About Research & Assessment: Getting Started

The intellectual structure of a discipline “tells” scholars what counts as a meaningful research question, what methodologies are acceptable, what kinds of evidence or results are valid, and the type and amount information that is sufficient for publication.  This intellectual structure also influences what papers are cited, and why and how they are cited, as well what types of publications, and the specific publications that are influential in the scholarly work of a discipline.
Published “literature” functions as a proxy for the state of knowledge on a specific topic within a discipline.  Understanding the structure and relationships of publications can help you understand the development and status of a research topic.
In addition, approaching the literature of your discipline analytically will help you think more like a researcher, understand the types of research and publications that are important the development of knowledge, how and where to search for information on a topic, and provides a context for interpreting and evaluating what you find.

This module begins with a brief exploration of the discipline of educational research to identify some of the different types of research performed and publishing patterns and resources in this discipline.

Some papers end up becoming of central importance to a research topic, often because they report a major breakthrough, insight, or synthesis of ideas.  These kinds of articles are often referred to as seminal or classic papers.  When writing a literature review on a topic, it is essential that you include any relevant seminal or classic papers.  This unit will help you learn how to recognize and locate seminal papers.


  • Identify features of scholarly research and publication that are characteristics of a discipline, and some of the types of events that occur during the intellectual development of a research topic.
  • List specific examples of academic features and research activities for your discipline (educational research).
  • Analyze research papers (journal articles), identify the different types of publications, and the nature of the intellectual contribution, for articles cited in the literature review/introduction.
  • Define a “seminal” paper.  Based features of a seminal paper, demonstrate two ways to identify/locate potential seminal papers on a topic.
Before you Begin...you should...
  • Have a basic understanding of the academic research and publication process. 
  • Know the structure of a research article and be able to identify and describe the purpose of each section. 
  • Define a citation, and identify in-text citations and associated items in the bibliography.
If you need to know more, try these tutorials:

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