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Chapter 4

SOC221 - Chapter 4.docx

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Lingqin Feng

SOC221 Week 5, Chapter 4 Chapter 4 – Reviewing the Scholarly Literature and Planning a Study Introduction  A researcher usually begins with a general topic, narrows the topic down into a specific research question, and then makes decisions about the specifics of designing a study  Topics come from many sources (Ex: previous studies, television/film, etc…)  Topic must be about social patterns that operate in aggregates and be empirically measurable/observable Literature Review  Literature review is a systematic examination of previously published studies on a research question that a researcher integrates together to prepare for conducting a study or to bring together and summarize the ‘state of the field’  It is a crafted summary of the recent studies conducted on a topic that includes key findings, and methods researchers used while making sure to document the sources  Reading the ‘literature’ helps you to narrow down a topic, informs you about the ‘state of knowledge’ on a topic, it stimulates your creativity and curiosity, and it offers you an example of what the final report on a study looks like  Enables you to grasp the elements that go into conducting a research study  Locate relevant studies  read to discover major findings, methods, central issues  take notes  organize and write about the studies in a way that builds a context around a specific research question  Based on the assumption that knowledge accumulates and that people learn from and build on what others have done  Goals: 1. To demonstrate familiarity with a body of knowledge and establish credibility 2. To show the path of prior research and how a current project is linked to it 3. To integrate and summarize what is known 4. To learn from others and stimulate new ideas Where to Find Research Literature 1. Periodicals - Scholarly academic journals in which researchers present the findings or studies - Not condensed summaries meant for the general public I. Scholarly Journals: primary type of periodical; peer-reviewed reports of research (Ex: Canadian Review of Sociology, American Journal of Sociology) o Only a handful of new e-journals present peer-reviewed research studies o Qualitative research articles are more difficult to identify o Published infrequently or frequently (Ex: Canadian Review of Sociology appears 4 times a year) Page 1 of 5 SOC221 Week 5, Chapter 4 o Within a journal, each issue is assigned a date, volume number, and issue number o Citation: details of a scholarly journal article’s location (authors, title, page numbers) that help people find it quickly o Publishing cycle beings in January o Most journal number pages by volume, not by issue o Abstract: short summaries of a scholarly journal article that appears at the beginning, and a reference tool for locating scholarly journal articles II. Citation Formats: key to locating an article o Almost all include names of authors, article title, journal name, and volume and page numbers o ASR (American Sociological Review) Style, APA (American Psychological Association) Style, MLA (Modern Language Association) Style 2. Books - Should contain reports of original research or collections of research articles - Studies that involve detailed clinical/ethnographic descriptions, and complex theoretical/philosophical discussions usually appear as books - Difficult to find original articles in books because there is no single source listing them - Two types of books contain collections of articles/research reports: I. Teaching purposes II. Designed for scholars 3. Dissertations - All graduate students who receive a PhD degree must complete a work of original research, which they write up as a dissertation thesis - About half of all dissertations are eventually published as books/articles - Fewer master’s theses involve serious research and are much more difficult to locate 4. Gov’t Documents - Gov’ts, international agencies all sponsor studies and publish reports of the research 5. Policy Reports and Presented Papers - Research institutes and policy centres publish papers and reports to discuss about recent research - Each year, the professional associations in academic fields hold annual meetings - Many, but not all, all of the papers are later published as articles How to Conduct a Systematic Literature Review 1. Define and Refine a Topic - Clearly defined, well-focused research question and a plan Page 2 of 5 SOC221 Week 5, Chapter 4 - Context review should be slightly broader than the specific research question being tested - Literature review helps bring greater focus on the research question 2. Design a Search - After choosing a focused research question for the review, the next step is to plan a search strategy - Reviewer needs to decide on the type of review, its effectiv
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