Module 8: Describing Your Methodology

You have prepared your readers for your review in the Introduction by telling them what you are reviewing, why it is important and how you have constrained your research to limit it to a manageable size. You have identified your research questions to tantalize your readers.

NOW it is time to get down to writing the bulk of your paper which includes the Methodology and Analysis and Discussion. The Methodology tells you how you found the research and the following section actually presents the review. Writing your Analysis and Discussion will be discussed in the next module.

While the Methodology that you will write for this review is not always included in the typical published journal reviews that you have been reading in your research, it is something that you will use to validate your research. The importance of the methodology is that it allows you to demonstrate your search's thoroughness to your readers so that they can personally decide how comprehensive your searches might be. If your readers feel that you have approached your research properly, then they will continue to read your Analysis and Discussion of the literature collection. You might say that your Methodology section provides the credibility which is the foundation of your whole review.

You will need to explain the search methods you used to find your resources. That isn't too difficult, but then you need to describe how you decided what to include. Once your search yielded a huge list of possible resources, you need to specify the orderly process you used to make the best selection of your bountiful harvest.

So what are the topics that need to be covered in the Methodology? It's simply a matter of explaining the process:
  1. You begin by explaining how you gathered your resources. Which specific search engines did you use and what terms/phrases did you use for your search?
  2. You were presented with hundreds or thousands of resources. You didn't have time to review all of the abstracts and resources. You had to decide which abstracts to review. You needed to make decisions about which sources to analyze. Explain your strategy for deciding which sources "made the first cut."
  3. Once you decided which sources to trust, what procedures did you use to analyze the sources to identify if they are reliable enough to consider them for your review.
  4. When you have winnowed your collection of reliable resources, explain the criteria that you used to decide which resources will be relevant to your review.

Examples of Methodologies

    Module 7: Using APA to Write a Lit Review and How to Write the Introduction

    You know what to write, now you need to explore how to write it. This module will provide some guidance on how to write a literature review. It will discuss the content and the writing techniques that you should use to create a successful review.

    The Writing Process
    • Read Chapter 9 of the Galvan Book.

    • This video includes further explanation of the parts of the literature review and a review of writing techniques to make your review more interesting and understandable. (24 minute)
    • Paragraph Writing Song by Heath - Catchy song that tells you how to write a paragraph. English and elementary teachers -  it looks like this is a whole series of songs. (1.5 minutes).
    • To Write a Paragraph song - Is another sing-along, but not as informative. (1 minute)
    Writing Using APA Format
    You may be tired of reading about writing in APA format.  You have a whole book filled with that information, don't you?  Here are 3 great videos that you should spend less than half an hour watching. The first two are PowerPoint-based tours through the APA rules. Not exciting but informative. The third video adds to the discussion with graphic examples.  Enjoy.
    • APA 6th Edition Part 1 introduces some writing strategies for research papers and explains APA formatting and citing. (Note: They suggest using "Running Headers" in the paper, but we don't do that at UNI.) (8 minutes)
    • APA 6th Edition Part 2 explains how to format your reference list (9 minutes).
    • Write in APA Format describes GREAT writing strategies and when and how sources are used (5 minutes).
    • Dos and Don'ts of Writing a Literature Review Wiki  Read through this wiki once now, and then once before you begin writing your paper. It's interesting how many of the tips will stick with you and shout out when you are writing.
      Writing an Introduction
      • Writing Effective Introductions (Webster University) - Explains the importance of introductions and provides examples to follow.
      • Link to the UNI IT Masters Literature Review Template - You can download it from here or from the Resources folder on our BB9 site.  Clicking this link should download the template to your computer. 
      • Intro to the UNI IT Masters Template video - You will have to use the UNI IT Masters Template to submit your introduction. Watch this video to learn how this template can save you plenty of time and effort in formatting your manuscript. (NOTE: This is from an earlier course. Unfortunately, we have lost the file with the APA Formatting Guidelines document. It is not available at this point, but the rest is OK.)
      Creating a Research Table to Summarize the Literature
      • Read Chapter 7 in the Galvan book.
      • Creating a research table is not part of your assignment but you will remember how well it organized and summarized the research when you read the research reviews at the end of the Galvan book. If you include it in your 10-page paper, it will not have to count as part of the page count.  Some of you are concerned that you will not be able to cover your content in 10 pages so don't worry about this uber-organizer as causing you problems.

      Module 6: Outlining Your Content

      Now that you have begun your research, it is time to envision how it will all fit together to present your review to your readers.   

      The most efficient way to organize your thoughts is usually through an outline. (It could also be done through a graphic representation of this but you would have to base it upon the linear outline format that is being presented here.) This outline is designed to organize your formative information in a structure that will easily transfer into the UNI Instructional Technology Masters Literature Review template.

      The template is self-explanatory, but here are a few hints that you should consider before you begin outlining your review:

      1. This outline is NOT the final document on your review's structure.  It is a snapshot of how you envision it based upon your present level of research and discovery.  It will evolve as you continue to research.
      2. The title is a working title.  It will probably change as you move along.
      3. You are asked to identify 3 research questions. These questions are meant to provide direction.  Remember that you are organizing existing research in the field so it may turn out that your questions are not being studied by researchers in the field. THEREFORE you will have to change your research questions so that they can be used as organizers for the research that you DO find.
      4. You only have to write about a single question in your 10-page lit review this semester.  You will find information about the other questions, but they will not be included in this review.
      5. The Analysis and Discussion section of your outline is DIFFERENT than the other  parts of your outline. This is where you will be identifying the content of the research you have found. It will not include ALL of the research you will find for this review, but it will provide a framework for your future research.
      6. REVIEW Dr. Z's Dos and Don'ts for Writing Literature Reviews.  I strongly suggest reading it through twice before writing your Lit Review.  Some of these points will stick in the back of your mind and will be helpful sometime in the future.
      You have 4 resources that you will find useful in completing this outline:

      • Student example of a completed outline This is an outline about Designing Interactive Multimedia Learning Environments. Please review it to see how he was providing a snapshot of his research up to that point and envisioning the future structure of his work. (Pay attention to the Analysis and Discussion section.)
      • .pdf version of the Literature Review outline template.  Here is a non-maleable version of the template.  It  may not open on your screen but download directly to your computer.
      • Word Doc outline template Here is your template if you want to just open it up and complete it in Word. It May not open on your screen but download directly to your computer.
      • Google Doc outline template  If you want to do this in Google Docs, make a copy of the template and then modify for your own needs.

      Module 5: Researching Your Research Question

      You have begun the writing process using assigned journal articles.  Now it is time for you to find research on your own and analyze it.

      You have been researching all of your life. Some of it has been turning over the rock in the back yard and some has involved extensive time spent on your computer Googling information about new ideas and concepts. But researching involves more than typing nouns and phrases into the Google box.

      The DaVinci Code author, Dan Brown, once pointed out that 'Google' is not a synonym for 'research'.  Google is a tool that can be used for research but it needs to be accomplished in an organized and strategic manner. This module will be the first of a series of modules that will provide information about researching.

      Any craftsperson is only as good as her tools. The search tools that we will be addressing in this course will include UNI's OneSearch and Google Scholar.

      OneSearch provides access to articles from journals, magazines, and newspapers; books; government publications; and other resources such as DVDs. These resources are customized to fit those available through UNI.
      Visit this OneSearch Video Tutorial page. You should watch all 8 videos, but at least the Overview, Scholarly Article, Full Text, and eBook. (You may run into some problems running these videos in Google Chrome on a Mac.  It has something to do with the Microsoft SilverLight extension. Running them through Firefox seemed to work better but I had to reinstall Silverlight again before it ran.)

      Google Scholar is a tool that you can use to research resources. It's easily accessible and has ever-expanding capacities for finding articles and organizing them. Google Scholar should be used more deliberately than your typical Google search. It isn't difficult but there are multiple levels of complexity. Tutorials for Scholar were not available through or Atomic Learning so spend some time reviewing the tutorials that are on the Rod Library website about Google ScholarThere are multiple videos and links.  Please review them all.  The most important part that you need to get from the videos is that you need to change the settings so that Scholar knows that you have access to the Rod Library resources.  The beauty of this is that it will take you directly to all of the databases to which we subscribe.  You probably won't have to pay for any of your articles.

      Using UNI Rod Library from a Distance

      Let me begin by directing you to the Distance Learners link from the Library. I believe that this has been mentioned in previous classes, but perhaps it hasn't been explained deeply enough for your use.

      Go proceed to the Rod Library opening page. Down the left column of the page, you will find Distance Learners in the Information For: section. Click on the Distance Learners option. This will take you to the Distance Learners page adorned by Ellen Neuhaus. Click on her YouTube video to enjoy her introduction.

      KNOW YOUR REFERENCE LIBRARIAN. Ellen and her team of reference librarians are a researcher's best friend. Call them up and they will help you find or direct you towards finding the resources you need to use for your research. Remember that you are not bothering them when you call. They are employed to help you with your searches. Their phone number is 319-273-2838 or 800-207-9410.

      This week you will only be looking for good and not-so-good articles to compare, but this is the beginning of the research journey that you will experience for the rest of your cohort life and hopefully for the rest of your professional life.

      Remember to read Galvan's Chapter 5.

      Module 4: Selecting Your Topic/Research Questions

      Now it's time to select a topic for your paper and then identify the questions you want to answer.

      True, the paper for this class is only 10 pages so you might not think that it is very important. BUT, if you take time and select a topic that truly interests you, you might save yourself a great deal of time next semester because you can continue with this topic into your final masters paper (if you decide to do a literature review.)

      Selecting your topic is not necessarily easy.  You need to find something that is broad enough to have meaning but not so narrow that there is no research on the topic.

      Too Broad: Using Technology in Education
      Too Narrow: The Effects of Using QR Codes with 3rd Grade Girls with Red Hair.
      Just Right: Effective Methods for Making Learning More Student-Centric Using QR Codes in Elementary Grades.

      Read Chapter 3 in Galvan's book. The first 10 steps are useful in helping you define your topic. The last four steps are useful in finding resources once you have

      Developing Research Questions
      Once you have an overall topic (and these change frequently), it is time for you to define what you want to know about the topic.  What are your questions. What do you want to know about this topic?  Remember that you are examining this topic because you want to know more about how you can use it in teaching.

      Visit this page on Developing a Research Question to give you some hints on the process.

      Here is a a 5-minute video about How to Create a Research Question.  Please note that they are identifying questions that they will pursue by performing research experiments, but the process is similar. It deals with environmental design, but it will easily relate to your quest.

      Write 3 research questions.  You will only be required to research and write about one question in this course, but it will be a good beginning for your writing next semester.

      I look forward to meeting with you on Zoom in the near future so that we can discuss your decisions.