(3 credits)

Prerequisite course: EDR-8300: The Research Process

Course Description:

Students will develop effective search and scholarly writing strategies to create a scholarly review of literature. The course emphasizes how to: (a) use effective literature search strategies; (b) develop a scholarly synthesis of research literature; (c) organize research literature around identified research themes, including a study problem, purpose, and theoretical perspectives for an empirical research study; and (d) focus on developing a scholarly exposition that reflects divergent viewpoints and contrasting perspectives. The overarching goal of this course is for students to understand strategies to survey scholarly empirical and theoretical literature to avoid bias, focus on educational practice-based research problems, and address the required components of a scholarly literature review.

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Number of Activities: 9

Learning Outcomes:

  1. Examine the conventions of scholarly literature review and the distinctions between literature review and the other forms of academic and scholarly writing. (BL4)
  2. Discriminate between the empirical research literature and non-scientific grey literature considered within the scholarly literature review. (BL5)
  3. Conduct effective literature-review search strategies to review current empirical research from peer-reviewed scholarly journals from divergent viewpoints. (BL5)
  4. Cultivate the development of advanced writing skills that articulate scholarly exposition appropriate for research in an educational environment. (BL6)
  5. Synthesize empirical and theoretical literature related to a focused study problem in a scholarly, organized, non-biased, substantive narrative. (BL6)

Course Concepts:

  1. Sourcing Scholarly Literature
  2. Effective Academic Database Search Strategies
  3. Credibility and Worthiness of Scholarly Literature
  4. Systematic Review of Scholarly Sources
  5. Reference and Citation Management Software Use
  6. Reflexivity and Recursivity in Review of Literature
  7. Critical Analysis and Synthesis of Relevant Scholarly Literature

Course Overview

Section 1: Source

Week 1: Introduction to Literature Review

Week 1 Assignment: Discriminate Among Different Types of Literature (10 Points)

Week 2: Search Strategies for Scholarly Literature

Week 2 Assignment 1: Examine Citation Management Software for the Literature Collection (5 Points)

Week 2 Assignment 2: Compare Search Strategies to Source Scholarly Literature(5 Points)

Week 3: Keywords, Key Phrases, and Electronic Literature Searches

Week 3 Assignment: Select First Five Scholarly Sources (10 Points)

Section 2: Survey

Week 4: Systematic Approach to Literature Review

Week 4 Assignment: Prepare Review Matrix (10 Points)

Week 5: Scholarly Exposition in Literature Review: Tone, Voice, and Style

Week 5 Assignment: Appraise Your Scholarly Voice (10 Points)

Week 6: A Conversation Among Sources

Week 6 Assignment: Select and Review First 10 Sources (10 Points)

Section 3: Synthesize

Week 7: Synthesis in a Systematic Literature Review

Week 7 Assignment: Signature Assignment: Synthesize a 15-Source Literature Review (30 points)

Week 8: Critical Reflection of the Body of Knowledge

Week 8 Assignment: Writing-as-Thinking: Assess Your Literature Review Skill Set (10 points)

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Week 1 – Assignment: Discriminate Among Different Types of Literature

In this assignment, you will demonstrate a foundational understanding of the different types of literature. Create a table, similar to the example below, to describe at least three characteristics of scholarly literature, peer-reviewed literature, grey literature, and popular literature. While you should read the assigned resources to prepare for this assignment, be sure to use your own words when describing the characteristics.

Peer-ReviewedScholarlyGreyPopular
Characteristic 1    
Characteristic 2    
Characteristic 3    

Table 1. Example: Characteristics of literature

Length: One page

References: No references are required, though any sources used should be cited and referenced in APA format.

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Week 2 – Assignment 1: Examine Citation Management Software for the Literature Collection

RefWorks is NCU’s preferred citation management tool and, thus, is made available free to all NCU students. It allows you to import citations from not only the NCU Library academic databases but also large-scale and often open-access indexes such as Google Scholar, PubMed, and WorldCat. In this assignment, you will use your RefWorks account, previously set up in another course; or you will set up your account now using the instructions under “RefWorks Login” on the RefWorks LibGuide.

Once you are logged into your RefWorks account, you are ready to begin the assignment:

  1. Create three new folders in the left navigation bar of your RefWorks portal.
  2. In a separate location, begin a list of the initial keywords and phrases you are aware will be needed to begin sourcing the literature for your general research focus.
  3. Then, label each of the three folders with a general keyword or key phrase that aligns with the research focus you considered in Week 1 and can be used to initially source literature.
  4. When the three labeled folders are in view on your RefWorks portal page, take a screen capture of the folder structure and ensure the image of the portal page includes your name in the upper right corner. Note. A screen capture can be obtained by clicking on the “Print Screen” key on your PC computer keyboard and pasting the image into a Word document, or you can take a digital photo of the portal page with your smartphone. If you are using a Mac, press shift-command-4 and draft the screen area to capture the image desired. Then hold space bar to drag the scope of the image. Once you release your mouse, find the screen capture as a .png file on your desktop and upload this image for the assignment.

Length: 1 RefWorks home screen image

References: None

Your RefWorks screen image should demonstrate thoughtful consideration of the ideas and concepts presented in the course and provide new thoughts and insights relating directly to your general research focus. Your response should reflect graduate-level critical thinking and current APA standards. Be sure to adhere to Northcentral University’s Academic Integrity Policy.

Upload the image as a .png, .jpg, Word, or .pdf file and click the Submit to Dropbox button.

Week 2 – Assignment 2: Compare Search Strategies to Source Scholarly Literature

In this assignment, you will compare your favorite internet search engine and the NCU Library’s Roadrunner Search as potential ways to source the scholarly literature collection for your potential research focus.

  1. Navigate to the Library home page. You should see a search bar near the middle of the screen under the Roadrunner Search tab.
    1. Enter your initial keywords and phrases from the list you created in Assignment 1. (Note: Ideally, you will continue to add to and modify keywords, phrases, and types of sources as you begin sourcing.)
    2. Note your observations as you examine the items in your result list. What types of resources appear? What do you notice about the resources? How are you able to narrow the list of results? What is the range of publication dates that appear? What did you think about the ease or difficulty of navigating the library’s Roadrunner search feature? What else did you notice?
  2. Navigate to your favorite internet search engine (e.g., Google, Bing, DuckDuckGo, Lycos, etc.). Be sure to note the internet search engine you use.
    1. Enter your initial keywords and phrases from the list you created in Assignment 1. (Note: Ideally, you will continue to add to and modify keywords, phrases, and types of sources as you begin sourcing.)
    2. Note your observations as you examine the items in your result list. What types of resources appear? What do you notice about the resources? How are you able to narrow the list of results? What is the range of publication dates that appear? What did you think about the ease or difficulty of navigating your preferred internet search engine? What else did you notice?
  3. Present your comparisons of the two search strategies for sourcing scholarly literature.

Length: 3-5 slides, excluding title and reference slides, with 1-page narrated script

References: Cite a minimum of 3 resources reviewed and/or used to explore both search tools

Your presentation should demonstrate thoughtful consideration of the ideas and concepts presented in the course and provide new thoughts and insights relating directly to this topic. Your response should reflect graduate-level critical thinking and current APA standards. Be sure to adhere to Northcentral University’s Academic Integrity Policy.

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Week 3 – Assignment: Select First Five Scholarly Sources

In this assignment, you will utilize the techniques practiced in Weeks 1 and 2 to source the first five scholarly sources for literature review. Each of the five sources needs to relate to a specific research study. You will prepare a full reference list of the five sources using APA style.

In addition, you will provide a two-paragraph discussion of any challenges or barriers you faced in the selection of these five relevant sources. For example, did you find few peer-reviewed articles for the keywords and phrases used, or did you find it challenging to narrow the sources returned in your searches? Was it a challenge to five sources that related to specific research studies? Be specific and use the discussion to reflect on this initial search and how you might improve these strategies for the Week 6 assignment and the Week 7 Signature Assignment.

Length: 1-2 pages

References: At least 5 sources prepared as a references list

Your document should demonstrate thoughtful consideration of the ideas and concepts presented in the course and provide new thoughts and insights relating directly to this topic. Your response should reflect scholarly writing and current APA standards. Be sure to adhere to Northcentral University’s Academic Integrity Policy.

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Week 4 – Assignment: Prepare Review Matrix

In this assignment, you will prepare a literature review matrix/table for the first five scholarly sources you gathered in Week 3. Please download the Literature Review Matrix/Table template from the Resources (adapted from Boote & Beile, 2005) to use as a simple template to get you started. Feel free to modify the matrix/table as needed, including recreating the document as a spreadsheet, if you prefer. Be sure to complete all columns for each of the five sources.

Length: 1-2 pages

References: Embed full source citation in Column 1; an optional references list may also follow the table

Your literature review matrix/table should demonstrate thoughtful consideration of the ideas and concepts presented in the course and provide new thoughts and insights relating directly to this topic. Your response should reflect scholarly writing and current APA standards. Be sure to adhere to Northcentral University’s Academic Integrity Policy.

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Week 5 – Assignment: Appraise Your Scholarly Voice

Next week, you will begin to draft the review of the 10 scholarly sources gathered thus far, and this writing will utilize the conventions expected for literature review writing. So this week, you’ll appraise voice, tone, and style specific to a sophisticated literature review for doctoral-level research.

For this assignment, you will:

  1. Identify a scholarly manuscript you have written within the last year. The easiest choice would be an essay you have written for a course, though you are welcome to use something else. If you are not sure, check with your instructor early in the week.
  2. Appraise your scholarly writing readiness by marking your scores on the Voice, Tone, and Style rubric available in the Books and Resources for this week.
  3. Ensure that you complete the Justification column by providing evidence from your own manuscript which you selected. In other words, note why you scored your writing the way you did for each criterion.
  4. Below the rubric, compose a brief reflection on the continued development of voice, tone, and style in your scholarly writing. Where are your strengths? Where are your opportunities for further development in order to elevate your scholarly writing in preparation for the dissertation research literature review you will conduct later in your program?

Length: 1.5–2 pages

References: No sources are required in the rubric or reflection, though any sources used should be cited and referenced.

Your appraisal should demonstrate thoughtful consideration of the ideas and concepts presented in the course and provide new thoughts and insights relating directly to this topic. Your response should reflect scholarly writing and current APA standards. Be sure to adhere to Northcentral University’s Academic Integrity Policy.

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Week 6 – Assignment: Select and Review First 10 Sources

In this assignment, you will continue to source the literature that you began in to gather Week 3 by finding an additional five scholarly sources for your literature review. For this exercise, remember to focus on sources related to research studies. Add the five new sources to the matrix/table you began in Week 4, and prepare a full reference list of the 10 sources using APA style.

In addition, you will begin to review each source in the narrative format expected for literature review. Group the 10 sources gathered thus far under categorical or theme headings and conduct a systematic review of each source as outlined in your readings. Be sure to utilize the resources to guide your writing and also incorporate the divergent perspectives or similarities between findings.

Length: 5 to 7 page paper plus the matrix in the appendix after the reference list (not included in page count)

References: A full references list with at least 10 sources in APA style

Your document should demonstrate thoughtful consideration of the ideas and concepts presented in the course and provide new thoughts and insights relating directly to this topic. Your response should reflect scholarly writing and current APA standards. Be sure to adhere to Northcentral University’s Academic Integrity Policy.

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Week 7 – Assignment: Synthesize a 15-Source Literature Review

Instructions

Before starting the Signature Assignment, be sure you have sourced at least 15 current (within the past five years) empirical, theoretical, or conceptual articles. In the Signature Assignment, you will present a coherent review of each article and synthesize a collective discussion of the sources under coherent research theme headings.

If you retain the same research focus for your research prospectus, this assignment may serve as an initial draft of one section of the literature review in your dissertation research proposal. Remember from Week 4 that  you first need to review the source for the categories noted in your literature review matrix/table. Then, complete the review of each source as you situate the source within the context of the additional sources grouped within your discussion.

For this assignment, your final submission should ensure the following criteria are met:

  • Review and synthesize 15 research articles from peer-reviewed scholarly sources with at least 11 sources being empirical articles and no more than 4 sources from the theoretical literature and other forms of non-peer-reviewed grey literature, which may include organizational research reports, governmental analyses, etc.
  • An appendix to the assignment that demonstrates the academic databases searched to source the 15 research articles used within the assignment. This appendix will be constructed from the matrix/table begun in Weeks 4 and 6 that notes the source and respective academic database or library from which it was sourced.
  • The assignment must reflect doctoral-level scholarly writing and appropriate APA style. Be sure to adhere to Northcentral University’s Academic Integrity Policy.

Length: 7-10 pages of synthesized literature review with 1 matrix/table as an appendix to the literature review

References: A full reference list with at least 15 sources in APA style

Your paper with appendix that includes the matrix/table should demonstrate thoughtful consideration of the ideas and concepts presented in the course and provide new thoughts and insights relating directly to this topic. Your response should reflect scholarly writing and current APA standards. Be sure to adhere to Northcentral University’s Academic Integrity Policy.

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Week 8 – Assignment: Writing-as-Thinking: Assess Your Literature Review Skill Set

Using reflective writing as a critical thinking process, consider the new learning you have gained in this course and how you will apply it to your future dissertation literature review. Reflect on the gains and challenges in this experience; and evaluate the current state of your ability to source, review, and synthesize scholarly sources against the five course learning objectives:

  1. Examine the conventions of scholarly literature review and the distinctions between literature review and the other forms of academic and scholarly writing.
  2. Discriminate between the empirical research literature and non-scientific grey literature considered within the scholarly literature review.
  3. Conduct effective literature-review search strategies to review current empirical research from peer-reviewed scholarly journals from divergent viewpoints.
  4. Cultivate the development of advanced writing skills that articulate scholarly exposition appropriate for research in an educational environment.
  5. Synthesize empirical and theoretical literature related to a focused study problem in a scholarly, organized, non-biased, substantive narrative.

Finally, consider the action step you identified in Week 5. Did you complete that action step? If so, what did you learn and how did you apply that learning in your signature assignment last week? If you have not completed the activity you identified, explain why you have not yet completed that action step and when you plan to complete it.

Length: 1.5–2 pages

References: None

Your reflective narrative should demonstrate thoughtful consideration of the ideas and concepts presented in the course and provide new thoughts and insights relating directly to this topic. Your response should reflect scholarly writing and current APA standards. Be sure to adhere to Northcentral University’s Academic Integrity Policy.

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