Research Methodology

Great Resources for Your Literature Review

April 30th, 2010 by

by Ursula Saqui, Ph.D.

This is the second post of a two-part series on the overall process of doing a literature review.  Part one discussed the benefits of doing a literature review, how to get started, and knowing when to stop.

You have made a commitment to do a literature review, have the purpose defined, and are ready to get started.

Where do you find your resources?

If you are not in academia, have access to a top-notch library, or receive the industry publications of interest, you may need to get creative if you do not want to pay for each article. (In a pinch, I have paid up to $36 for an article, which can add up if you are conducting a comprehensive literature review!)

Here is where the internet and other community resources can be your best friends.

  • Know the difference between Google and Google Scholar. Google is helpful for popular mainstream publications whereas Google Scholar focuses only on scholarly references such as articles, theses, books, abstracts, and court opinions that are written by academics and other professional scholars.
  • ResearchGATE is an example of a collaborative scientific community that indexes articles. Many times you can find the full text of articles at no charge.
  • Your state may offer access to different databases for its residents. For example, in my home state of Indiana, residents have access to Inspire, a collection of resources, databases, and government publications. Click here to see if your state offers a similar resource.
  • Check your local community library. They may not have the resources you need but they can often get them through inter-library loan. For example, my local community library does not carry advanced statistics books but the librarians can get them for me via their borrowing privileges with universities.
  • Even without access to a specific database, you can search thousands of government sponsored research reports that have been conducted by the U.S. government or one of its affiliates. For example, in completing a literature review of service learning programs, I found a government report that summarized 10 years of research in service learning. (That made my day!)
  • Private foundations or research companies may also conduct high-quality peer-reviewed research. For example, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation conducts and disseminates research on issues related to health and health care.
  • If you know who authored the article, you can sometimes find a pdf file of their article on their website or university website listed under their vita or recent publications.
  • Try to contact the author directly. When I have contacted authors, they have graciously sent me a complimentary copy of their article.

Still stuck?  Hire someone who knows how to do a good literature review and has access to quality resources.

On a budget?  Hire a student who has access to an academic library.  Many times students can get credit for working on research and business projects through internships or experiential learning programs. This situation is a win-win.  You get the information you need and the student gets academic credit along with exposure to new ideas and topics.

About the Author: With expertise in human behavior and research, Ursula Saqui, Ph.D. gives clarity and direction to her clients’ projects, which inevitably lead to better results and strategies. She is the founder of Saqui Research.


The Literature Review: The Foundation of Any Successful Research Project

April 23rd, 2010 by

by Ursula Saqui, Ph.D.

This post is the first of a two-part series on the overall process of doing a literature review.  Part two covers where to find your resources.

Would you build your house without a foundation?  Of course not!  However, many people skip the first step of any empirical-based project–conducting a literature review.  Like the foundation of your house, the literature review is the foundation of your project.

Having a strong literature review gives structure to your research method and informs your statistical analysis.  If your literature review is weak or non-existent, (more…)

The Great Likert Data Debate

January 9th, 2009 by

I first encountered the Great Likert Data Debate in 1992 in my first statistics class in my psychology graduate program.Stage 2

My stats professor was a brilliant mathematical psychologist and taught the class unlike any psychology grad class I’ve ever seen since.  Rather than learn ANOVA in SPSS, we derived the Method of Moments using Matlab.  While I didn’t understand half of what was going on, this class roused my curiosity and led me to take more theoretical statistics classes.  The rest is history.

A large section of the class was dedicated to the fact that Likert data was not interval and therefore not appropriate for  statistics that assume normality such as ANOVA and regression.  This was news to me.  Meanwhile, most of the rest of the field either ignored or debated this assertion.

16 years later, the debate continues.  A nice discussion of the debate is found on the Research Methodology blog by Hisham bin Md-Basir.  It’s a nice blog with thoughtful entries that summarize methodological articles in the social and design sciences.

To be fair, though, this blog entry summarizes an article on the “Likert scales are not interval” side of the debate.  For a balanced listing of references, see Can Likert Scale Data Ever Be Continuous?