Evaluating Research & Publications
in Educational Research

Writing a literature review involves many intellectual skills and challenges.  You must be able to search databases skillfully to locate relevant journal articles and other sources, and read and understand the literature that you find.  It is also necessary to evaluate the articles (research) reported.  Evaluating research for quality, by looking at issues such as experimental design, requires knowledge of the research topic or discipline. 

However, there are other approaches to evaluating the literature.  These methods use metrics such as citation counts for individual articles and for journals.  While you still need to read and understand the literature, these measurements provide a useful supplement and can also help you identify important papers in a research area.  Citation data is often used to measure influence or impact, by assessing, and attempting to quantify, how the work reported in a publication has affected the research activities of other researchers.

This module will explore some of the characteristics of research, scholarship, and communication (publishing standards and citing behaviors) in the field of educational research and help you learn how to define, locate, and identify seminal or classic papers. 
You will also learn about citation analysis, its pros and cons, the best sources of citation data, and how to interpret citation data.  The module will teach you how to search Web of Science, the major citation database, and how to manipulate and interpret the results.  You will also learn about impact factors as a controversial method of evaluating journal quality, and how to find and interpret this data for your discipline.  The module will include exercises using real research papers, and you will also have the opportunity to apply this information to your own research topic and obtain feedback.

Eleanor Smith

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