Research Literature Review: Problems and Designs -Essay Assignment Papers Writing
Introduction and the Literature Review
The first part of the research report is the introduction and literature review. The importance of the pursuit of a particular topic is often justified, and the research problem is highlighted in this section of the report. This justification may also appear in the literature review or along with the research purpose. Approaches for justification include describing the
- seriousness of the problem;
- number of persons affected by the condition under study; and
- gap in the research literature.
The literature review is a summary of what is known about the topic of the research study gathered through an examination of literature pertaining to the topic. The content is usually arranged by the variables and population identified in the purpose of the study. A well-written review of the literature demonstrates how the evidence, related to the purpose of the study, fits together. In addition, a review of the literature might provide a critique of the research designs previously used to study the identified topic. These design issues can be another part of the justification for the study when a researcher proposes a study that strengthens the method for studying the topic. All literature cited in the review must also be listed in the references.
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Examine the quality of the sources that the researcher has utilized for the review. Are they current, and are they published in well-respected sources? Are they mostly primary sources that are original articles written by the author instead of secondary sources that paraphrase or interpret the primary sources?
This leads us to a question about peer review.
What does it mean when a journal or resource is peer reviewed? Why is it important that research-based evidence is peer reviewed?
Peer review occurs when a scholarly work, such as a research article, is appraised by experts on the subject who judge its accuracy. Usually, the reviewers do not know the author’s name or credentials to avoid being unduly influenced. This is termed a blind review and confirms credibility that the information in the article is worthy of consideration. Look to see if a journal is peer reviewed by visiting its website
The inspiration for identifying a research problem is all around us. As we reflect on our practice, we find ourselves asking questions that lead us to ideas for research problems.
- Why are we doing this?
- Should we be doing this?
- How could we do this better?
Development of the research problem usually evolves in a deductive manner, which means that the researcher’s thinking moves from conceptual to operational, from broad to narrow, and from general to specific.
|Area of Interest||Pertains to any aspect of nursing that is of importance to the researcher|
|Knowledge Gap||Identifies the difference between what is known and what needs to be known about the area of interest|
|Research Problem||Explains why there is a need for research to close the knowledge gap|
|Research Purpose||Describes the intent of what will be studied to address the research problem|
|Research Question||Outlines the components of the study and their possible relationships|
At times, the researcher’s thought process is more inductive in that specific questions arise first, and these lead the researcher to focus on the larger issues that arise from the questions.
The researcher may present a theoretical framework or conceptual framework as part of the literature review or a separate section in the research report. A theory is a tentative statement of the relationship between variables and comprises the backbone of the research study. It provides direction for one or more aspects of the study, such as which variables to study or the design for an experimental intervention. Theories are used in different ways in different types of research designs.
- A qualitative design of grounded theory generates a theory or model.
- A qualitative or quantitative design may clarify and enlarge an existing theory.
- A quantitative, experimental design may test a theory.
Most nursing research studies are not planned using an explicitly identified theory or conceptual framework. Nursing has some theories of its own but borrows theories from other disciplines, as well.
The research purpose statement is the most common method used to indicate the focus or topic of a research study. The research purpose statement is written as a declarative sentence that names the population and variables in the study. One place that the purpose statement is almost always found is at the end of the review of the literature, right before the start of the methods section. The purpose statement may also be found in the abstract and at the end of the first few introductory paragraphs. In some research articles, the purpose statement may be found in two or all three of these locations.
Another method of stating the research focus is the research question. The research question is written as an interrogative statement that includes the population and variables. One or more research questions may be posed to clarify the specific aims or predictions of the study. The research question is the final stage before the researcher decides on the design of the study. The question must be well constructed as it forms the foundation for the rest of the research study.
The research question for a quantitative study may include components such as populations, interventions, comparisons, and outcomes. Sound familiar? Yes, the researcher may use the PICO format to develop a research question that is very similar to the clinical question that you formulate to search for evidence. Indeed, this is why you use PICO formatting to write searchable, clinical questions. PICO formatting increases your likelihood of locating results from quantitative research.
The research question for a qualitative study does not lend itself to PICO formatting because interventions and comparisons are not sought. The population and the outcome may be identified, but instead of the intervention and comparison, variables of interest (VI) are selected as key terms.
Extraneous variables (EV) are those that you are not looking for when you search but exist in all studies and may impact the research. These variables are not included in the search terms, but you may discover them during a literature review as the researcher describes what influenced the findings.
The research design flows from the research question and outlines the plan for the study that will answer the research question. The design identifies the major components of the study. It is important to remember that there is no one best design for a research study. An experimental design may produce a stronger level of evidence, but it may be a poor fit for the purpose of the study. Examples of research designs and the questions they address are below.
Examples of Research Design
Descriptive research examines a process, event, or outcome and is chosen when little is known about the topic. It seeks to understand what is happening. Descriptive questions are asked more frequently in qualitative studies; however, descriptive questions may be asked in quantitative studies, too.
Correlation research asks descriptive questions about what is occurring in a situation and tries to determine if there is a relationship among the variables. One using this type of research cannot predict or infer a cause-and-effect relationship; one simply acknowledges that a relationship exists.
Predictive research is similar in that it poses descriptive questions, but it goes beyond correlation research in that it not only searches for relationships among variables, but it also seeks to determine if a change in one variable may be used to predict a change in another. No claim is made that this is a cause-and-effect relationship, just that one exists that can lead to a prediction.
Quasi-experimental research looks for a cause-and-effect relationship among variables. It does not manipulate the variables to cause the effect, but it tries to determine if an effect exists. Analytic questions are posed that compare the interventions to the outcomes.
Experimental research asks analytic questions in quantitative studies to find out if there is a causal relationship between the variables, that is, if the intervention or comparison (independent variable) causes the effect or outcome (dependent variable). The research question may form a hypothesis that describes the relationship among variables and the direction that the relationship may take. The researcher can never be certain that a relationship exists; therefore, a null hypothesis may be offered that indicates that there is no relationship between two variables, or no differences between groups. The researcher uses inferential testing to reject the null hypothesis, indicating that a relationship probably exists. The second type of hypothesis is the directional hypothesis, which predicts that there is a relationship between or among variables and the direction of the relationship. The third type of hypothesis is the nondirectional or alternative hypothesis. This is a statement predicting that there is a relationship between or among variables, but it does not predict the direction of the relationship. This type of hypothesis may be used when the actual effect of a treatment cannot be predicted.
There are multiple ways to classify designs, and these may be combined in different ways.
- A research design may be quantitative, qualitative, or mixed method. Mixed method means that both qualitative and quantitative elements are present. Quantitative designs deal with measurements, and may test theories to find relationships or to gauge the effect of interventions on outcomes. These designs can be cross-sectional or longitudinal, or prospective or retrospective, depending on the time factor. They may be descriptive, correlational, quasi-experimental, or experimental depending on the control factor.
- Qualitative designs are chosen to understand the meaning of phenomena and may form the basis of theories. Like quantitative designs, they can be cross-sectional or longitudinal, or prospective or retrospective, depending on the time factor. The control factor determines if the study is focused on phenomenology, ethnography, grounded theory, or history.
- Phenomenology develops understanding of experiences through the perception of those living them.
- Ethnography involves the researcher becoming immersed in the culture to describe the phenomena.
- Grounded theory seeks connections or links between ideas and concepts and is grounded in the subject’s reality.
- Historical research looks for connections or links by exploring the past.
Mixed method designs include elements of both quantitative and qualitative approaches.
- Designs may be experimental or nonexperimental. An experimental design involves the researcher manipulating variables to determine cause and effect. Experimental designs are quantitative because the results are measured. A nonexperimental design does not manipulate variables. All qualitative studies use a nonexperimental design because qualitative research does not investigate cause and effect. Some quantitative studies are nonexperimental in design, as well. They may seek to discover relationships among variables but do not manipulate them to bring about an effect.
- Designs may be exploratory or confirmatory. An exploratory study is usually qualitative or mixed method; it seeks to describe a phenomenon and looks for new knowledge. A confirmatory study determines if there are relationships among variables and substantiates knowledge already published; it is, therefore, quantitative.
Last week, you were introduced to the interactive research report. Open it again, and practice finding the sections that have been described in this lesson.
Interactive Research Report
The following research report contains descriptions of the various components that comprise most reports. The purpose of this interactive report is to help you learn where to find specific information.
The first step of the research process begins by defining the research problem and question and determining the best design to answer that question. Typically, this is a deductive process—moving from broad thinking about an area of interest to a specific, researchable question. It mirrors the PICO process used to write searchable clinical questions. This lesson provided definitions of many terms and explained how they may relate to each other. In the coming weeks, your understanding of these relationships will deepen as we discuss research methods and analysis. Research Literature Review: Problems and Designs -Essay Assignment Papers Writing