Topic: Program Review of a 1:1 Technology Device Initiative
The review of research literature is the core of Chapter 2 and provides the evidence-base that grounds the dissertation within the field of study. This review must be undertaken with scientific organization and must employ the researcher’s best analytic and descriptive skills in order to provide the reader with an accurate picture of the state of research in the field. A literature search matrix is vital to the organization of the literatures for analysis and synthesis purposes. Example headings for a literature matrix that blends Machi and McEvoy’s (2016) examples (see Figures 4.3, 4.8, and 4.13) with methodological concerns is provided in Appendix A.
Szuchman and Thomlison (2011) describe three different types of reviews of research literature: “empirical,” “theoretical,” and “systematic.” Empirical reviews are a synthesizing summary of prior research that “presents a state of knowledge in an area” (p. 62). Theoretical reviews provide critical analyses of the current theoretical perspectives in the literatures. And systematic reviews are undertaken in quantitative studies to provide “a formal synthesis of experimental research studies designed to explain how particular interventions affect specific outcomes” (p. 62). The literature review for the dissertation will necessarily involve empirical and theoretical considerations, and depending on the methodological approach that is being developed for the study, may require the inclusion of the elements that Szuchman and Thomlinson group under the term systematic review.
The relevant literatures must be reviewed in a way that provides a clear explanation of the methodological approaches being applied by veteran researchers to investigate the specific problem and its close analogues. The review of methodological approaches can be carried out systematically by using a literature matrix to identify, catalogue, and organize the literatures by methodology (see Appendix A). Research studies will in most cases have: 1) a clearly identified methodology; 2) logical rationale for the choice of methodology; 3) clearly identified and justified methods, tools, and instruments the study employs for gathering data; and 4) detailed descriptions of the data analysis procedures used to understand the collected data. The literature matrix offers a straightforward way to organize and then readily synthesize the literatures by methodological approach.
The LR’s presentation and analysis of methodological approaches of current literatures (i.e., within the past 5–7 years) provides the evidence-base for the Chapter 3: Methodology’s justification of methodological choices. As a novice in the field, the doctoral researcher must carefully lay the grounds for their methodological choices by relating these choices to the community of scientific practice’s well-confirmed and grounded understanding of the best means for gathering data to understand and solve various research problems.