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Frederick E. Berry Library and Learning Commons

EDS 839: Research in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages

Resource guide for ENG 839: Research in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages

Type of Periodicals

Scholarly (Primary, Peer-Reviewed.)
For academics. Scholarly research in the field. Contains Literature Review, Methods, Charts.
Example: Journal of Food Science, New England Journal of Medicine
Popular (Secondary)
For general public.  Personalities, news, general interest articles. 
Example: People, Sports Illustrated
Trade
For industry, professionals.  Trends, products for industry. 
Example: MacWorld, Public Management
 

Types of Research

Applied Research refers to scientific study and research that seeks to solve practical problems.  Applied research is used to find solutions to everyday problems, cure illness, and develp innovative technologies, rather than to acquire knowledge for knowledge's sake. 
Correlational Research refers to the systematic investigation or statistical study of relationships among two or more variables, without necessarily determining cause and effect.  This research establishes a relation or association between two or more variables that do not readily lend themselves to experimental manipulation.
Descriptive Research refers to research that provides an accurate protrayal of characteristics of a particular individual, situation, or group.  This research is a way to discover new meaning, describing what exists, determining the frequency with which something occurs, and categorizing information. 
Experimental Research is an objective, systematic, controlled investigation for the purpose of predicting and controlling phenomena and examining probability and causality among selected variables.
Historical Research is research involving analysis of events that occurred in the remote or recent past. 

Scholarly Articles

A scholarly article is basically a formal presentation of original research.
Scholarly articles have many features which distinguish them from popular or secondary sources. In evaluating whether an article is scholarly, you should look for:
  • The publication source is usually a periodical (journal). 
  • The article is highly structured, usually with an abstract, introduction, methods, results and conclusion. 
  • Specific, technical or scientific language is used.
  • Original research is being presented for the first time. 
  • The authors have their affiliations noted (university, organization...).
  • There are citations within the text and a set of references at the end

Peer-Reviewed Articles

"Peer-reviewed" describes the process an article has to go through before it can be published in a specific journal. 
When a piece of research is submitted for publication in a peer-reviewed journal, a panel of researchers with a similar focus judge the research by various criteria
The article must be reporting original research that adds to the body of knowledge for the subject. The research must be reproducible, ethical and unbiased. Methods must be properly controlled and the conclusion must be reflective of the results. 
Some journals are a lot harder to get published in than others and this adds to their prestige. 

Primary Literature

What is "primary literature"?
  • Primary literature refers to ideas that are revealed in a public forum for the first time. Much of the primary literature appears in journal articles. Conference papers, reports, abstracts, and preprints are additional sources of primary literature.
  • Staying current with the primary literature in a specialty enables researchers to fully understand the scope of developments in their field and to avoid duplication of work.
Is primary research available on the web?
Many government agencies are sources of highly reputable scholarly research reports and journal articles. Conference papers, reports, abstracts, and preprints are additional sources of primary literature.

Analyzing the Paper

The introduction leads the reader from a general subject area to a particular field of research. It establishes the context and significance of the research being conducted by summarizing current understanding and background information about the topic, stating the purpose of the work in the form of the research problem supported by a hypothesis or a set of questions, briefly explaining the methodological approach used to examine the research problem, highlighting the potential outcomes your study can reveal, and outlining the remaining structure of the paper.
  • A research problem is a statement about an area of concern, a condition to be improved upon, a difficulty to be eliminated, or a troubling question that exists in scholarly literature, in theory, or in practice that points to the need for meaningful understanding and deliberate investigation. In some social science disciplines the research problem is typically posed in the form of one or more questions. A research problem does not state how to do something, offer a vague or broad proposition, or present a value question.
A literature review surveys books, scholarly articles, and any other sources relevant to a particular issue, area of research, or theory, and by so doing, provides a description, summary, and critical evaluation of these works in relation to the research problem being investigated. Literature reviews are designed to provide an overview of sources you have explored while researching a particular topic and to demonstrate to the readers how the research fits within a larger field of study.
The methods section describes the rationale for the application of specific procedures or techniques used to identify, select, and analyze information applied to understanding the research problem, thereby, allowing the reader to critically evaluate a study’s overall validity and reliability. The methodology section of a research paper answers two main questions: How was the data collected or generated? And, how was it analyzed?
  • Qualitative Research implies an emphasis on the qualities of entities and on processes and meanings that are not experimentally examined or measured [if measured at all] in terms of quantity, amount, intensity, or frequency. Qualitative researchers stress the socially constructed nature of reality, the intimate relationship between the researcher and what is studied, and the situational constraints that shape inquiry. Such researchers emphasize the value-laden nature of inquiry. They seek answers to questions that stress how social experience is created and given meaning. In contrast, quantitative studies emphasize the measurement and analysis of causal relationships between variables, not processes. Qualitative forms of inquiry are considered by many social and behavioral scientists to be as much a perspective on how to approach investigating a research problem as it is a method.
  • Quantitative Research emphasize objective measurements and the statistical, mathematical, or numerical analysis of data collected through polls, questionnaires, and surveys, or by manipulating pre-existing statistical data using computational techniques. Quantitative research focuses on gathering numerical data and generalizing it across groups of people or to explain a particular phenomenon.
The results section of the research paper is where the findings of the study are based upon the methodology [or methodologies] applied to gather information. The results section should simply state the findings of the research arranged in a logical sequence without bias or interpretation.
The discussion is to interpret and describe the significance of the findings in light of what was already known about the research problem being investigated, and to explain any new understanding or fresh insights about the problem after taken the findings into consideration. The discussion will always connect to the introduction by way of the research questions or hypotheses posed and the literature reviewed, but it does not simply repeat or rearrange the introduction; the discussion should always explain how the study has moved the reader's understanding of the research problem forward.
  • The limitations of the study are those characteristics of design or methodology that impacted or influenced the interpretation of the findings from the research. They are the constraints on generalizability, applications to practice, and/or utility of findings that are the result of the ways in which the study and/or the method used to establish internal and external validity.
The conclusion is intended to help the reader understand why the research should matter to them after they have finished reading the paper. A conclusion is not merely a summary of the main topics covered or a re-statement of the research problem but a synthesis of key points and, if applicable, recommended new areas for future research. For most essays, one well-developed paragraph is sufficient for a conclusion, although in some cases, a two or three paragraph conclusion may be required.

Reading and Analyzing Scholarly Articles

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