Literature Reviews for Education and Nursing Graduate Students

January 2, 2018 | Updated: May 9, 2019
Author: Linda Frederiksen, Sue F. Phelps; Washington State University Vancouver

Literature Reviews for Education and Nursing Graduate Students is an open textbook designed for students in graduate-level nursing and education programs. Its intent is to recognize the significant role the literature review plays in the research process and to prepare students for the work that goes into writing one. Developed for new graduate students and novice researchers just entering into the work of a chosen discipline, each of the eight chapters covers a component of the literature review process. Students will learn how to form a research question, search existing literature, synthesize results and write the review. The book contains examples, checklists, supplementary materials, and additional resources. Literature Reviews for Education and Nursing Graduate Students is written by two librarians with expertise guiding students through research and writing assignments,

Subject Areas
Academic/Career Success, College/University Success

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Literature Reviews for Education and Nursing Graduate Students by Linda Frederiksen, Sue F. Phelps; Washington State University Vancouver is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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Reviews (2) Avg: 3.85 / 5

Gloria Ramirez

Institution:Thompson Rivers UniversityTitle/Position: Associate ProfessorCreative Commons License

Q: The text covers all areas and ideas of the subject appropriately and provides an effective index and/or glossary

The text covers most key ideas and concepts relevant to conducting a literature review in graduate studies in nursing and education. Topics covered include from basic skills such as identifying primary, secondary, and tertiary sources; differentiating among popular, trades, and scholarly publications; retrieving sources from a variety of databases, and using appropriate publication guidelines to more advanced skills such as how to identify a topic and research question, critically evaluate sources, and synthesize and write the literature.

Key topics not covered or that require further development include an overview of characteristics and differences in the role literature reviews play in qualitative and quantitative research, formulating qualitative research questions, and developing tools for argumentation.

An index and/or glossary was not included. This is a critical component that should be added in future revisions and adaptations.

Comprehensiveness Rating: 4 out of 5

Q: Content is accurate, error-free and unbiased

Overall, the content was accurate and the supplementary material was valuable.
There seems to be a slight bias towards quantitative research as most descriptions and examples related it.
Some illustrations, diagrams and tables were superfluous or did not accurately illustrate the content discussed in the sections imbedded. For example, I am not sure of the value of the table: Guide to literature at various stages of the scholarly communication process (p. 29).

Content Accuracy Rating: 4 out of 5

Q: Content is up-to-date, but not in a way that will quickly make the text obsolete within a short period of time. The text is written and/or arranged in such a way that necessary updates will be relatively easy and straightforward to implement

Yes, the content is current and updates can be easily made.

Relevance Rating: 5 out of 5

Q: The text is written in lucid, accessible prose, and provides adequate context for any jargon/technical terminology used

Overall, the text is well written and accessible. Some possible areas for improvement are:
The extensive list of types of literature reviews (12 in total) is a bit overwhelming and confusing. There are overlapping characteristics among different types of literature examined under 1.3.1, It may be more effective to narrow down the list by grouping those with similar characteristics and purposes.

The list of possible structures presented on page 103 would be more effective if concrete examples of each structure were provided. Students find it very hard to understand these concepts in the abstract.

Perhaps in an effort to write in simple sentences, some paragraphs are choppy. This has an unintended effect of obscuring meaning. The whole textbook may benefit from including transition words/phrases that make more explicit idea transitions and relations.

Idea organization: P.20 After listing common errors graduate students make conducting literature reviews, the authors conclude with the purpose of the literature reviews, interrupting the flow of logic of this section. This part may work better in section 1.4 which focuses on the importance and purpose of the literature review.
Also, the definitions provided on page 27 seem out of place. They may work better at the end of chapter 1 or as an appendix at the end of the book.

Jargon is inevitable in a research textbook, however, a list of key terms with definitions provided either at the beginning of the book, at the end of each chapter, or in the form of a glossary at the end of the book is critical to unpack this necessary, are specific terminology.

Clarity Rating: 4 out of 5

Q: The text is internally consistent in terms of terminology and framework

The use of terminology is consistent.
Most aspects of the framework are consistent. For example, the book provides practice and test yourself activities at the end of each chapter.
A summary or conclusion paragraph is provide in some, but not all chapters.
A list of key terms with definitions is provided in one chapter only.

Consistency Rating: 4 out of 5

Q: The text is easily and readily divisible into smaller reading sections that can be assigned at different points within the course (i.e., enormous blocks of text without subheadings should be avoided). The text should not be overly self-referential, and should be easily reorganized and realigned with various subunits of a course without presenting much disruption to the reader.

The txt is properly divided into digestible sections with proper heading and subheadings with clearly reveal the hierarchy of thematic relations across each chapter. Each chapter, and in fact sections within a chapter, could work as stand alone sections to be used for specific purposes at a given moment during the literature review process.

Modularity Rating: 5 out of 5

Q: The topics in the text are presented in a logical, clear fashion

The text could benefit from some reorganization in certain parts. For example, there are overlapping characteristics among different types of literature examined under 1.3.1 It may be more effective to narrow down the list by grouping those with similar characteristics and purposes.

Sections 3.3. and sections 3.4 should begin with an introductory paragraph discussing distinctive characteristics of qualitative and quantitative research questions. Then it should follow a balanced treatment of both types of questions. Currently it only discussed and provides examples for quantitative research questions.

There is need for inclusion of transition devices between sentences, paragraphs, and sections.

Organization Rating: 4 out of 5

Q: The text is free of significant interface issues, including navigation problems, distortion of images/charts, and any other display features that may distract or confuse the reader

Several images are distorted and of poor quality. For example, it is hard to see what is written in the small cards provided in the image of Illustration 6.1. Also figures 6.2., 7.2, 8.1, among others are pixeled.

Interface Rating: 3 out of 5

Q: The text contains no grammatical errors

The text contains some minor typos and grammatical and punctuation errors. Below are some examples:
Some typographical and formatting mistakes (e.g., Last bullet point at the top of page 11)
P16 Aspecific
P20 double comma
P27 punctuation. You will find in the literature… so the reader… (, needed before so)

Grammar Rating: 4 out of 5

Q: The text is not culturally insensitive or offensive in any way. It should make use of examples that are inclusive of a variety of races, ethnicities, and backgrounds

The text reflects diversity and inclusion.

Cultural Relevance Rating: 5 out of 5

Q: Are there any other comments you would like to make about this book, for example, its appropriateness in a Canadian context or specific updates you think need to be made?

I recommend it. It covers most key aspects related to conducting literature reviews in graduate studies in nursing and education. Aspects not covered can be easily added and some minor typographical, grammatical, and punctuation errors can be easily revised in adaptations of it.

Dr. Tracy Christianson

Institution:Thompson Rivers UniversityTitle/Position: Assistant ProfessorCreative Commons License

Q: The text covers all areas and ideas of the subject appropriately and provides an effective index and/or glossary

The text covers all the necessary elements of a literature review providing a high overview of the requirements and processes.
For a graduate level text, I would expect more in-depth exploration of the various elements and steps involved with a literature review. Some of the chapters, for example chapter 1, types of literature reviews could use more description to help a graduate student understand the differences and why one would write a specific type of literature review versus another;
chapter 2, when providing examples of the types of literature add 'systematic reviews' to secondary sources and perhaps focus on the type of literature most education and nursing students would use - not too many nursing students use trade journal , maybe a description about "grey literature" and what that means,
Chapter 3 - 3.2 how do the 19 questions presented reflect back on the chapter discussion? The research question or hypothesis presented, the authors should review their description of the differences between these two concepts. The research question "presents the idea that is to be examined in the study and is the foundation of the study" ( LoBiondo, et al., 2019, pg 65). Whereas the hypothesis is the "statement about the relationship between two or more variable that suggests and answer to the research question" ( LoBiondo, et al., 2019, pg 77). The type of research one want to do (qualitative vs. quantitative) will determine whether or not a hypothesis is used. These are important distinctions and are not clearly articulated in the text. There is no link or website to review the video they have embedded. Can this information be incorporated into the text of their book?
chapter 4 - where to find the literature provides some very basic steps that most graduate students would likely know from their undergraduate experiences. I would eliminate all the extra Library of Congress subject classifications that are under nursing. "Areas related to nursing that are outside range include:..." To make this flow better I would suggest starting with 4.2.1.3 and then incorporate the Library of Congress, then books/e-books and so on. The WorldCat is useful (and a link is provided). I would also suggest under Dissertations sites to include PROQuest. Just before 4.3.2 the is mention to "watch this short video tutorial..." but not link or name of the video. 4.3.2 "Likewise, THIS (should be THE) document, titled...." no reference/citation noted, 4.3.3 "In Education and Nursing..." neither should be capitalized and as a stand alone paragraph is too short, a minimum of three sentences. 4.3.4 "...you will look at the references or works cited list in the resource..." this doesn't make sense.
Chapter 5 - 5.1.2.5 the there Caulfield strategies could be reworded: remove "go upstream to the source of the claim after the bolded of the same; do the same with "read laterally" these are redundant.
Chapter 6 - 6.3 The authors provide many different bibliographic citation formats, while interesting to know but if this text is aimed at education and nursing I would recommend focusing on the ones most used by these two (APA, MLA) ACS and EIEE definitely are useless.
Chapter 7
Chapter 8 There is more to the literature review than just the introduction, body, and conclusion. It would be important to provide an explanation on the difference between an introduction and background, the body is more than just that and is the significant work of the literature review. The body contents the methods/methodology, results/findings/ discussion, possible limitations, recommendations, and then the conclusion. This section should be strengthened. In this chapter the authors mention to use quotes sparingly. I would recommend they do the same. There are many long quotes throughout the text that they may wish revise. Using the 'conclusion' from this chapter that summarizes each chapter, the authors could use this as a guide to go back an revise their text to make it more robust for the graduate student reader. When giving examples, again I would suggest focusing on nursing and education type examples not "plankton" All but the online text do not have access to the answer key to each of the end of chapter practice/test your self activities. There are a number of video links to some important information on the chapter topics, rather than redirecting students to those sites, as I have already mentioned, providing more detail in the text would eliminate the need for such links (especially if these links become 'dead'). There is no index or glossary to address any comments too.

Comprehensiveness Rating: 3 out of 5

Q: Content is accurate, error-free and unbiased

I have reviewed both the online and print versions of this text. There are a number figures in each chapter that have no reference to the text; they just are presented. Some seem to have some relevance but not directed back to the text, doing so would create connections. The print and some of the e-books do not have access to the video links that are shown and there are no links provided to seek those videos.
There are a number of typographical errors noted, starting in chapter 2 (2.3.1.5) "The Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) indexes AND provides...", 2.3.1.6, in the table comparing information sources across disciplines under PRIMARY Nursing "Journal article reporting on a Cclinical..." 3.3.2 "..., your literature review will be to test OF a hypothesis..." 4.3.4 ...chek out THIS article by Hammond & Brown (2008).
See some of the comments in the Comprehensiveness section.

Content Accuracy Rating: 3 out of 5

Q: Content is up-to-date, but not in a way that will quickly make the text obsolete within a short period of time. The text is written and/or arranged in such a way that necessary updates will be relatively easy and straightforward to implement

With the exceptions of the video links, the text should have longevity. The content of the text is relevance to the student. However, there are some examples that are not relevant to either nursing or education students and the authors may want to adjust these.

Relevance Rating: 4 out of 5

Q: The text is written in lucid, accessible prose, and provides adequate context for any jargon/technical terminology used

The major issue with this text is the format in which it is written. The authors are writing for graduate students (nursing and education) yet there is a failure to write using a commonly used citation format such as APA or MLA. Following such a format should correct some of the issues that have been highlighted in this review and demonstrate to the reader how writing should look.
This textbook, as it is written in terms of content could be used at an undergraduate level student but with changes as suggested could bring it to a higher level student to gain insight into writing a quality literature review.
The terminology is generally well defined with little in the way of jargon.

Clarity Rating: 3 out of 5

Q: The text is internally consistent in terms of terminology and framework

In general, the text has consistency in terms of each chapter layout. The chapter headings and subheadings are clear and consistent. However, if following a APA or MLA format the headings would be more clear. The two major inconsistencies: 1) is there are some chapter summaries/conclusion and others there are none, and 2) there are references in some chapters and not in others. Every chapter should have an introduction and summary.

Consistency Rating: 3 out of 5

Q: The text is easily and readily divisible into smaller reading sections that can be assigned at different points within the course (i.e., enormous blocks of text without subheadings should be avoided). The text should not be overly self-referential, and should be easily reorganized and realigned with various subunits of a course without presenting much disruption to the reader.

The text as it is formatted can easily be divided into smaller reading sections. Depending on the chapter, it would present too much challenge for the reader to receive a subunit and understand the context of the that subunit.

Modularity Rating: 4 out of 5

Q: The topics in the text are presented in a logical, clear fashion

As already highlighted in previous review sections, there are some flow, organization, and structural issues that if addressed would increase the readability of the text. The need for the authors to use a format (APA or MLA) that education and nursing students are familiar with would greatly improve the readability and flow of the content as well as the organization. The structural issues are minor, ensure each chapter has a summary, there is access to links/websites, and test answers in all formats.

Organization Rating: 3 out of 5

Q: The text is free of significant interface issues, including navigation problems, distortion of images/charts, and any other display features that may distract or confuse the reader

Not all forms of the textbook have access to the links or answer key, otherwise there are not significant issues with interface.

Interface Rating: 4 out of 5

Q: The text contains no grammatical errors

I have already addressed the issues of grammar/spelling in previous sections of this review. There are a few but easy to address.

Grammar Rating: 4 out of 5

Q: The text is not culturally insensitive or offensive in any way. It should make use of examples that are inclusive of a variety of races, ethnicities, and backgrounds

While diversity and inclusiveness are not directly addressed in this text, there does not appear to be an insensitive or offensive text or images.

Cultural Relevance Rating: 4 out of 5

Q: Are there any other comments you would like to make about this book, for example, its appropriateness in a Canadian context or specific updates you think need to be made?

I have provided feedback on many issues that I see this textbook currently has, especially given that this is focused for the graduate student. I would not recommend this text for this population as it requires significant revisions for me to recommend to my graduate students. It has the foundations for a really lovely and useful text for the new graduate student. I may recommend for undergraduate students who are about to write their first major literature review paper.
This text needs to use a framework that incorporates a citation format that is recognized by the target audience. If the authors revised using such a format, would likely deal/correct many of the issues that I have reviewed. As well, the need to expand and provide more depth on the literature review process is needed.