Methods of Research
Major Research Project
Master Research Project 2 (Literature Search) Instructions
Literature Search – In this step, you need to utilize the online research databases of the MSU
Library to find relevant literature on your selected topic.
Find at least 10 journal articles, theories or reports published within the past 15 years. Students are encouraged to use the online Library Guides (found in Canvas) provided by the MSU library. At least seven of the 10 articles must be empirical peer-reviewed journal articles, an appropriate theoretical model(s) or reports from a credible (government, not for-profit organization, etc.) source. In addition, you need to provide an annotated list of references in APA style. Your literature search shall have the following sections.
I. Research question (from MRP1)
II. Description of your search attempt (in a table format)
a. Which online databases, journals, organization websites did you try?
b. What specific keywords did you use?
c. What criteria did you specify (i.e. search in the title, author, journal title etc)?
d. How many hits did you get?
e. Out of the hits, how many are most relevant? Out of the relevant hits, how many journal articles were selected?
III. Annotated list of references
A search attempt refers to a unique combination of databases, keywords, and search criteria used to locate sources.
Annotated list of references should explain why the source was relevant to research problem/question (i.e. what in the article led you to use this source as it pertains to the research problem, did you find a nugget of information worth using). In this section, provide an alphabetical listing of relevant journal articles, reports and/or theoretical models found as a result of your search attempt. Please maintain your list in APA style. Each source should be followed with a short explanation (50 – 150 words) as to why the article was used. It is important to remain unbiased in a literature search and select articles supportive of multiple perspectives.
You are encouraged to use the supplemental resource Writing Literature Reviews as you identify articles in your search attempt. The supplemental resource will help you identify pertinent information in the articles, reports and theories more quickly. Literature searches must move quickly if you plan to cover a lot of material. Knowing what to look for will maximize your time.
Please note that you may be asked to provide electronic copies of the sources found in MRP2. Shortcuts and falsified information will not be tolerated.
How to submit:
Submit your work as a Microsoft Word document in the designated area in Canvas. Name the file LastName_AssignmentName (i.e. Wilson_MRP2).
Your literature search should …
• Adequately address the outline listed above
• Clearly describe your search process.
• Have a list of reference citations and annotate each one with
o 1.) explanation as to why the article was relevant and
o 2.) what was pulled from the article that addresses the research problem. Seven of the 10 must be empirical research, theoretical model(s) or reports from credible sources.
• Be relatively thorough in your search.
10 points It meets all the requirements and needs no revision.
8-9 points It meets most requirements and needs few/or some revision.
6-7 points It meets some requirements and needs more revision.
1-5 points It meets few requirements and needs further systematic revision.
0 points It does not meet any requirements.
Start with the resources available to you and free of charge — the online research databases
(especially the full-text databases) offered by the MSU library. Some databases offer full-text resources, while others do not. You are encouraged to still search databases that do not offer full-text; the citation information may be enough to locate an article needed for your study. You are encouraged (but not limited) to use in your search attempts the following databases if available:
• Academic Search Complete
• Education Research Complete
• Education Resources Information Center
• Professional Development Collection
• Psychology and Behavioral Sciences Collection
• SAGE Reference Online
Using browsers and wiki sites such as Google and Wikipedia are NOT recommended. Google Scholar is acceptable.
Use the Library Guides link in the Canvas course shell. Select our department Human Development and Leadership as well as others depending on the topic. Select the Finding Articles tab. A variety of suggested, searchable databases will appear.
Choose meaningful keywords that best describe the problem/topic you want to investigate. Try different combinations of those keywords and using different criteria (search in title, abstract, citation, full text etc). Identify that you only want to search within full-text and peer-reviewed (check those boxes if those options are available). You can determine whether a peer-reviewed article is also empirical by examining its Method section. If there is no method section or in its method section there is no clear description of the sample, sample selection or collection, measures and procedures, or analysis the article is NOT empirical. Remember to download and save a copy of your interested full-text articles to your own computer. You are expected to read them. If there is one particular article that you are interested in, yet you cannot find it in the online database in full text, check to see whether 1.) the journal is accessible online, 2.) the library has a hard copy of that journal or 3.) you can retrieve it through the interlibrary loan service.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Q: How many articles shall be selected?
Answer: At least 10 sources must be used. Seven of the 10 must be either a report from a credible source or come from a peer reviewed journal or organization.
Q: What does empirical research article mean?
Answer: Empirical studies use data derived from actual observation or experiment. Original research papers that describe empirical studies and their results are published in academic journals.
Q: Are review (or meta-analysis) articles empirical studies?
Answer: No, but can be used as a source. Three of 10 sources can be something other than a peer-reviewed journal article or report. Meta-analysis or review articles can also provide a thread to other sources.
Q: Are newspaper articles empirical studies?
Q: Are dissertations journal articles?
Answer: No, but could be included as a source. Three of 10 sources can be something other than a peer-reviewed journal article or report. A thesis and dissertation may support your research or simply provide a thread for other sources.
Q: What does peer-review mean?
Answer: Peer-review is a process of subjecting an author’s scholarly work, research or ideas to the scrutiny of others who are experts in the same field.
Q: Can I select an empirical peer-reviewed article published in 1960?
Answer: No, it was published more than 15 years ago.
Q: Where can I find some information on the APA style?
Answer: 1) Get a copy of the APA manual, http://www.apastyle.org/manual/index.aspx, 2) Purdue Writing Lab APA Format: