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Literature Reviews for Education and Nursing Graduate Students

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Description: 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,

Author: Linda Frederiksen, Sue F. Phelps; Washington State University Vancouver

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Creative Commons License
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.

1. Reviewed by: Gloria Ramirez
  • Institution: Thompson Rivers University
  • Title/Position: Associate Professor
  • Overall Rating: 4.2 out of 5
  • Date:
  • License: Creative 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.