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Understanding and Evaluating Research
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Understanding and Evaluating Research
A Critical Guide

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November 2017 | 600 pages | SAGE Publications, Inc

Understanding and Evaluating Research: A Critical Guide shows students how to be critical consumers of research and to appreciate the power of methodology as it shapes the research question, the use of theory in the study, the methods used, and how the outcomes are reported. The book starts with what it means to be a critical and uncritical reader of research, followed by a detailed chapter on methodology, and then proceeds to a discussion of each component of a research article as it is informed by the methodology. The book encourages readers to select an article from their discipline, learning along the way how to assess each component of the article and come to a judgment of its rigor or quality as a scholarly report.

Preface  
Acknowledgements  
About the Author  
 
Part I: Introduction
 
Chapter 1: Critical Research Literacy
Introduction to the Book  
Research Literacy Defined  
Benefits of Research Literacy  
Critical Research Literacy  
Uncritical Readings of Research  
Critically and Uncritically Reading Research  
Chapter Summary  
Review and Discussion Questions  
 
Part II: Philosophical and Theoretical Aspects of Research
 
Chapter 2: Research Methodologies
Introduction  
Conceptual Confusion, Slippage, and Clarity  
Methodological Approach Used in this Book  
Philosophical Axioms  
Positivism and Postpositivism  
Empirical, Interpretive, and Critical Methodologies  
Quantitative, Qualitative, and Mixed Methods Methodologies  
Research Methodology and Research Question Alignment  
Writing the Research Methodology Section of a Paper  
Chapter Summary  
Review and Discussion Questions  
Chapter 3: Conceptual Frameworks, Theories, and Models  
Introduction  
Role of Theory in Research Inquiries  
Concepts and Constructs  
Conceptual Frameworks  
Theories  
Writing the Theoretical or Conceptual Framework Section of a Paper  
Models  
Chapter Summary  
Review and Discussion Questions  
 
Part III: Orienting and Supportive Elements of Research
 
Chapter 4: Orienting and Supportive Elements of a Journal Article
Introduction  
Authors' Names, Credentials, and Affiliations  
Article Title  
Abstracts  
Keywords  
References  
Footnotes and Endnotes  
Appendices  
Acknowledgements  
Biographies  
Chapter Summary  
Review and Discussion Questions  
 
Chapter 5: Peer-Reviewed Journals
Journal Editor, Editorial Boards, and Facilitating Editors  
Peer Review Process  
Acceptance Rates  
Journal Impact Factors  
Journal Title  
Journal Volume, Issue, and Pagination  
Year of Publication and Article Placement in Issue  
Special Topic and Themed Issues  
Electronic Journals  
Open Access Journals  
Chapter Summary  
Review and Discussion Questions  
 
Part IV: Research Justifications, Augmentation, and Rationales
 
Chapter 6: Introduction and Research Questions
Introduction  
Etymological Roots  
Research Topics, Problems, Questions, Statements, and Objectives  
Opening Sentences and Opening Points in an Introduction  
Six Approaches to Writing Introductions  
Delimitations  
Chapter Summary  
Review and Discussion Questions  
 
Chapter 7: Literature Review
Introduction  
Etymology and Definition of a Literature Review  
Purposes of a Literature Review  
When to Conduct a Literature Review  
Conducting a Literature Search  
Critically Reviewing the Collection of Literature  
Writing the Literature Review Section  
Characteristics of a Good Literature Review  
Technical Elements of Writing Effective Literature Review Sections  
Chapter Summary  
Review and Discussion Questions  
 
Part V: Research Design and Research Methods
 
Chapter 8: Overview of Research Design and Methods
Introduction  
Etymology and Definition of Methods and Research Design  
Research Design  
Methods  
Integrity of Research Designs  
Technical Aspects of Reporting Methods  
Chapter Summary  
Review and Discussion Questions  
 
Chapter 9: Reporting Qualitative Research Methods
Introduction  
Qualitative Emergent Research Designs  
Types of Qualitative Research Designs  
Methods Appropriate for Qualitative Research  
Qualitative Site Selection and Access  
Qualitative Sampling  
Researcher's Role  
Qualitative Ethical Considerations  
Qualitative Data Collection  
Qualitative Data Management, Security, and Storage  
Integrity of Qualitative Research Designs  
Qualitative Data Analysis  
Qualitative Study Limitations  
Chapter Summary  
Review and Discussion Questions  
 
Chapter 10: Reporting Quantitative Methods and Mixed Methods Research
Introduction  
Quantitative Research Design  
Mixed Methods Research Design  
Chapter Summary  
Review and Discussion Questions  
 
Part VI: Results and Findings
 
Chapter 11: Statistical Literacy and Conventions
Introduction  
History of Statistics  
Laws of Probability and Chance  
Statistical Literacy  
Types of Statistical Data  
Statistical Variables  
Experimental and Nonexperimental Research  
Chapter Summary  
Review and Discussion Questions  
 
Chapter 12: Descriptive and Inferential Statistics
Basic Differences Between Descriptive and Inferential Statistics  
Descriptive Statistics  
Association and Causation  
Inferential Statistics  
Conclusion  
Chapter Summary  
Review and Discussion Questions  
 
Chapter 13: Results and Findings
Introduction  
Distinguishing Between Results and Findings  
Purpose of Results or Findings Section  
Reporting Qualitative Findings  
Reporting Quantitative Results  
Reporting Mixed Methods Results and Findings  
Conclusions: Unique Challenges of these Approaches  
Chapter Summary  
Review and Discussion Questions  
 
Part VII: Discussion, Conclusions, and Recommendations
 
Chapter 11: Statistical Literacy and Conventions
Introduction  
History of Statistics  
Laws of Probability and Chance  
Statistical Literacy  
Types of Statistical Data  
Statistical Variables  
Experimental and Nonexperimental Research  
Chapter Summary  
Review and Discussion Questions  
 
Chapter 12: Descriptive and Inferential Statistics
Introduction  
Basic Differences Between Descriptive and Inferential Statistics  
Descriptive Statistics  
Association and Causation  
Inferential Statistics  
Conclusion  
Chapter Summary  
Review and Discussion Questions  
Chapter 13: Results and Findings  
Introduction  
Distinguishing Between Results and Findings  
Purpose of Results or Findings Section  
Reporting Qualitative Findings  
Reporting Quantitative Results  
Reporting Mixed Methods Results and Findings  
Conclusions: Unique Challenges of Three Approaches  
Chapter Summary  
Review and Discussion Questions  
 
Part VII: Discussion, Conclusions, and Recommendations
 
Chapter 14: Discussion
Introduction  
Discussion Defined  
Discussion Relative to Results and Findings  
Purpose of Discussion  
Discussion and the Concept of Significance  
Fundamental Questions to Address in the Discussion  
Limitations  
Organizing the Discussion Section  
Staying Focused and On Topic  
Ensuring Strong and Responsible Discussions  
Technical Strategies for Discussion Sections  
Chapter Summary  
Review and Discussion Questions  
 
Chapter 15: Conclusions
Introduction  
Conclusion Defined  
Relating Conclusions to Discussion and Summaries  
Purpose of Conclusions  
Closing Strategies for Effective Conclusions  
Things to Avoid in the Conclusions Section  
Technical Strategies for Writing Effective Conclusions  
Chapter Summary  
Review and Discussion Questions  
 
Chapter 16: Recommendations
Introduction  
Recommend Defined  
Logical Connections Informing Recommendations  
Research Versus Nonresearch Recommendations  
Audiences for Recommendations  
Characteristics of Effective Recommendations  
Language for Communicating Recommendations  
Crafting and Organizing Effective Recommendations  
Technical Strategies for Presenting Recommendations  
Chapter Summary  
Review and Discussion Questions  
 
Part VIII: Argumentative Essays and Theoretical Papers
 
Chapter 17: Argumentative Essays: Position, Discussion, and Think-Piece Papers
Introduction  
Argumentative Essays  
Comparing Position, Discussion, and Think-Piece Papers  
Format for Argumentative Papers  
Persuasive Writing and Rhetorical Appeals  
Deductive and Inductive Argumentation  
Logical Fallacies  
Chapter Summary  
Review and Discussion Questions  
 
Chapter 18: Conceptual and Theoretical Papers
Introduction  
Chapter Caveats  
Purpose of Conceptual Versus Theoretical Papers  
Structural Elements of Conceptual and Theoretical Papers  
Elements of a Conceptual Paper  
Elements of a Theoretical Paper  
Stage of Theory Being Published in a Theoretical Paper  
Rigor in Conceptual and Theoretical Papers  
Chapter Summary  
Review and Discussion Questions  
Appendix  
References  
Index  

Supplements

Instructor Teaching Site

The password-protected Instructor Resources include the following: 

Editable, chapter-specific Microsoft® PowerPoint® slides created by the author offer you flexibility in creating a multimedia presentation for your course.

Guidelines for facilitating a roundtable on research methodologies include discussion questions and exercise ideas that can be used in-class or as assignments.

 

Student Study Site
The open-access Student Study Site includes a downloadable, editable version of the Appendix, "Worksheet for Critiquing a Journal Article or Research Report".

Understanding and Evaluating Research is a great resource with many examples to beginners and seasoned qualitative, quantitative, and mixed-methods researchers.”

Kadir Demir
Georgia State University

“Sue L. T. McGregor provides what is missing in most textbooks on research methods—deeper explanations. New researchers will find detailed explanations of difficult-to-understand research concepts, and professors will find a wealth of teaching tools that can be tailored for each lesson. Few textbooks on research methods are so comprehensive and practical.”

Scott Greenberger
Grand Canyon University

“This is an exceptional instructional book written for students and experienced researchers. It’s a thorough guide that explains the entire process and provides a complete understanding of research. I highly recommend Understanding and Evaluating Research: A Critical Guide for both inexperienced and experienced researchers!”

Anita Rose
New York University

“This powerful, well-crafted book provides novice and advanced researchers the tools to fully understand and execute research.”

Carole S Rhodes
Queens College

“This ambitious volume provides depth and explanation to the basics of research methods and goes beyond to demystify many elements of academic writing. The book is accessible to novice researchers across disciplines. It is evident how much care and thought went into developing each chapter of this text to illuminate for novice researchers the guidelines and the quirkiness of academic writing.”

Xyanthe Neider
Washington State University
Key features

KEY FEATURES:

  • A chapter on how the role of methodologies plays into becoming a critical reader of research shows readers the difference between methodology and methods, and how the former influences scholarship.
  • Review and Engagement checklists, which are strategically positioned throughout the chapters close to the respective content, help readers to assess the topics they are critically reading.
  • Special chapters on Argumentative Essays and Theory Papers show how different types of scholarship cannot be judged using the criteria for a conventional research report.
  • Primer chapters on statistics gives critical readers a basic understanding of statistical literacy.

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ISBN: 9781506350950