Ormrod. Practical Research: Planning and Design . Tenth edition. Boston, MA: Pearson, 2013; Vogt, W. Paul, Dianna C. Gardner, and Lynne M. Haeffele. When to Use What Research Design . New York: Guilford, 2012.

## Action Research Design

Definition and Purpose

The essentials of action research design follow a characteristic cycle whereby initially an exploratory stance is adopted, where an understanding of a problem is developed and plans are made for some form of interventionary strategy. Then the intervention is carried out [the "action" in action research] during which time, pertinent observations are collected in various forms. The new interventional strategies are carried out, and this cyclic process repeats, continuing until a sufficient understanding of [or a valid implementation solution for] the problem is achieved. The protocol is iterative or cyclical in nature and is intended to foster deeper understanding of a given situation, starting with conceptualizing and particularizing the problem and moving through several interventions and evaluations.

What do these studies tell you ?

• This is a collaborative and adaptive research design that lends itself to use in work or community situations.
• Design focuses on pragmatic and solution-driven research outcomes rather than testing theories.
• When practitioners use action research, it has the potential to increase the amount they learn consciously from their experience; the action research cycle can be regarded as a learning cycle.
• Action research studies often have direct and obvious relevance to improving practice and advocating for change.
• There are no hidden controls or preemption of direction by the researcher.

What these studies don't tell you ?

• It is harder to do than conducting conventional research because the researcher takes on responsibilities of advocating for change as well as for researching the topic.
• Action research is much harder to write up because it is less likely that you can use a standard format to report your findings effectively [i.e., data is often in the form of stories or observation].
• Personal over-involvement of the researcher may bias research results.
• The cyclic nature of action research to achieve its twin outcomes of action [e.g. change] and research [e.g. understanding] is time-consuming and complex to conduct.

Coghlan, David and Mary Brydon-Miller. The Sage Encyclopedia of Action Research . Thousand Oaks, CA:  Sage, 2014; Efron, Sara Efrat and Ruth Ravid. Action Research in Education: A Practical Guide . New York: Guilford, 2013; Gall, Meredith. Educational Research: An Introduction . Chapter 18, Action Research. 8th ed. Boston, MA: Pearson/Allyn and Bacon, 2007; Gorard, Stephen. Research Design: Creating Robust Approaches for the Social Sciences . Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, 2013; Kemmis, Stephen and Robin McTaggart. “Participatory Action Research.” In Handbook of Qualitative Research . Norman Denzin and Yvonna S. Lincoln, eds. 2nd ed. (Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE, 2000), pp. 567-605; McNiff, Jean. Writing and Doing Action Research . London: Sage, 2014; Reason, Peter and Hilary Bradbury. Handbook of Action Research: Participative Inquiry and Practice . Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE, 2001.

## Case Study Design

A case study is an in-depth study of a particular research problem rather than a sweeping statistical survey or comprehensive comparative inquiry. It is often used to narrow down a very broad field of research into one or a few easily researchable examples. The case study research design is also useful for testing whether a specific theory and model actually applies to phenomena in the real world. It is a useful design when not much is known about an issue or phenomenon.

• Approach excels at bringing us to an understanding of a complex issue through detailed contextual analysis of a limited number of events or conditions and their relationships.
• A researcher using a case study design can apply a variety of methodologies and rely on a variety of sources to investigate a research problem.
• Design can extend experience or add strength to what is already known through previous research.
• Social scientists, in particular, make wide use of this research design to examine contemporary real-life situations and provide the basis for the application of concepts and theories and the extension of methodologies.
• The design can provide detailed descriptions of specific and rare cases.
• A single or small number of cases offers little basis for establishing reliability or to generalize the findings to a wider population of people, places, or things.
• Intense exposure to the study of a case may bias a researcher's interpretation of the findings.
• Design does not facilitate assessment of cause and effect relationships.
• Vital information may be missing, making the case hard to interpret.
• The case may not be representative or typical of the larger problem being investigated.
• If the criteria for selecting a case is because it represents a very unusual or unique phenomenon or problem for study, then your interpretation of the findings can only apply to that particular case.

Case Studies. Writing@CSU. Colorado State University; Anastas, Jeane W. Research Design for Social Work and the Human Services . Chapter 4, Flexible Methods: Case Study Design. 2nd ed. New York: Columbia University Press, 1999; Gerring, John. “What Is a Case Study and What Is It Good for?” American Political Science Review 98 (May 2004): 341-354; Greenhalgh, Trisha, editor. Case Study Evaluation: Past, Present and Future Challenges . Bingley, UK: Emerald Group Publishing, 2015; Mills, Albert J. , Gabrielle Durepos, and Eiden Wiebe, editors. Encyclopedia of Case Study Research . Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, 2010; Stake, Robert E. The Art of Case Study Research . Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE, 1995; Yin, Robert K. Case Study Research: Design and Theory . Applied Social Research Methods Series, no. 5. 3rd ed. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE, 2003.

## Causal Design

Causality studies may be thought of as understanding a phenomenon in terms of conditional statements in the form, “If X, then Y.” This type of research is used to measure what impact a specific change will have on existing norms and assumptions. Most social scientists seek causal explanations that reflect tests of hypotheses. Causal effect (nomothetic perspective) occurs when variation in one phenomenon, an independent variable, leads to or results, on average, in variation in another phenomenon, the dependent variable.

Conditions necessary for determining causality:

• Empirical association -- a valid conclusion is based on finding an association between the independent variable and the dependent variable.
• Appropriate time order -- to conclude that causation was involved, one must see that cases were exposed to variation in the independent variable before variation in the dependent variable.
• Nonspuriousness -- a relationship between two variables that is not due to variation in a third variable.
• Causality research designs assist researchers in understanding why the world works the way it does through the process of proving a causal link between variables and by the process of eliminating other possibilities.
• Replication is possible.
• There is greater confidence the study has internal validity due to the systematic subject selection and equity of groups being compared.
• Not all relationships are causal! The possibility always exists that, by sheer coincidence, two unrelated events appear to be related [e.g., Punxatawney Phil could accurately predict the duration of Winter for five consecutive years but, the fact remains, he's just a big, furry rodent].
• Conclusions about causal relationships are difficult to determine due to a variety of extraneous and confounding variables that exist in a social environment. This means causality can only be inferred, never proven.
• If two variables are correlated, the cause must come before the effect. However, even though two variables might be causally related, it can sometimes be difficult to determine which variable comes first and, therefore, to establish which variable is the actual cause and which is the  actual effect.

Beach, Derek and Rasmus Brun Pedersen. Causal Case Study Methods: Foundations and Guidelines for Comparing, Matching, and Tracing . Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press, 2016; Bachman, Ronet. The Practice of Research in Criminology and Criminal Justice . Chapter 5, Causation and Research Designs. 3rd ed. Thousand Oaks, CA: Pine Forge Press, 2007; Brewer, Ernest W. and Jennifer Kubn. “Causal-Comparative Design.” In Encyclopedia of Research Design . Neil J. Salkind, editor. (Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, 2010), pp. 125-132; Causal Research Design: Experimentation. Anonymous SlideShare Presentation; Gall, Meredith. Educational Research: An Introduction . Chapter 11, Nonexperimental Research: Correlational Designs. 8th ed. Boston, MA: Pearson/Allyn and Bacon, 2007; Trochim, William M.K. Research Methods Knowledge Base. 2006.

## Cohort Design

Often used in the medical sciences, but also found in the applied social sciences, a cohort study generally refers to a study conducted over a period of time involving members of a population which the subject or representative member comes from, and who are united by some commonality or similarity. Using a quantitative framework, a cohort study makes note of statistical occurrence within a specialized subgroup, united by same or similar characteristics that are relevant to the research problem being investigated, rather than studying statistical occurrence within the general population. Using a qualitative framework, cohort studies generally gather data using methods of observation. Cohorts can be either "open" or "closed."

• Open Cohort Studies [dynamic populations, such as the population of Los Angeles] involve a population that is defined just by the state of being a part of the study in question (and being monitored for the outcome). Date of entry and exit from the study is individually defined, therefore, the size of the study population is not constant. In open cohort studies, researchers can only calculate rate based data, such as, incidence rates and variants thereof.
• Closed Cohort Studies [static populations, such as patients entered into a clinical trial] involve participants who enter into the study at one defining point in time and where it is presumed that no new participants can enter the cohort. Given this, the number of study participants remains constant (or can only decrease).
• The use of cohorts is often mandatory because a randomized control study may be unethical. For example, you cannot deliberately expose people to asbestos, you can only study its effects on those who have already been exposed. Research that measures risk factors often relies upon cohort designs.
• Because cohort studies measure potential causes before the outcome has occurred, they can demonstrate that these “causes” preceded the outcome, thereby avoiding the debate as to which is the cause and which is the effect.
• Cohort analysis is highly flexible and can provide insight into effects over time and related to a variety of different types of changes [e.g., social, cultural, political, economic, etc.].
• Either original data or secondary data can be used in this design.
• In cases where a comparative analysis of two cohorts is made [e.g., studying the effects of one group exposed to asbestos and one that has not], a researcher cannot control for all other factors that might differ between the two groups. These factors are known as confounding variables.
• Cohort studies can end up taking a long time to complete if the researcher must wait for the conditions of interest to develop within the group. This also increases the chance that key variables change during the course of the study, potentially impacting the validity of the findings.
• Due to the lack of randominization in the cohort design, its external validity is lower than that of study designs where the researcher randomly assigns participants.

Healy P, Devane D. “Methodological Considerations in Cohort Study Designs.” Nurse Researcher 18 (2011): 32-36; Glenn, Norval D, editor. Cohort Analysis . 2nd edition. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, 2005; Levin, Kate Ann. Study Design IV: Cohort Studies. Evidence-Based Dentistry 7 (2003): 51–52; Payne, Geoff. “Cohort Study.” In The SAGE Dictionary of Social Research Methods . Victor Jupp, editor. (Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, 2006), pp. 31-33; Study Design 101. Himmelfarb Health Sciences Library. George Washington University, November 2011; Cohort Study. Wikipedia.

## Cross-Sectional Design

Cross-sectional research designs have three distinctive features: no time dimension; a reliance on existing differences rather than change following intervention; and, groups are selected based on existing differences rather than random allocation. The cross-sectional design can only measure differences between or from among a variety of people, subjects, or phenomena rather than a process of change. As such, researchers using this design can only employ a relatively passive approach to making causal inferences based on findings.

• Cross-sectional studies provide a clear 'snapshot' of the outcome and the characteristics associated with it, at a specific point in time.
• Unlike an experimental design, where there is an active intervention by the researcher to produce and measure change or to create differences, cross-sectional designs focus on studying and drawing inferences from existing differences between people, subjects, or phenomena.
• Entails collecting data at and concerning one point in time. While longitudinal studies involve taking multiple measures over an extended period of time, cross-sectional research is focused on finding relationships between variables at one moment in time.
• Groups identified for study are purposely selected based upon existing differences in the sample rather than seeking random sampling.
• Cross-section studies are capable of using data from a large number of subjects and, unlike observational studies, is not geographically bound.
• Can estimate prevalence of an outcome of interest because the sample is usually taken from the whole population.
• Because cross-sectional designs generally use survey techniques to gather data, they are relatively inexpensive and take up little time to conduct.
• Finding people, subjects, or phenomena to study that are very similar except in one specific variable can be difficult.
• Results are static and time bound and, therefore, give no indication of a sequence of events or reveal historical or temporal contexts.
• Studies cannot be utilized to establish cause and effect relationships.
• This design only provides a snapshot of analysis so there is always the possibility that a study could have differing results if another time-frame had been chosen.
• There is no follow up to the findings.

Bethlehem, Jelke. "7: Cross-sectional Research." In Research Methodology in the Social, Behavioural and Life Sciences . Herman J Adèr and Gideon J Mellenbergh, editors. (London, England: Sage, 1999), pp. 110-43; Bourque, Linda B. “Cross-Sectional Design.” In  The SAGE Encyclopedia of Social Science Research Methods . Michael S. Lewis-Beck, Alan Bryman, and Tim Futing Liao. (Thousand Oaks, CA: 2004), pp. 230-231; Hall, John. “Cross-Sectional Survey Design.” In Encyclopedia of Survey Research Methods . Paul J. Lavrakas, ed. (Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, 2008), pp. 173-174; Helen Barratt, Maria Kirwan. Cross-Sectional Studies: Design Application, Strengths and Weaknesses of Cross-Sectional Studies. Healthknowledge, 2009. Cross-Sectional Study. Wikipedia.

## Descriptive Design

Descriptive research designs help provide answers to the questions of who, what, when, where, and how associated with a particular research problem; a descriptive study cannot conclusively ascertain answers to why. Descriptive research is used to obtain information concerning the current status of the phenomena and to describe "what exists" with respect to variables or conditions in a situation.

• The subject is being observed in a completely natural and unchanged natural environment. True experiments, whilst giving analyzable data, often adversely influence the normal behavior of the subject [a.k.a., the Heisenberg effect whereby measurements of certain systems cannot be made without affecting the systems].
• Descriptive research is often used as a pre-cursor to more quantitative research designs with the general overview giving some valuable pointers as to what variables are worth testing quantitatively.
• If the limitations are understood, they can be a useful tool in developing a more focused study.
• Descriptive studies can yield rich data that lead to important recommendations in practice.
• Appoach collects a large amount of data for detailed analysis.
• The results from a descriptive research cannot be used to discover a definitive answer or to disprove a hypothesis.
• Because descriptive designs often utilize observational methods [as opposed to quantitative methods], the results cannot be replicated.
• The descriptive function of research is heavily dependent on instrumentation for measurement and observation.

Anastas, Jeane W. Research Design for Social Work and the Human Services . Chapter 5, Flexible Methods: Descriptive Research. 2nd ed. New York: Columbia University Press, 1999; Given, Lisa M. "Descriptive Research." In Encyclopedia of Measurement and Statistics . Neil J. Salkind and Kristin Rasmussen, editors. (Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, 2007), pp. 251-254; McNabb, Connie. Descriptive Research Methodologies. Powerpoint Presentation; Shuttleworth, Martyn. Descriptive Research Design, September 26, 2008; Erickson, G. Scott. "Descriptive Research Design." In New Methods of Market Research and Analysis . (Northampton, MA: Edward Elgar Publishing, 2017), pp. 51-77; Sahin, Sagufta, and Jayanta Mete. "A Brief Study on Descriptive Research: Its Nature and Application in Social Science." International Journal of Research and Analysis in Humanities 1 (2021): 11; K. Swatzell and P. Jennings. “Descriptive Research: The Nuts and Bolts.” Journal of the American Academy of Physician Assistants 20 (2007), pp. 55-56; Kane, E. Doing Your Own Research: Basic Descriptive Research in the Social Sciences and Humanities . London: Marion Boyars, 1985.

## Experimental Design

A blueprint of the procedure that enables the researcher to maintain control over all factors that may affect the result of an experiment. In doing this, the researcher attempts to determine or predict what may occur. Experimental research is often used where there is time priority in a causal relationship (cause precedes effect), there is consistency in a causal relationship (a cause will always lead to the same effect), and the magnitude of the correlation is great. The classic experimental design specifies an experimental group and a control group. The independent variable is administered to the experimental group and not to the control group, and both groups are measured on the same dependent variable. Subsequent experimental designs have used more groups and more measurements over longer periods. True experiments must have control, randomization, and manipulation.

• Experimental research allows the researcher to control the situation. In so doing, it allows researchers to answer the question, “What causes something to occur?”
• Permits the researcher to identify cause and effect relationships between variables and to distinguish placebo effects from treatment effects.
• Experimental research designs support the ability to limit alternative explanations and to infer direct causal relationships in the study.
• Approach provides the highest level of evidence for single studies.
• The design is artificial, and results may not generalize well to the real world.
• The artificial settings of experiments may alter the behaviors or responses of participants.
• Experimental designs can be costly if special equipment or facilities are needed.
• Some research problems cannot be studied using an experiment because of ethical or technical reasons.
• Difficult to apply ethnographic and other qualitative methods to experimentally designed studies.

Anastas, Jeane W. Research Design for Social Work and the Human Services . Chapter 7, Flexible Methods: Experimental Research. 2nd ed. New York: Columbia University Press, 1999; Chapter 2: Research Design, Experimental Designs. School of Psychology, University of New England, 2000; Chow, Siu L. "Experimental Design." In Encyclopedia of Research Design . Neil J. Salkind, editor. (Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, 2010), pp. 448-453; "Experimental Design." In Social Research Methods . Nicholas Walliman, editor. (London, England: Sage, 2006), pp, 101-110; Experimental Research. Research Methods by Dummies. Department of Psychology. California State University, Fresno, 2006; Kirk, Roger E. Experimental Design: Procedures for the Behavioral Sciences . 4th edition. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, 2013; Trochim, William M.K. Experimental Design. Research Methods Knowledge Base. 2006; Rasool, Shafqat. Experimental Research. Slideshare presentation.

## Exploratory Design

An exploratory design is conducted about a research problem when there are few or no earlier studies to refer to or rely upon to predict an outcome . The focus is on gaining insights and familiarity for later investigation or undertaken when research problems are in a preliminary stage of investigation. Exploratory designs are often used to establish an understanding of how best to proceed in studying an issue or what methodology would effectively apply to gathering information about the issue.

The goals of exploratory research are intended to produce the following possible insights:

• Familiarity with basic details, settings, and concerns.
• Well grounded picture of the situation being developed.
• Generation of new ideas and assumptions.
• Development of tentative theories or hypotheses.
• Determination about whether a study is feasible in the future.
• Issues get refined for more systematic investigation and formulation of new research questions.
• Direction for future research and techniques get developed.
• Design is a useful approach for gaining background information on a particular topic.
• Exploratory research is flexible and can address research questions of all types (what, why, how).
• Provides an opportunity to define new terms and clarify existing concepts.
• Exploratory research is often used to generate formal hypotheses and develop more precise research problems.
• In the policy arena or applied to practice, exploratory studies help establish research priorities and where resources should be allocated.
• Exploratory research generally utilizes small sample sizes and, thus, findings are typically not generalizable to the population at large.
• The exploratory nature of the research inhibits an ability to make definitive conclusions about the findings. They provide insight but not definitive conclusions.
• The research process underpinning exploratory studies is flexible but often unstructured, leading to only tentative results that have limited value to decision-makers.
• Design lacks rigorous standards applied to methods of data gathering and analysis because one of the areas for exploration could be to determine what method or methodologies could best fit the research problem.

Cuthill, Michael. “Exploratory Research: Citizen Participation, Local Government, and Sustainable Development in Australia.” Sustainable Development 10 (2002): 79-89; Streb, Christoph K. "Exploratory Case Study." In Encyclopedia of Case Study Research . Albert J. Mills, Gabrielle Durepos and Eiden Wiebe, editors. (Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, 2010), pp. 372-374; Taylor, P. J., G. Catalano, and D.R.F. Walker. “Exploratory Analysis of the World City Network.” Urban Studies 39 (December 2002): 2377-2394; Exploratory Research. Wikipedia.

## Field Research Design

Sometimes referred to as ethnography or participant observation, designs around field research encompass a variety of interpretative procedures [e.g., observation and interviews] rooted in qualitative approaches to studying people individually or in groups while inhabiting their natural environment as opposed to using survey instruments or other forms of impersonal methods of data gathering. Information acquired from observational research takes the form of “ field notes ” that involves documenting what the researcher actually sees and hears while in the field. Findings do not consist of conclusive statements derived from numbers and statistics because field research involves analysis of words and observations of behavior. Conclusions, therefore, are developed from an interpretation of findings that reveal overriding themes, concepts, and ideas. More information can be found HERE .

• Field research is often necessary to fill gaps in understanding the research problem applied to local conditions or to specific groups of people that cannot be ascertained from existing data.
• The research helps contextualize already known information about a research problem, thereby facilitating ways to assess the origins, scope, and scale of a problem and to gage the causes, consequences, and means to resolve an issue based on deliberate interaction with people in their natural inhabited spaces.
• Enables the researcher to corroborate or confirm data by gathering additional information that supports or refutes findings reported in prior studies of the topic.
• Because the researcher in embedded in the field, they are better able to make observations or ask questions that reflect the specific cultural context of the setting being investigated.
• Observing the local reality offers the opportunity to gain new perspectives or obtain unique data that challenges existing theoretical propositions or long-standing assumptions found in the literature.

What these studies don't tell you

• A field research study requires extensive time and resources to carry out the multiple steps involved with preparing for the gathering of information, including for example, examining background information about the study site, obtaining permission to access the study site, and building trust and rapport with subjects.
• Requires a commitment to staying engaged in the field to ensure that you can adequately document events and behaviors as they unfold.
• The unpredictable nature of fieldwork means that researchers can never fully control the process of data gathering. They must maintain a flexible approach to studying the setting because events and circumstances can change quickly or unexpectedly.
• Findings can be difficult to interpret and verify without access to documents and other source materials that help to enhance the credibility of information obtained from the field  [i.e., the act of triangulating the data].
• Linking the research problem to the selection of study participants inhabiting their natural environment is critical. However, this specificity limits the ability to generalize findings to different situations or in other contexts or to infer courses of action applied to other settings or groups of people.
• The reporting of findings must take into account how the researcher themselves may have inadvertently affected respondents and their behaviors.

## Historical Design

The purpose of a historical research design is to collect, verify, and synthesize evidence from the past to establish facts that defend or refute a hypothesis. It uses secondary sources and a variety of primary documentary evidence, such as, diaries, official records, reports, archives, and non-textual information [maps, pictures, audio and visual recordings]. The limitation is that the sources must be both authentic and valid.

• The historical research design is unobtrusive; the act of research does not affect the results of the study.
• The historical approach is well suited for trend analysis.
• Historical records can add important contextual background required to more fully understand and interpret a research problem.
• There is often no possibility of researcher-subject interaction that could affect the findings.
• Historical sources can be used over and over to study different research problems or to replicate a previous study.
• The ability to fulfill the aims of your research are directly related to the amount and quality of documentation available to understand the research problem.
• Since historical research relies on data from the past, there is no way to manipulate it to control for contemporary contexts.
• Interpreting historical sources can be very time consuming.
• The sources of historical materials must be archived consistently to ensure access. This may especially challenging for digital or online-only sources.
• Original authors bring their own perspectives and biases to the interpretation of past events and these biases are more difficult to ascertain in historical resources.
• Due to the lack of control over external variables, historical research is very weak with regard to the demands of internal validity.
• It is rare that the entirety of historical documentation needed to fully address a research problem is available for interpretation, therefore, gaps need to be acknowledged.

Howell, Martha C. and Walter Prevenier. From Reliable Sources: An Introduction to Historical Methods . Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2001; Lundy, Karen Saucier. "Historical Research." In The Sage Encyclopedia of Qualitative Research Methods . Lisa M. Given, editor. (Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, 2008), pp. 396-400; Marius, Richard. and Melvin E. Page. A Short Guide to Writing about History . 9th edition. Boston, MA: Pearson, 2015; Savitt, Ronald. “Historical Research in Marketing.” Journal of Marketing 44 (Autumn, 1980): 52-58;  Gall, Meredith. Educational Research: An Introduction . Chapter 16, Historical Research. 8th ed. Boston, MA: Pearson/Allyn and Bacon, 2007.

## Longitudinal Design

A longitudinal study follows the same sample over time and makes repeated observations. For example, with longitudinal surveys, the same group of people is interviewed at regular intervals, enabling researchers to track changes over time and to relate them to variables that might explain why the changes occur. Longitudinal research designs describe patterns of change and help establish the direction and magnitude of causal relationships. Measurements are taken on each variable over two or more distinct time periods. This allows the researcher to measure change in variables over time. It is a type of observational study sometimes referred to as a panel study.

• Longitudinal data facilitate the analysis of the duration of a particular phenomenon.
• Enables survey researchers to get close to the kinds of causal explanations usually attainable only with experiments.
• The design permits the measurement of differences or change in a variable from one period to another [i.e., the description of patterns of change over time].
• Longitudinal studies facilitate the prediction of future outcomes based upon earlier factors.
• The data collection method may change over time.
• Maintaining the integrity of the original sample can be difficult over an extended period of time.
• It can be difficult to show more than one variable at a time.
• This design often needs qualitative research data to explain fluctuations in the results.
• A longitudinal research design assumes present trends will continue unchanged.
• It can take a long period of time to gather results.
• There is a need to have a large sample size and accurate sampling to reach representativness.

Anastas, Jeane W. Research Design for Social Work and the Human Services . Chapter 6, Flexible Methods: Relational and Longitudinal Research. 2nd ed. New York: Columbia University Press, 1999; Forgues, Bernard, and Isabelle Vandangeon-Derumez. "Longitudinal Analyses." In Doing Management Research . Raymond-Alain Thiétart and Samantha Wauchope, editors. (London, England: Sage, 2001), pp. 332-351; Kalaian, Sema A. and Rafa M. Kasim. "Longitudinal Studies." In Encyclopedia of Survey Research Methods . Paul J. Lavrakas, ed. (Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, 2008), pp. 440-441; Menard, Scott, editor. Longitudinal Research . Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, 2002; Ployhart, Robert E. and Robert J. Vandenberg. "Longitudinal Research: The Theory, Design, and Analysis of Change.” Journal of Management 36 (January 2010): 94-120; Longitudinal Study. Wikipedia.

## Meta-Analysis Design

Meta-analysis is an analytical methodology designed to systematically evaluate and summarize the results from a number of individual studies, thereby, increasing the overall sample size and the ability of the researcher to study effects of interest. The purpose is to not simply summarize existing knowledge, but to develop a new understanding of a research problem using synoptic reasoning. The main objectives of meta-analysis include analyzing differences in the results among studies and increasing the precision by which effects are estimated. A well-designed meta-analysis depends upon strict adherence to the criteria used for selecting studies and the availability of information in each study to properly analyze their findings. Lack of information can severely limit the type of analyzes and conclusions that can be reached. In addition, the more dissimilarity there is in the results among individual studies [heterogeneity], the more difficult it is to justify interpretations that govern a valid synopsis of results. A meta-analysis needs to fulfill the following requirements to ensure the validity of your findings:

• Clearly defined description of objectives, including precise definitions of the variables and outcomes that are being evaluated;
• A well-reasoned and well-documented justification for identification and selection of the studies;
• Assessment and explicit acknowledgment of any researcher bias in the identification and selection of those studies;
• Description and evaluation of the degree of heterogeneity among the sample size of studies reviewed; and,
• Justification of the techniques used to evaluate the studies.
• Can be an effective strategy for determining gaps in the literature.
• Provides a means of reviewing research published about a particular topic over an extended period of time and from a variety of sources.
• Is useful in clarifying what policy or programmatic actions can be justified on the basis of analyzing research results from multiple studies.
• Provides a method for overcoming small sample sizes in individual studies that previously may have had little relationship to each other.
• Can be used to generate new hypotheses or highlight research problems for future studies.
• Small violations in defining the criteria used for content analysis can lead to difficult to interpret and/or meaningless findings.
• A large sample size can yield reliable, but not necessarily valid, results.
• A lack of uniformity regarding, for example, the type of literature reviewed, how methods are applied, and how findings are measured within the sample of studies you are analyzing, can make the process of synthesis difficult to perform.
• Depending on the sample size, the process of reviewing and synthesizing multiple studies can be very time consuming.

Beck, Lewis W. "The Synoptic Method." The Journal of Philosophy 36 (1939): 337-345; Cooper, Harris, Larry V. Hedges, and Jeffrey C. Valentine, eds. The Handbook of Research Synthesis and Meta-Analysis . 2nd edition. New York: Russell Sage Foundation, 2009; Guzzo, Richard A., Susan E. Jackson and Raymond A. Katzell. “Meta-Analysis Analysis.” In Research in Organizational Behavior , Volume 9. (Greenwich, CT: JAI Press, 1987), pp 407-442; Lipsey, Mark W. and David B. Wilson. Practical Meta-Analysis . Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, 2001; Study Design 101. Meta-Analysis. The Himmelfarb Health Sciences Library, George Washington University; Timulak, Ladislav. “Qualitative Meta-Analysis.” In The SAGE Handbook of Qualitative Data Analysis . Uwe Flick, editor. (Los Angeles, CA: Sage, 2013), pp. 481-495; Walker, Esteban, Adrian V. Hernandez, and Micheal W. Kattan. "Meta-Analysis: It's Strengths and Limitations." Cleveland Clinic Journal of Medicine 75 (June 2008): 431-439.

## Mixed-Method Design

• Narrative and non-textual information can add meaning to numeric data, while numeric data can add precision to narrative and non-textual information.
• Can utilize existing data while at the same time generating and testing a grounded theory approach to describe and explain the phenomenon under study.
• A broader, more complex research problem can be investigated because the researcher is not constrained by using only one method.
• The strengths of one method can be used to overcome the inherent weaknesses of another method.
• Can provide stronger, more robust evidence to support a conclusion or set of recommendations.
• May generate new knowledge new insights or uncover hidden insights, patterns, or relationships that a single methodological approach might not reveal.
• Produces more complete knowledge and understanding of the research problem that can be used to increase the generalizability of findings applied to theory or practice.
• A researcher must be proficient in understanding how to apply multiple methods to investigating a research problem as well as be proficient in optimizing how to design a study that coherently melds them together.
• Can increase the likelihood of conflicting results or ambiguous findings that inhibit drawing a valid conclusion or setting forth a recommended course of action [e.g., sample interview responses do not support existing statistical data].
• Because the research design can be very complex, reporting the findings requires a well-organized narrative, clear writing style, and precise word choice.
• Design invites collaboration among experts. However, merging different investigative approaches and writing styles requires more attention to the overall research process than studies conducted using only one methodological paradigm.
• Concurrent merging of quantitative and qualitative research requires greater attention to having adequate sample sizes, using comparable samples, and applying a consistent unit of analysis. For sequential designs where one phase of qualitative research builds on the quantitative phase or vice versa, decisions about what results from the first phase to use in the next phase, the choice of samples and estimating reasonable sample sizes for both phases, and the interpretation of results from both phases can be difficult.
• Due to multiple forms of data being collected and analyzed, this design requires extensive time and resources to carry out the multiple steps involved in data gathering and interpretation.

Burch, Patricia and Carolyn J. Heinrich. Mixed Methods for Policy Research and Program Evaluation . Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, 2016; Creswell, John w. et al. Best Practices for Mixed Methods Research in the Health Sciences . Bethesda, MD: Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research, National Institutes of Health, 2010Creswell, John W. Research Design: Qualitative, Quantitative, and Mixed Methods Approaches . 4th edition. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, 2014; Domínguez, Silvia, editor. Mixed Methods Social Networks Research . Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2014; Hesse-Biber, Sharlene Nagy. Mixed Methods Research: Merging Theory with Practice . New York: Guilford Press, 2010; Niglas, Katrin. “How the Novice Researcher Can Make Sense of Mixed Methods Designs.” International Journal of Multiple Research Approaches 3 (2009): 34-46; Onwuegbuzie, Anthony J. and Nancy L. Leech. “Linking Research Questions to Mixed Methods Data Analysis Procedures.” The Qualitative Report 11 (September 2006): 474-498; Tashakorri, Abbas and John W. Creswell. “The New Era of Mixed Methods.” Journal of Mixed Methods Research 1 (January 2007): 3-7; Zhanga, Wanqing. “Mixed Methods Application in Health Intervention Research: A Multiple Case Study.” International Journal of Multiple Research Approaches 8 (2014): 24-35 .

## Observational Design

This type of research design draws a conclusion by comparing subjects against a control group, in cases where the researcher has no control over the experiment. There are two general types of observational designs. In direct observations, people know that you are watching them. Unobtrusive measures involve any method for studying behavior where individuals do not know they are being observed. An observational study allows a useful insight into a phenomenon and avoids the ethical and practical difficulties of setting up a large and cumbersome research project.

• Observational studies are usually flexible and do not necessarily need to be structured around a hypothesis about what you expect to observe [data is emergent rather than pre-existing].
• The researcher is able to collect in-depth information about a particular behavior.
• Can reveal interrelationships among multifaceted dimensions of group interactions.
• You can generalize your results to real life situations.
• Observational research is useful for discovering what variables may be important before applying other methods like experiments.
• Observation research designs account for the complexity of group behaviors.
• Reliability of data is low because seeing behaviors occur over and over again may be a time consuming task and are difficult to replicate.
• In observational research, findings may only reflect a unique sample population and, thus, cannot be generalized to other groups.
• There can be problems with bias as the researcher may only "see what they want to see."
• There is no possibility to determine "cause and effect" relationships since nothing is manipulated.
• Sources or subjects may not all be equally credible.
• Any group that is knowingly studied is altered to some degree by the presence of the researcher, therefore, potentially skewing any data collected.

Atkinson, Paul and Martyn Hammersley. “Ethnography and Participant Observation.” In Handbook of Qualitative Research . Norman K. Denzin and Yvonna S. Lincoln, eds. (Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, 1994), pp. 248-261; Observational Research. Research Methods by Dummies. Department of Psychology. California State University, Fresno, 2006; Patton Michael Quinn. Qualitiative Research and Evaluation Methods . Chapter 6, Fieldwork Strategies and Observational Methods. 3rd ed. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, 2002; Payne, Geoff and Judy Payne. "Observation." In Key Concepts in Social Research . The SAGE Key Concepts series. (London, England: Sage, 2004), pp. 158-162; Rosenbaum, Paul R. Design of Observational Studies . New York: Springer, 2010;Williams, J. Patrick. "Nonparticipant Observation." In The Sage Encyclopedia of Qualitative Research Methods . Lisa M. Given, editor.(Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, 2008), pp. 562-563.

## Philosophical Design

Understood more as an broad approach to examining a research problem than a methodological design, philosophical analysis and argumentation is intended to challenge deeply embedded, often intractable, assumptions underpinning an area of study. This approach uses the tools of argumentation derived from philosophical traditions, concepts, models, and theories to critically explore and challenge, for example, the relevance of logic and evidence in academic debates, to analyze arguments about fundamental issues, or to discuss the root of existing discourse about a research problem. These overarching tools of analysis can be framed in three ways:

• Ontology -- the study that describes the nature of reality; for example, what is real and what is not, what is fundamental and what is derivative?
• Epistemology -- the study that explores the nature of knowledge; for example, by what means does knowledge and understanding depend upon and how can we be certain of what we know?
• Axiology -- the study of values; for example, what values does an individual or group hold and why? How are values related to interest, desire, will, experience, and means-to-end? And, what is the difference between a matter of fact and a matter of value?
• Can provide a basis for applying ethical decision-making to practice.
• Functions as a means of gaining greater self-understanding and self-knowledge about the purposes of research.
• Brings clarity to general guiding practices and principles of an individual or group.
• Philosophy informs methodology.
• Refine concepts and theories that are invoked in relatively unreflective modes of thought and discourse.
• Beyond methodology, philosophy also informs critical thinking about epistemology and the structure of reality (metaphysics).
• Offers clarity and definition to the practical and theoretical uses of terms, concepts, and ideas.
• Limited application to specific research problems [answering the "So What?" question in social science research].
• Analysis can be abstract, argumentative, and limited in its practical application to real-life issues.
• While a philosophical analysis may render problematic that which was once simple or taken-for-granted, the writing can be dense and subject to unnecessary jargon, overstatement, and/or excessive quotation and documentation.
• There are limitations in the use of metaphor as a vehicle of philosophical analysis.
• There can be analytical difficulties in moving from philosophy to advocacy and between abstract thought and application to the phenomenal world.

Burton, Dawn. "Part I, Philosophy of the Social Sciences." In Research Training for Social Scientists . (London, England: Sage, 2000), pp. 1-5; Chapter 4, Research Methodology and Design. Unisa Institutional Repository (UnisaIR), University of South Africa; Jarvie, Ian C., and Jesús Zamora-Bonilla, editors. The SAGE Handbook of the Philosophy of Social Sciences . London: Sage, 2011; Labaree, Robert V. and Ross Scimeca. “The Philosophical Problem of Truth in Librarianship.” The Library Quarterly 78 (January 2008): 43-70; Maykut, Pamela S. Beginning Qualitative Research: A Philosophic and Practical Guide . Washington, DC: Falmer Press, 1994; McLaughlin, Hugh. "The Philosophy of Social Research." In Understanding Social Work Research . 2nd edition. (London: SAGE Publications Ltd., 2012), pp. 24-47; Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy . Metaphysics Research Lab, CSLI, Stanford University, 2013.

## Sequential Design

• The researcher has a limitless option when it comes to sample size and the sampling schedule.
• Due to the repetitive nature of this research design, minor changes and adjustments can be done during the initial parts of the study to correct and hone the research method.
• This is a useful design for exploratory studies.
• There is very little effort on the part of the researcher when performing this technique. It is generally not expensive, time consuming, or workforce intensive.
• Because the study is conducted serially, the results of one sample are known before the next sample is taken and analyzed. This provides opportunities for continuous improvement of sampling and methods of analysis.
• The sampling method is not representative of the entire population. The only possibility of approaching representativeness is when the researcher chooses to use a very large sample size significant enough to represent a significant portion of the entire population. In this case, moving on to study a second or more specific sample can be difficult.
• The design cannot be used to create conclusions and interpretations that pertain to an entire population because the sampling technique is not randomized. Generalizability from findings is, therefore, limited.
• Difficult to account for and interpret variation from one sample to another over time, particularly when using qualitative methods of data collection.

Betensky, Rebecca. Harvard University, Course Lecture Note slides; Bovaird, James A. and Kevin A. Kupzyk. "Sequential Design." In Encyclopedia of Research Design . Neil J. Salkind, editor. (Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, 2010), pp. 1347-1352; Cresswell, John W. Et al. “Advanced Mixed-Methods Research Designs.” In Handbook of Mixed Methods in Social and Behavioral Research . Abbas Tashakkori and Charles Teddle, eds. (Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, 2003), pp. 209-240; Henry, Gary T. "Sequential Sampling." In The SAGE Encyclopedia of Social Science Research Methods . Michael S. Lewis-Beck, Alan Bryman and Tim Futing Liao, editors. (Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, 2004), pp. 1027-1028; Nataliya V. Ivankova. “Using Mixed-Methods Sequential Explanatory Design: From Theory to Practice.” Field Methods 18 (February 2006): 3-20; Bovaird, James A. and Kevin A. Kupzyk. “Sequential Design.” In Encyclopedia of Research Design . Neil J. Salkind, ed. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, 2010; Sequential Analysis. Wikipedia.

## Systematic Review

• A systematic review synthesizes the findings of multiple studies related to each other by incorporating strategies of analysis and interpretation intended to reduce biases and random errors.
• The application of critical exploration, evaluation, and synthesis methods separates insignificant, unsound, or redundant research from the most salient and relevant studies worthy of reflection.
• They can be use to identify, justify, and refine hypotheses, recognize and avoid hidden problems in prior studies, and explain data inconsistencies and conflicts in data.
• Systematic reviews can be used to help policy makers formulate evidence-based guidelines and regulations.
• The use of strict, explicit, and pre-determined methods of synthesis, when applied appropriately, provide reliable estimates about the effects of interventions, evaluations, and effects related to the overarching research problem investigated by each study under review.
• Systematic reviews illuminate where knowledge or thorough understanding of a research problem is lacking and, therefore, can then be used to guide future research.
• The accepted inclusion of unpublished studies [i.e., grey literature] ensures the broadest possible way to analyze and interpret research on a topic.
• Results of the synthesis can be generalized and the findings extrapolated into the general population with more validity than most other types of studies .
• Systematic reviews do not create new knowledge per se; they are a method for synthesizing existing studies about a research problem in order to gain new insights and determine gaps in the literature.
• The way researchers have carried out their investigations [e.g., the period of time covered, number of participants, sources of data analyzed, etc.] can make it difficult to effectively synthesize studies.
• The inclusion of unpublished studies can introduce bias into the review because they may not have undergone a rigorous peer-review process prior to publication. Examples may include conference presentations or proceedings, publications from government agencies, white papers, working papers, and internal documents from organizations, and doctoral dissertations and Master's theses.

Denyer, David and David Tranfield. "Producing a Systematic Review." In The Sage Handbook of Organizational Research Methods .  David A. Buchanan and Alan Bryman, editors. ( Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, 2009), pp. 671-689; Foster, Margaret J. and Sarah T. Jewell, editors. Assembling the Pieces of a Systematic Review: A Guide for Librarians . Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield, 2017; Gough, David, Sandy Oliver, James Thomas, editors. Introduction to Systematic Reviews . 2nd edition. Los Angeles, CA: Sage Publications, 2017; Gopalakrishnan, S. and P. Ganeshkumar. “Systematic Reviews and Meta-analysis: Understanding the Best Evidence in Primary Healthcare.” Journal of Family Medicine and Primary Care 2 (2013): 9-14; Gough, David, James Thomas, and Sandy Oliver. "Clarifying Differences between Review Designs and Methods." Systematic Reviews 1 (2012): 1-9; Khan, Khalid S., Regina Kunz, Jos Kleijnen, and Gerd Antes. “Five Steps to Conducting a Systematic Review.” Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine 96 (2003): 118-121; Mulrow, C. D. “Systematic Reviews: Rationale for Systematic Reviews.” BMJ 309:597 (September 1994); O'Dwyer, Linda C., and Q. Eileen Wafford. "Addressing Challenges with Systematic Review Teams through Effective Communication: A Case Report." Journal of the Medical Library Association 109 (October 2021): 643-647; Okoli, Chitu, and Kira Schabram. "A Guide to Conducting a Systematic Literature Review of Information Systems Research."  Sprouts: Working Papers on Information Systems 10 (2010); Siddaway, Andy P., Alex M. Wood, and Larry V. Hedges. "How to Do a Systematic Review: A Best Practice Guide for Conducting and Reporting Narrative Reviews, Meta-analyses, and Meta-syntheses." Annual Review of Psychology 70 (2019): 747-770; Torgerson, Carole J. “Publication Bias: The Achilles’ Heel of Systematic Reviews?” British Journal of Educational Studies 54 (March 2006): 89-102; Torgerson, Carole. Systematic Reviews . New York: Continuum, 2003.

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• Planning to Write

## Q: What do I include in chapter one of my research project?

The introduction forms the first chapter or first section of any research project that you write, whether it is a project proposal, project report, thesis, or a journal article. Since you have used the word "chapter," I assume that you are referring to a project proposal/report or thesis.

Typically, chapter one of a research project proposal or thesis includes the following components:

• Study background
• Statement of the problem
• Purpose of the study
• Research question(s)
• Significance of the study
• Definition of terms
• Theoretical framework (not required for project proposal/report)
• Limitations of the study
• Basic assumptions
• Organization of the thesis (not required for project proposal/report)

For more detailed guidance, you can consider taking our course A simple guide on how to write a thesis .

Answered by Editage Insights on 23 Sep, 2019

This content belongs to the Conducting Research Stage

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## Choosing & Using Sources: A Guide to Academic Research

(48 reviews)

Cheryl Lowry, Ohio State University

Publisher: Ohio State University Libraries

Language: English

## Formats Available

Conditions of use.

Reviewed by Elbert Davis, Assistant Professor, Marshall University on 10/24/21

The author does an incredible job in explaining the research process, from choosing a research question to how to search for sources (and citing those sources), and more. There are relevant self-check quizzes throughout the book to check for... read more

Comprehensiveness rating: 5 see less

The author does an incredible job in explaining the research process, from choosing a research question to how to search for sources (and citing those sources), and more. There are relevant self-check quizzes throughout the book to check for understanding, along with other supplemental resources. As the book was published through The Ohio State University, some of the sources are only available to OSU students, but the author makes it clear when this is the case.

Content Accuracy rating: 5

The author did an excellent job with the accuracy of the book, Two specific examples that stood out: taking care to mention that Wikipedia is a great as a starting point, but not as an endpoint for research. Lowry also clearly explained that educational use did not automatically mean fair use, which seems to be an issue with students and faculty alike.

Relevance/Longevity rating: 5

The book should remain relevant in years to come, as academic research seems to follow the same basic pattern. The only issue would be if The Ohio State University changes the links used in the book, although I expect these to be easy to update. The book would still be able to be used without the supplemental links though.

Clarity rating: 5

The book seems to be targeting an introductory audience. Lowry does a great job of breaking down the jargon of academic research into plain English for the beginning researcher.

Consistency rating: 5

I thought the author used approprate terminology for a student learning about academic research.

Modularity rating: 5

The book is designed into specific chapters for the different aspects of choosing a source. While there are specific sections devoted to The Ohio State University library, I would not expect to have any trouble assigning the other chapters in my courses.

Organization/Structure/Flow rating: 5

The author started at the beginning, with how to design a research question before going into choosing a source, which gave good background knowledge.

Interface rating: 5

Grammatical Errors rating: 5

No grammatical errors were noted.

Cultural Relevance rating: 5

Nothing offensive was in the book.

I have a difficult time in getting beginning graduate student to understand the different types of sources and fair use. I think using most chapters of this book would help a great deal in that comprehension.

Reviewed by Kelly LeFave, Instructor, Portland Community College on 6/15/21

This student friendly overview of academic research, including a strong focus on information literacy, covers many of the salient points that college level writing and writing for research classes curricula contain, making it a strong choice as a... read more

Comprehensiveness rating: 4 see less

This student friendly overview of academic research, including a strong focus on information literacy, covers many of the salient points that college level writing and writing for research classes curricula contain, making it a strong choice as a comprehensive and useful overview. Chapters include enough depth of coverage to make the leap from information to practice for students; self-directed activities are provided to check knowledge, work through concept applications, and offer more specifics. The book provides an easy-to-navigate Table of Contents, but an Index and Glossary do not seem to be available.

Content Accuracy rating: 4

Some errors appear that a thorough proofread would catch. Some resources may need to be updated since information practices and modes change so quickly; some references and links direct students to OSU information that would not apply to all readers.

Relevance/Longevity rating: 4

The book’s topic – academic research – necessarily demands constant updating given our fast-changing digital landscape and the shifting paradigms we are witnessing for locating and evaluating information in our times. Resources can become obsolete fairly quickly in this environment. The book’s content is largely up-to-date, though a thorough review of linked resources, perhaps annually, would be beneficial. For instance, a video on RSS mentioned a Google feature that looks to be no longer available, though finding alternatives proves simple when searched online. The book’s organization makes updating or replacing linked resources easy, so keeping the content relevant would be straightforward with regular review.

Content is presented in a style engaging for students, using the “you” pronoun address to walk readers through a thinking process that applies and links ideas to practice; this effective approach is used for many of the book’s concepts. The writing strikes a good stylistic balance between engaging the student reader and informing/challenging that same reader by modeling research brainstorming or methods. The style seems appropriate for college level readers and college level curricula. The topic of academic research does include some technical terms at times, but the book’s approach is to define and explain such terms a part of its content.

Stylistically and organizationally, the content is consistent and easy-to-follow. A user begins to anticipate knowledge check activities or “try it out” activities at particular points in each section. The knowledge check quizzes, which are simplified multiple choice questions, seem at odds with the highly contextualized concept explanations in much of the book’s prose; perhaps a different approach to knowledge check quizzing, which as an element can be helpful, would work better.

Modularity rating: 4

Headings and subheadings follow a logical organization and are easy to navigate in the book. Some sections do refer to—and link to—other book sections, but most would work as stand-alone modules. An instructor or course designer could pick and choose sections and adapt them for their own purposes. As a whole, the book remains self-referential to the context of a specific university, which limits the easy adaptation of the book, and perhaps even sections, for faculty and course designers at other educational institutions.

The book’s organization is easy to navigate and coheres with the overall focus on presenting academic research and information literacy in a way that invites students toward a practical and fuller understanding. Topic order makes sense and is organized via headings and subheadings well.

Overall, no significant navigation issues or interface distractions.

A few errors that look like typos remain in the book. Otherwise, grammatical errors are not an issue for readability.

Cultural Relevance rating: 4

A more nuanced and inclusive awareness of cultural relevance and diversity is worth considering for the book. The choice of some example topics, such as school shootings, might be distracting or traumatic for some student populations, while adding more examples that showcase interests or topics related to non-dominant cultural ideas would widen the sense of inclusivity throughout the book. Choices might be contingent on the demographics of the Ohio State University population, but more awareness of this aspect of the book might also make it more appealing as a resource for others to adapt

Reviewed by Nell McCabe, Associate Professor, Berkshire Community College on 6/15/21

This text is very-student friendly and covers all aspects of writing a student research paper, including steps that students frequently overlook such as the value of preliminary research and the different ways to incorporate different kinds of... read more

This text is very-student friendly and covers all aspects of writing a student research paper, including steps that students frequently overlook such as the value of preliminary research and the different ways to incorporate different kinds of information in a paper.

This text provides a well-balanced, research-driven approach to guiding students through the process of writing an academic research paper. Spelling mistakes, flaw grammar and usage, and factual errors are few and far between (as in I didn't find any during the course of this review).

Kinds of sources and the means of evaluating them are broad enough to be long-lasting, but the examples and other supporting details are timely and relevant.

This text uses student-friendly language and avoids jargon and other symptoms of academia run amok, while still maintaining high standards and expectations for students. Connections between the different stages of conducting research and developing an argument are well laid out and clear.

Terms associated with locating, evaluating, and incorporating a range of different kinds of sources are clear and consistent throughout the text.

The chapters do stand alone and I could image someone using bits and pieces or leaving out bits and pieces, but since the text is primarily focused on supporting the needs of a college research throughout the research process, it is hard to image much need for separating it into discrete modules. You could certainly rearrange the order of the chapters too if that worked better for your approach to teaching student research.

The flow of one chapter into the next is well-integrated and smooth. The order of the chapters

I had no issues with the interface; everything worked as expected.

Cultural Relevance rating: 3

The book does not go out of its way to make obviously inclusive examples. Increasing the cultural perspectives represented in the examples would enhance the overall value of this text.

Reviewed by Darci Adolf, Director of Library & Media Services, Oregon Coast Community College on 6/11/21

I found "Choosing and Using Sources" to be quite comprehensive and included the major areas that I cover in my LIB 101 Research skills class. In my class I like to cover each area of Eisenberg's Big6 Research model: Task definition, information... read more

I found "Choosing and Using Sources" to be quite comprehensive and included the major areas that I cover in my LIB 101 Research skills class. In my class I like to cover each area of Eisenberg's Big6 Research model: Task definition, information seeking strategies, location and access, use of information, synthesis, and evaluation. I was pleased to find the subject of synthesis covered under the writing chapter-- many research textbooks leave this out. I did not find anything that talked about Evaluation of the process and product. Also, I would've liked to have seen social justice and equity issues in information publishing and access addressed as a chapter or portion of a chapter. The textbook has a great Table of Contents, but no index.

This textbook seems to contain accurate and error-free content. I spot-checked most of the chapters and didn't find anything I didn't believe to be true, and links weren't broken. Because this book is mostly factual in nature, there aren't areas where an author's opinion was used over facts, and opinions seem to be be appropriate and unbiased. For example, the author remarks on the use of blogs in research: "Blogs – Frequently updated websites that do not necessarily require extensive technical skills and can be published by virtually anyone for no cost to themselves other than the time they devote to content creation." This is a wide-held belief among librarians.

The content appeared to be up-to-date throughout the book. The area that might change the quickest is the types of sources, Chapter 2 in the book. They did a good job including an overview of all of the major source types and should stay relevant for a good period of time. Because they've listed these source types in a single chapter, updates to the text should be fairly straight forward and easy to do without disturbing much of the rest of the book.

Clarity rating: 4

The text was clear to me, a seasoned librarian. But I think there were terms used throughout the textbook that might not be familiar to a student first starting out in library research. So I would add some clarification around some of the language if I were using this textbook for a lower-level class. For example: There are several types of specialized databases listed including: Bibliographic, Full-text, Multimedia, etc. Many first year students wouldn't know those terms, or others such as "circulation, World-cat, discharge, InterLibrary Loan" and so forth.

The text was consistent throughout in terms of terminology and the overall frame. As I mentioned previously, some of the terms might need to be defined for the first-year student, either in-text or in a separate glossary. The framework is well-done, with clear chapters and sections--it was definitely written by those who teach research at the college level.

The textbook has 13 chapters that are again sub-divided into six or more sub-topics. This makes it very easy for an instructor to pick and choose which topics to cover. The thirteen broader subjects makes it easy to use the entire textbook for a term-- or just choose the pieces you want to use. For example, I would use the "Ethical Use and Citing Sources" chapter if I were doing a one-shot in a classroom, but might choose to use most of the chapters for an online class.

The structure was easy to follow. If I were setting it up myself, I'd probably combine the chapters on Ethical Use of Sources (Ethical Use and Citing Sources, Why Cite Sources, and Challenges in Citing Sources) with the chapter on "How to Cite Sources," but it's easier to have them separate and combine them for a class than to have a big block of text that would make it difficult to work through.

The textbook online version was done in Wordpress, and was easy to view and navigate. There were several other choices for students, including a PDF that could be viewed off line. There were charts, graphs, and links throughout that added to the content, but not so much as to be distracting. Any visuals were simple and enough white space was left as to not overwhelm, with colors that were contrasting visually.

I spot-checked throughout the text in each chapter and did not find any grammatical errors.

The textbook seemed to be inclusive of all races, ethnicities, and backgrounds.

Ohio State University has included a lot of links to their own pages, handouts, and resources that would need to be changed or omitted by a new user. For example, they have a handout from the OSU Writing Center, and they link to the OSU World Cat platform. These would need to be changed by the adopter.

Reviewed by Kaia Henrickson, Assistant Professor of Library & Information Science, Information Literacy Librarian, University of Alaska, Southeast on 11/4/20, updated 12/16/20

This text does a good job highlighting the steps in the research process, from formulating a strong research question, to finding and evaluating sources, to incorporating ideas from research into writing, and finally, to citing and using sources... read more

This text does a good job highlighting the steps in the research process, from formulating a strong research question, to finding and evaluating sources, to incorporating ideas from research into writing, and finally, to citing and using sources properly. Each chapter can stand on its own as useful content for a research-based course, or the entire text could be used to walk students through the entire research and writing process. Based on tutorials created for Ohio State University Libraries, some sections, like Chapter 5 on search tools as well as some of the activities, are fairly specific to OSU. Still, much of the text and many of the activities are applicable to all student researchers. This would be a great base text for someone who wanted to remix and add in information from their own university library and student service supports to replace the OSU-focused sections.

The material is accurate overall.

Text content, as well as videos and activities, are fairly current. Sections are small, so making updates should be fairly easy.

While the text is generally clear, there are sections that are a bit cumbersome or wordy. The Evaluating Sources section, especially, seems overly complicated.

References and links to other helpful sections within the text are appropriate and useful. Key concepts and ideas are repeated and built upon as the text progresses.

Each chapter is divided into manageable sections, and there are few sections which require a lot of scrolling. Those that are longer are broken up by subheadings. Embedded video content, visuals, and boxes are used to break up the text for easier reading and more visual appeal.

The text clearly progresses through the steps in the research and writing process from start to finish, but it can also be accessed by section if a particular subtopic is all that is needed. Each chapter stands on its own, as well as being integrated into the whole.

Interface rating: 3

The web version of the text has no paragraph indents or lines of space between paragraphs, which makes it a bit difficult to read, especially when there are longer blocks of text. There are many videos included that only have automatically-created closed captions (and a few with no closed captions available at all). A few of the graphics are blurry, but most visual and audiovisual content is clear and easy to read. With some of the linked activities, it is unclear what to do when you have selected an incorrect answer, and there is not much feedback for students who answer questions incorrectly.

Grammatical Errors rating: 4

There are a few typos and other minor issues here and there in the text. Some of the linked activities have more significant errors.

The text is not culturally insensitive, but it also doesn't present much in the way of diversity in examples or ideas. In addition, there is a noticeable amount content that is focused on Ohio State University resources and students, and this may not be relevant for readers from other universities.

Reviewed by Marybeth Beller, Associate Professor, Marshall University on 3/13/20

The book provides a thorough review of the research process; that said, a professor will have to add discipline-specific information and requirements, such as expected citation practices and research methods. read more

The book provides a thorough review of the research process; that said, a professor will have to add discipline-specific information and requirements, such as expected citation practices and research methods.

I found no errors in the text.

I will use this book for my undergraduate research course as it gives a very good introduction to research, from narrowing the topic to turning questions into hypotheses.

The book is very clear and provides graphs, links and videos for the reader to have additional information as needed.

Each chapter is organized similarly to the others and is written in the same easy-to-follow, technical-free language. It removes any inhibitions a reader might have.

Each chapter section has its own heading and link. The entire book could be assigned or sections of the book could be just as easily assigned. A drop-down table of contents menu allows the reader to move freely between topics.

This guide is beautifully organized for the beginning researcher but can easily be followed through the table of contents for students needed refreshers on particular elements of research.

I found no interface issues at all in navigating the book.

There were no grammatical errors in the text.

I believe the book would be welcomed by a diverse group of people. There is no insensitive language or use of poor examples in the book.

I really enjoyed the organization of the book and that the author takes the time to include links to additional information as well as videos for students who want to spend more time with a particular concept.

Reviewed by Racheal Rothrock, Assistant Professor, Miami University on 2/28/20

The text is comprehensive in its covering of topics related to choosing and using sources, though it does not go into great depth for each topic. Rather this text provides a broad overview around the topic of sources. This text seems to be written... read more

The text is comprehensive in its covering of topics related to choosing and using sources, though it does not go into great depth for each topic. Rather this text provides a broad overview around the topic of sources. This text seems to be written for an upper-level, undergraduate student audience. No glossary is provided.

This information is presented in an unbiased way that informs on the topic rather than presenting a strong bias or slant toward a particular type of source (though, there is cultural bias—see review comments in “cultural” section). The text does provide details on what approaches might be more helpful in certain situations. This provides a balance of usefulness for students trying to determine which sources to use, while also not assigning value to some sources over others or create a hierarchy.

Relevance/Longevity rating: 3

The text demonstrates a current understanding around the topic of sources, taking into account the shift away from paper and toward digital sources. While overall this text should be useful for several years, there are some areas that may require updating (e.g. links, OSU policies or statements, specifics about various citation styles, software options available, copyright laws, etc.). Throughout the text, the authors do depend on examples that are specific to OSU (e.g. a section on “WorldCat@OSU”), and this might provide less useful for non-OSU students.

The text is written with simple language and explanations are given for more technical terminology (e.g. peer-reviewed, quantitative, qualitative, etc.).

Little specialized terminology is used throughout the text, however, the language and terminology used is consistent throughout. The format, structure, and approach the authors use, is also consistent throughout the text and forms a cohesive narrative.

The text is broken up by main topics and then within each topic, subtopics are provided to support the main topic. The length of each subtopic is fairly brief and examples are provided throughout with graphical separation for clarity. While the topics and subtopics support each other, each subtopic could be assigned individually and would maintain usefulness.

Organization/Structure/Flow rating: 4

Overall, the organization is logical and clear. There are a few topics that might be shifted in their order, but this is not a critical need. For instance, moving the information about copyright closer to the section on ethical use of sources might make sense, but does not overly disrupt the general flow of the text.

There are no significant issues. A fixed bar at the bottom of the screen allows for navigation to pages directly preceding and proceeding the current page and a clickable contents button at the top right side of the page allows further navigation between sections. Overall, visuals do not appear to be distorted, however, many of the visuals are quite large, taking up the majority of the screen, and could be reduced in size without losing effectiveness. Additionally, on pages 9 and 11, a graphic is presented that contains text that is too small to read. While it is not necessary to read the text in the visual in order to understand the lesson of the section, because it is provided, it would be reasonable to make this large enough to be legible.

The text seems to be free of any major grammatical errors.

This text is written from an academic, western cultural perspective that is relevant to the particular topic and audience (i.e. “A guide to academic research”), but does not take into other ontological or epistemological scholarly perspectives (e.g. testimonios or oral histories as significant sources). The visuals and examples do privilege the U.S. and mainstream cultures, such as through a photo of a White woman using her Mac computer in a library, a photo of a football team, an illustration with the U.S. flag in it, an example question of “How has NASA helped America,” an example opinion of “George Clooney is the sexiest actor alive,” etc. The text is not overtly insensitive or offensive, but it also does not appear to take up or address non-dominant perspectives and cultures in any substantive way.

Reviewed by Audrey Besch, Temporary Faculty , East Tennessee State University on 10/31/19

This text is very comprehensive! From choosing sources to the final research project, this book does a wonderful job of providing all the steps. read more

This text is very comprehensive! From choosing sources to the final research project, this book does a wonderful job of providing all the steps.

Information is accurate for the purposes of writing research and using sources.

Up-to-date and relevant, this text does a good job of outlining various types of sources that can be used and the appropriate ways in which to use them.

Very easy to read content that would be great for students, especially those who are just starting the academic writing process for research.

The text remained consistent in it's use of terminology and framework.

Text has an appropriate use of subheadings and includes activity sections that focus on concepts. Material was broken into easy to grasp ways that didn't seem too lengthy.

Content is well organized and in a logical format for the content provided.

Book did not have any navigation issues and all images were appropriately used for content.

To the extent of my knowledge, there were no grammatical errors in this text.

There were no culturally insensitive issues or offensive language in this text that I could find.

Reviewed by Kris Frykman, Community Faculty, Minnesota State University System on 10/18/19

Comprehensive overview, with examples, to punctuate learning. read more

Comprehensive overview, with examples, to punctuate learning.

Clear, accurate process in showcasing academic research.

Appropriate book for researchers of all levels.

Chapter follow-up questions and videos are included to further enhance clarity.

Terminology and examples are included to further make the content accessible for the reader.

The book is divided in sections so that students can study and apply one concept at a time.

Content is clearly organized.

Charts, diagrams, examples, and videos are highlighted to exemplify key contents.

No discernable grammatical errors.

Appropriately culturally sensitive.

Reviewed by TyRee Jenks, Research Librarian & Library Instruction Coordinator, Montana State University - Billings on 7/31/19

The text is very comprehensive and covers all the necessary aspects of information literacy and student research. There is no index or glossary included, but terms are well explained within the text. The extensive coverage of topics, like types... read more

The text is very comprehensive and covers all the necessary aspects of information literacy and student research. There is no index or glossary included, but terms are well explained within the text. The extensive coverage of topics, like types of sources and copyright, was thorough while not being so in-depth as to bore students. The activities, quizzes, and short videos reinforce the concepts covered in the chapters and add interest, however some quizzes would benefit from additional explanation as to why answers are right or wrong.

The content of the text seems to be accurate. Very minor spelling errors and a copy/paste duplicate. No apparent bias.

Content is up to date and relevant for students while being broad enough to be useful for a longer period of time. Updating information would be easy. The text contains a lot of hyperlinks that an instructor would need to stay on top of to keep the links current. In some cases the links were to very reliable sources that will remain stable for a long time (i.e. Purdue OWL) while others are more transient (i.e. YouTube videos).

In general the text is clear, including good explanations of terms and concepts. It contains very little jargon and the prose is accessible. In “The Details Are Tricky” section, the finer points of primary, secondary, or tertiary information could be confusing to students who are trying to comprehend the basics. The author’s inclusion of informative tables with sample responses as well as the blank template for students to use was helpful.

There is consistent use of terminology and layout throughout the text.

The book has good modularity, excellent graphics, and the text and/or activities can easily be used at the point of need in an information literacy class or one that is discipline specific. Chapters can be used individually or rearranged as needed.

Overall the organizational flow worked well, however the chapters on copyright and fair use might make more sense when grouped with the chapters on the ethical use of sources and how to cite sources.

There are no major grammatical errors that would be distracting to the reader.

The text is applicable to students in all disciplines, and there are no concerns about cultural relevance or insensitivity. The text is heavily OSU centric (i.e. referencing the OSU code of conduct and requiring students to log in to OSU resources for some activities and examples) and requires effort on the part of instructors at other institutions to make the necessary changes making the content applicable at their institution.

With modifications this text could be incorporated into a three credit information literacy course for undergraduates or into other disciplines. The fair use and copyright sections could be useful to instructors as well as students. Could easily integrate with the ACRL Framework. There is some great general information on writing and making an argument that are applicable across disciplines.

Reviewed by Eric Bradley, Research and Instruction Librarian, Goshen College on 5/31/19

The focus of the book is on published sources for college level research and writing. In this area it is comprehensive. It does not address other areas of academic research. read more

The focus of the book is on published sources for college level research and writing. In this area it is comprehensive. It does not address other areas of academic research.

The content is accurate, error-free, and politically neutral. The last piece makes this a excellent source in the current United States political climate.

Content reflects the current realities of the information landscape. Several of the chapters use up-to-date wording that may need to be updated more frequently, but the excellent modularity of the text allows for accommodation.

The book is straight forward and uses contemporary language of the information and academic landscapes.

The text follows a consistent framework throughout the book.

The text is divided in a way to teach across a course. While the text builds upon itself, many of the chapters stand alone well. I have skipped several chapters of the text and it has not caused any disruption with students.

Excellent organization. The text guides the reader step by step through the research process.

Interface rating: 4

The overall interface is strong. The images and charts are excellent, although the use of branded logos in some of the images may become dated.

No grammatical errors noted.

The text is focused on academic research practices for a North American context. While not culturally insensitive or offensive in any way, it does not take into consideration research practices of other cultures.

I use this text as a replacement of Booth et al.’s Craft of Research. Beside the benefits of being a open textbook, this text provides a more relevant guide to finding sources in the current academic environment.

Reviewed by Kathleen Murphy, Coordinator and Assistant Professor of Music Thearpy, Loyola University-New Orleans on 4/30/19

This book includes all relevant information to help students choose appropriate sources for an academic research paper. It clearly defines different types of sources that can be used, and the difference between primary and secondary sources. It... read more

This book includes all relevant information to help students choose appropriate sources for an academic research paper. It clearly defines different types of sources that can be used, and the difference between primary and secondary sources. It gives an overview of how to search various databases, and defines and describes boolean operators. The chapter on ethical uses of sources clearly defines plagiarism and how and when to cite so as to avoid plagiarizing. The chapter on copyright is an excellent addition; that information is not common in many texts related to academic writing. Each chapter contains extra activities students can work on independently to help with understanding and application of the material covered.

Overall, I found the book to be accurate. I did find one error in Chapter 7. In the section titled "Challenges in Citing Sources" the entry labeled "Running out of Time" was repeated. In regards to bias--I did not find the content to be biased; however, the majority of links where students could go to get extra information were connected to Ohio State University. The one notable exception were the links to the Perdue Online Writing Lab.

The content is up-to-date and relevant. Choosing and using sources for an academic paper has not changed much. What has changed is how to access and find the sources to choose and use. This book does a nice job of explaining how to find sources--databases, google scholar, and search engines. My only concern is the frequent suggestion to search Wikipedia. As an academic, I find this a little troubling. To the author's credit, they did not that one should not cite Wikipedia or use information from Wikipedia in an academic paper. I am not able to comment on ease of updating information, as that is a technical issue.

The book is written in clear, accessible language, with limited "jargon." At times I found the writing to be too simple, written more for high school students than college students. Definitions are provided for all relevant terms.

The book is internally consistent. It moves through the process of choosing and using sources in a linear fashion. However, to their credit, the authors note that writing an academic research paper is not always a linear process.

Each chapter is broken up into smaller units that cover a topic relevant to the chapter theme. Sections of this book could be assigned as individual assignments based on areas of difficultly students seem to be having. Alternatively, a professor could develop a class session or two around each of the chapters. These book seems to be very versatile; there are links to previous chapters that readers can click on to refresh their memories.

The topics in the text are presented in a logical and clear way. The book moves through each topic associated with choosing and using sources in sequence that most researchers would follow. The table of contents, with main headings and subtopics provide a step-by-step guide to help undergraduate students through the research process.

I did not fine any grammatical or mechanical errors. I think the book is well-written and appropriate for high school students. I think the language may be too simplistic for most college students.

I did not come across anything that was culturally insensitive or offensive in any way.

I think this book is an excellent resource for high school students, and maybe college freshman who need help in choosing and using sources for an academic paper. The book is logical, gives an overview of the process and provides excellent examples and extra activities to enhance learning. I think it also could be used as a self-study guide.

Reviewed by Miguel Valderrama, Adjunct Assistant Professor, New York City College of Technology on 4/7/19

This book is a great resource of all steps needed to be taken in an academic research process. The book's index clearly displays a suggested methodology to follow and makes it easier to comeback for the review of previous chapters. In general the... read more

This book is a great resource of all steps needed to be taken in an academic research process. The book's index clearly displays a suggested methodology to follow and makes it easier to comeback for the review of previous chapters. In general the book is easy to read and every time a new world or a particular terminology related to the topic comes up, it is clearly defined and put into context.

This book collects a series of methodologies that have been proven to be efficient when they are put into use during the process of academic research. These techniques are not only presented and described to the readers, they are also actively used in the various examples, pretty much in every chapter in the book. These techniques may not be the only way a person can start and develop a research process but they are certainly a clear and convenient way to do so for beginners. There may be complex terminology entered to the discussion which may slow down the reading process. However, this is effectively addressed by separated easy to access links; This provide more in detail definitions and exercises from a particular section.

This book is a guide that presents many particularities of research methods and techniques that have been used for long time. These methodologies have been proven to be very effective in academic research. This book not only collects many of these techniques but carefully relate them to new searching tools that are part of the communication era we live in nowadays. This was not the case just couple of decades ago. I anticipate long life to the methodologies presented in this text with years or decades before they could become obsolete. Within this context, the searching tools may keep changing but the methodologies that are used here could keep working efficiently; at least as a way to approach to a research process for an undergrad student.

The author uses a clear and easy way to understand the language and terminology that makes part of a research process. Without getting too deep into technical terminology the book marks clearly words that deserve more understanding and usually provides separate links which connects the reader with a deeper explanation. The text doesn't have very large paragraphs all around which to me allows readers to keep a good and dynamic paste. Links to previous discussed topics presents a quick way to review previous content without loosing the paste.

Consistency rating: 4

Through out the entire text it is consistent that at the beginning of every chapter there's a statement related to what the previous set of contents was, also in several parts of the book this first paragraph makes a point about how this relates to what it is about to be presented in that chapter. This is why several words allusive to the subject of research are reuse constantly in different chapters. This makes lots of sense to me as a way to keep the reader's familiarity with these terms which will also ended up increasing retentivity levels in the subject. Since the book is clearly broken down into steps they all seemed to be well placed in order to present a cohesive structure that guides the process of research.

Academic research it is a process that should be flexible by nature in many ways. Even though some parts of the process could be done simultaneously to others, this will definitely not apply to all of them. This book brings up an interesting way to order this process which even though may look rigid at times it tries to make sure that some parts are developed before others in the research. It is presented that way so that there's enough understanding of the bases before there can be any progression or even conclusions. This is mostly reflected in the techniques that are presented, where some of then have as their main job to detonate creative thinking. For example: the importance of the set of questions that are asked at the beginning is that the answers will be used mostly to clarify the end goals of a research.

This text is organized following a clear and efficient way to develop an academic research process. It is well distributed in chapters that are all connected to each other in one or other way. The book is efficient at establishing this connections, specially at the beginning and end of every chapter where there's mentioning of the previous and following topic's main ideas. This helps readers to keep track with the overall content.

This book presents an excellent graphic approach to expose its content. The electronic version has the really nice feature of having the index accessible at any point of the reading process. This text is full of links that are either deeper explanations of a particular topic or a set of exercises that are directly related to what the reader is learning. If the idea was to present the information in a format that doesn't look congested to the eyes and that it is not distracting the reader from the important ideas, the editors made an excellent job. This book can't be easier to read, follow through and understand.

Besides a couple of punctuation spaces here and then I was not able to perceive any major grammatical errors. The book is well written all around. Punctuation is pretty much excellent and its composition keeps the reader in track with the content effectible.

Particularly the topics used as examples were very diverse in therms of gender allusion, cultural backgrounds and specialized fields. Research is a process that apply to all disciplines and the professionals working in them. This makes the research process a particularly broad one. The book makes efforts to present this idea by using numerous examples that connect with different segments of the population at numerous levels.

This books is an excellent tool available to anyone who wishes to start a serious research process in almost any particular professional area or field, even amateur researchers can benefit from its content. The book was written to merge the topic content with a series of exercises, tests and examples using a cohesive testing dynamic that helps to increase retention. This dynamic becomes the most efficient way to understand what it takes to start a professional research. The steps to follow the process are laid out clearly in this guide and the important things that need to be taking in account during the research process are highlighted and deconstructed to obtain a deeper overall understanding by the reader or researcher. The fact that the reader is being quizzed constantly during the entire book generates a stronger connection with the important subjects and a good way to evaluate the reader's understanding in real time as well. Highly recommended to undergrad and graduate students and perhaps even amateur researchers becoming familiar with the process of research as well.

Reviewed by Cindy Gruwell, Professor/Research Librarian, Minnesota State on 1/11/19

Choosing and Using Sources does a very good job of covering the topic of Academic Research. Each chapter focuses on an aspect of the research process and thoroughly covers the content with easy to read text and examples/activities for student... read more

Choosing and Using Sources does a very good job of covering the topic of Academic Research. Each chapter focuses on an aspect of the research process and thoroughly covers the content with easy to read text and examples/activities for student practice. Most importantly first-year students through seniors should find the content informative and presented in a collegial format.

All of the content is accurate and explained in a manner that is easy to grasp. There are some minor typos in some of the activities, but they do not confuse the reader. The text is bias-free and includes interesting examples that students can relate to.

The overall content is highly relevant and will age very well. Updates would definite be easy to handle and manipulate. By breaking down each chapter into a variety of content areas, readers will be able to focus and review areas of concern.

Having read several print and online texts of a similar nature, it was a pleasure to come across a text that is clean, consistent, and concise. Each topic has an appropriate amount of information to get the point across as well as tips that lead the reader to additional information. The presentation is consistent throughout without any bloating often found in print texts.

The authors of the text did an excellent job of producing an online text that is consistent and easy to use. No tricks that make it difficult to navigate or confusing to read.

One aspect of the text that I especially like is the modularity that allows for the use of a particular chapter or page(s). Too often texts have chapters that make readers feel like there is no end in sight. The concise nature of this work blends extremely well with the modularity of the complete text.

What makes this text easy to adapt is the layout from beginning to end. Each chapter and section scaffolds upon the other which will allow students to build their skills in a natural manner. Knowledge attained will easily transfer from one topic to another as they move through the book.

While I believe that the text is excellent and I have adopted it for my class, I do find myself frustrated by not being able to move from one section to another within a chapter without having to go back to the contents list. This surprised me because most books and tutorials have forward and backward links, especially within chapters.

There are a few grammatical (spelling) errors in several of the exercises, however, they do not interfere or confuse the reader.

This is definitely a professional work that has no cultural issues and is an excellent example of a non-biased text.

While looking for an OER text I was delighted to come across this book. The content and flow fit in with my class content extremely well and is an excellent resources for courses in the liberal arts, general research, and library-centric classes.

Reviewed by Kathy Moss, Clinical Professor, University of Missouri on 11/27/18

The hyperlinks and examples include a wide range of topics that include cooking, surgery, architecture and sports. read more

The hyperlinks and examples include a wide range of topics that include cooking, surgery, architecture and sports.

Credit is given to an editor, production and design specialists, as well as several content contributors. No additional information is provided to support inference regarding author credibility.

The open textbook Choosing & Using Sources: A Guide to Academic Research presented material that is relevant to my current issues course, including Background reading, Developing a complex research question, Classifying sources, and Evaluating sources.

The topics are presented clearly, using an engaging conversational style and frequent tips and activities. A reader who has no background in information science may be hampered by some terms used in the book (e.g., blog, podcast, Wikipedia, browser, database, Gawker, Reddit). The book does give intentional attention to the technology-naïve audience with some skills (Control-F) and topics (brief description of LexisNexis Academic, Lantern Online).

Terms and organizational framework are consistent throughout the text.

I plan to assign particular chapters of this text that are most relevant to my course's goals. The consistency of the text's terminology and organization should permit this reading plan with minimal distraction to the reader.

The information is clearly organized with a contents listing, chapter numbers and section headers. This organization facilitates easy access for learners with a specific interest in a single topic.

The author’s frequent use of hyperlinks invites students to explore topics more in-depth.

I note a few minor typographical errors that did not adversely affect my ability to comprehend the text.

The book includes examples of non-Western sources such as the allAfrica news database. Some of the links and examples are only available to individuals who have accounts with The Ohio State University. Though the book includes examples in audio and video formats, it could be improved by giving specific attention to topics related to accessibility.

The book provides the opportunity for readers to apply the topics by analyzing its frequent examples.

Reviewed by Lori Meier, Associate Professor, East Tennessee State University on 11/8/18

This text is exceedingly comprehensive. It addresses all elements of academic research (i.e. choosing questions, exploring and selecting sources, searching strategies, citation issues, copyright) as well as providing abundant links for student... read more

This text is exceedingly comprehensive. It addresses all elements of academic research (i.e. choosing questions, exploring and selecting sources, searching strategies, citation issues, copyright) as well as providing abundant links for student use. It is lacking an index or glossary - although many concepts are defined in the various chapters.

This book is accurate and comprehensive. I would not hesitate to use this resource with undergraduate or graduate students as a beginning primer for research.

The book is relevant and timely in regards to the various resources and tech tools it mentions (Google Scholar, EndNote, Ref Works). Given the subject matter I suspect that this book will have longevity to users.

The text is clear and provides definitions for jargon/technical terminology that is used. It is very comprehensive which might be a bit intimidating for the first time reader, but all elements needed for cogent research are included and therefore necessary. I appreciate the use of student scenarios as a way to step-by-step show the thinking process of choosing research questions.

Very consistent and thorough.

This text would be ideal for use as single chapters in courses where the content is needed. While the content is crafted with Ohio State University students in mind it is still very relevant for use by students and scholars. I am already thinking how I might use this next semester with an undergraduate honor's thesis student - both as modules to be read but also as a reference source.

The book is organized in a logical manner but spends only a brief amount of time about qualitative and quantitative research as peer-reviewed sources and only gives basic definitions for those two terms. I would perhaps suggest an additional section on qual/quant/mixed methods research methodology and perhaps a quick overview of research methods or samples via discipline. Additionally, a mention of the common IRB process for Human Subject Research might be helpful to those students using academic sources that discuss that process. It is a very clear text and this could be added with just a few pages of information that might be beneficial to students.

Navigation links worked well for me. The book is easy to read and the display features are not troublesome to me.

Grammatically sound.

Appropriate and is accessible to a wide audience.

Reviewed by Kathy Lamb, ELL Specialist/ English Instructor, Miami University on 8/2/18

The text covers most areas of academic research, and has a table of contents but no glossary, which is much needed. Topics are clear and concise, transitioning smoothly from general to more specific, such as “What is a Research Question?” to... read more

The text covers most areas of academic research, and has a table of contents but no glossary, which is much needed. Topics are clear and concise, transitioning smoothly from general to more specific, such as “What is a Research Question?” to “Narrowing Topics” and finding “Related Terms”. Perfect for college freshmen.

The content is accurate, error-free and unbiased.

The source is up-to-date and it would be relatively easy to update information.

The text is easily understand and flows in a clear manner. Ideas and topics progress easily and examples are used to offer context.

Ideas build one upon another and academic vocabulary is repeated throughout.

Some parts of the book seem a little “text heavy”, but overall it is well organized with efficient flow. The embedded links in the text connect earlier concepts

One problematic is that there lacks a glossary. The table of contents is very long, but broken down so that one is able to easily reference topics. Chapters are concise enough to be read in a timely manner and effectively used.

For some of the online activities it was confusing to discern which answers were correct or incorrect. And, after clicking on and completing an activity one must go back to the former page in order to navigate further. On the other hand, being able to access other information about the chapter topics via link is a handy tool.

There are no grammatical errors.

This book is culturally relevant and not offensive or insensitive in any way.

Reviewed by Sara Abrahamson, Faculty, Minneosta West Community and Technical College on 8/2/18

This text is very comprehensive. The complete research process is broken down from start to finish. read more

This text is very comprehensive. The complete research process is broken down from start to finish.

Very accurate information.

The content is very relative to today's researchers and does a fine job of detailing types of sources.

Very easy to read with content that is easily understood by even a first-time researcher.

The content was very consistent and easy to follow because if it.

LOVED the easy of reading because of the small, digestible informational pieces!

The flow of the text was perfect, following the research process from beginning to end.

I enjoyed the hyperlinked Activities, however, they did not all work for me.

No grammatical errors found.

Very culturally unbiased.

Excellent text that I wished I had years ago!

Reviewed by Justin Megahan, Librarian / Associate Professor, Fontbonne University on 6/19/18

The text does a good job covering academic research. There is a table of contents, but I feel like a glossary and index would be helpful for this book.

The content is accurate. I did not notice any errors.

The content is up-to-date. There are many databases and websites referred to in the text so it is important to check those relevant links on occasion. It would be straightforward to update the text as needed.

The text clearly steps the reader through the research process. The process is discussed in detail over the 13 chapters.

The text is consistent.

The book is modular. Chapters can be rearranged without confusion. The Copyright Chapter is a good example of a component that can be used separately as a supplemental reading in another course.

The book is organized logically. The addition of a glossary and index could help navigation.

The book has images, charts, and videos that are useful. There are quick activity questions that tests the students’ knowledge on the current topic. These activities do link out to OSU’s site so it is important to make sure those links continue to stay active.

The text contains no grammatical errors.

This book does not have cultural concerns.

Many links direct the reader to OSU resources that have restricted access. The discussion of OSU resources and tools needs to be modified to fit the reader’s institutional resources. “ACTIVITY: Quantitative vs. Qualitative” has a link that is no longer working.

Reviewed by Jane Theissen, Reference Librarian/Professor, Fontbonne University on 5/21/18

The research process is explained in detail, from how to develop a research question to where and how to research through the application of copyright, fair use and citation styles. read more

The research process is explained in detail, from how to develop a research question to where and how to research through the application of copyright, fair use and citation styles.

The content is accurate and unbiased. Most of the links, which are plentiful and well placed, are either broken or link to resources at OSU's library, which I could not access. Use of this book would require time to correct this.

The content is stable. Other than updating the links, little would need to be done to use this text.

Very clearly written; jargon is appropriately explained. Self-checks allow students to make sure they understand the material.

Each section logically builds on the previous, and tone is consistent throughout.

The text has a great deal of modularity. Each section is listed in the Table of Contents and covers a few pages or less. There is no index. It is easy to find and move to sections quickly. the structure allows one to pull sections out for other courses (which I have done).

The research process is explained step-by-step with appropriate detail and excellent graphics.

Images, charts, and diagrams serve to explain and support the text. Many seem rather large and I found them a bit distracting. Additionally, there are page breaks in strange places, leaving large blocks of white space on pages while the narrative continued on the next page. This was very confusing. It would also be helpful if the links would open in a new window.

It seemed inclusive where applicable.

This text impressed me as appropriate for high school students or college freshmen.

Reviewed by Laura Heinz, Librarian, Texas Tech University on 3/27/18

This book provides beginning student researchers with a clear and complete path to the research process for class assignments and undergraduate research projects. read more

This book provides beginning student researchers with a clear and complete path to the research process for class assignments and undergraduate research projects.

The content is presented is accurate and in an unbiased manner for students to easily grasp the process and concepts.

This book was written in 2016 and may need some minor updates. The material is presented in a logical manner that leads students through the process as they begin their research. Each chapter can be used independently as the instructor fits the chapters into course content.

This book is easily understood by an undergraduate and doesn't require extra readings or content to be understood. It is concise and clear which will be appreciated by the student as they conduct research.

This book is consistent in it's framework which leads the student to each step logically avoiding confusion or frustration.

The chapters can easily be used independently and refer students to other chapters with supporting information.

The book is written to lead students in a logical manner through the research process. The length of the chapters allows a student to easily read the chapter for that step in their research, apply it and refer to it easily.

The book downloads easily onto a laptop or e-reader. The graphics display nicely on either size screen and enhance the text.

No grammatical errors were noticed.

This book is not culturally insensitive or offensive in any way. Examples used are appropriate.

This book introduces beginning student researchers to the academic research process in a thoughtful and deliberate manner. The books lack of jargon and abbreviations will help international students learn how to better navigate an academic library for research. Instructors in all disciplines should consider this book as an additional textbook for their classes requiring research for assignments, class projects and/or papers.

Reviewed by Hilary Johnson, Learning & Teaching Librarian, The Open University on 3/27/18

The text does not include an index or glossary. However, it covers a complex (and dry) subject in an economical and stimulating fashion. Each reader would learn about the subject from the basic text but the authors have enriched the text by... read more

The text does not include an index or glossary. However, it covers a complex (and dry) subject in an economical and stimulating fashion. Each reader would learn about the subject from the basic text but the authors have enriched the text by embedding audio-visual resources, download-and-keep checklists and formative activities of excellent quality.Chapter 9 'Making an Argument' is particularly strong and complements Chapter 1's analysis of research questions well. It is an excellent resource for undergraduates, post-graduates and beyond, and could also be useful for professionals researching topics to support evidence-based practice protocols.

More tips about applying facets to search results on services like Summon, EDS or Primo would be a useful addiition. I was surprised the authors did not employ language to frame the skill development in the language of 'employability' and life-skills, which might hook readers who are not planning to engage in academic research in the long-term.

The accuracy of the book was excellent, My score would have been 5, except the advice about copyright legislation and fair use is only applicable to students of Ohio State or elsewhere in the USA; so an institution in the Britain, Ireland or Europe would not be able to use or recommend chapters 11 or 12. However, these chapters are well-judged for the intended audience; succinct and comprehensible, where so many guides are too woolly or arcane to be useful to a general readership.

Chapter 1 had a dead link to an audio-visual resource. The explanation of how to use Wikipedia for academic study was nuanced, classic and practical. The explanation of how to use truncation and wildcards were similarly time- (and platform-) proof. There is much current interest in 'fake news' and the manipulation of Facebook and Google algorithms. So it could be timely to add a section on the known issues and some practical strategies to compensate for them.

The authors use excellent, clear English that should be comprehensible to anyone with academic english reading proficiency. My only qualms related to an ambiguous use of the term "poster" (this word has a particular meaning in an academic setting which was not explained) and more extensively around the slightly simplistic and dated language used for the university library catalogue and abstract & indexing databases. One of the activity sheets is structured like a decision-tree and starts with the question "are you working from a database"; with modern resource discovery platforms and other aggregating tools, students may not be able to tell whether they are looking at results from a single database, all the databases from one supplier or multiple databases from a variety of suppliers.

The stylesheet and planning of content is elegant and the quality is consistent throughout the text.

Each chapter is split into useful subsections, with clear formatting to demarcate between topics, tips and activities. The authors have also helpfully embedded hyperlinks to relevant chapters or sections earlier or later in the book.The length of individual subsections is consistent to make reading online easy (balancing scrolling and page turning). However, the length of embedded audio-visual materials varies so a student planning their time might be surprised in places.

The text has a sensible progression of topics, with hyperlinks back and forwards to connect relevant topics. And the final chapter, 'Roles of Research Sources', pulls together the lessons learnt with a useful acronym (BEAM), giving the book a strong ending.

I accessed the text on a variety of browsers, screen sizes and operating systems without any problems with the interface.

I only spotted two minor errors - site instead of cite and White's definition (page 186) without an apostrophe.

Not all the video materials embedded are captioned making them inaccessible to some categories of disabled users.

Reviewed by Lydia Bales, Academic Skills Tutor & Librarian, Staffordshire University on 2/1/18

Considering the book is not overly large, the guide manages to be very through and comprehensive guide to locating sources and using them correctly. It even goes further in giving some great information on making an argument and writing out the... read more

Considering the book is not overly large, the guide manages to be very through and comprehensive guide to locating sources and using them correctly. It even goes further in giving some great information on making an argument and writing out the research. The chapters are in easily digestible chunks covering the process of searching and evaluating resources in a useful and cross-discipline manner. It covers the source search process of research in an easily digestible manner.

The topics are accurate and have been written in a way that they will not date too much. The links and examples of the services provided may need updating to keep them accurate but the nature of the online format makes this easily possible. The Copyright chapter is obviously only applicable to those studying in the US. Having a version of this chapter available discussing copyright law in the UK could be useful any access the course for a different location.

The topics, examples and videos used are relevant and useful and should not date too much. The links and examples of the services provided may need updating to keep them accurate but the nature of the online format makes this easily possible. Some of the examples and links are specific to Ohio State and America and this can limit the relevance for students who do not have the ability to access Ohio State resources or are not based in America. Also the copyright section specfically is obviously only US copyright law limiting it's usefulness for students based in other locations.

The writing style is straightforward and easy to follow. It is sometimes slightly repetitive but overall the information is clearly presented and the vocabulary used is not too advanced. The style is informal and it makes a weighty topic much easier to process. I think it would be useful to have a glossary in the resource for students who maybe have not come across some of the topic specific words before and need them defining.

I was impressed with the consistency considering the work is made up of different author’s contributions. I could not identify different voices within the text, which helped improve the flow of the work. The arrangement of the contents tab is very useful to help navigate to specific sections of chapters as well as the overall chapter.

The layout of the book makes this modular. You can choose which sections to look at in any order and they read clearly and separately well. The other sections are signposted throughout the text and you can link back through to these using the hyperlinks provided. I think the order could be slightly improved by moving the citing and copyright information after the information on argument and writing but because you can choose how to read the book then it is not really an issue. I think it is important to note that if you cannot play the video content or the links in the book are Ohio State Specific the book does lose some of its positive features.

Overall, the structure is straightforward and logical. It flows in a manner that is easy to read and to process. Using the navigation you can work your way through the book in any order you feel is appropriate. As I stated I feel the referencing and copyright information could be in a different place but because you can choose to read this in a different order, it does not really matter.

Having read the online version on both a PC and a tablet I found the interface both easy to use and accessible. The page and chapter length worked well on both platforms and it was easy to access the links and activities contained within the resource. I could not access the videos on the PC due to not having Adobe Flash and it would be useful to have known I would require this to access the resource in its entirety. The video content is a refreshing change to just text and the images used are overall relevant. The videos do not all include a text version and this would be useful for accessibility. A few of them do have this option. Some of the images in the text viewed blurry on my PC and tablet. I am not sure if this was an issue with my own software or an error in the book.

I did not notice any errors during this read through. In some places, the text was a bit repetitive but this not disrupt the flow too drastically.

The examples used are not offensive and are diverse in their range. They have not given examples that define the guide for specific subset of students, which makes it more applicable.

Just for accessibility purposes, I think all the videos need a text version not just some. In addition, the RefWorks program has now been updated and it is called New Refworks with a changed logo and this could be updated in the book along with the guide to setting up Refworks if your institution subscribes. I feel that there are many links that you could not access unless you were an Ohio State user and this could disrupt the flow of the book for some users.

Reviewed by Lori Jacobson, Associate Director, Curriculum Development, William & Mary Writing Resources Center on 2/1/18

The book provides a comprehensive introduction to the use of sources in academic writing. read more

The book provides a comprehensive introduction to the use of sources in academic writing.

The book is a polished, professional and appropriate tool to help students improve their information literacy.

The content is relevant for undergraduate students and their instructors. It focuses primarily on fundamental approaches to finding, evaluating, and deploying sources in order to enter the scholarly conversation. While the authors occasionally mention a specific tool, or insert links to outside sources, these are placed within "Tip" boxes that can easily be updated.

Because this book was created for students at Ohio State University, it is sometimes quite specific about tools or processes that are unique to OSU. Instructors using this book at other institutions may sometimes need to suggest their own's institution's available tools to keep the text relevant for their students.

The book is well-crafted for an undergraduate audience, taking an easy-going, friendly tone and clearly defining key terms and concepts. It is also accessibly structured, making it fairly easy for users to jump between topics, rather than requiring a linear read. Links between related sections are provided wherever it is appropriate.

The book uses a consistent design scheme and structure. Features that appear in each chapter include graphics, tip boxes, examples, activities, and summaries.

Each unit of the text stands on its own and could be easily assigned as an individual reading. Rather than being self-referential, the text will suggest that more information on a related topic can be found in one of the other modules.

The text is organized to flow in roughly the same sequence as a typical research project. Students who are reading the text while working on a project should find individual sections logically presented and relevant. This is clearly not a text designed as background reading; rather it functions best as "just in time" information for students working through the research process.

I found the text quite easy to use in it its online form. It is visually appealing, easy to navigate, and thoughtfully arranged.

I noticed a couple of typos, but no significant grammatical errors.

The examples provided are of broad interest, and most readers will have some familiarity with them. There were no insensitive or offensive comments or examples.

Choosing & Using Sources: A Guide to Academic Research is a practical tool for novice researchers. It asks students to begin the process with a research question, and then provides a step-by-step approach to creating the question. All the other chapters flow from this effective beginning, and should increase students' information literacy by helping them understand types of sources available to researchers, the relationship between sources and information needs, how sources should be evaluated, and how they can be deployed effectively and ethically. Additional chapters on argumentation and copyright round out the book's overall usefulness to students engaged in a research project. This book could be easily paired with a staged research project, and would provide students with the "just-in-time" information they need to successfully complete the assignment.

Reviewed by Kristin Green, Reference and Instruction Librarian, Penn State Worthington Scranton on 2/1/18

The aspects of academic research that are prudent to cover within the first year of any undergraduate student's general education are all covered within this textbook. From an introduction to the ethics of source use to crafting basic Boolean... read more

The aspects of academic research that are prudent to cover within the first year of any undergraduate student's general education are all covered within this textbook. From an introduction to the ethics of source use to crafting basic Boolean search strings, all facets of entering scholarly discourse are addressed in brief chapters that feel modern and accessible. While instructors may wish to supplement or replace some of the exercise sets in the text with their own assessments, the content of the text provides ample coverage if selected to serve as a primary textbook for a foundational information literacy course.

The book is accurate in addressing the current state of the information landscape as encountered in the realm of academic research, as well as the legalities of copyright and fair use.

All content within this book is current and the content within chapters sections are written in a style that today's undergraduate students will be able to learn easily from. Many of the concepts, processes, and principles that are covered in the text have an inherent longevity that will prolong the relevance of this text past its initial publication date. However some chapter sections, tutorials, and videos are institution-specific reducing the overall relevancy of using the entire text at other locations.

The text is written in a clear and concise style that current students will find very accessible. The authors consciously defined any technical terminology or jargon as it was introduced throughout the chapters. Furthermore, the technical concepts that were more complex to define are often accompanied by visuals to help convey what is being defined.

The terminology and format of the book, along with the linked exercise sets and visualizations, provide a solid consistency that will helps students focus on learning the content rather than being bogged down with understanding the textbook format.

Instructors could easily parse different chapters of this book to use for modular instruction, especially in "one-shot" or other limited instructional scenarios. Some of the chapters are a bit self-referential which may generate a minor degree of confusion if used out of the holistic context.

Organization/Structure/Flow rating: 3

While there is a logical flow to most of the chapters, some seem a little out of place such as the "Making an Argument" chapter. I would have preferred a division of chapters into sections, where the writing-related chapters were separated from the source-related chapters. I also think the chapters that covered Copyright, Fair Use, ethical source use, and citations would have a stronger flow if organized together in their own section.

The ability to navigate through the book from the table of contents page is a great feature for students, especially when the instructor is choosing to assign only particular chapters or work through some of the chapters in a different sequence. The linked exercise sets are also easy to navigate through, allowing students to focusing on applying learned concepts rather than learning new interfaces. However, throughout my review some of the linked external content would not open for me and links to external materials always have the possibility of changing which may result in future inaccessibility

No grammatical errors were detected when reviewing this book.

This book is not offensive nor culturally insensitive in any manner.

For any instructor looking for an open textbook to orient undergraduate students to the basics of the academic research and writing processes while simultaneously providing context of contemporary issues surrounding these scholarly activities, this is a comprehensive and accessible choice!

Reviewed by Anne Behler, Information Literacy Librarian & Instruction Coordinator, The Pennsylvania State University on 2/1/18

This text offers a comprehensive breakdown of the academic research process, with special effort made to demystify jargon that may present itself in either the classroom or library environment. Beginning with establishing a research question and... read more

This text offers a comprehensive breakdown of the academic research process, with special effort made to demystify jargon that may present itself in either the classroom or library environment. Beginning with establishing a research question and carrying through to integrating and citing sources, the text includes practical tools for students to use in their own research, as well as links to supplemental information. If anything, the text errs on the side of providing too much information, such that a novice researcher may feel overloaded.

The text offers an accurate articulation of the research process, and avoids bias by covering a wide variety of potential information sources, including the use of web search engines other than Google.

Because the information landscape is constantly shifting, the text will require fairly frequent review. This is particularly important when it comes to how web sources are addressed. For example, the book does not address fake news and/or dealing with problematic web resources, and it glosses over use of social media as an information source. However, the concepts related to the research process itself change very little, and the information presented about them has staying power.

The text is written in accessible language, and works to address uses of jargon that are typical within the academic environment by providing explanations for what professors typically want when they request a particular item in the research process. This is an effective way to establish relevance with students, as well as clarify academic expectations.

The language within the text is consistent and accessible, with helpful insertions of definitions and/or links to explanatory supplementary information online.

The text's sections are clearly and logically labeled, and could very easily be plugged into a course in part or whole.

The order of topics in the text follow the research assignment process, from point of assignment decoding through to writing and source citation. Given the audience for the text and its intended purpose, this makes great sense.

The text contains links to many outside web sources that may provide helpful supplemental information for the reader; however many of these links were found to be dead. Comprehensive review of all links is highly recommended. In addition, I recommend continuing review of available videos related to the topics, as many selected are either rudimentary or contain dated material.

The writing and grammatical quality of this text are of the highest quality.

The text is culturally relevant and inclusive in its examples.

As stated, this book holds great utility and relevance, but requires updating for links to external web resources. It will also need to be adapted to keep up with the changing landscape of information sources themselves.

Reviewed by Craig Larson, Librarian, North Hennepin Community College on 2/1/18

The book is very comprehensive, sometimes almost too much so (sections on copyright seem to be more detailed than the average college student would need or perhaps be interested in; the section on the lifecycle of information, while interesting,... read more

The book is very comprehensive, sometimes almost too much so (sections on copyright seem to be more detailed than the average college student would need or perhaps be interested in; the section on the lifecycle of information, while interesting, also is a bit questionable as to its overall relevance). Instructors who choose this book for a one- or two-credit information literacy course will have much more material at their hands than they can reasonably cover in a semester. This book would make a good companion volume to just about any course involving research.

The content is accurate and unbiased. As an example, I was interested to find that the author actually recommends that students use Wikipedia, at least in the very early stages of research, to get an overall picture of their topic. So many college instructors, regardless of the subject, seem to have a strong aversion to Wikipedia. Here, the author actually goes into some detail on how using the references in an entry can lead the researcher to additional sources he/she might not find through other means. Some of the activities are a bit misleading or written in such a way that there could be more than one right answer, which isn't necessarily an error, but could be tightened up a bit.

The content is largely relevant and up-to-date, though I was a bit surprised to not find a section addressing "fake news," which has become such a watchword over the past year. I was also a bit surprised that, although the author has a section talking about which "neighborhood" certain types of information "hangs out," there wasn't a discussion of different domain names, such as ".edu," ".org," and ".com" and what they indicate to readers. Also hampering the book's relevance somewhat is an overabundance of examples and activities that require an Ohio State student ID to log-in. Many of these would have to be re-worked or re-written for the book to be useful at other schools.

In large part, the book is clearly written and new ideas are clearly explained. The writer does a pretty good job of avoiding jargon and technical terminology or where it can't be avoided, of providing examples and clear definitions of terms. Some of the activities aren't so clearly written that there is one obviously correct answer. Also, some of the scoring of activities isn't clear enough to indicate to the user what was wrong and why it was wrong or even the correct answer that should have been chosen. Not every concept is adequately explained or thoroughly developed (for instance, the crucial process of moving from an initial reading to a research question could use further clarification and development). Another area that could use further discussion and development would be how to use databases.

The book is largely consistent, though there are occasions where the consistency falls through. For example, most of the accompanying activities will open in a new window, but not all. There were several occasions where this reader closed out an activity window and closed out the entire book as well. This is an area that someone really should take a look at, as it can be confusing and irritating for the user. Also, the fact that many of the book's activities require an Ohio State student ID effectively locks out users from other institutions.

The book is largely modular, with sections that can easily be broken apart and assigned at different points in the course. There is a very useful table of contents, broken down by subject into smaller pieces that can easily be accessed. As mentioned previously, the book is very comprehensive, almost too much so at times, so having this table of contents is very helpful.

The book is fairly-well organized, though there are things placed in odd locations that could be touched on earlier or later, as the case may be. For instance, there is a good discussion fairly late in the book about deciding whether to quote, paraphrase, or summarize, which would have been much more useful if it was placed in the section of the book that directly addresses each of those activities. Instead, it is placed in a section on academic integrity (which, again, is very Ohio State-specific, too much so, really). I also question the relevance of a chapter on creating an academic argument, which if it is to be included at all, would seem to make much more sense earlier in the book, when students are learning the basics of research and how to apply it to their writing.

The book is largely free of significant issues, although as mentioned previously, many of the activities require an Ohio State student ID to log-in and use, which makes them useless to students from other institutions. Also, the activities are sometimes difficult to follow--one doesn't know why one answered incorrectly or what the correct answer even is in some instances. And the fact that some activities open a new browser window and some don't can also be confusing. There are a few activities that lead to broken links.

There are the occasional run-on sentences and spelling mistakes in the text. It's almost impossible not to have some issues in this area. However, the infrequent errors don't detract from the book or its overall usefulness, though it might be a good idea for someone to go through the text and try to clear some of these up.

The book does a good job of avoiding being culturally insensitive or offensive. Activities and examples are written in such a way as to be inclusive. Many of the examples link directly to sites that deal with minority themes and issue.

I think, on the whole, this is a very useful book and one that could be put to immediate use in many instances. However, the number of activities and examples that require an Ohio State student ID to access make this less relevant than it could be if the author had striven for more universal examples.

Reviewed by Mairéad Hogan, Lecturer, National University of Ireland, Galway on 2/1/18

This book covers the subject matter in a comprehensive and detailed way. The way in which the material is presented is very suitable for students who have not previously been involved in academic research as it starts at the very beginning and... read more

This book covers the subject matter in a comprehensive and detailed way. The way in which the material is presented is very suitable for students who have not previously been involved in academic research as it starts at the very beginning and assumes no prior knowledge. It has additional features that help to reinforce the material, such as activities and MCQs. These help to reinforce the learning and test the reader’s understanding. Additionally, the examples used are very useful and helpful in gaining understanding of the subject matter.

It goes into the material in depth and not only tells students how to progress their research but also explains clearly why they should be doing it this way. For example, it explains to students how to differentiate between good and bad sources. However, I have one small concern with this aspect. They do not tell students how to differentiate between different standards of peer-reviewed journals. They do mention looking at citation count but state that is not a useful measure for very recent articles. Some discussion on determining the quality of the journal itself would be helpful. For example, looking at citation counts for the journal, rather than the article would be one example, as would looking at rankings.

Overall, I would see this as an excellent reference book to last students through their academic careers.

The material itself is accurate. However, many of the links to additional material either do not work or are inaccessible to those without OSU credentials.

The material is mainly presented in a way that will last. However, many of the links no longer work so these should be checked and alternatives put in on a regular basis. Additionally, there are links to videos that may not be there in the future, although all I clicked on were available. However, the text description of the videos did not work. Many of the activities (MCQ’s etc) have a dated feel about them in terms of layout and interaction. The design of them could do with some updating.

The writing itself is very clear and easy to understand. Diagrams are used to good effect to clarify concepts (e.g. use of Venn diagrams to explain Boolean concepts). However, some of the terminology is not as clearly defined as it could be. While terms are generally explained clearly in the text, it would be nice to have a glossary of terms. Additionally, the MCQs are not always clear as if the reader gets an answer wrong it is not always apparent which is the correct one.

The book is consistent in writing style and interface.

The book is structured in a modular format whereby the reader can dip in and out of different sections, as they need to. Equally, for a student starting out, it is structured in a way that is likely to follow the steps in the same order as the student, making it a good companion to their research projects.

The book was organised in a very natural and sensible way and flowed smoothly from one topic to another. Links were provided to related sections of the book where relevant so that if the reader forgot what was meant by a particular topic, they could easily hop back and forth. The book started at the very beginning with good coverage of developing a research question and then progressed through tools and sources to help with this. The additional activities were all web based, which works fine if you have easy access. However, I was using a kindle with poor broadband so struggled to access it at times. It also felt a bit disruptive leaving the book to do the activities. It’s also not always clear whether links lead to another part of the book or to an external site. The tips are a useful addition. The stand out when flicking through the book and help to reinforce the important points. It is also useful the ways steps are clearly broken down into sub-steps.

I downloaded it to Kindle, and found a number of issues. It struggled to deal with larger fonts, resulting in some text not being visible.. There were also references to “the bottom of the page” but the bottom of the page varies depending on font size. Not all of the activities worked. Some of the activities required OSU credentials to access them, which was frustrating.

There were some minor grammatical and typographical errors but nothing major.

The book is very US centric in its use of examples. For example, there is an American football example and news sources referred to are US based generally. Additionally, copyright discussion is US centric.

Overall, I found this to be an excellent book that will help students in their research projects. I think it is a book that they will use for a number of years as it is has sufficient depth to help at different levels. The one main change I would make would be to broaden OSU references and activities so they are referring to databases in general, for example, rather than simply talking about the OSU one. Much of the material is relevant regardless of institution but a reader unfamiliar with databases would not be aware of this and might skip over some very useful information.

Reviewed by Anthony Patterson, Assistant Professor, North Carolina Central University on 2/1/18

Choosing and Using Sources is an extremely thorough text taking readers through the research process from formulating research questions to fair use and copy right issues. I particularly liked the online examples and resources including quizzes... read more

Choosing and Using Sources is an extremely thorough text taking readers through the research process from formulating research questions to fair use and copy right issues. I particularly liked the online examples and resources including quizzes and videos. The table of contents is thorough but there is not a glossary. While this is a strong text some discussion of theory and how theoretical frameworks are used in academic writing.

While the text could have addressed additional areas, the authors were accurate and detailed. Chapter 8 - How to Cite Sources is well done and accurately takes novel researchers through when they should and should not provide citations.

The authors present how to develop, approach, and conduct sound research in a well thought out format. This text is up-to-date addressing issues like Wikipedia and Google Scholar. While issues around these information sources will change, the way this text is set up, it can easily be updated in the future.

The book is well written, clear, and easy to follow. Jargon such as primary, secondary, and tertiary sources were explained clearly with appropriate examples. This text will be accessible for my students and most others pursuing advanced degrees.

The authors are consistent throughout the text when discussing topics like presenting arguments and the relationship this has with concepts like research questions and the sources researcher select. While consistency is expected is difficult to do especially when writing as a team. More impressively is the consistency of supplemental materials throughout the text.

The book has long chapters and occasionally I had some difficulty knowing where one section ended and another began but overall it is readily divisible. Another important aspect of the text are the supplemental materials like online quizzes and videos which are also clearly align with the sections in the text.

I was skeptical at first when I began reading but the overall organization of this text is good. Even though the text is about writing and sources, a section of theory and incorporating theoretical frameworks would have strengthen the book. However the topics selected flowed well and led potential researchers through a logical process.

A few problems linking to sum supplemental materials but overall I was impressed by the quality of the graphics as well as the links to quizzes and videos that were provided.

I did not come across any grammatical or typographical issues.

I did not see any cultural insensitive examples or information provided. However I also did not see a lot of racial or ethnic diversity in examples throughout this text. Overall, I feel the authors approached the subject matter appropriately.

Reviewed by Rachelle Savitz, Assistant Professor, Clemson University on 2/1/18

The text is quite comprehensive regarding finding, using, and understanding sources. It provides the process of sourcing from start to finish with examples and activities provided throughout to support the reader. Various ways to find sources... read more

Accuracy of sourcing was spot on. Some of the additional categories discussed, as mentioned in the first section of this review, could be expanded upon to fully explain that category, if it is to be included in the book. The examples and activities provided were quite good and would be very beneficial for students to apply what they are learning in real-life contexts. Links were provided for extending information. I did not attempt to open every link but making sure they are up-to-date will be important as time goes forward. I also feel that the section on popular texts can be misleading. Stating that the Washington Post is "popular" eludes that it is not reliable or valid. This is not necessarily true as many experts in various fields write sections in "popular" newspapers.

As previously stated, a lot of links go to OSU resources. This could be problematic for any reader that is not at OSU. More information should be provided to support any student in the world as that part would be confusing to many students.

The text is easy to read and follow. All new information is explained and then examples and activities are provided. This is student friendly and allows any reader to quickly follow along and understand what is being stated, especially regarding the sourcing elements. As stated above, there are some sections that could/should be expanded upon for clarity and this might be best for beginning university students but the text was easy to understand in regards to sourcing, citing, and fair use. More information on how to use the sources and sections of papers would be beneficial to all students.

Each chapter seemed to follow a similar structure that followed the TOC.

Modularity rating: 3

Reading the book online provides ability to chunk the text based on assignments and can be read chapter by chapter, entirety or starting at different places. Due to the extensive amount of outside links and examples, this would be quite different if read in paper format. This book truly has to be read online to ensure benefit from all of the additional activities, links, examples, sources, etc. In addition, the many links specific to OSU would not be helpful for other students.

The organization is consistent from chapter to chapter. Information is explained and then examples and activities are provided to further knowledge. This works well for readers that needs examples.

Using a laptop provided no issues. However, when using a smartphone, the pages changed in size and various display features did not load properly or at all.

Very few grammatical errors were noticed.

No cultural issues noticed other than the many OSU references and sources. This could be offensive to other institutions as they will not be able to access many of the links.

Reviewed by Scott Rice, Associate Professor, Appalachian State University on 2/1/18

The book is very comprehensive which sometimes detracted from its usefulness. There were a few units that may be superfluous, but I did appreciate that the author seemed to err on the side of inclusivity, leaving it to other adoptees how much... read more

The book is very comprehensive which sometimes detracted from its usefulness. There were a few units that may be superfluous, but I did appreciate that the author seemed to err on the side of inclusivity, leaving it to other adoptees how much content they might use and repurpose.

The book is error-free and appears to be free of bias.

The book is pitched to an Ohio State University audience, so some of the resources pointed to would not be the same as a potential adopter's institution might select. In addition, the book needs some updating regarding the impact of social media on the information cycle. Social media formats are mentioned, but a fuller treatment of how they fit into the information climate would be a good addition.

The text was clear and easy to read, and provided numerous examples for its points. It also did not rely on jargon in its explanations, which makes it much more accessible.

The text was consistent in its use of terms. I found its tone consistent, as well as the level of explanation for the wide variety of concepts explored.

The organization of the text into units makes it very easy to break the content apart into smaller units and use it for a variety of purposes. I could see using the content for different parts of several courses, as well as incorporating it into e-learning content.

The topics are presented in a logical fashion, following the path that a typical research assignment might take. This will also make it easier to fit within the flow of a course that uses the textbook to teach about the process of academic research.

The interface of the text itself works appropriately, but some of the ancillary quizzes and extra material did not work so well. Many of the graphics did not work as well within the pdf format as they do in the web format.

The textbook was free of grammatical errors and was easy to read.

The text did not appear to be culturally insensitive.

I am exploring the creation of a for-credit information literacy class at my institution and this book is a possible candidate for adoption for the course.

Reviewed by Bryan Gattozzi, Lecturer, General Studies Writing, Bowling Green State University on 2/1/18

I was impressed how the text began helping students understand the benefits of leading a research project by writing research question(s), following with assessment of research methods, and thinking about research writing as an avenue to test a... read more

I was impressed how the text began helping students understand the benefits of leading a research project by writing research question(s), following with assessment of research methods, and thinking about research writing as an avenue to test a hypothesis instead of one simply confirming a previous, and perhaps uninformed, belief.

The book didn't seem to dismiss any possible research method. Instead it provided suggestions of how and when any individual research method may be relevant.

The book was published last academic year and the content included is still relevant, mostly because best-practices in research (and research writing) haven't changed much.

The volume of research methods students can use given the internet's power is ever increasing, yet the book does well to isolate a handful of long standing tenets that academic writers have used for decades while allowing for discussion of web-based writing and multi-modal presentation methods instructors may increasingly require students to use.

Each section is concise, clear, and easy to follow . . . for me.

I assume students will be capable of reading the text, performing quizzes provided, and plotting out a research path to complete their assignment(s).

Then again, as an academic I obsess over these issues. I can see a student yawning while reading this text.

The content isn't especially fun to read yet the information provided in relevant and time-saving if students are willing to relax, read actively, and apply the material to the assignment their instructor has given.

I don't imagine many students would seek the book out and read about research methods, yet an instructor can pair excerpts from the book with specific assignments along a student's research path to help the student retain and apply the helpful suggestions in the book.

The text does well to allow students to name the process they're going through when composing a research question then deciding on what research path fits their question. Students are guided to consider what blend of qualitative / quantitative, primary / secondary / tertiary, or public / professional / scholarly research will fit their research and writing goals.

The book refers back to the same terms throughout and provides students with active learning worksheets to plot a research AND writing plan to complete their work, one they could conceivably follow throughout their academic and professional career.

Each subheading contains, on average, not more than a page of content allowing instructors the ability to easily limit reading assignments from the book to concise, focused sections.

The book is very process-based, and follows the workflow necessary to write a successful academic researched assignment.

The limit of this strategy might be students being overwhelmed with so much discussion of process they'd be paralyzed to inaction.

An instructor, then, would have to be direct in assigning reading materials relevant to a student's immediate research goal.

I like how the text follows the path a student would follow: from narrowing a research question, selecting and reviewing research materials, then choosing how to implement them ethically in writing.

It also details how to process research considerations students may not consider including how to archive research results, to respect copyright law when publishing blog posts or submitting student work to an online repository.

The text contains many online activities, sample research artifacts, and instructional handouts. Some require on Ohio State student authentication. The text is still useful without access to these materials, though an instructor would have to alert students to this issue.

Didn't see any culturally insensitive content.

Reviewed by Jonathan Grunert, Assistant Professor of Library Services: Information Literacy Coordinator, Colorado State University - Pueblo on 2/1/18

This textbook covers the concepts found in the ACRL frameworks in a way that is meaningful and accessible to academic researchers at all levels. It adequately provides a discussion of the complete research process, with clear signposts as to which... read more

This textbook covers the concepts found in the ACRL frameworks in a way that is meaningful and accessible to academic researchers at all levels. It adequately provides a discussion of the complete research process, with clear signposts as to which steps writers might need to revisit to improve their work.

The content appears to be accurate to 2016, with some acknowledgement that finding sources is an activity that has seen many changes in the past few decades, and will likely seem more, and rapidly.

Information discovery and retrieval is a rapidly changing process in a changing field. But much of the content in this textbook—as far as general advice and instruction for finding resources and the ways to use them—remains relevant. As information processes change and as information uses change, I have no doubt that librarians will be at the forefront of maintaining the relevance of a textbook like this one through various edition changes.

This textbook is clear, and accessible to researchers at all levels. Jargon, where present, is well-explained, and the contexts for the various components of the textbook are provided.

The text and frameworks in this book are consistent with ACRL frameworks as well as with the ways librarians tend to talk about finding and using sources. Furthermore, the book consistently uses the same terminologies to clearly explain sometimes difficult practices.

I would be very comfortable using any chapter of this book to teach a component of the academic research process. The chapters are discrete, with well-defined boundaries. The modularity of this textbook helps reinforce the overarching idea in this book: the iterative research process. Students might read the chapters in virtually any order, and come away with a valuable understanding of the research process.

This textbook presents the research process in the way that many students and faculty think about the process—from the perspective of the end goal, and through the organizational structure of an academic paper. But, it also indicates throughout the process places when the researcher needs to revisit an earlier step, to modify the project, or to make the end product more meaningful.

No issues in the interface; nothing distracting from the content.

Some minor punctuation errors, but no grammatical errors that distract from the content.

This textbook comes from an American perspective for ways of searching for, retrieving, and using information, as well as the traditionally American ways of constructing arguments. Though there is not discussion of other cultural ways of arguing academically, this textbook does not dismiss or otherwise denigrate other cultures; nor is it insensitive in any way.

Many examples are university-specific to the libraries at Ohio State University, as should be expected from a textbook such as this. As such, this book will be most helpful to students using the book at OSU. However, instructors using this book need to be aware of this focus, and must prepare to supplement with materials accessible by researchers outside OSU.

Reviewed by Susan Nunamaker, Lecturer, Clemson University on 2/1/18

This textbook is comprehensive. It goes in-depth covering the topics of research questions (specifically how to narrow down topics), types of sources, sources and information needs, precision searching, search tools, evaluating sources, ethical... read more

This textbook is comprehensive. It goes in-depth covering the topics of research questions (specifically how to narrow down topics), types of sources, sources and information needs, precision searching, search tools, evaluating sources, ethical use of sources, how to cite sources, making an argument, writing tips, copyright basics, fair use, and roles of resource sources. The textbook hits all of the topics that I plan to cover in my upcoming classroom-based research course with the exception of techniques for completing and writing a literature review. The textbook touches on the topic through a section on "background reading", but does not go in-depth. Otherwise, the textbook covers every aspect of academic research.

I found no errors or bias issues in my initial first read of the textbook.

The information and techniques provided within this textbook are up-to-date and relevant for academic research. I reviewed several textbooks before choosing this one for my upcoming masters-level classroom-based research course. I chose this book because of its relevance in regard to the practical skills needed in order to complete research assignments within the course, as well as, writing a capstone research paper.

This textbook is clear and exceptionally readable. It is organized by research skills in an order that makes sense to the reader. For example, the book begins with a chapter on choosing one's research question. Verbiage is clear and concise for all levels of academia to be able to effectively utilize this text.

This textbook is consistent in terms of terminology and framework. Each chapter of the textbook builds on the last. The reader is not necessarily expected to have prior knowledge of research before reading chapter one, but should easily be able to have a good frame of reference for academic research by the end of the textbook due to its high-quality framework for scaffolding knowledge with each chapter.

This textbook does a great job of sectioning academic research into small bites for the reader. It was easy for me to create modules from the textbook's chapters, spreading the information within the text over an 8-week course. The modularity of this textbook was a selling point for utilizing the textbook with students.

This is a well-organized textbook. Each chapter builds on prior chapters. Chapters are organized in a logical manner. The first chapter begins with the purpose of research questions and builds content to assist the reader in narrowing down options for research questions. The textbook progresses to assist the reader in building skills as an academic researcher throughout the textbook.

No interface issues were discovered during my initial exposure to the online format. I printed the PDF (because I still love paper) and all display features printed properly. The online navigation is easy to use and pleasing to the eye, as well.

No grammar issues were detected during my initial review of the textbook.

This text is not culturally insensitive or offensive in my opinion.

This is an excellent textbook if you are looking to utilize it to introduce students to the academic research and writing process. Its layout and design and conducive to module-based instruction, and the content is well thought out and beneficial.

Reviewed by Diane Kauppi, Library Faculty, Technical Services & Systems, Ruth A Myers Library at Fond du Lac Tribal & Community College on 2/1/18

The text did a great job of covering the subject and the table of contents were laid out well. The content was well thought out. read more

The text did a great job of covering the subject and the table of contents were laid out well. The content was well thought out.

I found the accuracy to be good. The content is a good representation of what a student needs to know in order better understanding library research.

The content itself is good & should stand the test of time for the near future. The only exception is that even though it's only one year from the publishing date (2016) many of the links are broken. And I would have preferred a OER text that was geared more generally for application to any institution vs. the inclusion of OSU specific references, links, resources.

For a text written to a 4-year university/college audience the text was good. For a 2-year community college audience some of the terminology would need to be defined.

I found the consistency to be good. It followed through each section with including tips, activities, etc.

I think the modularity was good. And the text could easily be broken down into smaller sections to be used as units by themselves or refresher units. The only issue would be where there are links within a module that link to other modules. Add to this that these links didn't work-- I rec'd errors each time I tried a module link.

The overall organization and flow as great. As stated on p 6 ("... as though you are conducting a research project while reading them [the sections]...") this made my logical side happy.

I like the links to activities for students to practice the skills being taught. The problem though was that many of the links no longer work. Additionally, many of the links are to areas not available to users who are not affiliated with OSU. And as mentioned in another review section, module links to other modules didn't work either.

I found the grammar to be quite good with only a few exceptions or where it was clunky at times.

I thought the text was neutral in this area. Nothing that blatantly jumped out at me.

I appreciated the link to application of research to other areas of our lives outside of academic research. I try to get this point across to students, especially when they are hesitant and resistant to library research. I found the "tips" & "summaries" to be a nice added 'pop' & easy for referring back to later. I liked the bold letters/words for emphasis. And the suggestion to "brush up" on p 31 was a nice touch vs outwardly assuming they don't know. The downloadable templates are a great resource for students. Overall, I found the text to be a good resource.

Reviewed by Kristine Roshau, Instructional Technology Specialist and PT Faculty Librarian, Central Oregon Community College on 8/15/17

This text is extensive! Like the title suggests, it truly is a full guide to academic research, from developing a topic, finding sources, and using them appropriately. It also follows the logical order of the search process, from identifying an... read more

This text is extensive! Like the title suggests, it truly is a full guide to academic research, from developing a topic, finding sources, and using them appropriately. It also follows the logical order of the search process, from identifying an information need, evaluating source quality (and purpose), and how to perform complex searches. It also highlights several common areas where academic research can be performed, from the college library catalog to specialized databases and how to find academic sources on the free web.

The book also covers what to do once sources have been found, including the importance of properly citing sources, ethical use of source material, and how to cite unusual or non-standard source material. It then moves into addressing the writing process: developing an argument and idea, writing tips, and a large section on copyright, fair use, creative commons, and public domain.

The table of contents is very granular, which is helpful. The sections vary in length, but given the overall size of the book (190 pages) having a very specific TOC is useful when returning to the text as a reference source.

I did not find any objectionable or questionable content. The authors have done a good job of selecting examples for each section (often with associated online activities or examples linked out to the web) that are varied and unbiased, but also represent realistic examples of what students might be encountering during their research process. I was really pleased when looking through the section on citing sources - styles can change, but the book is written in such a way as to be comprehensive about the purpose of citing sources, and links out to many helpful web sources, citation tools, etc so the information will remain accurate in the textbook even if the style guides themselves are updated in the future.

The section on copyright is similarly done.

See previous note - it is clear the authors have taken care to include examples that will remain relevant, not evaporate into popular culture, and provide flexibility where the content may be updated or changes (such as copyright law and citation style guides). They do provide a LOT of external links and activities, not all produced by Ohio State. So it's possible that some of their links may break in the future. It does appear that they have made an effort to either link to open sources they control, or which are unlike to change significantly (ie: government websites).

If I were using this text, I would probably modify some of the resource sections (eg: databases) to reflect those that the students at my institution have access to, though the writers do make a point of identifying OSU access-only resources where applicable. I would also update the copyright/plagiarism section to include our college's student handbook blurbs, etc.

The tone is extremely approachable in all of the areas I checked. This is extremely important in academic research where there are a lot of areas of possible legal entanglement, and the authors have done a credible job of breaking down complex concepts into approachable prose and examples.

The textbook is consistent in both writing and structure; however, I do with the table of contents was split into sections in the same way the content is. Page numbers are given though, so that's not really a big deal. There were one or two places where I saw formatting errors, but nothing overly distracting - it did not adversely effect the content.

It is visually appealing and for the most part, easy to navigate. No huge blocks of text, and it also intersperses activities, tips, and examples. The text is also organized in such a way that it can be used as a reference, without needing to be read from start to finish in order to make sense, which is helpful for the researcher who may need to pop in for just pieces of the work.

However, there is a strong presence of external sources (often OSU library webpages) and activities that are linked out of the text. The writing itself is certainly standalone, but the book would lose a lot of its character if it were printed and not viewed digitally. I would have liked a References or bibliographic section that listed some of these resources, but there wasn't one, meaning the user would not be able to search for the resource if the linked text didn't work.

I can see the potential for too many asides for activities to be distracting, but they are generally held to the end of their relevant sections, so it wasn't too overwhelming. The organization follows a logical research process, walking the reader through from beginning to end.

As mentioned before, there are a few places where it looks like images have distorted the intended formatting, pushing items to empty pages, etc. But these instances are rare. A few of the images could be higher resolution, but they were certainly legible (and I was viewing this text at 125% zoom on a larger screen, so my experience is probably not representative of every reader).

It is long though, and I would have loved to be able to jump to sections through anchor bookmarks in the content page - that would be a nice touch.

I also found a few broken links, which is not totally surprising, given the volume of them in this book.

None noticed in this review.

No objectionable content found - the authors have chosen inclusive examples wherever possible, while remaining realistic about subjects students might be researching.

Not all of the links to activities are self-describing (there are no plain URLs, but many of the activity links contain the same 'Open Activity in Web Browser' text, which would be confusing if a user was navigating with a screen reader.

Reviewed by Deborah Finkelstein, Adjunct Professor, George Mason University on 6/20/17

The book is very comprehensive. The authors consistently explain concepts well and provide easy-to-understand examples that are approachable for the undergraduate audience. For example, the authors don’t just say, “narrow down your source,” they... read more

The book is very comprehensive. The authors consistently explain concepts well and provide easy-to-understand examples that are approachable for the undergraduate audience. For example, the authors don’t just say, “narrow down your source,” they go through steps to narrow it down, walking students through the process. (p 9) Very thorough. They also spend a page and a half giving examples of “Regular Question” vs. “Research Question.” (p 13-14) This ensures that students will understand the difference. They also do well with explaining fact vs. option, objective vs. subjective, primary vs. secondary vs. tertiary sources, popular vs. professional vs. scholarly magazines, when to quote vs. paraphrase vs. summarize, and other concepts that are critical to performing research.

The book does not have an index. The table of contents is quite thorough and very useful in understanding the breakdown of the book or locating certain topics.

The book is error-free.

There are many digital examples in the text. As long as authors make updates as technology inevitably changes in the future, the book should remain relevant.

The book has a conversational tone that is connective, trustworthy, and approachable for the undergraduate audience. This makes it easy to read and easy to understand.

The book is very consistent with tone, and terminology.

In the introduction, the book encourages students to “jump around a bit in this guide to meet your needs.” (p 5). The book stays true to this idea. Students could read the book straight through, but it is well-designed for “jumping around.” The sections stand alone, and instructors could easily assign sections in the book out of order. This book could be used as the only textbook in a classroom, or an instructor could use these modules to supplement an existing textbook. Topics are easily found in the book thanks to an excellent table of contents, a clear organizational structure, and a great use of headers.

The book is well-organized and follows a logical structure. Individual topics are also well-organized. The authors break processes into step-by-step, making is easy for students to learn.

Great use of visual aids. For example, there is a chart on how to narrow down research topic (p 9), and a chart on the roles of resources in research (p 179). These items are great for visual learners, and they make the text come alive while emphasizing important concepts.

The book shares links to outside sources. This provides students that would like more information that is beyond the book with resources. It additionally provides students links to activities, such as one that asks them if a source is primary, secondary, or tertiary (p 34). On occasion, it links to outside companies, such as citation management software, news outlets, and social media, making the book a resource. In this way, the book utilizes the medium of a digital book.

The book is free of grammatical errors.

The book is culturally sensitive. The book is designed for Ohio University students. Examples given occasionally apply to Ohio, such as when the authors are providing examples of newspapers, they list two out of six that are from Ohio, including the campus newspaper (p 43) There is also a link to the OSU Libraries’ newspaper database (p 44), and when talking about citation management software, they mention the three that are available at OSU. It’s not a large enough issue that one should not use the book; it’s still easy to understand, but it is a limitation and worth mentioning to students.

I teach a 300-level English class on performing research and writing research papers. I plan to utilize this book next semester due to the excellent organization of modules, the approachable tone, and the great explanations and examples.

Reviewed by Constance Chemay, Head of Public Services, Library Services; Asst. Professor, User Instruction, River Parishes Community College, Gonzales, LA on 6/20/17

The book does an excellent job covering the subject, and even goes beyond what its title suggests, with chapters on writing and formulating an argument. The chapters on copyright and fair use are exceptional. However, it lacks both a glossary and... read more

The book does an excellent job covering the subject, and even goes beyond what its title suggests, with chapters on writing and formulating an argument. The chapters on copyright and fair use are exceptional. However, it lacks both a glossary and an index. Some terms are defined in their appropriate chapters, but not all. Some students, particularly first-year or those who may be enrolled in developmental courses, would benefit greatly from a glossary. The activities, while appropriate for their contexts, are mixed in their effectiveness; some provide good feedback with clarification, but most offer little more than a smiley face for a correct answer or an “x” for a wrong answer with no other feedback.

For the most part, this book is accurate and unbiased, but one area where I noticed discrepancies is the chapter on citing sources. MLA released its 8th edition in April 2016, yet the examples provided are 7th edition. I also noticed errors in the example for APA; only the first word, proper nouns, and those following major punctuation marks are to be capitalized in article titles following APA formating guidelines. Regarding bias, the book is unbiased; however, I disagree with the discussion of news sources regarding mainstream versus non-mainstream (or mainline as used in the text); main-stream media includes "traditional" sources, e.g., television, newspapers, and radio, as opposed to online sources, especially social media. The authors’ inclusion of Fox News, a right-leaning national television news network, a contemporary of CBS, NBC, and ABC, as non-mainline rather than mainline shows bias, in my opinion. It’s difficult to find news from any news source, mainstream or not, right, left or center, that doesn’t have some bias or opinions in its reporting.

This textbook itself is written so that it will be relevant for a long time. However, there are some exceptions. The discussion of citation styles uses examples for MLA that reflect the 7th edition rather than the 8th, which was released in April 2016. The book covers this discrepancy somewhat with its tip regarding choosing a citation style, with its remarks that styles do change and its recommendation to check with one’s instructors. Another issue is the potential for link rot regarding external websites; in fact there are a few dead links in the text and activities already. A couple of online resources mentioned and linked to, IPL2 and the Statistical Abstracts of the US, have been retired for at least a couple of years, which makes me wonder about when the book was actually last reviewed edited.

The book is well-written, easy to read, conversational. Most technical language is defined and used appropriately.

This book is consistent in terms of its terminology and framework.

This book is extremely modular in its organization at the chapter level and within the chapters. It can be easily reordered to meet specific course or instructor needs. It does refer to other sections of the text, but these references are appropriate, emphasizing more in-depth information elsewhere in the book. Sections that are unique to OSU can be replaced/revised to make the text relevant to other institutions as needed.

It is well organized and reflects the processes and stages of research. While the research process is not linear, the topics are presented in a logical manner that guides students through the process. I did note that a couple of sections in chapter 7, on ethical use of sources don’t really seem to fit there, however. The paragraphs on page 118 discussing a lack of understanding of the materials and lack of time might fit better in other chapters.

While the online version works well, the PDF format has issues. Some of the in-text navigation links work (the TOC links) while others found throughout the text don’t, often giving an “error: unknown export format” message. There are also a few dead links in both the online and PDF formats, as well as in some of the online activities. Some links direct users to OSU Libraries’ resources, either their catalog or their licensed databases, but not all such links are clearly identified as such.

Grammatical Errors rating: 3

For the most part, this text is well-written, grammatically; however, it does have a few grammatical/typographical errors, possibly more than one might expect from a text of this length, and assuming that the author is most likely a committee rather than an individual, more eyes reviewing the text should catch such errors. There are also instances of tense inconsistencies, shifting from present to past in the same sentence. Two paragraphs on page 47, under “Finding Data in Articles . . .,” repeat the same four sentences verbatim in different order. This occurs again on page 88. While these are not grammatical errors, they are certainly editorial errors. Most of the online activities have typos, as well, more so than the textbook.

This textbook is not culturally insensitive or offensive.

I do like this book. I think it puts the topic in terms that students can readily use and understand. I'd even recommend the chapters on copyright and fair use to faculty! I do think that it could benefit from the inclusion of a glossary and an index, as well as regular and frequent review, especially in regards to the linked resources. The PDF version definitely needs revisions since it seems that most of the in-text referral links throughout the text don’t work. Since it is tailored to OSU’s library resources, any instruction librarian using the book can substitute content relevant to his/her institution; non-library faculty using the text can consult their own librarians for help with this.

Reviewed by Dawn Kennedy, Ed.S, Health Education, Anoka-Ramsey Community College on 4/11/17

Choosing &amp; Using Sources: A Guide to Academic Research serves as an excellent guide for teaching the research process. It takes the learner through the process of academic research and writing in an easy to understand manner. As an educator... read more

Choosing & Using Sources: A Guide to Academic Research serves as an excellent guide for teaching the research process. It takes the learner through the process of academic research and writing in an easy to understand manner. As an educator in a community college setting, I am working with students who are new to the research process. This text will be useful when working with students to start developing the appropriate process of research writing. The text has neither a back-of-the-book index nor a glossary. It is beneficial that key terms are defined throughout the chapters.

The information presented in the text is accurate at this point in time and unbiased. One concern is that some of The information presented in the text is accurate at this point in time and unbiased. One concern is that some of the links do not work.

Content is up-to-date at this point in time. Most examples and exercises are arranged separately from the main text and can be updated as needed. Some of the content links to the Ohio State University Libraries databases which may not be assessable to students outside that institution.

This text is clearly written, well-illustrated, and user-friendly for the undergraduate audience. It avoids technical jargon and provides definitions where appropriate.

Choosing & Using Sources: A Guide to Academic Research is consistent in terms of terminology and framework.

Regarding the book’s modularity, users of this text can be selective in chapter choice. In this sense the text is useful to instructors and students who wish to focus on a single component and /or use the text as a reference. For a better understanding of the research process in its entirety, reading the text in the order written may prove to be more beneficial.

The text's organization mirrors the research process in a logical, clear manner. Chapters 1-8 lead the reader through the basics of research literacy and research skills; chapters nine and ten explain the process for making an argument and writing tips; Subsequent chapters zero in on copyright and Fair Use information. Key concepts and points are supported with highlights, examples and colorful illustrations.

The text displays generous use of visuals which are clear and free of distortion. The activities provided support the concepts and skills being addressed and are easy to navigate. One concern is the activities which are linked to Ohio State University may not provide access to all, resulting in limited access of information and frustration for the reader.

• The text is not culturally insensitive or offensive in any way.

This is a text does an excellent job of explaining the research process in a logical manner. The text uses examples, illustrations, and skill practice to support the learning process. I recommend this text for use in it's entirely for teaching and learning the research process and as a resource for the rest of us.

Reviewed by Scott Miller, Reference and Instruction Librarian, Rogue Community College on 4/11/17

The book is very comprehensive and even goes beyond what might be expected in this kind of textbook. Along with choosing and using sources, the authors include a section on making an argument. Topics are dealt with appropriately and the text... read more

The book is very comprehensive and even goes beyond what might be expected in this kind of textbook. Along with choosing and using sources, the authors include a section on making an argument. Topics are dealt with appropriately and the text employs tests and activities along the way. I found some of the activities were not particularly well designed and sometimes answers to questions were based on assumptions by the authors as to context that in real life may or may not be appropriate. For instance, they claim that the periodical/journal title "Coral Reefs" is a scholarly journal, but judging by the title alone in a real life exercise there is no way to know whether it is scholarly or popular in nature.

There could have been more discussion about context and how it defines whether a sources is primary, secondary or tertiary. '

What the this textbook does not have is any kind of index or glossary, which I found disappointing.

I did not find any instances of inaccuracies in the text. I did find, however, some assumptions in the text that were not always warranted. I took issue with the assumption that mainline news sources are objective (p. 42). It is very clear that news articles are often biased. I think telling students that mainline news sources are objective effectively disarms instead of promotes critical thinking by students doing research.

On page 126 there is a discussion about using quotations where the authors say that all quotes are to be put within quotation marks. This is not true of block quotes in MLA or APA style and they omit any mention of it.

This textbook should retain its relevancy for several years, but it will lose its effectiveness very soon, since many of the dozens and dozens of links in the text will surely break before long. In the short term the links are a great feature, but they do severely limit the longevity of the book. I also found them annoyingly pervasive.

It should also be noted that the MLA citation example on page 122 uses the outdated MLA 7th edition guidelines.

Overall, I thought the book was very clearly written and easy to follow. The one section I struggled reading was the section on sources and information need. It seemed to want much more editing and was often wordy and almost obscure.

I did not notice any lack of consistency in terminology or framework.

This is one the book's strengths. It was clearly organized into topics and subtopics which sometimes could be addressed in an order chosen by an instructor. There were, however, occasional self-references to earlier sections or previously used external sources.

Moving from the simpler aspects of choosing and evaluating sources to the more complex uses of them and how arguments are constructed made good sense.

Interface rating: 2

I found the interface to have significant problems. At least a dozen links would not work from the PDF text when opened in Firefox. I often got the message, "error: unknown export format." The links seemed to work when viewing the text online, however.

The textbook's usefulness outside of Ohio State is severely limited by the frequent use of sources only available through OSU student logins. The textbook was written for OSU students, but it really fails as a textbook for any other institution unless it is significantly modified.

I found a few missing punctuation marks, and only two missing or wrong words in sentences. For a textbook this long, that's very good.

The textbook used interesting and non-offensive examples.

While it's a good textbook for choosing and using information sources it suffers from being too specifically written for OSU students, as well as including an overabundance of links that will reduce its longevity. Not including any kind of index or glossary is also a drawback.

Reviewed by Vanessa Ruccolo, Advanced Instructor of English, Virginia Tech on 2/8/17

Ch. 1 has a great overview of regular versus research questions and the difference between qualitative and quantitative research. Ch. 2 covers primary, secondary, and tertiary sources as well as popular, professional, and scholarly. Ch. 3... read more

Ch. 1 has a great overview of regular versus research questions and the difference between qualitative and quantitative research. Ch. 2 covers primary, secondary, and tertiary sources as well as popular, professional, and scholarly. Ch. 3 includes a source plan (i.e. what do you need the sources for and what is your plan). Ch. 4 gives tips and hints for searching on a library database. Ch. 5 gives different search options, like the library or Google Scholar. Ch. 6 is all about evaluating the sources you find, including clues about sussing out bias and thoroughness, as well as discussing currency of topic. Ch. 7 discusses why you should cite sources. Ch. 8 discusses ways to cite sources. Ch. 9 is looking at argument as dialog and what is necessary in that exchange and a recommended order of components. Ch. 10 covers quoting, paraphrasing,and summarizing and signal phrases. Ch. 11, 12 are copyright and fair use. Ch. 13 covers the roles or research.

I will use Ch. 1 and 2 in my classes, as I think the breakdown of research is useful and clear. Ch. 3 also has useful imbedded tools that will help students plan; Ch. 4 and 5 might be used as references post-library visit. I will also use Ch. 6 and Ch. 10.

I think the information provided for distinguishing scholarly, popular, and professional is helpful and I hope the resources help students understand good, reliable sources a bit better. The same is true for searching for sources, and I think the sections on search engines and evaluation of sources are going to be quite useful.

While the information on copyright, fair use, and why and ways to cite sources is fine, I won't be using these for my English classes as I find them not as helpful or relevant.

I think the book is quite accurate in terms of information provided. They use sources that both I and my students use, so clearly the book is addressing real needs in the classroom. It also makes suggestions that reinforce the concepts our librarians share with the students and instructors, so I find this to be extremely helpful.

The book suggests Purdue OWL, a source I also use; however, I realized this year that OWL was behind in updating some of the MLA citation changes. So that's something maybe for the book authors to note or address when recommending websites.

With that said, I think the book covers key specifics like university library websites, Google Scholar, and search engines, in broad enough terms to keep it relevant. Also, the graphics are simple and not dated, and there is one drawing of the "outernet" that shows what social media, Youtube, etc. would look like in the "real, outer" world. This drawing is the only thing I saw that might be dated soon, but its point is still solid.

Very easy to read, clear terminology and explanation of terms, and lists are also provided to help break up each page's prose, which means the information is presented in a visually clear form as well.

I think the consistency of terminology as well as the scaffolding makes sense on the whole. I didn't seem places where the language changed or seemed to have several writers or definitions.

Perhaps one of the best parts of this book is how each chapter is contained, succinct, includes an activity, but still builds on and with the other chapters. Each chapter is stand-alone and clear and easy to read online, or if you chose to print it. The creators clearly had the online reader in mind, however, and the chapter lengths and fonts are comfortable.

Overall, I like the organization, specifically for chapters 10-6. I would change the order of the final chapters so that Ch. 9 and 10 come before Ch. 7, 8, 11, 12. I would also move Ch. 13 "The Roles of Research" to earlier in the book, perhaps around Ch. 3 or Ch. 6. If I use these materials, I will reorder some of the chapters for my class so that the scaffolding and explanations work a bit more side by side.

Again, comfortable, easy-to-read pages, simple graphics and the charts used are helpful and appropriate. I especially appreciated that the authors didn't use images that showed people or figures that could both date the book and also make students feel talked down to - I hate images like this and refuse to use textbooks that incorporate them, so kudos!

Additional resources are easy to access.

I wish the email option (for sending yourself a page) pulled up a screen in which I could type the email I wanted it sent to. Instead, it pulls up Messenger, which I don't use.

Now, I didn't read through as though I was grading (it is winter break, after all!) but nothing jumped off the page. If something had, if there had been a mistake, I would still use the text; if there had been several, I would have considered abandoning it for class. However, the information is still so good I i might have told my students to find the grammar mistakes as part of an assignment just so that I could use the research parts still; however, I didn't not see any.

No, nothing. Perhaps if the authors include more examples for citations they could pull from culturally different sources then, but the material here was so broad in terms of textual sources it was in no way exclusive.

I will be using parts of this book in my English classes. Well done to the authors - a helpful, free supplement.

Reviewed by Dale Jenkins, Advanced Instructor, Virginia Polytechnic Institute & State University (Virginia Tech) on 2/8/17

Having taught freshmen how to write college research papers for the past 18 years, I gave the text high marks on addressing all of the key elements college students need to engage in academic research. read more

Having taught freshmen how to write college research papers for the past 18 years, I gave the text high marks on addressing all of the key elements college students need to engage in academic research.

The text implements content from a host of sources which is extremely useful, but the grammar needs a few tweaks.

This represents a strong aspect of the text. The writers did a good job of winnowing out unnecessary components of the research process, although my freshmen would not delve into the Fair Use and Copyright chapters.

The book gets outstanding marks on clarity. Students will find this to be a definite strength of the text.

The authors did a good job with consistency. I kept my students in mind as I evaluated this aspect of the text.

Students would find this book extremely accessible in terms of modularity. I don't see them being overwhelmed by the text or high-brow jargon.

I noted a logical progression to all thirteen of the chapters. Students in upper-level classes would find the chapters on Fair Use and Copyright more significant in their academic studies.

The hyperlinks and the interactive elements of the book will be extremely appealing to students as well as being substantive.

The book still needs some work in this regard. Pronouns don't always agree with the antecedents, and I noted several shifts in voice in the text.

The text doesn't have any instances of cultural insensitivity, and I pay close attention to this aspect of textbooks when I peruse them for potential use in my courses.

The hyperlinks, using different types of media, and the chapters on "Why Precision Searching?" and the discussion of plagiarism proved to be well-crafted and accessible for students. I also commend the authors for the lack of jargon that would leave students in its wake.

Reviewed by Jarrod Dunham, Instructor - English Composition, Portland Community College on 2/8/17

A very comprehensive guide to the writing of the research paper. I've taught research writing for several years, and this book covers all the material I'd typically cover in a class. Previously I've not used a textbook in that class, but I'm... read more

A very comprehensive guide to the writing of the research paper. I've taught research writing for several years, and this book covers all the material I'd typically cover in a class. Previously I've not used a textbook in that class, but I'm teaching an online section this term and find that the book offers a very effective substitute for the lectured and activities I'd otherwise be presenting in class.

This text is accurate and up-to-date with the most recent developments and issues in the field.

This text is very much up-to-date. It shows an awareness of changing conventions in academic writing, and emphasizes the latest technological tools for researching and managing citations. It frequently links to outside resources, which could be problematic in the event those resources were removed or relocated, but in practice I never encountered such an issue.

Clarity is one of the book's strengths. It is written in clear, simple, and concise prose, resisting the kind of "academese" that is frequently employed in textbooks and gives students a false impression of what academic writing should look like. I found all of the content very easy to understand, and, although it's intended for slightly more advanced classes, accessible for Freshman writing students.

The text is highly consistent, both in terms of the terminology it employs, its organizational structure, and its systematic incorporation of tips, learning activities, and quizzes.

The book is divided into 13 chapters, each of which addresses particular aspects of research writing and can be employed on its own, or in conjunction with other related chapters. I found that assigning chapters in order was generally perfectly appropriate, although there was no issue with assigning the odd chapter out of order - links to previous or later content are provided where appropriate, so students can easily navigate to other relevant sections of the text.

This text is very nicely organized. It moves from the beginning stages of the pre-writing process - choosing a topic and identifying appropriate guiding questions - through the research to the writing of the paper itself. I found that the organizational structure of the text very closely mirrored the structure I use myself in teaching research writing. As such, adopting this text for the course (and adapting the course to the text) was a delightfully straightforward exercise.

The interface of the text is excellent. It is very easy to navigate, very attractive, and all tools work as intended. Some features are only available to those with Ohio State University log-ins, which yields a handful of frustrating moments, but in general I didn't find this to be a significant issue.

The text is error free and written in a simple, accessible, and engaging style. It's not merely an easy read, but one that effectively models clear and concise academic prose for writing students.

To the extent such issues come into play, the text is inclusive and culturally sensitive. The content of the text is mostly neutral on such issues - they simply tend not to come into play - but I was pleased to find a comprehensive chapter on the ethical use of sources, which introduces an ethical dimension to the research and writing process that many students may not anticipate or otherwise be prepared to navigate.

Overall I was quite pleased with this text. In my online section of Research Paper Writing, I have assigned nine of the thirteen chapters, and am very pleased with the breadth of content covered thereby. With one exception, I've been able to assign those chapters in the order they appear in the book, which simplified the planning process for myself, and offers a structure to the course that will be more readily apparent to my students as well. Late chapters on Copyrights Basics and Fair Use struck me as unnecessary and a little off topic, but it is of course easy to simply not assign those chapters, and since this is not a print book they have no bearing on materials costs.

For an online class like the one I am currently teaching, this is an excellent primary text. Even in a face-to-face class it could prove to be a very useful supplemental text. Normally I resist the use of supplemental texts in face-to-face classes, but since this one is free it is ideal for that purpose: instructors and students can simply rely on it to whatever extent feels useful.

Reviewed by Jennifer Lantrip, Reference Librarian, Umpqua Community College on 2/8/17

This book is an excellent source for guiding undergraduate students through the research process, from understanding the purposes for doing research and writing a research question, to composing a thesis and contributing to a scholarly... read more

This book is an excellent source for guiding undergraduate students through the research process, from understanding the purposes for doing research and writing a research question, to composing a thesis and contributing to a scholarly conversation. Students learn where and how to find relevant sources and how to evaluate and use them ethically. The main text is supplemented with links to useful resources, videos, worksheets, examples, and exercises. These are all high quality sources, making this a comprehensive resource for teaching information literacy and the research process. While no index or glossary is provided, terms are well defined within the text. Links are provided to other sections within the text where terms are further discussed.

The content is error-free, unbiased, and accurate. Ideas and concepts are in accordance with the Association of College and Research Libraries’ “Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education,” with the exception of several small sections that could easily be clarified or adapted.

The opening section of Chapter 3 states that researchers should find sources in order to meet their information needs. However, it states that one information need is “to convince your audience that your answer is correct or, at least, the most reasonable answer.” This should be clarified for students so that they understand that they should start their research with an open mind as opposed to looking for sources which support their predetermined thesis.

The section “The Sources to Meet Needs” in Chapter 3 states that convincing one’s audience is an information need and that students should find sources based upon what their audience would be convinced by. Researchers should not choose their sources based upon what would convince their audience, but rather upon what sources best answer their research question. The most relevant and highest quality sources should not be omitted from the research process because the researcher does not think that his/her audience would be convinced by them. It is part of the researcher’s job to educate and convince his/her audience why the chosen sources and the research are relevant and of high quality.

Chapter 13 mentions briefly, “Putting your sources to work for you in these roles can help you write in a more powerful, persuasive way—to, in fact, win your argument.” It is very important for researchers to make convincing arguments through using quality sources, doing quality research, and presenting the information in an understandable way. Students should understand that the goal of scholarly conversation is not to “win” arguments, but rather to contribute to the world’s shared knowledge. While one argument may hold for a time, it will most likely be refined in some way by future researchers.

The main content of each chapter is current and does not contain terms that will soon be outdated. Specific examples and exercises are arranged separately from the main chapter text and can be updated independently. Some of the content discusses and links to Ohio State University Libraries databases which are unavailable to students at other institutions. While some of this knowledge is transferable, the specific information about these databases is unique to OSU Libraries. It would be useful if this information could be generalized in the main flow of the text so that it would be applicable for students at other institutions.

This text is very readable and easy to understand. Concepts are explained clearly. Exercises and examples are provided to help students grasp each new concept. It is written in a casual tone that appears to make an effort to put its readers at ease while giving solid information about how to complete research and writing assignments successfully.

The terminology used in this book and its framework are consistent. Each chapter, chapter sections, examples, and exercises are organized in a consistent manner throughout the book, making it easy to follow. Students can refer to specific sections of the book or read it straight through. Because links are provided to sections of the book where important terms are defined or discussed further, students can easily jump to relevant sections of the book.

The book is divided into chapters and subsections which lead the reader seamlessly and logically through the research process. The book could easily be assigned to be read linearly, but it would also work well for instructors to assign specific chapters as applicable to the course content.

This book takes students through the research process in logical steps, from choosing and refining research questions, to producing and sharing what they have learned. For students who are unfamiliar with the research process, it would be most useful to read the book linearly as each chapter prepares students for future chapters.

This text is easy to navigate in both the PDF and online versions. Images are clear. There are currently no broken links. The contents in the PDF version could be made clearer by making a greater distinction between the main chapter and chapter section titles.

The text has negligible grammatical errors.

This text is not culturally insensitive or offensive.

I highly recommend this book for teaching information literacy and the research process to undergraduates.

Reviewed by Patricia Akhimie, Asst. Prof of English, Rutgers University-Newark on 2/8/17

This textbook does not include an index or glossary but is full-text searchable, returning a an easy to read and access menu of clickable search results to take readers directly to the desired information. In addition, an expandable Table of... read more

This textbook is accurate in its representation of research methods and of the reasoning behind these approaches. In addition, details about citation styles, and search tools, seem error-free. Treatments of the more complex aspects of research, such as constructing an argument, are unbiased and thorough.

The textbook should be useful to students and instructors for some time. It should be noted, however, that research software and citation styles are updated, though infrequently. Thus, the video walkthroughs of particular databases, for example, may be obsolete or misleading after some time.

This textbook is remarkably lucid and approachable for undergraduate readers. Discussions of complex ideas are illustrated with useful graphics that readers and instructors will find particularly helpful. The video walkthroughs are perhaps the most attractive illustrations for instructors. These guides will be appealing and easy to use for students intimidated by large databases and their idiosyncrasies.

The textbook is immanently usable. It is consistent in its tone as well as in its use of terms.

It is clear that this textbook has been designed with modularity in mind. Individual sections will be more useful than others, depending on the type and level of the class. In addition, sections can easily be assigned at different points over the course of a semester. For example, sections might be assigned at intervals that reflect the stages of the development of undergraduate student’s independent research paper. The section on formulating research questions might appear early in the semester, the section on citation styles toward the end.

The organization of the book reflects the stages of research. This means that navigating the textbook will be intuitive.

Navigating this textbook will be intuitive, the Table of Contents tab makes moving between sections very easy.

Readers will find the textbook free of simple typos and errors.

Readers will find the textbook inclusive. Some readers may find that the attempt made in the textbook to speak to research in the humanities, social sciences and sciences has meant that discussions can be vague at times but this is to be expected in a textbook on this topic aimed at a broad range of readers and researchers.

Reviewed by Heather Jerónimo, Assistant Professor, University of Northern Iowa on 2/8/17

This text is a comprehensive review of the various types of sources one might need to complete a research project or paper. The book begins with a clear explanation of how to formulate a research question, while the majority of the chapters focus... read more

This text is a comprehensive review of the various types of sources one might need to complete a research project or paper. The book begins with a clear explanation of how to formulate a research question, while the majority of the chapters focus on finding and evaluating sources. The topics in this text are well-chosen and reflect several aspects of academic writing in which beginning researchers might struggle, such as how to do a precision search, understanding biased versus unbiased sources, and how to decide between quoting or paraphrasing. This book is written at a level that undergraduates should easily be able to comprehend, while the content of the chapters gets increasingly detailed and complex throughout the book. There is no index or glossary at the back of the book, but there is a very complete table of contents at the beginning of the text. Readers might find it useful if the chapter titles in the table of contents were in bold, as the detailed breakdown of sections—while helpful—can be overwhelming when one is looking for the main categories of the book.

The text provides helpful and unbiased examples for how to do research in many different areas. The practice activities relate quite well to the content of the chapters, although some links do not work. One of the strengths of the text is its applicability in a general sense to many different types of research.

In most chapters the information is kept very general, allowing the text to enjoy relative longevity, as the process of how to conduct academic research, cite quotes, etc., likely will not change drastically in the near future. For example, in the section on databases, different types of databases are explained, but the author does not reference many specific databases to which students may or may not have access. With an understanding of the concept, students then are equipped to find the databases that pertain to their field and that are offered by their institutions. There are several references to Ohio State throughout the text that will not be helpful to all readers, but they do not impede the reader’s comprehension of the text.

It is a very readable text, written at a level that makes it easily accessible to undergraduate students. The author has avoided jargon that would be confusing to the readers.

Even though the book gives examples of various types of research and sources, it maintains a high level of consistency throughout.

The chapters are clearly divided in a way that allows the reader the option to skip between chapters or to read the chapters in succession. This text could be put to a variety of uses within the classroom. As an instructor, one could use it as a primary text for a Research Methods or Composition class. One could also suggest that students read only certain sections in a class that was not primarily focused on the writing of research papers but that had a research component. This text is a valuable how-to manual that students can reference throughout their academic journey.

The text has a logical organization and flow. The book transitions from more basic information at the beginning to more specialized knowledge in later chapters, allowing students to gradually become more immersed in the topic. The structure permits students to read the text from cover to cover, or to read only the information and chapters about which they are curious. The activities serve as good checkpoints to assess students’ knowledge and break up longer readings.

The interface of the text is easy to manage and does not distract from the content. The placement and accessibility of the activities provide quick and easy checks to assess whether students have understood the concepts of the chapters. The images support the text and are linked closely to the message.

There are few grammatical errors in this text.

The text is not culturally insensitive or offensive. Like many textbooks, it could be more intentional in its inclusion of a variety of races, ethnicities, and backgrounds, perhaps in the examples or practice activities.

Reviewed by Dr. William Vann, Information Studies Faculty, Minneapolis Community and Technical College on 12/5/16

While there is neither a back-of-the-book index nor a compiled glossary in this outstanding textbook (key terms are defined, however, throughout the chapters), one cannot deny its comprehensiveness. In fact, this text covers so much ground it is... read more

While there is neither a back-of-the-book index nor a compiled glossary in this outstanding textbook (key terms are defined, however, throughout the chapters), one cannot deny its comprehensiveness. In fact, this text covers so much ground it is unlikely to be used in its entirety for any single college course. Information literacy and research skills courses will find the first eight chapters to be a robust introduction to their subject matter, replete with interactive activities and auto-graded assessments. Composition courses engaged in research-based writing will likely work through the first eight chapters selectively, but then dwell on chapters nine and ten on argument formation and writing. Such courses may also benefit from the excellent chapter thirteen on Joseph Bizup's BEAM method of deploying research sources in scholarly communication. Chapters eleven and twelve on copyright and fair use, respectively, are likely to be used only by advanced undergraduates, faculty, and professional librarians, but they do serve as a handy reference nonetheless.

All of the chapters of this textbook contain authoritative and accurate information, in line with national information literacy standards and sound pedagogical methods for composition and critical thinking. The only section of the text I took issue with was the "Fact or Opinion" part of the second chapter, where the authors try to distinguish between fact, opinion, subjective information, and objective information. The authors' attempt results in claims like "the death penalty is wrong" being rendered as opinions, while claims like "women should stock up on calcium to ensure strong bones" are judged to be subjective information. Facts and objective information are superior, on this way of thinking, because they are the result of research studies, particularly empirical, quantitative ones.

I suspect that this way of drawing the distinction would do little to challenge the naive relativism most undergraduates bring to the classroom. (How many of us, when analyzing a text with beginning undergraduates, have had to entertain the question "Isn't that just the author's opinion though?") A better approach would be to talk about claims that are empirically justified (facts), claims that are justified, but not empirically (value judgments - "x is wrong", prescriptive claims - "women should do x"), and claims that are not adequately justified by any means (opinions). In this way, answering a research question like "Is the death penalty unjust?" is not merely an exercise in subjective opinion-making, but rather an exploration of reasoned argumentation, only some of which may be empirical or based on research studies.

The text is current and will likely be so for some time. Examples, activities, and tips are marked off from the main chapter prose, so will be easy to refresh when necessary.

There is no lack of technical terms in the world of information studies, but this textbook does a fine job of providing definitions where appropriate in each chapter. Concepts and methods are explained in context, and illustrative, easy-to-follow examples adorn each chapter.

The only area of the text that falls a little short on clarity is the interactive activities. These are usually multiple choice or matching questions, but some of the word choice in questions left this reader confused, and in some cases the instructions could have been more explicit.

Being authored by committee, we might expect this textbook to suffer in the consistency category. Yet it does not, thanks again to the fine editing job by Cheryl Lowry. Perhaps the book's provenance as a series of online tutorials put together by librarians and faculty at OSU is partly responsible for this.

As the authors suggest on the first page, the research process isn't always linear. So reading a text modeled on the research process oughtn't to be a straightforward chapter-by-chapter march either. Consequently, faculty and students can comfortably read this text selectively and skip chapters as needed. For the most holistic understanding of the research process, however, it would be sensible to work through at least chapters one through eight in their entirety.

I appreciate how the text's organization mirrors the research process itself. The first chapter takes on research questions, exactly where student researchers need to begin their projects. Subsequent chapters explore types of information sources, how to find and evaluate them, and finally how to deploy them in a well-argued scholarly product. The writing in each chapter is clear and crisp, with important concepts amplified by colorful visualizations.

As mentioned above, the chapters on copyright and fair use which occur near the end of the book feel like a logical interruption to the book's flow, and they might well fit more comfortably as appendices for occasional reference by advanced undergraduates, faculty, and librarians.

The "look and feel" of this textbook is clean and very intuitive to navigate through. The design strikes a pleasing balance between prose, graphics, and special formatting features like the explanatory, grey-background "TIPS" found in each chapter. Subheadings, bulleted and ordered lists, and judicious font choices make the text easy to read in all its online file formats.

One weakness of the interface is that several of the linked activities point to OSU Libraries' resources, thus requiring OSU authentication to be accessed. While it is understandable that the authors wanted to include their libraries' proprietary information sources in the activities - these are the sources their students and faculty will be using in actual practice, after all - this obviously makes this text less of an "open" textbook. Those outside of the OSU community who would like to adopt this textbook will therefore have to come up with their own replacement activities in such cases, or do without.

A few of the links in the text did lead me to a curious OSU server error message: "Error: Unknown export format", but I expect these links will be repaired as they are reported to the authors.

This textbook has clearly been edited with careful eyes by Cheryl Lowry, as grammatical errors are few to none. The grammatical hygiene of the text can probably also be attributed to its collective authorship - over a dozen librarians and faculty of the Ohio State University Libraries developed the content, which was born out of a series of online tutorials.

This textbook is culturally relevant in its use of examples and depictions of college students.

This text is a substantial contribution to the open textbook movement, and its quality easily meets or exceeds anything comparable in the commercial publishing arena. Highly recommended.

Reviewed by Kelly McKenna, Assistant Professor, Colorado State University on 12/5/16

The book provides a thorough introduction and how to regarding sources in academic writing. With the exception of the first chapter on writing research questions, the rest of the book is focused on sources, which is relevant for any type of... read more

The book provides a thorough introduction and how to regarding sources in academic writing. With the exception of the first chapter on writing research questions, the rest of the book is focused on sources, which is relevant for any type of academic writing not just research papers. The information is relevant across disciplines and readable to a wide audience. It is clearly written for and geared towards undergraduate students, particularly from Ohio State University. The index is detailed making it easy to locate specific information and includes hyperlinks for clear navigation. A slightly altered index format would make the chapter topics more readily available and accessed. All subjects and chapters are aligned rather than clearly indicating each of the chapters found within the text.

Content throughout the book is accurate and clearly written. There does not appear to bias in reading the material. The book includes numerous resources linked throughout the text, however some are no longer active resulting in error messages.

Due to the significant number of links throughout the book, it is likely updates will be necessary on a consistent basis. These links are extremely beneficial, so ensuring they are accurate and up to date is essential to the content of this book. Much of the book reads as a "how to" regarding sources, so although practices for scholarly writing will likely not become obsolete the sources and technology used to locate the sources will evolve.

The informal tone of the text is engaging and applicable for the intended audience. The writers are aware of their audience, avoiding technical jargon. Also, throughout the book they provide numerous examples, resources, activities, and tips to provide insight and relevancy to students.

The structure of the book is clear and well organized with each chapter providing scaffolding for the next. Although the text is internally consistent regarding terminology there are formatting differences between and within some chapters. Blue boxes throughout the text contain tips, examples, answers, etc. Organization, readability, and consistency could be improved if these were constant throughout the text similar to the presentation of activities in the text.

Sections of the book could be easily assigned and read in isolation. Subsections of material are clearly marked and chapters are presented in organized fashion with clear delineation between segments. The inclusion of numerous activities, examples, resources, and tips improve modularity.

The book is created as a tool for students completing academic writing and follows this course. Topics contained in the book are presented in a clear and logical structure. As mentioned above, with exception of the first chapter, the material is relevant to all undergraduate academic writing, not just research.

The layout and display work well as a PDF or electronic book. Numerous visuals are included throughout and are free of distortion or other distracting or confusing issues. As mentioned above, the index could be improved by clearly articulating the subheadings as within a chapter.

The book contains minimal to no grammatical errors.

The book is not culturally insensitive or offensive in any way.

Some sections of the book are specific to Ohio State University potentially limiting its relevancy and audience in specific chapters or sections.

• 1. Research Questions
• 2. Types of Sources
• 3. Sources and Information Needs
• 4. Precision Searching
• 5. Search Tools
• 6. Evaluating Sources
• 7. Ethical Use of Sources
• 8. How to Cite Sources
• 9. Making an Argument
• 10. Writing Tips
• 12. Fair Use
• 13. Roles of Research Sources

## Ancillary Material

Choosing & Using Sources presents a process for academic research and writing, from formulating your research question to selecting good information and using it effectively in your research assignments. Additional chapters cover understanding types of sources, searching for information, and avoiding plagiarism. Each chapter includes self-quizzes and activities to reinforce core concepts and help you apply them. There are also appendices for quick reference on search tools, copyright basics, and fair use.

What experts are saying about Choosing & Using Sources: A Guide to Academic Research :

“…a really fantastic contribution that offers a much needed broadened perspective on the process of research, and is packed to the brim with all kinds of resources and advice on how to effectively use them. The chapter on plagiarism is really excellent, and the chapter on searching for sources is utterly brilliant.”

– Chris Manion, PhD Coordinator of Writing Across the Curriculum at Ohio State University

“… an excellent resource for students, with engaging content, graphics, and examples—very compelling. The coverage of copyright is outstanding.”

– J. Craig Gibson Co-chair of ACRL's Task Force on Information Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education

Cheryl Lowry , training and education specialist, Ohio State University Libraries.

## Six main chapters of a research paper

Main Chapters of a Research Paper Read less

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• 1. THE BODY OF A RESEARCH PAPER: SIX MAIN CHAPTERS
• 2. THE BODY OF A RESEARCH PAPER:  SIX MAIN CHAPTERS 1. INTRODUCTION This is the first part of Chapter 1, and it consists of the following: background of the study, statement of the problem, significance of the study, and scope and delimination of the study,
• 3.  An effective introduction may be achieved by:  using a relevant and striking quotation  relating a relevant but striking anecdote or incident  asking a series of questions  using a striking statement of your own  Background of the Study This is a brief statement of the origin of the problem . It is an account describing the circumstances which suggest the research .
• 4. Statement of the Problem The definition of the problem is the first main step in writing the research paper. It should be stated precisely, accurately, and clearly. The problem can be expressed in question or declarative form. Ex. BroadTopic: Problems of Drug Addiction SpecificTopic: The Effects of Drug Addiction on the Human Body
• 5. Significance of the Study This part states the significance of the study and its result. It covers an expression of the study’s relevance to fill certain needs.  Scope and Delimination of the Study The scope of the study identifies a reasonable area covered by the study. A specific statement of the study must indicate the subjects, the number, and the treatment involved in the study.
• 6. 2. CONCEPTUAL ANDTHEORETICAL FRAMEWORK A conceptual framework is based on generally accepted methods, practises, etc. A theoretical framework deals with interrelated theories which must be presented in more detail as they are not totally tangible.
• 7. This part presents a theoretical or conceptual scheme for the research problem. This is usually presented in a diagram showing the interrelationship of the variables. Ex. Input Process Analysis Output Review of Related Literature and Studies
• 8. The ideas and concepts taken by the researcher from various sources should be restated in the researcher’s own words and should be woven into the paper, which he can call his own. For coherence, unity and clarity; the researcher can do the ff: • Adopt a point of view and adhere to it throughout the research; • Only ideas that will help explain the topic should be included
• 9. • Have an expression that will anticipate the next topic at the end of each paragraph; • Be consistent with the use of person and tense Hypothesis These are tentative statements about the given research topic. Definition ofTerms This part includes the operational and conceptual definition of significant terms used in the research paper.
• 10. 3. METHODOLOGY This chapter includes the research design, the procedure for data collection, and data analysis procedure. Research design is a description of the conditions for data collections and analysis. 4. PRESENTATION AND ANALYSIS OF DATA This part summarizes the data collected and presents its analysis. It includes the explanations, implications and applications of the results of the collected data.
• 11. 5. SUMMARY AND CONCLUSIONS This is the last chapter of the research, which includes an overview of the research. It consists of the restatement of the problem, the procedures and the findings.  First draft  First revision  Documentation
• 12. 6. BIBLIOGRAPHY It is an alphabetical list of source and materials that have been used in the study. It enables the reader to have a scholarly grasp of the study. This part may be divided into books, periodicals, documents and unpublished works. Ex. Books Dawson, A. C. (1993). Managing Stress. Boston: Littlefield, Adams and Co. Periodicals Delos Santos, R.G. (1998, October). How to ManageTest Anxiety. MedicalJournal. 11-15
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## Online Guide to Writing and Research

The research process, explore more of umgc.

• Online Guide to Writing

## Structuring the Research Paper

Formal research structure.

These are the primary purposes for formal research:

enter the discourse, or conversation, of other writers and scholars in your field

learn how others in your field use primary and secondary resources

find and understand raw data and information

For the formal academic research assignment, consider an organizational pattern typically used for primary academic research.  The pattern includes the following: introduction, methods, results, discussion, and conclusions/recommendations.

Usually, research papers flow from the general to the specific and back to the general in their organization. The introduction uses a general-to-specific movement in its organization, establishing the thesis and setting the context for the conversation. The methods and results sections are more detailed and specific, providing support for the generalizations made in the introduction. The discussion section moves toward an increasingly more general discussion of the subject, leading to the conclusions and recommendations, which then generalize the conversation again.

## Sections of a Formal Structure

The introduction section.

Many students will find that writing a structured  introduction  gets them started and gives them the focus needed to significantly improve their entire paper.

Introductions usually have three parts:

presentation of the problem statement, the topic, or the research inquiry

purpose and focus of your paper

summary or overview of the writer’s position or arguments

In the first part of the introduction—the presentation of the problem or the research inquiry—state the problem or express it so that the question is implied. Then, sketch the background on the problem and review the literature on it to give your readers a context that shows them how your research inquiry fits into the conversation currently ongoing in your subject area.

In the second part of the introduction, state your purpose and focus. Here, you may even present your actual thesis. Sometimes your purpose statement can take the place of the thesis by letting your reader know your intentions.

The third part of the introduction, the summary or overview of the paper, briefly leads readers through the discussion, forecasting the main ideas and giving readers a blueprint for the paper.

The following example provides a blueprint for a well-organized introduction.

Example of an Introduction

Entrepreneurial Marketing: The Critical Difference

In an article in the Harvard Business Review, John A. Welsh and Jerry F. White remind us that “a small business is not a little big business.” An entrepreneur is not a multinational conglomerate but a profit-seeking individual. To survive, he must have a different outlook and must apply different principles to his endeavors than does the president of a large or even medium-sized corporation. Not only does the scale of small and big businesses differ, but small businesses also suffer from what the Harvard Business Review article calls “resource poverty.” This is a problem and opportunity that requires an entirely different approach to marketing. Where large ad budgets are not necessary or feasible, where expensive ad production squanders limited capital, where every marketing dollar must do the work of two dollars, if not five dollars or even ten, where a person’s company, capital, and material well-being are all on the line—that is, where guerrilla marketing can save the day and secure the bottom line (Levinson, 1984, p. 9).

By reviewing the introductions to research articles in the discipline in which you are writing your research paper, you can get an idea of what is considered the norm for that discipline. Study several of these before you begin your paper so that you know what may be expected. If you are unsure of the kind of introduction your paper needs, ask your professor for more information.  The introduction is normally written in present tense.

## THE METHODS SECTION

The methods section of your research paper should describe in detail what methodology and special materials if any, you used to think through or perform your research. You should include any materials you used or designed for yourself, such as questionnaires or interview questions, to generate data or information for your research paper. You want to include any methodologies that are specific to your particular field of study, such as lab procedures for a lab experiment or data-gathering instruments for field research. The methods section is usually written in the past tense.

## THE RESULTS SECTION

How you present the results of your research depends on what kind of research you did, your subject matter, and your readers’ expectations.

Quantitative information —data that can be measured—can be presented systematically and economically in tables, charts, and graphs. Quantitative information includes quantities and comparisons of sets of data.

Qualitative information , which includes brief descriptions, explanations, or instructions, can also be presented in prose tables. This kind of descriptive or explanatory information, however, is often presented in essay-like prose or even lists.

There are specific conventions for creating tables, charts, and graphs and organizing the information they contain. In general, you should use them only when you are sure they will enlighten your readers rather than confuse them. In the accompanying explanation and discussion, always refer to the graphic by number and explain specifically what you are referring to; you can also provide a caption for the graphic. The rule of thumb for presenting a graphic is first to introduce it by name, show it, and then interpret it. The results section is usually written in the past tense.

## THE DISCUSSION SECTION

Your discussion section should generalize what you have learned from your research. One way to generalize is to explain the consequences or meaning of your results and then make your points that support and refer back to the statements you made in your introduction. Your discussion should be organized so that it relates directly to your thesis. You want to avoid introducing new ideas here or discussing tangential issues not directly related to the exploration and discovery of your thesis. The discussion section, along with the introduction, is usually written in the present tense.

## THE CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS SECTION

You may be asked to present your recommendations separately in your research assignment. If so, you will want to add some elements to your conclusion section. For example, you may be asked to recommend a course of action, make a prediction, propose a solution to a problem, offer a judgment, or speculate on the implications and consequences of your ideas. The conclusions and recommendations section is usually written in the present tense.

## Key Takeaways

• For the formal academic research assignment, consider an organizational pattern typically used for primary academic research.
•  The pattern includes the following: introduction, methods, results, discussion, and conclusions/recommendations.

Chapter 1: College Writing

How Does College Writing Differ from Workplace Writing?

What Is College Writing?

Why So Much Emphasis on Writing?

Chapter 2: The Writing Process

Doing Exploratory Research

Getting from Notes to Your Draft

Introduction

Prewriting - Techniques to Get Started - Mining Your Intuition

Prewriting: Techniques to Get Started

Rewriting: Creating a Revision Strategy

Rewriting: Getting Feedback

Rewriting: The Final Draft

Techniques to Get Started - Outlining

Techniques to Get Started - Using Systematic Techniques

Thesis Statement and Controlling Idea

Writing: Getting from Notes to Your Draft - Freewriting

Writing: Outlining What You Will Write

Chapter 3: Thinking Strategies

A Word About Style, Voice, and Tone

A Word About Style, Voice, and Tone: Style Through Vocabulary and Diction

Critical Strategies and Writing

Critical Strategies and Writing: Analysis

Critical Strategies and Writing: Evaluation

Critical Strategies and Writing: Persuasion

Critical Strategies and Writing: Synthesis

Developing a Paper Using Strategies

Kinds of Assignments You Will Write

Patterns for Presenting Information

Patterns for Presenting Information: Critiques

Patterns for Presenting Information: Discussing Raw Data

Patterns for Presenting Information: General-to-Specific Pattern

Patterns for Presenting Information: Problem-Cause-Solution Pattern

Patterns for Presenting Information: Specific-to-General Pattern

Patterns for Presenting Information: Summaries and Abstracts

Supporting with Research and Examples

Writing Essay Examinations

Writing Essay Examinations: Organize Thinking Before Writing

Writing Essay Examinations: Read and Understand the Question

Chapter 4: The Research Process

Planning and Writing a Research Paper

Planning and Writing a Research Paper: Ask a Research Question

Planning and Writing a Research Paper: Cite Sources

Planning and Writing a Research Paper: Collect Evidence

Planning and Writing a Research Paper: Decide Your Point of View, or Role, for Your Research

Planning and Writing a Research Paper: Draw Conclusions

Planning and Writing a Research Paper: Find a Topic and Get an Overview

Planning and Writing a Research Paper: Manage Your Resources

Planning and Writing a Research Paper: Outline

Planning and Writing a Research Paper: Survey the Literature

Planning and Writing a Research Paper: Work Your Sources into Your Research Writing

Research Resources: Where Are Research Resources Found? - Human Resources

Research Resources: What Are Research Resources?

Research Resources: Where Are Research Resources Found?

Research Resources: Where Are Research Resources Found? - Electronic Resources

Research Resources: Where Are Research Resources Found? - Print Resources

Structuring the Research Paper: Formal Research Structure

Structuring the Research Paper: Informal Research Structure

The Nature of Research

The Research Assignment: How Should Research Sources Be Evaluated?

The Research Assignment: When Is Research Needed?

The Research Assignment: Why Perform Research?

Giving Credit to Sources

Giving Credit to Sources: Copyright Laws

Giving Credit to Sources: Documentation

Giving Credit to Sources: Style Guides

Integrating Sources

Practicing Academic Integrity: Keeping Accurate Records

Practicing Academic Integrity: Managing Source Material

Types of Documentation

Types of Documentation: Bibliographies and Source Lists

Types of Documentation: Citing World Wide Web Sources

Types of Documentation: In-Text or Parenthetical Citations

Types of Documentation: In-Text or Parenthetical Citations - APA Style

Types of Documentation: In-Text or Parenthetical Citations - CSE/CBE Style

Types of Documentation: In-Text or Parenthetical Citations - Chicago Style

Types of Documentation: In-Text or Parenthetical Citations - MLA Style

Types of Documentation: Note Citations

Chapter 6: Using Library Resources

Finding Library Resources

How Is Writing Graded?: A General Assessment Tool

The Draft Stage

The Draft Stage: The First Draft

The Draft Stage: The Revision Process and the Final Draft

The Draft Stage: Using Feedback

The Research Stage

Using Assessment to Improve Your Writing

Chapter 8: Other Frequently Assigned Papers

Reviews and Reaction Papers: Article and Book Reviews

Reviews and Reaction Papers: Reaction Papers

Writing Arguments

Writing Arguments: Adapting the Argument Structure

Writing Arguments: Purposes of Argument

Writing Arguments: References to Consult for Writing Arguments

Writing Arguments: Steps to Writing an Argument - Anticipate Active Opposition

Writing Arguments: Steps to Writing an Argument - Determine Your Organization

Writing Arguments: Steps to Writing an Argument - Develop Your Argument

Writing Arguments: Steps to Writing an Argument - Introduce Your Argument

Writing Arguments: Steps to Writing an Argument - State Your Thesis or Proposition

Writing Arguments: Steps to Writing an Argument - Write Your Conclusion

Writing Arguments: Types of Argument

## Appendix A: Books to Help Improve Your Writing

Dictionaries

General Style Manuals

Researching on the Internet

Special Style Manuals

Writing Handbooks

## Appendix B: Collaborative Writing and Peer Reviewing

Collaborative Writing: Assignments to Accompany the Group Project

Collaborative Writing: Informal Progress Report

Collaborative Writing: Issues to Resolve

Collaborative Writing: Methodology

Collaborative Writing: Peer Evaluation

Collaborative Writing: Tasks of Collaborative Writing Group Members

Collaborative Writing: Writing Plan

General Introduction

Peer Reviewing

## Appendix D: Writing Plan and Project Schedule

Devising a Writing Project Plan and Schedule

## 5.4 Components of a Research Project

Learning objectives.

• Describe useful strategies to employ when searching for literature.
• Describe why sociologists review prior literature and how they organize their literature reviews.
• Identify the main sections contained in scholarly journal articles.
• Identify and describe the major components researchers need to plan for when designing a research project.

In this section, we’ll examine the most typical components that make up a research project, bringing in a few additional components to those we have already discussed. Keep in mind that our purpose at this stage is simply to provide a general overview of research design. The specifics of each of the following components will vary from project to project. Further, the stage of a project at which each of these components comes into play may vary. In later chapters, we will consider more specifically how these components work differently depending on the research method being employed.

## Searching for Literature

Familiarizing yourself with research that has already been conducted on your topic is one of the first stages of conducting a research project and is crucial for coming up with a good research design. But where to start? How to start? In Chapter 4 "Beginning a Research Project" , you learned about some of the most common databases that house information about published sociological research. As you search for literature, you may have to be fairly broad in your search for articles.

I’m guessing you may feel you’ve heard enough about electronic gadget addiction in this chapter, so let’s consider a different example here. On my campus, much to the chagrin of a group of student smokers, smoking was recently banned. These students were so upset by the idea that they would no longer be allowed to smoke on university grounds that they staged several smoke-outs during which they gathered in populated areas around campus and enjoyed a puff or two together.

A student in my research methods class wanted to understand what motivated this group of students to engage in activism centered around what she perceived to be, in this age of smoke-free facilities, a relatively deviant act. Were the protesters otherwise politically active? How much effort and coordination had it taken to organize the smoke-outs? The student researcher began her research by attempting to familiarize herself with the literature on her topic. Yet her search in Sociological Abstracts for “college student activist smoke-outs,” yielded no results. Concluding there was no prior research on her topic, she informed me that she would need an alternative assignment to the annotated bibliography A list of sources relevant to a person’s research project. The list is usually presented in alphabetical order, using the citation format of the researcher’s profession. It includes a brief summary of each source’s point of focus, theoretical argument, and major findings underneath each citation. Some annotated bibliographies also contain a brief critique or evaluation of each source. I required since there was no literature for her to review. How do you suppose I responded to this news? What went wrong with this student’s search for literature?

In her first attempt, the student had been too narrow in her search for articles. But did that mean she was off the hook for completing the annotated bibliography assignment? Absolutely not. Instead, she went back to Sociological Abstracts and searched again using different combinations of search terms. Rather than searching for “college student activist smoke-outs” she tried, among other sets of terms, “college student activism.” This time her search yielded a great many articles. Of course, they were not focused on prosmoking activist efforts, but they were focused on her population of interest, college students, and on her broad topic of interest, activism. I suggested that reading articles on college student activism might give her some idea about what other researchers have found in terms of what motivates college students to become involved in activist efforts. I also suggested she could play around with her search terms and look for research on activism centered on other sorts of activities that are perceived by some as deviant, such as marijuana use or veganism. In other words, she needed to be broader in her search for articles.

While this student found success by broadening her search for articles, her reading of those articles needed to be narrower than her search. Once she identified a set of articles to review by searching broadly, it was time to remind herself of her specific research focus: college student activist smoke-outs. Keeping in mind her particular research interest while reviewing the literature gave her the chance to think about how the theories and findings covered in prior studies might or might not apply to her particular point of focus. For example, theories on what motivates activists to get involved might tell her something about the likely reasons the students she planned to study got involved. At the same time, those theories might not cover all the particulars of student participation in smoke-outs. Thinking about the different theories then gave the student the opportunity to focus her research plans and even to develop a few hypotheses about what she thought she was likely to find.

## Reviewing the Literature

Developing an annotated bibliography is often one of the early steps that researchers take as they begin to familiarize themselves with prior research on their topic. A second step involves a literature review in which a researcher positions his or her work within the context of prior scholarly work in the area. A literature review addresses the following matters: What sorts of questions have other scholars asked about this topic? What do we already know about this topic? What questions remain? As the researcher answers these questions, he or she synthesizes what is contained in the literature, possibly organizing prior findings around themes that are relevant to his or her particular research focus.

I once advised an undergraduate student who conducted a research project on speciesism, the belief that some species are superior to or have more value and rights than others. Her research question was “Why and how do humans construct divisions between themselves and animals?” This student organized her review of literature around the two parts of her research question: the why and the how. In the “why” section of her literature review, she described prior research that addressed questions of why humans are sometimes speciesist. She organized subsections around the three most common answers that were presented in the scholarly literature. She used the same structure in the “how” section of her literature review, arranging subsections around the answers posed in previous literature about how humans construct divisions between themselves and animals. This organizational scheme helped readers understand what we already know about the topic and what theories we rely on to help make sense of the topic. In addition, by also highlighting what we still don’t know, it helped the student set the stage for her own empirical research on the topic.

The preceding discussion about how to organize a review of scholarly literature assumes that we all know how to read scholarly literature. Yes, yes, I understand that you must know how to read. But reading scholarly articles can be a bit more challenging than reading a textbook. Here are a few pointers about how to do it successfully. First, it is important to understand the various sections that are typically contained in scholarly journals’ reports of empirical research. One of the most important and easiest to spot sections of a journal article is its abstract A short paragraph at the beginning of a journal article that summarizes the author’s research question(s), research method(s), and key findings. , the short paragraph at the beginning of an article that summarizes the author’s research question, methods used to answer the question, and key findings. The abstract may also give you some idea about the theoretical proclivities of the author. As a result, reading the abstract gives you both a framework for understanding the rest of the article and the punch line. It tells you what the author(s) found and whether the article is relevant to your area of inquiry.

After the abstract, most journal articles will contain the following sections (although exact section names are likely to vary): introduction, literature review, methodology, findings, and discussion. Of course, there will also be a list of references cited, Lists of references cited are a useful source for finding additional literature in an area. and there may be a few tables, figures, or appendices at the end of the article as well. While you should get into the habit of familiarizing yourself with articles you wish to cite in their entirety , there are strategic ways to read journal articles that can make them a little easier to digest. Once you have read the abstract and determined that this is an article you’d like to read in full, read through the discussion section at the end of the article next. Because your own review of literature is likely to emphasize findings from previous literature, you should make sure that you have a clear idea about what those findings are. Reading an article’s discussion section helps you understand what the author views as the study’s major findings and how the author perceives those findings to relate to other research.

Thinking about the overarching goals of your research project and finding and reviewing the existing literature on your topic are two of the initial steps you’ll take when designing a research project. Forming a clear research question, as discussed in Chapter 4 "Beginning a Research Project" , is another crucial step. There are a number of other important research design components you’ll need to consider, and we will discuss those here.

Decisions about the various research components do not necessarily occur in sequential order. In fact, you may have to think about potential ethical concerns even before zeroing in on a specific research question. Similarly, the goal of being able to make generalizations about your population of interest could shape the decisions you make about your method of data collection. Putting it all together, the following list shows some of the major components you’ll need to consider as you design your research project:

• Research question
• Literature review
• Research strategy (idiographic or nomothetic, inductive or deductive)
• Research goals (basic or applied)
• Units of analysis and units of observation
• Key concepts (conceptualization and operationalization)
• Method of data collection
• Research participants (sample and population)
• Ethical concerns

## Key Takeaways

• Writing an annotated bibliography can be a helpful first step to familiarize yourself with prior research in your area of interest.
• Literature reviews summarize and synthesize prior research.
• Literature reviews are typically organized around substantive ideas that are relevant to one’s research question rather than around individual studies or article authors.
• When designing a research project, be sure to think about, plan for, and identify a research question, a review of literature, a research strategy, research goals, units of analysis and units of observation, key concepts, method(s) of data collection, population and sample, and potential ethical concerns.
• Find and read a complete journal article that addresses a topic that is of interest to you (perhaps using Sociological Abstracts, which is introduced in Chapter 4 "Beginning a Research Project" ). In four to eight sentences, summarize the author’s research question, theoretical framing, methods used, and major findings. Reread the article, and see how close you were in reporting these key elements. What did you understand and remember best? What did you leave out? What reading strategies may have helped you better recall relevant details from the article?
• Using the example of students’ electronic gadget addictions, design a hypothetical research project by identifying a plan for each of the nine components of research design that are presented in this section.

## 11.2 Steps in Developing a Research Proposal

Learning objectives.

• Identify the steps in developing a research proposal.
• Choose a topic and formulate a research question and working thesis.
• Develop a research proposal.

Writing a good research paper takes time, thought, and effort. Although this assignment is challenging, it is manageable. Focusing on one step at a time will help you develop a thoughtful, informative, well-supported research paper.

Your first step is to choose a topic and then to develop research questions, a working thesis, and a written research proposal. Set aside adequate time for this part of the process. Fully exploring ideas will help you build a solid foundation for your paper.

## Choosing a Topic

When you choose a topic for a research paper, you are making a major commitment. Your choice will help determine whether you enjoy the lengthy process of research and writing—and whether your final paper fulfills the assignment requirements. If you choose your topic hastily, you may later find it difficult to work with your topic. By taking your time and choosing carefully, you can ensure that this assignment is not only challenging but also rewarding.

Writers understand the importance of choosing a topic that fulfills the assignment requirements and fits the assignment’s purpose and audience. (For more information about purpose and audience, see Chapter 6 “Writing Paragraphs: Separating Ideas and Shaping Content” .) Choosing a topic that interests you is also crucial. You instructor may provide a list of suggested topics or ask that you develop a topic on your own. In either case, try to identify topics that genuinely interest you.

After identifying potential topic ideas, you will need to evaluate your ideas and choose one topic to pursue. Will you be able to find enough information about the topic? Can you develop a paper about this topic that presents and supports your original ideas? Is the topic too broad or too narrow for the scope of the assignment? If so, can you modify it so it is more manageable? You will ask these questions during this preliminary phase of the research process.

## Identifying Potential Topics

Sometimes, your instructor may provide a list of suggested topics. If so, you may benefit from identifying several possibilities before committing to one idea. It is important to know how to narrow down your ideas into a concise, manageable thesis. You may also use the list as a starting point to help you identify additional, related topics. Discussing your ideas with your instructor will help ensure that you choose a manageable topic that fits the requirements of the assignment.

In this chapter, you will follow a writer named Jorge, who is studying health care administration, as he prepares a research paper. You will also plan, research, and draft your own research paper.

Jorge was assigned to write a research paper on health and the media for an introductory course in health care. Although a general topic was selected for the students, Jorge had to decide which specific issues interested him. He brainstormed a list of possibilities.

If you are writing a research paper for a specialized course, look back through your notes and course activities. Identify reading assignments and class discussions that especially engaged you. Doing so can help you identify topics to pursue.

• Health Maintenance Organizations (HMOs) in the news
• Sexual education programs
• Hollywood and eating disorders
• Media portrayal of health care reform bill
• Depictions of drugs on television
• The effect of the Internet on mental health
• Popularized diets (such as low-carbohydrate diets)
• Fear of pandemics (bird flu, HINI, SARS)
• Electronic entertainment and obesity
• Public education and disease prevention

Set a timer for five minutes. Use brainstorming or idea mapping to create a list of topics you would be interested in researching for a paper about the influence of the Internet on social networking. Do you closely follow the media coverage of a particular website, such as Twitter? Would you like to learn more about a certain industry, such as online dating? Which social networking sites do you and your friends use? List as many ideas related to this topic as you can.

Once you have a list of potential topics, you will need to choose one as the focus of your essay. You will also need to narrow your topic. Most writers find that the topics they listed during brainstorming or idea mapping are broad—too broad for the scope of the assignment. Working with an overly broad topic, such as sexual education programs or popularized diets, can be frustrating and overwhelming. Each topic has so many facets that it would be impossible to cover them all in a college research paper. However, more specific choices, such as the pros and cons of sexual education in kids’ television programs or the physical effects of the South Beach diet, are specific enough to write about without being too narrow to sustain an entire research paper.

A good research paper provides focused, in-depth information and analysis. If your topic is too broad, you will find it difficult to do more than skim the surface when you research it and write about it. Narrowing your focus is essential to making your topic manageable. To narrow your focus, explore your topic in writing, conduct preliminary research, and discuss both the topic and the research with others.

## Exploring Your Topic in Writing

“How am I supposed to narrow my topic when I haven’t even begun researching yet?” In fact, you may already know more than you realize. Review your list and identify your top two or three topics. Set aside some time to explore each one through freewriting. (For more information about freewriting, see Chapter 8 “The Writing Process: How Do I Begin?” .) Simply taking the time to focus on your topic may yield fresh angles.

Jorge knew that he was especially interested in the topic of diet fads, but he also knew that it was much too broad for his assignment. He used freewriting to explore his thoughts so he could narrow his topic. Read Jorge’s ideas.

## Conducting Preliminary Research

Jorge’s freewriting exercise helped him realize that the assigned topic of health and the media intersected with a few of his interests—diet, nutrition, and obesity. Preliminary online research and discussions with his classmates strengthened his impression that many people are confused or misled by media coverage of these subjects.

Jorge decided to focus his paper on a topic that had garnered a great deal of media attention—low-carbohydrate diets. He wanted to find out whether low-carbohydrate diets were as effective as their proponents claimed.

## Writing at Work

At work, you may need to research a topic quickly to find general information. This information can be useful in understanding trends in a given industry or generating competition. For example, a company may research a competitor’s prices and use the information when pricing their own product. You may find it useful to skim a variety of reliable sources and take notes on your findings.

The reliability of online sources varies greatly. In this exploratory phase of your research, you do not need to evaluate sources as closely as you will later. However, use common sense as you refine your paper topic. If you read a fascinating blog comment that gives you a new idea for your paper, be sure to check out other, more reliable sources as well to make sure the idea is worth pursuing.

Review the list of topics you created in Note 11.18 “Exercise 1” and identify two or three topics you would like to explore further. For each of these topics, spend five to ten minutes writing about the topic without stopping. Then review your writing to identify possible areas of focus.

Set aside time to conduct preliminary research about your potential topics. Then choose a topic to pursue for your research paper.

Collaboration

Please share your topic list with a classmate. Select one or two topics on his or her list that you would like to learn more about and return it to him or her. Discuss why you found the topics interesting, and learn which of your topics your classmate selected and why.

## A Plan for Research

Your freewriting and preliminary research have helped you choose a focused, manageable topic for your research paper. To work with your topic successfully, you will need to determine what exactly you want to learn about it—and later, what you want to say about it. Before you begin conducting in-depth research, you will further define your focus by developing a research question , a working thesis, and a research proposal.

## Formulating a Research Question

In forming a research question, you are setting a goal for your research. Your main research question should be substantial enough to form the guiding principle of your paper—but focused enough to guide your research. A strong research question requires you not only to find information but also to put together different pieces of information, interpret and analyze them, and figure out what you think. As you consider potential research questions, ask yourself whether they would be too hard or too easy to answer.

To determine your research question, review the freewriting you completed earlier. Skim through books, articles, and websites and list the questions you have. (You may wish to use the 5WH strategy to help you formulate questions. See Chapter 8 “The Writing Process: How Do I Begin?” for more information about 5WH questions.) Include simple, factual questions and more complex questions that would require analysis and interpretation. Determine your main question—the primary focus of your paper—and several subquestions that you will need to research to answer your main question.

Here are the research questions Jorge will use to focus his research. Notice that his main research question has no obvious, straightforward answer. Jorge will need to research his subquestions, which address narrower topics, to answer his main question.

Using the topic you selected in Note 11.24 “Exercise 2” , write your main research question and at least four to five subquestions. Check that your main research question is appropriately complex for your assignment.

## Constructing a Working ThesIs

Jorge began his research with a strong point of view based on his preliminary writing and research. Read his working thesis statement, which presents the point he will argue. Notice how it states Jorge’s tentative answer to his research question.

One way to determine your working thesis is to consider how you would complete sentences such as I believe or My opinion is . However, keep in mind that academic writing generally does not use first-person pronouns. These statements are useful starting points, but formal research papers use an objective voice.

Write a working thesis statement that presents your preliminary answer to the research question you wrote in Note 11.27 “Exercise 3” . Check that your working thesis statement presents an idea or claim that could be supported or refuted by evidence from research.

## Creating a Research Proposal

A research proposal is a brief document—no more than one typed page—that summarizes the preliminary work you have completed. Your purpose in writing it is to formalize your plan for research and present it to your instructor for feedback. In your research proposal, you will present your main research question, related subquestions, and working thesis. You will also briefly discuss the value of researching this topic and indicate how you plan to gather information.

When Jorge began drafting his research proposal, he realized that he had already created most of the pieces he needed. However, he knew he also had to explain how his research would be relevant to other future health care professionals. In addition, he wanted to form a general plan for doing the research and identifying potentially useful sources. Read Jorge’s research proposal.

Before you begin a new project at work, you may have to develop a project summary document that states the purpose of the project, explains why it would be a wise use of company resources, and briefly outlines the steps involved in completing the project. This type of document is similar to a research proposal. Both documents define and limit a project, explain its value, discuss how to proceed, and identify what resources you will use.

## Writing Your Own Research Proposal

Now you may write your own research proposal, if you have not done so already. Follow the guidelines provided in this lesson.

## Key Takeaways

• Developing a research proposal involves the following preliminary steps: identifying potential ideas, choosing ideas to explore further, choosing and narrowing a topic, formulating a research question, and developing a working thesis.
• A good topic for a research paper interests the writer and fulfills the requirements of the assignment.
• Defining and narrowing a topic helps writers conduct focused, in-depth research.
• Writers conduct preliminary research to identify possible topics and research questions and to develop a working thesis.
• A good research question interests readers, is neither too broad nor too narrow, and has no obvious answer.
• A good working thesis expresses a debatable idea or claim that can be supported with evidence from research.
• Writers create a research proposal to present their topic, main research question, subquestions, and working thesis to an instructor for approval or feedback.

## Guide: Format of Writing a Research Project or Thesis Table of Content, Chapters and Contents

This is a carefully outlined and complete format of writing a research Project or thesis table of content. It may differ in nomenclature and arrangement according to your institution, this guide/outline however will help you where there are no prescriptions from your institution.

Title Page Certification Dedication Acknowledge Table of Content List of Tables List of Figures

Chapter One Introduction

1.1 Background to the Study 1.2 Statement of the problem 1.3 Research Questions/Hypothesis 1.4 Purpose of the Study 1.5 Significance of the Study 1.6 Scope and Delimitation of Study 1.7 Limiation of Study 1.8 Definition of Terms

Chapter Two Review of Related Literature

2.1 Theoretical Framework/Conceptual Framework 2.2 Insert other relevant sub-headings 2.3 Literature Appraisal

Chapter Three Methodology

3.1 Research Design 3.2 Population of the Study 3.3 Sample and Sampling Techniques 3.4 Instrument(s) 3.5 Validity and Reliability of the Instrument(s) 3.6 Administration of Instrument(s) 3.7 Method of Data Analysis

Chapter Four Data Analysis, Interpretation and Discussion of Findings

Chapter Five Summary, Conclusion and Recommendations

5.1 Summary of Findings 5.2 Conclusion 5.3 Implications of the Study 5.4 Recommendations 5.5 Suggestions for Further Research 5.6 Contribution to knowledge

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## 2 2. Starting your research project

Chapter outline.

• Choosing a research topic (10 minute read time)
• Practical and ethical considerations (14 minute read time)
• Raw data (10 minute read time)
• Critical considerations (5 minute read time)

Content warning: Examples in this chapter discuss substance use disorders, mental health disorders and therapies, obesity, poverty, gun violence, gang violence, school discipline, racism and hate groups, domestic violence, trauma and triggers, incarceration, child neglect and abuse, bullying, self-harm and suicide, racial discrimination in housing, burnout in helping professions, and sex trafficking of indigenous women.

## 2.1 Choosing a research topic

Learning Objectives

Learners will be able to…

• Brainstorm topics you may want to investigate as part of a research project
• Develop a working question

Research methods is a unique class in that you get to decide what you want to learn about. Perhaps you came to your MSW program with a specific issue you were passionate about. In my MSW program, I wanted to learn about the best interventions to use with people who have substance use disorders. This was in line with my future career plans, which included working in a clinical setting with clients with co-occurring mental health and substance use issues.  I suggest you start by thinking about your future practice goals and create a research project that addresses a topic that represents an area of social work you are passionate about.

For those of you without a specific direction, don’t worry. Many people enter their MSW program without an exact topic in mind they want to study.  Throughout the program, you will be exposed to different populations, theories, practice interventions, and policies that will spark your interest. Think back to papers you enjoyed researching and writing in other classes. You may want to continue studying the same topic.  Research methods will enable you to gain a deeper, more nuanced understanding of a topic or issue. If you haven’t found an interesting topic yet, here are some other suggestions for seeking inspiration for a research project:

• If you already have practice experience in social work through employment, an internship, or volunteer work, think about practice issues you noticed in the placement.  Do you have any idea of how to better address client needs?  Do you need to learn more about existing interventions or the programs that fund your agency?  Use this class as an opportunity to engage with your previous field experience in greater detail.  Begin with “what” and “why” questions and then expand on those. For example, what are the most effective methods of treating severe depression among a specific population? Or why are people receiving food assistance more likely to be obese?
• You could also a sk a professor at your school about possible topics.  Read departmental information on faculty research interests, which may surprise you.  Most departmental websites post the curriculum vitae (CV) of faculty, which lists their publications, credentials, and interests.  For those of you interested in doctoral study, this process is particularly important.  Students often pick schools based on professors they want to learn from or research programs they want to join.

Once you have a potential idea, start reading!  A simple Google search should bring you some basic information about your topic.  News articles can reveal new or controversial information.  You may also want to identify and browse journals related to your research interests. Faculty and librarians can help you identify relevant journals in your field and specific areas of interest.  We’ll also review more detailed strategies for searching the literature in Chapter 3.  As you read, look for what’s missing. These may be “gaps in the literature” that you might explore in your own study.

It’s a good idea to keep it simple when you’re starting your project. Choose a topic that can be easily defined and explored. Your study cannot focus on everything that is important about your topic. A study on gun violence might address only one system, for example schools, while only briefly mentioning other systems that impact gun violence. That doesn’t mean it’s a bad study! The sooner you can arrive at something specific and clear that you want to study, the better off your project will be.

## Writing a working question

There are lots of great research topics. Perhaps your topic is a client population—for example, youth who identify as LGBTQ+ or visitors to a local health clinic. In other cases, your topic may be a social problem, such as gang violence, or a social policy or program, such as zero-tolerance policies in schools. Alternately, maybe there are interventions such as dialectical behavioral therapy or applied behavior analysis that interest you.

Whatever your topic idea, begin to think about it in terms of a question. What do you really want to know about the topic? As a warm-up exercise, try dropping a possible topic idea into one of the blank spaces below. The questions may help bring your subject into sharper focus and bring you closer towards developing your topic.

• What does ___ mean?
• What are the causes of ___?
• What are the consequences of ___?
• What are the component parts of ___?
• How does ___ impact ___?
• What is it like to experience ___?
• What is the relationship between _____ and the outcome of ____?
• What case can be made for or against ___?
• What are the risk/protective factors for ___?
• How do people think about ___?

Take a minute right now and write down a question you want to answer. Even if it doesn’t seem perfect, it is important to start somewhere. Make sure your research topic is relevant to social work. You’d be surprised how much of the world that encompasses. It’s not just research on mental health treatment or child welfare services. Social workers can study things like the pollution of irrigation systems and entrepreneurship in women, among other topics. The only requirement is your research must inform action to fight social problems faced by target populations.

Because research is an iterative process , one that you will revise over and over, your question will continue to evolve.  As you progress through this textbook, you’ll learn how to refine your question and include the necessary components for proper qualitative and quantitative research questions. Your question will also likely change as you engage with the literature on your topic. You will learn new and important concepts that may shift your focus or clarify your original ideas.  Trust that a strong question will emerge from this process. A good researcher must be comfortable with altering their question as a result of scientific inquiry.

Very often, our students will email me in the first few weeks of class and ask if they have a good research topic. We love student emails! But just to reassure you if you’re about to send a panicked email to your professor, as long as you are interested in dedicating a semester or two learning about your topic, it will make a good research topic. That’s why we would advise you to focus on how much you like this topic, so that three months from now you are still motivated to complete your project.

Now that you have an idea of what you might want to study, it’s time to consider what you think and feel about that topic. Your motivation for choosing a topic does not have to be objective. Because social work is a value-based profession, scholars often find themselves motivated to conduct research that furthers social justice or fights oppression. Just because you think a policy is wrong or a group is being marginalized, for example, does not mean that your research will be biased. It means you must understand what you feel, why you feel that way, and what would cause you to feel differently about your topic.

Start by asking yourself how you feel about your topic.  Sometimes the best topics to research are those about which you feel strongly. What better way to stay engaged with your research project than to study something you are passionate about? However, you must be able to accept that people may have a different perspective, and you must represent their viewpoints fairly in the research report you produce. If you feel prepared to accept all findings, even those that may be unflattering or distinct from your personal perspective, then perhaps you should begin your research project by intentionally studying a topic about which you have strong feelings.

Kathleen Blee (2002) [1] has taken this route in her research. Blee studies groups whose racist ideologies may be different than her own. You can listen to her lecture Women in Organized Racism that details some of her findings. Her scientific research is so impactful because she was willing to report her findings and observations honestly, even those contrary to her beliefs and feelings. If you believe that you may have personal difficulty sharing findings with which you disagree, then you may want to study a different topic. Knowing your own hot-button issues is an important part of self-knowledge and reflection in social work, and there is nothing wrong with avoiding topics that are likely to cause you unnecessary stress.

Social workers often use personal experience as a starting point to identify topics of interest. As we’ve discussed here, personal experience can be a powerful motivator to learn more about a topic. However, social work researchers should be mindful of their own mental health during the research process. A social worker who has experienced a mental health crisis or traumatic event should approach researching related topics cautiously. There is no need to trigger yourself or jeopardize your mental health for a research project. For example, a student who has just experienced domestic violence may want to know about Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy. While the student might gain some knowledge about potential treatments for domestic violence, they will likely have to read through many stories and reports about domestic violence as part of the research process. Unless the student’s trauma has been processed in therapy, conducting a research project on this topic may negatively impact the student’s mental health.

You might consider creating a concept map, just to get your thoughts and ideas on paper and beginning to organize them. Consider this video from the University of Guelph Library (CC-BY-NC-SA 4.0).

## Key Takeaways

• You should pick a topic for your research proposal that you are interested in, since you will be working with it for several months.
• Investigate your own feelings and thoughts about a topic, and make sure you can be objective and fair in your investigation.

Just as a reminder, exercises are designed to help you create your individual research proposal. We designed these activities to break down your proposal into small but manageable chunks. We suggest completing each exercise so you can apply what you are learning to your individual research project, as the exercises in each section and each chapter build on one another.

If you haven’t done so already, you can download this chapter’s exercises or the entire workbook in Google Drive. You might also create a document in a word processor on your computer or in a written notebook with your answers to each exercise.

Brainstorm at least 4-5 topics of interest to you and pick the one you think is the most promising for a research project.

• For your chosen topic, outline what you currently know about the topic and your feelings towards the topic. Make sure you are able to be objective and fair in your research.
• Formulate at least one working question to guide your inquiry.  It is common for topics to change and develop over the first few weeks of a project, but think of your working question as a place to start.

• Describe the stages of a research project
• Define your target population and describe how your study will impact that population
• Identify the aim of your study
• Classify your project as descriptive, exploratory, explanatory, or evaluative

Most research methods courses are designed to help students propose a research project. But what is a research project? Figure 2.1 indicates the steps of the research project. Right now, we are in the top right corner, using your informal observations from your practice experience and lived experience to form a working draft of your research question. In the next two chapters, you’ll learn how to find and evaluate scholarly literature on your topic. After thoroughly evaluating the literature, you’ll conceptualize an empirical study based on a research question you create. In many courses, students will have to carry out these designs, and in so doing, their conclusions make a contribution to the research literature in their topic area.

The subtitle of this book is “a project-based approach” because the authors’ courses use this approach. In an introductory research methods course, students often have to create a research proposal followed by a more advanced research class in which they conduct quantitative and qualitative data analysis. The research proposal , is a document produced by researchers that reviews the literature relevant to their topic and describes the methods they will use to conduct their study. Part 1 of this textbook is designed to help you with your literature review. Parts 2-4 are designed to help you figure out which methods you will use in your study.

Parts 3 and 4 should also help you conduct the study you propose to do, analyze your data (though you will probably need additional resources for that), and share it as part of the body of social science literature on your topic. Check with your professor on whether you are required to carry out the project you propose to do in your research proposal. Some of you may be off the hook! But for many of you, this book is designed to help you find a reasonable and practical project for you to complete, moving through all of the steps in Figure 2.1.

A research proposal is focused on a question. Right now, this is your working question from Section 2.1. If you haven’t created one yet, this is a good time to pause and complete the exercises from section 2.1. [2] It is likely you will revise your working question many times as you read more literature about your topic. Consider yourself in the cycle between (re)creating your research question and reviewing the research literature for Part 1 of the textbook.

## Student research proposals

Student research projects are a big undertaking, but they are well within your capability as a graduate student.  Let’s start with the research proposal.  Think about the research proposal as a communication device.  You are telling the reader (your professor, usually) everything they need to know in order to understand your topic and the study you plan to do. You are also demonstrating to the reader that you are competent and informed enough to conduct the study.

You can think of a research proposal like creating a recipe.  If you are a chef trying to cook a new dish from scratch, you would probably start by looking at other recipes.  You might cook a few of them and come up with ideas about how to create your own version of the dish.  Writing your recipe is a process of trial and error, and you will likely revise your proposal many times over the course of the semester.  This textbook and workbook are designed to get you working on your project little by little, so that by the time you turn in your final research proposal, you’ll be confident it represents the best way to answer your question. Of course, like with any time I cook, you never quite know how it will turn out.

Is writing a research proposal a useful skill for a social worker? On one hand, you probably won’t be writing research proposals for a living. But the same structure of a research proposal (literature review + methods) is used in grant applications. Writing proposals is often a part of practice, particularly in agency-based and policy practice.  Instead of finding a gap in the literature to study, practitioners write grant proposals describing a program they will use to address an issue in their community, as well as the research methods they will use to evaluate whether it worked (see Chapter 23 for more details).  Similarly, a policy advocate or public administrator might sketch out a proposed program and its evaluation as part of a proposal.  Proposal writing may differ somewhat in practice, but the general idea is the same.

Based on your work in Section 2.1, you should have a working question—a place to start.  Think about what you hope to accomplish with your study.  This is the aim of your research project.  Often, social work researchers begin with a target population in mind.  As you will recall from section 1.4, social work research is research  for action .  Social workers engage in research to help people.  Think about your working question.  Why do you want to answer it?  What impact would answering your question have?

In my MSW program, I began my research by looking at ways to intervene with people who have substance use disorders.  My foundation year placement was in an inpatient drug treatment facility that used 12-step facilitation as its primary treatment modality.  I observed that this approach differed significantly from others I had been exposed to, especially the idea of powerlessness over drugs and drug use.  My working question started as “what are the alternatives to 12-step treatment for people with substance use issues and are they more effective?”  The aim of my project was to determine whether different treatment approaches might be more effective, and I suspected that self-determination and powerlessness were important.

It’s important to note that my working question contained a target population —people with substance use disorders.  A target population is the group of people that will benefit the most.  I envisioned I would help the field of social work to think through how to better meet clients where they were at, specific to the problem of substance use.  I was studying to be a clinical social worker, so naturally, I formulated a micro-level question.  Yet, the question also has implications for meso- and macro-level practice.  If other treatment methods are more effective than 12-step facilitation, then we should direct more public money towards providing more effective therapies for people who use substances. We may also need to train the substance use professionals to use new treatment methodologies.

• Is it more oriented towards micro, meso, or macro-level practice?
• What implications would answering your question have at each level of the ecosystem?

Asking yourself whether your project is more micro, meso, or macro is a good check to see if your project is well-focused. A project that seems like it could be all of those might have too many components or try to study too much. Consider identifying one ecosystemic level your project will focus on, and you can interpret and contextualize your findings at the other levels of analysis.

## Exploration, description, and explanation

Social science is a big place. Looking at the various empirical studies in the literature, there is a lot of diversity—from focus groups with clients and families to multivariate statistical analysis of large population surveys conducted online. Ultimately, all of social science can be described as one of three basic types of research studies. As you develop your research question, consider which of the following types of research studies fits best with what you want to learn about your topic. In subsequent chapters, we will use these broad frameworks to help craft your study’s final research question and choose quantitative and qualitative research methods to answer it.

## Exploratory research

Researchers conducting  exploratory research are typically at the early stages of examining their topics. Exploratory research projects are carried out to test the feasibility of conducting a more extensive study and to figure out the “lay of the land” with respect to the particular topic. Usually, very little prior research has been conducted on this topic. For this reason, a researcher may wish to do some exploratory work to learn what method to use in collecting data, how best to approach research subjects, or even what sorts of questions are reasonable to ask.

Often, student projects begin as exploratory research.  Because students don’t know as much about the topic area yet, their working questions can be general and vague.  That’s a great place to start!  An exploratory question is great for delving into the literature and learning more about your topic.  For example, the question “what are common social work interventions for parents who neglect their children?” is a good place to start when looking at articles and textbooks to understand what interventions are commonly used with this population.  However, it is important for a student research project to progress beyond exploration unless the topic truly has very little existing research.

In my classes, I often read papers where students say there is not a lot of literature on a topic, but a quick search of library databases shows a deep body of literature on the topic. The skills you develop in Chapter 3 and 4 should assist you with finding relevant research, and working with a librarian can definitely help with finding information for your research project. That said, there are a few students each year who pick a topic for which there is in fact little existing research. Perhaps, if you were looking at child neglect interventions for parents who identify as transgender or parents who are refugees from the Syrian civil war, less would be known about child neglect for those specific populations. In that case, an exploratory design would make sense as there is little, if any, literature about your specific topic.

## Descriptive research

Another purpose of a research project is to describe or define a particular phenomenon. This is called descriptive research . For example, researchers at the Princeton Review conduct descriptive research each year when they set out to provide students and their parents with information about colleges and universities around the United States. They describe the social life at a school, the cost of admission, and student-to-faculty ratios (to name just a few of the categories reported).  If our topic were child neglect, we might seek to know the number of people arrested for child neglect in our community and whether they are more likely to have other problems, such as poverty, mental health issues, or substance use.

Social workers often rely on descriptive research to tell them about their service area. Keeping track of the number of parents receiving child neglect interventions, their demographic makeup (e.g., race, sex, age), and length of time in care are excellent examples of descriptive research. On a more macro-level, the Centers for Disease Control provides a remarkable amount of descriptive research on mental and physical health conditions. In fact, descriptive research has many useful applications, and you probably rely on such findings without realizing you are reading descriptive research.

## Explanatory research

Lastly, social work researchers often aim to explain why particular phenomena operate in the way that they do. Research that answers “why” questions is referred to as explanatory research . Asking “why” means the researcher is trying to identify cause-and-effect relationships in their topic.  For example, explanatory research may try to identify risk and protective factors for parents who neglect their children.  Explanatory research may attempt to understand how religious affiliation impacts views on immigration, for example. All explanatory research tries to study cause-and-effect relationships between two or more variables. A specific offshoot of explanatory research that comes up often is evaluation research , which investigates the impact of an intervention, program, or policy on a group of people.  Evaluation research is commonly practiced in agency-based social work settings, and Chapter 23 discusses some of the basics for conducting a program evaluation.

There are numerous examples of explanatory social scientific investigations. For example, Dominique Simons and Sandy Wurtele (2010) [3] sought to understand whether receiving corporal punishment from parents led children to turn to violence in solving their interpersonal conflicts with other children. In their study of 102 families with children between the ages of 3 and 7, the authors found that experiencing frequent spanking did in fact result in children being more likely to accept aggressive problem-solving techniques. Another example of explanatory research can be seen in Robert Faris and Diane Felmlee’s (2011) [4] research study on the connections between popularity and bullying. From their study of 8th, 9th, and 10th graders in nineteen North Carolina schools, they found that aggression increased as adolescents’ popularity increased. [5]

• Think back to your working question from section 2.1. Which type of research—exploratory, descriptive, or explanatory—best describes your working question?
• Try writing a question about your topic that fits with each type of research.

## Important things are more rewarding to do

Another consideration in starting a research project is whether the question is important enough to answer. For the researcher, answering the question should be important enough to put in the effort and time required to complete a research project. As we discussed in section 2.1, you should choose a topic that is important to you—one you wouldn’t mind learning about for at least a few months, if not a few years. Time is your most precious resource as a student. Make sure you dedicate it to topics and projects you consider genuinely important.

Your research question should also be contribute to the larger expanse of research in that area. For example, if your research question is “does cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) effectively treat depression?” you are a few decades late to be asking that question. Hundreds of scientists have published articles demonstrating its effectiveness in treating depression. However, a student interested in learning more about CBT can still find new areas to research. Perhaps there is a new population—for example, older adults in a nursing home—or a new problem—like mobile phone addiction—for which there is little research on the impact of CBT.

Finally, your research question should be of import to the social world. Social workers conduct research on behalf of individuals, groups, and communities to promote change as part of their mission to advance human rights and further social and economic justice. Your research should matter to the people you are trying to help.  Your research project should aim to improve the lives of people in your target population by helping the world understand their needs more holistically.

Research projects, obviously, do not need to address all aspects of a problem. As social workers, our goal in enacting social justice isn’t to accomplish it all in one semester (or even one lifetime). Our goal is to move the world in the right direction and make small, incremental progress.  I encourage all students to think about how they will make their work accessible and relevant to the broader public and use their results to promote change.

• Research exists in a cycle. Your research project will follow this cycle, beginning from reading literature (where you are now), to proposing a study, to completing a research project, and finally, to publishing the results.
• Social work researchers should identify a target population and understand how their project will impact them.
• Research projects can be exploratory, descriptive, evaluative, or a combination therein. While you are likely still exploring your topic, you may settle on another type of research, particularly if your topic has been previously addressed extensively in the literature.
• Your research project should be important to you, fill a gap or address a controversy in the scientific literature, and make a difference for your target population and broader society.
• State why your working question is an important one to answer, keeping in mind that your statement should address the scientific literature, target population, and the social world.

## 2.3 Practical and ethical considerations

• Identify potential stakeholders and gatekeepers
• Differentiate between raw data and the results of scientific studies
• Evaluate whether you can feasibly complete your project

Are you interested in better understanding the day-to-day experiences of maximum security prisoners? This sounds fascinating, but unless you plan to commit a crime that lands you in a maximum security prison, gaining access to that particular population would be difficult for a graduate student project. While the topics about which social work questions can be asked may seem limitless, there are limits to which aspects of topics we can study or at least to the ways we can study them.  This is particularly true for student research projects.

Feasibility refers to whether you can practically conduct the study you plan to do, given the resources and ethical obligations you have. In this section, we assume that you will have to actually conduct the research project that you write about in your research proposal. It’s a good time to check with your professor about your program’s expectations for student research projects. For students who do not have to carry out their projects, feasibility is less of a concern because, well, you don’t actually have to carry out your project. Instead, you’ll propose a project that could work in theory. However, for students who have to carry out the projects in their research proposals, feasibility is incredibly important. There are important practical and ethical considerations student researchers should start thinking about from the beginning of a research project.

## Access, consent, and ethical obligations

One of the most important feasibility issues is gaining access to your target population. For example, let’s say you wanted to better understand middle-school students who engaged in self-harm behaviors.  That is a topic of social importance, so why might it make for a difficult student project?  Let’s say you proposed to identify students from a local middle school and interview them about self-harm.  Methodologically, that sounds great.  But practically, that sounds challenging. Think about the ethical obligations a social worker has to practice with adolescents who are engaging in self-harm (e.g., competence, respect). In research, we are concerned mostly with the benefits and harms of what you propose to do as well as the openness and honesty you

## Gatekeepers

If you were the principal at your local middle school, would you allow an MSW student to interview kids in your schools about self-harm? What if the results of the study showed that self-harm was a big problem that your school was not addressing?  What if the researcher’s interviews led to an increase in self-harming behaviors among the children?  The principal in this situation is a gatekeeper .  Gatekeepers are the individuals or organizations who control access to the population you want to study.  The school board would also likely need to give consent for the research to take place at their institution. Gatekeepers must weigh these ethical questions because they have a responsibility to protect the safety of the people at their organization, just as you have an ethical obligation to protect the people in your research study.

For student projects, it can be a challenge to get consent from gatekeepers to conduct your research project. As a result, students often conduct research projects at their place of employment or field work, as they have established trust with gatekeepers in those locations.  I’m still doubtful an MSW student interning at the middle school would be able to get consent for this study, but they probably have a better chance than a researcher with no relationship to the school.  In the case where the population (children who self-harm) are too vulnerable, student researchers may collect data from people who have secondary knowledge about the topic.  For example, the principal may be more willing to let you talk to teachers, rather than children.  I commonly see student projects that focus on studying practitioners rather than clients for this reason.

## Stakeholders

In some cases, researchers and gatekeepers partner on a research project.  When this happens, the gatekeepers become stakeholders .  Stakeholders are individuals or groups who have an interest in the outcome of the study you conduct. As you think about your project, consider whether there are formal advisory groups or boards (like a school board) or advocacy organizations who already serve or work with your target population.  Approach them as experts an ask for their review of your study to see if there are any perspectives or details you missed that would make your project stronger.

There are many advantages to partner your research with stakeholders. As an example, in order to obtain access to interview children at this middle school, you will have to consider other stakeholders’ goals. School administrators also want to help students struggling with self-harm, so they may want to use the results to form new programs. But they may also need to avoid scandal and panic if the results show high levels of self-harm. Most likely, they want to provide support to students without making the problem worse.  By bringing in school administrators as stakeholders, you can better understand what the school is currently doing to address the issue and get an informed perspective on your project’s questions.  Negotiating the boundaries of a stakeholder relationship requires strong meso-level practice skills.

Of course, partnering with administrators probably sounds quite a bit easier than bringing on board the next group of stakeholders—parents.  It’s not ethical to ask children to participate in a study without their parents’ consent.  We will review the parameters of parental and child consent in Chapter 8.  Parents may be understandably skeptical of a researcher who wants to talk to their child about self-harm, and they may fear potential harms to the child and family from your study. Would you let a researcher you didn’t know interview your children about a very sensitive issue?

Social work research must often satisfy multiple stakeholders.  This is especially true if a researcher receives a grant to support the project, as the funder has goals it wants to accomplish by funding the research project.  Your MSW program and university are also stakeholders in your project.  When you conduct research, it reflects on your school.  If you discover something of great importance, your school looks good.  If you harm someone, they may be liable.  Your school also provides you with support through instruction and access to resources like the library and data analysis software.

## Target population

So far, we’ve talked about access in terms of gatekeepers and stakeholders.  Let’s assume all of those people agree that your study should proceed.  But what about the people in the target population?  They are the most important stakeholder of all!  Think about the children in your proposed study on self-harm.  How open do you think they would be to talking to you about such a sensitive issue?  Would they consent to talk to you at all?

## Resources and scope

Let’s assume everyone consented to your project and you have adequately addressed any ethical issues with gatekeepers, stakeholders, and your target population. That means everything is ready to go, right? Not quite yet. As a researcher, you will need to carry out the study you propose to do. Depending on how big or how small your proposed project is, you’ll need a little or a lot of resources. Generally, student projects should err on the side of small and simple. We will discuss the limitations of this advice in section 2.5.

One thing that all projects need is raw data . It’s extremely important to note that raw data is not just the information you read in journal articles and books. Every year, I get at least one student research proposal that simply proposes to read articles. It’s a very understandable mistake to make. Most graduate school assignments are simply to read about a topic and write a paper. A research project involves doing the same kind of research that the authors of journal articles do when they conduct quantitative or qualitative studies. The raw data that is often a part of student projects are the results of a survey they give to participants or transcripts of interviews and focus groups.

Some social work researchers do not collect raw data of their own, but instead use secondary data analysis to analyze raw data that has been shared by other researchers. One common source of raw data in student projects from their internship or employer. By looking at client charts or data from previous grant reports or program evaluations, you can use raw data already collected by your agency to answer your research question. Whether a researcher should use secondary data or collect their own raw data is an important choice which we will discuss in greater detail in section 2.4. Nevertheless, without raw data there can be no research project. Reading the literature about your topic is only the first step in a research project.

Time is a student’s most precious resource.  MSW students are overworked and underpaid, so it is important to be upfront with yourself about the time needed to answer your question.  Every hour spent on your research project is not spent doing other things.  Make sure that your proposal won’t require you to spend years collecting and analyzing data.  Think realistically about the timeline for this research project. If you propose to interview fifty mental health professionals in their offices in your community about your topic, make sure you can dedicate fifty hours to conduct those interviews, account for travel time, and think about how long it will take to transcribe and analyze those interviews.

• What is reasonable for you to do over this semester and potentially another semester of advanced research methods?
• How many hours each week can you dedicate to this project considering what you have to do for other MSW courses, your internship and job, as well as family or social responsibilities?

In many cases, focusing your working question on something simple, specific, and clear can help avoid time issues in research projects. Another thing that can delay a research project is receiving approval from the i nstitutional review board (IRB), the research ethics committee at your university. If your study exposes people who participate to potential harm, you may have to formally propose your study to the IRB and get their approval before gathering your data. A well-prepared study is likely to gain IRB approval with minimal revisions needed, but the process can take weeks to complete and must be done before data collection can begin. We will address the ethical obligations of researchers in greater detail in Chapter 8.

Most research projects cost some amount of money, but for student projects, most of that money is already paid.  You paid for access to a university library that provides you with all of the journals, books, and other sources you might need.  You paid for a computer for homework and may use your car to drive to go to class or collect your data.  You paid for this class.  You are not expected to spend any additional money on your student research project.

However, it is always worth looking to see if there are grant opportunities to support student research in your school or program.  Often, these will cover small expenses like travel or incentives for people who participate in the study. Alternately, you could use university grant funds to travel to academic conferences to present on your findings and network with other students, practitioners, and researchers. Chapter 24 reviews academic conferences relevant to social work practice and education with a focus on the United States.

## Knowledge, competence, and skills

Another student resource is knowledge. By engaging with the literature on your topic and learning the content in your research methods class, you will learn how to study your topic using social scientific research methods.  The core social work value of competence is key here.  Here’s an example from my work on one of my former university’s research ethics board.  A student from the design department wanted to study suicide by talking to college students in a suicide prevention campus group.  While meeting with the student researcher, someone on the board asked what she would do if one of the students in her study disclosed that they were currently suicidal.  The researcher responded that she never considered that possibility, and that she envisioned a more “fun” discussion.  I hope this example set off alarm bells for you, as it did for the review board.

Clearly, researchers need to know enough about their target population in order to conduct ethical research. Because students usually have little experience in the research world, their projects should pose fewer potential risks to participants. That means posing few, if any, questions about sensitive issues, such as trauma.  A common way around this challenge is by collecting data from less vulnerable populations such as practitioners or administrators who have second-hand knowledge of target populations based on professional relationships.

Knowledge and the social work value of ethical competence go hand in hand.  I see the issue of competence often in student projects if their question is about whether an intervention, for example dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT), is effective.  A student would have to be certified in DBT in order to gather raw data by practicing it with clients and tracking their progress.  That’s well outside the scope of practice competency for an MSW student and better suited to a licensed practitioner. It would be more ethical and feasible for a student researcher to analyze secondary data from a practitioner certified to use DBT or analyze raw data from another researcher’s study.

If your working question asks about which interventions are effective for a problem, don’t panic.  Often questions about effectiveness are good places to start, but the project will have to shift in order be workable for a student.  Perhaps the student would like to learn more about the cost of getting trained in DBT, which aspects of it practitioners find the most useful, whether insurance companies will reimburse for it, or other topics that require fewer resources to answer.  In the process of investigating a smaller project like this, you will learn about the effectiveness of DBT by reading the scholarly literature but the actual research project will be smaller and more feasible to conduct as a student.

Another idea to keep in mind is the level of data collection and analysis skills you will gain during your MSW program.  Most MSW programs will seek to give you the basics of quantitative and qualitative research. However, there are limits to what your courses will cover just as there are limits to what we could include in this textbook.  If you feel your project may require specific education on data collection or analysis techniques, it’s important to reach out to your professor to see if it is feasible for you to gain that knowledge before conducting your study.  For example, you may need to take an advanced statistics course or an independent study on community-engaged research in order to competently complete your project.

In summary, here are a few questions you should ask yourself about your project to make sure it’s feasible.  While we present them early on in the research process (we’re only in Chapter 2), these are certainly questions you should ask yourself throughout the proposal writing process. We will revisit feasibility again in Chapter 7 when we work on finalizing your research question.

• Do you have access to the data you need or can you collect the data you need?
• Will you be able to get consent from stakeholders, gatekeepers, and your target population?
• Does your project pose risk to individuals through direct harm, dual relationships, or breaches in confidentiality?
• Are you competent enough to complete the study?
• Do you have the resources and time needed to carry out the project?
• People will have to say “yes” to your research project. Evaluate whether your project might have gatekeepers or potential stakeholders. They may control access to data or potential participants.
• Researchers need raw data, which may include raw bits of information such as survey responses, interview transcripts, or client charts. Your research project must involve more than looking at the analyses conducted by other researchers, as the literature review is only the first step of a research project.
• Make sure you have enough resources (time, money, and knowledge) to complete your research project during your MSW program.
• Identify any gatekeepers and stakeholders.
• Do you think it is likely you will get access to the people or records you need for your study?
• Would the benefits of your study outweigh the risks?

## 2.4 Raw data

• Identify potential sources of available data
• Weigh the challenges and benefits of collecting your own data

In our previous section, we addressed some of the challenges researchers face in collecting and analyzing raw data. Just as a reminder, raw data are unprocessed, unanalyzed data that researchers analyze using social science research methods. It is not just the statistics or qualitative themes provided in journal articles, but the actual data from which those statistics or themes are derived (e.g., interview transcripts or survey responses).

There are two approaches to getting raw data. First, students can analyze data that are publicly available or from agency records. Using secondary data like this can make projects more feasible, but you may not find existing data that are useful for answering your working question. For that reason, many students gather their own raw data. As we discussed in the previous section, potential harms that come from addressing sensitive topics mean that surveys and interviews of practitioners or other less-vulnerable populations may be the most feasible and ethical way to approach data collection.

## Using secondary data

Within the agency setting, there are two main sources of raw data.  One option is to examine client charts.  For example, if you wanted to know if substance use was related to parental reunification for youth in foster care, you could look at client files and compare how long it took for families with differing levels of substance use to be reunified.  You will have to negotiate with the agency the degree to which your analysis can be public. Agencies may be okay with you using client files for a class project but less comfortable with you presenting your findings at a city council meeting. When analyzing data from your agency, you will have to manage a stakeholder relationship.

Another great example from my class this year was a student who used existing program evaluations at their agency as raw data in her student research project.  If you are practicing at a grant funded agency, administrators and clinicians are likely producing data for grant reporting.  Your agency may consent to have you look at the raw data and run your own analysis.  Larger agencies may also conduct internal research—for example, surveying employees or clients about new initiatives.  These, too, can be good sources of available data.  Generally, if your agency has already collected the data, you can ask to use them.  Again, it is important to be clear on the boundaries and expectations of your agency.  And don’t be angry if they say no!

Some agencies, usually government agencies, publish their data in formal reports.  You could take a look at some of the websites for county or state agencies to see if there are any publicly available data relevant to your research topic. As an example, perhaps there are annual reports from the state department of education that show how seclusion and restraint is disproportionately applied to black children with disabilities, as students found in Virginia .  In my class last year, one student matched public data from our city’s map of criminal incidents with historically redlined neighborhoods.  For this project, she is using publicly available data from Mapping Inequality , which digitized historical records of redlined housing communities and the Roanoke, VA crime mapping webpage .  By matching historical data on housing redlining with current crime records, she is testing whether redlining still impacts crime to this day.

Not all public data are easily accessible, though.  The student in the previous example was lucky that scholars had digitized the records of how Virginia cities were redlined by race. Sources of historical data are often located in physical archives, rather than digital archives. If your project uses historical data in an archive, it would require you to physically go to the archive in order to review the data.  Unless you have a travel budget, you may be limited to the archival data in your local libraries and government offices.  Similarly, government data may have to be requested from an agency, which can take time.  If the data are particularly sensitive or if the department would have to dedicate a lot of time to your request, you may have to file a Freedom of Information Act request.  This process can be time-consuming, and in some cases, it will add financial cost to your study.

Another source of secondary data is shared by researchers as part of the publication and review process.  There is a growing trend in research to publicly share data so others can verify your results and attempt to replicate your study.  In more recent articles, you may notice links to data provided by the researcher.  Often, these have been de-identified by eliminating some information that could lead to violations of confidentiality.  You can browse through the data repositories in Table 2.1 to find raw data to analyze.  Make sure that you pick a data set with thorough and easy to understand documentation.

Ultimately, you will have to weigh the strengths and limitations of using secondary data on your own. Engel and Schutt (2016, p. 327) [6] propose six questions to ask before using secondary data:

• What were the agency’s or researcher’s goals in collecting the data?
• What data were collected, and what were they intended to measure?
• When was the information collected?
• What methods were used for data collection? Who was responsible for data collection, and what were their qualifications? Are they available to answer questions about the data?
• How is the information organized (by date, individual, family, event, etc.)? Are identifiers used to indicate different types of data available?
• What is known about the success of the data collection effort? How are missing data indicated and treated? What kind of documentation is available? How consistent are the data with data available from other sources?

In this section, we’ve talked about data as though it is always collected by scientists and professionals.  But that’s definitely not the case!  Think more broadly about sources of data that are already out there in the world.  Perhaps you want to examine the different topics mentioned in the past 10 State of the Union addresses by the President.  One of my students this past semester is examining whether the websites and public information about local health and mental health agencies use gender-inclusive language.  People share their experiences through blogs, social media posts, videos, performances, among countless other sources of data.  When you think broadly about data, you’ll be surprised how much you can answer with available data.

## Collecting your own raw data

The primary benefit of collecting your own data is that it allows you to collect and analyze the specific data you are looking for, rather than relying on what other people have shared.  You can make sure the right questions are asked to the right people. For a student project, data collection is going to look a little different than what you read in most journal articles.  Established researchers probably have access to more resources than you do, and as a result, are able to conduct more complicated studies.  Student projects tend to be smaller in scope.  This isn’t necessarily a limitation.  Student projects are often the first step in a long research trajectory in which the same topic is studied in increasing detail and sophistication over time.

Students in my class often propose to survey or interview practitioners.  The focus of these projects should be about the practice of social work and the study will uncover how practitioners understand what they do.  Surveys of practitioners often test whether responses to questions are related to each other.  For example, you could propose to examine whether someone’s length of time in practice was related to the type of therapy they use or their level of burnout.  Interviews or focus groups can also illuminate areas of practice.  A student in my class proposed to conduct focus groups of individuals in different helping professions in order to understand how they viewed the process of leaving an abusive partner.  She suspected that people from different disciplines would make unique assumptions about the survivor’s choices.

Another possible way you could collect data is by partnering with your agency on evaluating an existing program.  Perhaps they want you to evaluate the early stage of a program to see if it’s going as planned and if any changes need to be made.  Maybe there is an aspect of the program they haven’t measured but would like to, and you can fill that gap for them.  Collaborating with agency partners in this way can be a challenge, as you must negotiate roles, get stakeholder buy-in, and manage the conflicting time schedules of field work and research work.  At the same time, it allows you to make your work immediately relevant to your specific practice and client population.

In summary, many student projects fall into one of the following categories. These aren’t your only options!  But they may be helpful in thinking about what students projects can look like.

• Analyzing chart or program evaluations at an agency
• Analyzing existing data from an agency, government body, or other public source
• Analyzing popular media or cultural artifacts
• Surveying or interviewing practitioners, administrators, or other less-vulnerable groups
• Conducting a program evaluation in collaboration with an agency
• All research projects require analyzing raw data.
• Student projects often analyze available data from agencies, government, or public sources. Doing so allows students to avoid the process of recruiting people to participate in their study.  This makes projects more feasible but comes with some limitations based on the data that are available.
• Student projects should avoid potentially harmful or sensitive topics when surveying or interviewing clients and other vulnerable populations. Since many social work topics are sensitive, students often elect to collect data from less-vulnerable populations such as practitioners and administrators.
• Describe the difference between raw data and the results of research articles.
• Consider browsing around the data repositories in Table 2.1.
• Identify one of the common types of student projects (e.g., surveys of practitioners) and how that might help you answer your working question.

## 2.5 Critical considerations

• Critique the traditional role of researchers and identify how action research addresses these issues

So far in this chapter, we have presented the steps of student research projects as follows:

• Find a topic that is important to you and read about it.
• Pose a question that is important to the literature and to your community.
• Carry out your project and report the results.

These were depicted in Figure 2.1 earlier in this chapter. There are important limitations to this approach, and this section examines those problems and how to address them.

## Whose knowledge is privileged?

First, let’s critically examine your role as the researcher.  Following along with the steps in a research project, you start studying the literature your topic, find a place where you can add to scientific knowledge, and conduct your study.  But why are you the person who gets to decide what is important?  Just as clients are the experts on their lives, members of your target population are the experts on their lives. What does it mean for a group of people to be researched on, rather than researched with?  How can we better respect the knowledge and self-determination of our community members?

A different way of approaching your research project is to start by talking with members of the target population and those who are knowledgeable about that community.  Perhaps there is a community organization you can partner with on a research project.  The researcher’s role in this case would be more similar to a consultant, someone with specialized knowledge about research who can help communities study problems they consider to be important.  The social worker is a co-investigator, and community members are equal partners in the research project.  Each has a type of knowledge—scientific expertise vs. lived experience—that should inform the research process.

The community focus highlights something important about student projects: they are localized.  Student projects can dedicate themselves to issues at a single agency or within a service area.  With a local scope, student researchers can bring about change in their community.  This is the purpose behind action research.

## Action research

Action research   is research that is conducted for the purpose of creating social change. When engaging in action research, scholars collaborate with community stakeholders to conduct research that will be relevant to the community. Social workers who engage in action research don’t just go it alone; instead, they collaborate with the people who are affected by the research at each stage in the process. Stakeholders, particularly those with the least power, should be consulted on the purpose of the research project, research questions, design, and reporting of results.

Action research also distinguishes itself from other research in that its purpose is to create change on an individual and community level. Kristin Esterberg puts it quite eloquently when she says, “At heart, all action researchers are concerned that research not simply contribute to knowledge but also lead to positive changes in people’s lives” (2002, p. 137). [7] Action research has multiple origins across the globe, including Kurt Lewin’s psychological experiments in the US and Paulo Friere’s literacy and education programs (Adelman, 1993; Reason, 1994). [8] Over the years, action research has become increasingly popular among scholars who wish for their work to have tangible outcomes that benefit the groups they study.

A traditional scientist might look at the literature or use their practice wisdom to formulate a question for quantitative or qualitative research, as we suggested earlier in this chapter. An action researcher, on the other hand, would consult with people in target population and community to see what they believe the most pressing issues are and what their proposed solutions may be. In this way, action research flips traditional research on its head. Scientists are not the experts on the research topic. Instead, they are more like consultants who provide the tools and resources necessary for a target population to achieve their goals and to address social problems using social science research.

According to Healy (2001), [9] the assumptions of participatory-action research are that (a) oppression is caused by macro-level structures such as patriarchy and capitalism; (b) research should expose and confront the powerful; (c) researcher and participant relationships should be equal, with equitable distribution of research tasks and roles; and (d) research should result in consciousness-raising and collective action. Consistent with social work values, action research supports the self-determination of oppressed groups and privileges their voice and understanding through the conceptualization, design, data collection, data analysis, and dissemination processes of research. We will return to similar ideas in Part 4 of the textbook when we discuss qualitative research methods, though action research can certainly be used with quantitative research methods, as well.

## Student projects can make a difference!

One last thing. We’ve told you all to think small and simple with your projects.  The adage that “a good project is a done project” is true.  At the same time, this advice might unnecessarily limit an ambitious and diligent student who wanted to investigate something more complex.  For example, here is a Vice News article about MSW student Christine Stark’s work on sex trafficking of indigenous women.  Student projects have the potential to address sensitive and politically charged topics.  With support from faculty and community partners, student projects can become more comprehensive.  The results of your project should accomplish something.  Social work research is about creating change, and you will find the work of completing a research project more rewarding and engaging if you can envision the change your project will create.

• Traditionally, researchers did not consult target populations and communities prior to formulating a research question. Action research proposes a more community-engaged model in which researchers are consultants that help communities research topics of import to them.
• Just because we’ve advised you to keep your project simple and small doesn’t mean you must do so! There are excellent examples of student research projects that have created real change in the world.
• Apply the key concepts of action research to your project.  How might you incorporate the perspectives and expertise of community members in your project?
• Blee, K. (2002).  Inside organized racism: Women and men of the hate movement . Berkeley, CA: University of California Press; Blee, K. (1991).  Women of the Klan: Racism and gender in the 1920s . Berkeley, CA: University of California Press. ↵
• The exercises we created for this textbook are designed to break down the research proposal into bite-sized chunks. Completing the exercises as you read the textbook helps you apply the knowledge you've gained right away and remember what you thought about concepts you read about a few weeks ago. ↵
• Simons, D. A., & Wurtele, S. K. (2010). Relationships between parents’ use of corporal punishment and their children’s endorsement of spanking and hitting other children. Child Abuse & Neglect, 34 , 639–646. ↵
• Faris, R., & Felmlee, D. (2011). Status struggles: Network centrality and gender segregation in same- and cross-gender aggression. American Sociological Review, 76 , 48–73. The study has also been covered by several media outlets: Pappas, S. (2011). Popularity increases aggression in kids, study finds. Retrieved from:  http://www.livescience.com/11737-popularity-increases-aggression-kids-study-finds.html ↵
• This pattern was found until adolescents reached the top 2% in the popularity ranks. After that, aggression declined. ↵
• Engel, R. J. & Schutt, R. K. (2016). The practice of research in social work (4th ed.). Washington, DC: SAGE Publishing. ↵
• Esterberg, K. G. (2002).  Qualitative methods in social research . Boston, MA: McGraw-Hill. ↵
• Adelman, C. (1993). Kurt Lewin and the origins of action research.  Educational Action Research, 1,  7-24.; Reason, P. (1994).  Participation in human inquiry . London, UK: Sage. ↵
• Healy, K. (2001). Participatory action research and social work: A critical appraisal.  International Social Work, 44 , 93-105. ↵

a nonlinear process in which the original product is revised over and over again to improve it

a document produced by researchers that reviews the literature relevant to their topic and describes the methods they will use to conduct their study

what a researcher hopes to accomplish with their study

conducted during the early stages of a project, usually when a researcher wants to test the feasibility of conducting a more extensive study or if the topic has not been studied in the past

research that describes or defines a particular phenomenon

explains why particular phenomena work in the way that they do; answers “why” questions

research that evaluates the outcomes of a policy or program

whether you can practically and ethically complete the research project you propose

whether you can actually reach people or documents needed to complete your project

the people or organizations who control access to the population you want to study

individuals or groups who have an interest in the outcome of the study you conduct

study publicly available information or data that has been collected by another person

research that is conducted for the purpose of creating social change

Home » Research Methodology – Types, Examples and writing Guide

## Research Methodology

Definition:

Research Methodology refers to the systematic and scientific approach used to conduct research, investigate problems, and gather data and information for a specific purpose. It involves the techniques and procedures used to identify, collect , analyze , and interpret data to answer research questions or solve research problems . Moreover, They are philosophical and theoretical frameworks that guide the research process.

## Structure of Research Methodology

Research methodology formats can vary depending on the specific requirements of the research project, but the following is a basic example of a structure for a research methodology section:

I. Introduction

• Provide an overview of the research problem and the need for a research methodology section
• Outline the main research questions and objectives

II. Research Design

• Explain the research design chosen and why it is appropriate for the research question(s) and objectives
• Discuss any alternative research designs considered and why they were not chosen
• Describe the research setting and participants (if applicable)

III. Data Collection Methods

• Describe the methods used to collect data (e.g., surveys, interviews, observations)
• Explain how the data collection methods were chosen and why they are appropriate for the research question(s) and objectives
• Detail any procedures or instruments used for data collection

IV. Data Analysis Methods

• Describe the methods used to analyze the data (e.g., statistical analysis, content analysis )
• Explain how the data analysis methods were chosen and why they are appropriate for the research question(s) and objectives
• Detail any procedures or software used for data analysis

V. Ethical Considerations

• Discuss any ethical issues that may arise from the research and how they were addressed
• Explain how informed consent was obtained (if applicable)
• Detail any measures taken to ensure confidentiality and anonymity

VI. Limitations

• Identify any potential limitations of the research methodology and how they may impact the results and conclusions

VII. Conclusion

• Summarize the key aspects of the research methodology section
• Explain how the research methodology addresses the research question(s) and objectives

## Research Methodology Types

Types of Research Methodology are as follows:

## Quantitative Research Methodology

This is a research methodology that involves the collection and analysis of numerical data using statistical methods. This type of research is often used to study cause-and-effect relationships and to make predictions.

## Qualitative Research Methodology

This is a research methodology that involves the collection and analysis of non-numerical data such as words, images, and observations. This type of research is often used to explore complex phenomena, to gain an in-depth understanding of a particular topic, and to generate hypotheses.

## Mixed-Methods Research Methodology

This is a research methodology that combines elements of both quantitative and qualitative research. This approach can be particularly useful for studies that aim to explore complex phenomena and to provide a more comprehensive understanding of a particular topic.

## Case Study Research Methodology

This is a research methodology that involves in-depth examination of a single case or a small number of cases. Case studies are often used in psychology, sociology, and anthropology to gain a detailed understanding of a particular individual or group.

## Action Research Methodology

This is a research methodology that involves a collaborative process between researchers and practitioners to identify and solve real-world problems. Action research is often used in education, healthcare, and social work.

## Experimental Research Methodology

This is a research methodology that involves the manipulation of one or more independent variables to observe their effects on a dependent variable. Experimental research is often used to study cause-and-effect relationships and to make predictions.

## Survey Research Methodology

This is a research methodology that involves the collection of data from a sample of individuals using questionnaires or interviews. Survey research is often used to study attitudes, opinions, and behaviors.

## Grounded Theory Research Methodology

This is a research methodology that involves the development of theories based on the data collected during the research process. Grounded theory is often used in sociology and anthropology to generate theories about social phenomena.

## Research Methodology Example

An Example of Research Methodology could be the following:

Research Methodology for Investigating the Effectiveness of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy in Reducing Symptoms of Depression in Adults

Introduction:

The aim of this research is to investigate the effectiveness of cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) in reducing symptoms of depression in adults. To achieve this objective, a randomized controlled trial (RCT) will be conducted using a mixed-methods approach.

Research Design:

The study will follow a pre-test and post-test design with two groups: an experimental group receiving CBT and a control group receiving no intervention. The study will also include a qualitative component, in which semi-structured interviews will be conducted with a subset of participants to explore their experiences of receiving CBT.

Participants:

Participants will be recruited from community mental health clinics in the local area. The sample will consist of 100 adults aged 18-65 years old who meet the diagnostic criteria for major depressive disorder. Participants will be randomly assigned to either the experimental group or the control group.

Intervention :

The experimental group will receive 12 weekly sessions of CBT, each lasting 60 minutes. The intervention will be delivered by licensed mental health professionals who have been trained in CBT. The control group will receive no intervention during the study period.

Data Collection:

Quantitative data will be collected through the use of standardized measures such as the Beck Depression Inventory-II (BDI-II) and the Generalized Anxiety Disorder-7 (GAD-7). Data will be collected at baseline, immediately after the intervention, and at a 3-month follow-up. Qualitative data will be collected through semi-structured interviews with a subset of participants from the experimental group. The interviews will be conducted at the end of the intervention period, and will explore participants’ experiences of receiving CBT.

Data Analysis:

Quantitative data will be analyzed using descriptive statistics, t-tests, and mixed-model analyses of variance (ANOVA) to assess the effectiveness of the intervention. Qualitative data will be analyzed using thematic analysis to identify common themes and patterns in participants’ experiences of receiving CBT.

Ethical Considerations:

This study will comply with ethical guidelines for research involving human subjects. Participants will provide informed consent before participating in the study, and their privacy and confidentiality will be protected throughout the study. Any adverse events or reactions will be reported and managed appropriately.

Data Management:

All data collected will be kept confidential and stored securely using password-protected databases. Identifying information will be removed from qualitative data transcripts to ensure participants’ anonymity.

Limitations:

One potential limitation of this study is that it only focuses on one type of psychotherapy, CBT, and may not generalize to other types of therapy or interventions. Another limitation is that the study will only include participants from community mental health clinics, which may not be representative of the general population.

Conclusion:

This research aims to investigate the effectiveness of CBT in reducing symptoms of depression in adults. By using a randomized controlled trial and a mixed-methods approach, the study will provide valuable insights into the mechanisms underlying the relationship between CBT and depression. The results of this study will have important implications for the development of effective treatments for depression in clinical settings.

## How to Write Research Methodology

Writing a research methodology involves explaining the methods and techniques you used to conduct research, collect data, and analyze results. It’s an essential section of any research paper or thesis, as it helps readers understand the validity and reliability of your findings. Here are the steps to write a research methodology:

• Start by explaining your research question: Begin the methodology section by restating your research question and explaining why it’s important. This helps readers understand the purpose of your research and the rationale behind your methods.
• Describe your research design: Explain the overall approach you used to conduct research. This could be a qualitative or quantitative research design, experimental or non-experimental, case study or survey, etc. Discuss the advantages and limitations of the chosen design.
• Discuss your sample: Describe the participants or subjects you included in your study. Include details such as their demographics, sampling method, sample size, and any exclusion criteria used.
• Describe your data collection methods : Explain how you collected data from your participants. This could include surveys, interviews, observations, questionnaires, or experiments. Include details on how you obtained informed consent, how you administered the tools, and how you minimized the risk of bias.
• Explain your data analysis techniques: Describe the methods you used to analyze the data you collected. This could include statistical analysis, content analysis, thematic analysis, or discourse analysis. Explain how you dealt with missing data, outliers, and any other issues that arose during the analysis.
• Discuss the validity and reliability of your research : Explain how you ensured the validity and reliability of your study. This could include measures such as triangulation, member checking, peer review, or inter-coder reliability.
• Acknowledge any limitations of your research: Discuss any limitations of your study, including any potential threats to validity or generalizability. This helps readers understand the scope of your findings and how they might apply to other contexts.
• Provide a summary: End the methodology section by summarizing the methods and techniques you used to conduct your research. This provides a clear overview of your research methodology and helps readers understand the process you followed to arrive at your findings.

## When to Write Research Methodology

Research methodology is typically written after the research proposal has been approved and before the actual research is conducted. It should be written prior to data collection and analysis, as it provides a clear roadmap for the research project.

The research methodology is an important section of any research paper or thesis, as it describes the methods and procedures that will be used to conduct the research. It should include details about the research design, data collection methods, data analysis techniques, and any ethical considerations.

The methodology should be written in a clear and concise manner, and it should be based on established research practices and standards. It is important to provide enough detail so that the reader can understand how the research was conducted and evaluate the validity of the results.

## Applications of Research Methodology

Here are some of the applications of research methodology:

• To identify the research problem: Research methodology is used to identify the research problem, which is the first step in conducting any research.
• To design the research: Research methodology helps in designing the research by selecting the appropriate research method, research design, and sampling technique.
• To collect data: Research methodology provides a systematic approach to collect data from primary and secondary sources.
• To analyze data: Research methodology helps in analyzing the collected data using various statistical and non-statistical techniques.
• To test hypotheses: Research methodology provides a framework for testing hypotheses and drawing conclusions based on the analysis of data.
• To generalize findings: Research methodology helps in generalizing the findings of the research to the target population.
• To develop theories : Research methodology is used to develop new theories and modify existing theories based on the findings of the research.
• To evaluate programs and policies : Research methodology is used to evaluate the effectiveness of programs and policies by collecting data and analyzing it.
• To improve decision-making: Research methodology helps in making informed decisions by providing reliable and valid data.

## Purpose of Research Methodology

Research methodology serves several important purposes, including:

• To guide the research process: Research methodology provides a systematic framework for conducting research. It helps researchers to plan their research, define their research questions, and select appropriate methods and techniques for collecting and analyzing data.
• To ensure research quality: Research methodology helps researchers to ensure that their research is rigorous, reliable, and valid. It provides guidelines for minimizing bias and error in data collection and analysis, and for ensuring that research findings are accurate and trustworthy.
• To replicate research: Research methodology provides a clear and detailed account of the research process, making it possible for other researchers to replicate the study and verify its findings.
• To advance knowledge: Research methodology enables researchers to generate new knowledge and to contribute to the body of knowledge in their field. It provides a means for testing hypotheses, exploring new ideas, and discovering new insights.
• To inform decision-making: Research methodology provides evidence-based information that can inform policy and decision-making in a variety of fields, including medicine, public health, education, and business.

Research methodology has several advantages that make it a valuable tool for conducting research in various fields. Here are some of the key advantages of research methodology:

• Systematic and structured approach : Research methodology provides a systematic and structured approach to conducting research, which ensures that the research is conducted in a rigorous and comprehensive manner.
• Objectivity : Research methodology aims to ensure objectivity in the research process, which means that the research findings are based on evidence and not influenced by personal bias or subjective opinions.
• Replicability : Research methodology ensures that research can be replicated by other researchers, which is essential for validating research findings and ensuring their accuracy.
• Reliability : Research methodology aims to ensure that the research findings are reliable, which means that they are consistent and can be depended upon.
• Validity : Research methodology ensures that the research findings are valid, which means that they accurately reflect the research question or hypothesis being tested.
• Efficiency : Research methodology provides a structured and efficient way of conducting research, which helps to save time and resources.
• Flexibility : Research methodology allows researchers to choose the most appropriate research methods and techniques based on the research question, data availability, and other relevant factors.
• Scope for innovation: Research methodology provides scope for innovation and creativity in designing research studies and developing new research techniques.

## How to Conceptualize a Research Project

• First Online: 01 January 2013

## Cite this chapter

• Shaili Jain M.D. 2 , 3 ,
• Steven E. Lindley MD, PhD 2 , 3 &
• Craig S. Rosen PhD 2 , 3 , 4

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The research process has three phases: the conceptual phase, the empirical phase, and the interpretative phase. In this chapter, we focus on the first phase: the conceptual phase—the part of the research process that determines which questions are to be addressed by the research and how research procedures are to be used as tools in finding the answers to these questions. Here we describe the various components of the conceptualization phase that need to be carefully considered before moving on to the empirical and interpretative phases of the research. Conceptualization involves simultaneously bringing together several considerations to identify a good research idea, i.e., an answerable research question that is worth answering. Components of this process include conducting a thorough search of the peer-reviewed literature, finding a research mentor and other collaborators, considering methodology and study design, and assessing feasibility. It should be noted that although we describe these various components in a linear fashion in the text, in reality, the conceptualization phase is not a linear process and will require consideration of these components to varying degrees at various stages depending upon evolving circumstances and the reader’s unique strengths and weaknesses. Even though careful attention to all these components will require considerable time and effort on the part of the physician scientist, we consider this to be time well spent as it will lay the ground for a successful research endeavor.

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## Designing a Research Question

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## Author information

Authors and affiliations.

VA Palo Alto Health Care System, National Center for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, Menlo Park, CA, USA

Shaili Jain M.D., Steven E. Lindley MD, PhD & Craig S. Rosen PhD

Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, CA, USA

VA Sierra-Pacific Mental Illness Research, Education and Clinical Center, Menlo Park, CA, USA

Craig S. Rosen PhD

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## Corresponding author

Correspondence to Shaili Jain M.D. .

## Editor information

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, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral, Stanford University School of Medicine, 450 Serra Mall, Stanford, 94305, California, USA

Laura Weiss Roberts

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Jain, S., Lindley, S.E., Rosen, C.S. (2013). How to Conceptualize a Research Project. In: Roberts, L. (eds) The Academic Medicine Handbook. Springer, New York, NY. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4614-5693-3_30

DOI : https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4614-5693-3_30

Published : 22 February 2013

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#### IMAGES

1. parts of a scientific research proposal

2. SOLUTION: Chapter 1 Parts of a Research Paper Presentation

3. 9 Basic Parts of Research Articles

4. Research process flowchart showing chapters and interim work products

5. 1: Organisation of thesis chapters.

6. How to emphasize the thesis introduction chapter from the rest of the

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2. WRITING THE CHAPTER 3|| Research Methodology (Research Design and Method)

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4. Art of Publishing Research Papers & Book Chapters in Biotech / Life Science

5. Publish your journal article in 6 steps

6. Where do research ideas come from?

1. Dissertation Structure & Layout 101 (+ Examples)

*The Caveat * In this post, we'll be discussing a traditional dissertation/thesis structure and layout, which is generally used for social science research across universities, whether in the US, UK, Europe or Australia. However, some universities may have small variations on this structure (extra chapters, merged chapters, slightly different ordering, etc).

2. PDF Research Project Manual and Format of Writing and Presenting a Research

This Research Project Manual and Format of Writing and Presenting a Research Report, which is presented in a simplified and well-illustrated manner, is meant to guide students and their supervisors on the acceptable standards expected of them in conducting a research project. The primary aim of the Manual is to provide a description of the various

3. 3.4: Components of a Research Project

When designing a research project, be sure to think about, plan for, and identify a research question, a review of literature, a research strategy, research goals, units of analysis and units of observation, key concepts, method (s) of data collection, population and sample, and potential ethical concerns. A research proposal is also important ...

4. PDF How to write a research project

research work, being asked to complete a research project for the first time might seem fairly intimidating. It doesn't need to be, though, and this study guide is designed to make sure that it isn't. This booklet is a guide to some of the most important aspects of research projects. Whether the project is as small as a research

5. Examples of thesis and chapter formats when including publications

Example 1 Example 2 Example 3 Example 4 Example 5. Chapter 1: Introduction. Chapter 2: Literature review. Chapter 3: Methods. Chapter 4: Paper 1 & general discussion. Chapter 5: Paper 2. Chapter 6: Regular thesis chapter - results. Chapter 7: Regular thesis chapter/general discussion tying in published and unpublished work.

6. How To Write A Research Paper (FREE Template

Step 1: Find a topic and review the literature. As we mentioned earlier, in a research paper, you, as the researcher, will try to answer a question.More specifically, that's called a research question, and it sets the direction of your entire paper. What's important to understand though is that you'll need to answer that research question with the help of high-quality sources - for ...

7. Research Paper

Definition: Research Paper is a written document that presents the author's original research, analysis, and interpretation of a specific topic or issue. It is typically based on Empirical Evidence, and may involve qualitative or quantitative research methods, or a combination of both. The purpose of a research paper is to contribute new ...

8. Organizing Your Social Sciences Research Paper

The introduction leads the reader from a general subject area to a particular topic of inquiry. It establishes the scope, context, and significance of the research being conducted by summarizing current understanding and background information about the topic, stating the purpose of the work in the form of the research problem supported by a hypothesis or a set of questions, explaining briefly ...

9. PDF 1 Designing and Managing Research Projects: An overview

introduction to the main aspects of doing a research project. However, each of the chapters in the book can also be read as separate, stand-alone pieces. This might be especially handy for people already in the midst of doing a research project who are looking for specific Table 1.1 STageS in planning and conducTing a reSearch projecT

10. Organizing Your Social Sciences Research Paper

Before beginning your paper, you need to decide how you plan to design the study.. The research design refers to the overall strategy and analytical approach that you have chosen in order to integrate, in a coherent and logical way, the different components of the study, thus ensuring that the research problem will be thoroughly investigated. It constitutes the blueprint for the collection ...

11. Q: What do I include in chapter one of my research project?

Since you have used the word "chapter," I assume that you are referring to a project proposal/report or thesis. Typically, chapter one of a research project proposal or thesis includes the following components: Study background. Statement of the problem. Purpose of the study. Research question (s)

12. How to Conceptualize a Research Project

The conceptual phase is the part of the research process that determines which questions are to be addressed by the research and how the research project will be designed to successfully find the answers to these questions [ 2 ]. Conceptualization involves simultaneously bringing together several considerations to identify a good research idea ...

13. Choosing & Using Sources: A Guide to Academic Research

Choosing & Using Sources presents a process for academic research and writing, from formulating your research question to selecting good information and using it effectively in your research assignments. Additional chapters cover understanding types of sources, searching for information, and avoiding plagiarism. Each chapter includes self-quizzes and activities to reinforce core concepts ...

14. Six main chapters of a research paper

8. The ideas and concepts taken by the researcher from various sources should be restated in the researcher's own words and should be woven into the paper, which he can call his own. For coherence, unity and clarity; the researcher can do the ff: • Adopt a point of view and adhere to it throughout the research; • Only ideas that will help explain the topic should be included

15. Structuring the Research Paper: Formal Research Structure

Formal Research Structure. These are the primary purposes for formal research: enter the discourse, or conversation, of other writers and scholars in your field. learn how others in your field use primary and secondary resources. find and understand raw data and information. For the formal academic research assignment, consider an ...

16. Components of a Research Project

Additional Important Components. Thinking about the overarching goals of your research project and finding and reviewing the existing literature on your topic are two of the initial steps you'll take when designing a research project. Forming a clear research question, as discussed in Chapter 4 "Beginning a Research Project", is another ...

17. 11.2 Steps in Developing a Research Proposal

Key Takeaways. Developing a research proposal involves the following preliminary steps: identifying potential ideas, choosing ideas to explore further, choosing and narrowing a topic, formulating a research question, and developing a working thesis. A good topic for a research paper interests the writer and fulfills the requirements of the ...

18. Guide: Format of Writing a Research Project or Thesis Table of Content

Chapter One Introduction. 1.1 Background to the Study 1.2 Statement of the problem 1.3 Research Questions/Hypothesis 1.4 Purpose of the Study 1.5 Significance of the Study 1.6 Scope and Delimitation of Study 1.7 Limiation of Study 1.8 Definition of Terms. Chapter Two Review of Related Literature

19. 2. Starting your research project

Chapter outline. Choosing a research topic (10 minute read time); Your research proposal (14 minute read time); Practical and ethical considerations (14 minute read time); Raw data (10 minute read time); Critical considerations (5 minute read time); Content warning: Examples in this chapter discuss substance use disorders, mental health disorders and therapies, obesity, poverty, gun violence ...

20. What Is a Research Design

A research design is a strategy for answering your research question using empirical data. Creating a research design means making decisions about: Your overall research objectives and approach. Whether you'll rely on primary research or secondary research. Your sampling methods or criteria for selecting subjects. Your data collection methods.

21. Research Process

The research process has numerous applications across a wide range of fields and industries. Some examples of applications of the research process include: Scientific research: The research process is widely used in scientific research to investigate phenomena in the natural world and develop new theories or technologies. This includes fields ...

22. Research Methodology

Research methodology formats can vary depending on the specific requirements of the research project, but the following is a basic example of a structure for a research methodology section: I. Introduction. Provide an overview of the research problem and the need for a research methodology section; Outline the main research questions and ...

23. How to Conceptualize a Research Project

The conceptual phase is the part of the research process that determines which questions are to be addressed by the research and how the research project will be designed to successfully find the answers to these questions [ 2 ]. Conceptualization involves simultaneously bringing together several considerations to identify a good research idea ...