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Education Literature Review: Education Literature Review
What does this guide cover, the basic process, the role of the literature review, search for literature, staying organized, writing the literature review, beyond the literature review, books and articles about the lit review.
Writing the literature review is a long, complex process that requires you to use many different tools, resources, and skills.
This page provides links to the guides, tutorials, and webinars that can help you with all aspects of completing your literature review.
These resources provide overviews of the entire literature review process. Start here if you are new to the literature review process.
- Literature Reviews Overview : Writing Center
- How to do a Literature Review : Library
- Video: Common Errors Made When Conducting a Lit Review (YouTube)
Your literature review gives your readers an understanding of the evolution of scholarly research on your topic.
In your literature review you will:
- survey the scholarly landscape
- provide a synthesis of the issues, trends, and concepts
- possibly provide some historical background
Review the literature in two ways:
- Section 1: reviews the literature for the Problem
- Section 3: reviews the literature for the Project
The literature review is NOT an annotated bibliography. Nor should it simply summarize the articles you've read. Literature reviews are organized thematically and demonstrate synthesis of the literature.
For more information, view the Library's short video on searching by themes:
Short Video: Research for the Literature Review
(4 min 10 sec) Recorded August 2019 Transcript
The iterative process of research:
- Find an article.
- Read the article and build new searches using keywords and names from the article.
- Mine the bibliography for other works.
- Use “cited by” searches to find more recent works that reference the article.
- Repeat steps 2-4 with the new articles you find.
These are the main skills and resources you will need in order to effectively search for literature on your topic:
- Subject Research: Education by Jon Allinder Last Updated Apr 1, 2022 5134 views this year
- Keyword Searching: Finding Articles on Your Topic by Lynn VanLeer Last Updated Apr 13, 2023 19443 views this year
- Google Scholar by Jon Allinder Last Updated Dec 9, 2022 35432 views this year
- Quick Answer: How do I find books and articles that cite an article I already have?
- Quick Answer: How do I find a measurement, test, survey or instrument?
Video: Education Databases and Doctoral Research Resources
(6 min 04 sec) Recorded April 2019 Transcript
The literature review requires organizing a variety of information. The following resources will help you develop the organizational systems you'll need to be successful.
- Organize your research
- Citation Management Software
You can make your search log as simple or complex as you would like. It can be a table in a word document or an excel spread sheet. Here are two examples. The word document is a basic table where you can keep track of databases, search terms, limiters, results and comments. The Excel sheet is more complex and has additional sheets for notes, Google Scholar log; Journal Log, and Questions to ask the Librarian.
- Search Log Example Sample search log in Excel
- Search Log Example Sample search log set up as a table in a word document.
- Literature Review Matrix with color coding Sample template for organizing and synthesizing your research
The following resources created by the Writing Center and the Academic Skills Center support the writing process for the dissertation/project study.
- Critical Reading
- What is Synthesis
- Walden Templates
- Quick Answer: How do I find Walden EdD (Doctor of Education) studies?
- Quick Answer: How do I find Walden PhD dissertations?
The literature review isn't the only portion of a dissertation/project study that requires searching. The following resources can help you identify and utilize a theory, methodology, measurement instruments, or statistics.
- Education Theory by Jon Allinder Last Updated May 1, 2022 399 views this year
- Tests & Measures in Education by Kimberly Burton Last Updated Nov 18, 2021 43 views this year
- Education Statistics by Jon Allinder Last Updated Feb 22, 2022 58 views this year
- Office of Research and Doctoral Services
The following articles and books outline the purpose of the literature review and offer advice for successfully completing one.
- Chen, D. T. V., Wang, Y. M., & Lee, W. C. (2016). Challenges confronting beginning researchers in conducting literature reviews. Studies in Continuing Education, 38(1), 47-60. https://doi.org/10.1080/0158037X.2015.1030335 Proposes a framework to conceptualize four types of challenges students face: linguistic, methodological, conceptual, and ontological.
- Randolph, J.J. (2009). A guide to writing the dissertation literature review. Practical Assessment, Research & Evaluation 14(13), 1-13. Provides advice for writing a quantitative or qualitative literature review, by a Walden faculty member.
- Torraco, R. J. (2016). Writing integrative literature reviews: Using the past and present to explore the future. Human Resource Development Review, 15(4), 404–428. https://doi.org/10.1177/1534484316671606 This article presents the integrative review of literature as a distinctive form of research that uses existing literature to create new knowledge.
- Wee, B. V., & Banister, D. (2016). How to write a literature review paper?. Transport Reviews, 36(2), 278-288. http://doi.org/10.1080/01441647.2015.1065456 Discusses how to write a literature review with a focus on adding value rather and suggests structural and contextual aspects found in outstanding literature reviews.
- Winchester, C. L., & Salji, M. (2016). Writing a literature review. Journal of Clinical Urology, 9(5), 308-312. https://doi.org/10.1177/2051415816650133 Reviews the use of different document types to add structure and enrich your literature review and the skill sets needed in writing the literature review.
- Xiao, Y., & Watson, M. (2017). Guidance on conducting a systematic literature review. Journal of Planning Education and Research. https://doi.org/10.1177/0739456X17723971 Examines different types of literature reviews and the steps necessary to produce a systematic review in educational research.
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Purdue Online Writing Lab College of Liberal Arts
Writing a Literature Review
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A literature review is a document or section of a document that collects key sources on a topic and discusses those sources in conversation with each other (also called synthesis ). The lit review is an important genre in many disciplines, not just literature (i.e., the study of works of literature such as novels and plays). When we say “literature review” or refer to “the literature,” we are talking about the research ( scholarship ) in a given field. You will often see the terms “the research,” “the scholarship,” and “the literature” used mostly interchangeably.
Where, when, and why would I write a lit review?
There are a number of different situations where you might write a literature review, each with slightly different expectations; different disciplines, too, have field-specific expectations for what a literature review is and does. For instance, in the humanities, authors might include more overt argumentation and interpretation of source material in their literature reviews, whereas in the sciences, authors are more likely to report study designs and results in their literature reviews; these differences reflect these disciplines’ purposes and conventions in scholarship. You should always look at examples from your own discipline and talk to professors or mentors in your field to be sure you understand your discipline’s conventions, for literature reviews as well as for any other genre.
A literature review can be a part of a research paper or scholarly article, usually falling after the introduction and before the research methods sections. In these cases, the lit review just needs to cover scholarship that is important to the issue you are writing about; sometimes it will also cover key sources that informed your research methodology.
Lit reviews can also be standalone pieces, either as assignments in a class or as publications. In a class, a lit review may be assigned to help students familiarize themselves with a topic and with scholarship in their field, get an idea of the other researchers working on the topic they’re interested in, find gaps in existing research in order to propose new projects, and/or develop a theoretical framework and methodology for later research. As a publication, a lit review usually is meant to help make other scholars’ lives easier by collecting and summarizing, synthesizing, and analyzing existing research on a topic. This can be especially helpful for students or scholars getting into a new research area, or for directing an entire community of scholars toward questions that have not yet been answered.
What are the parts of a lit review?
Most lit reviews use a basic introduction-body-conclusion structure; if your lit review is part of a larger paper, the introduction and conclusion pieces may be just a few sentences while you focus most of your attention on the body. If your lit review is a standalone piece, the introduction and conclusion take up more space and give you a place to discuss your goals, research methods, and conclusions separately from where you discuss the literature itself.
- An introductory paragraph that explains what your working topic and thesis is
- A forecast of key topics or texts that will appear in the review
- Potentially, a description of how you found sources and how you analyzed them for inclusion and discussion in the review (more often found in published, standalone literature reviews than in lit review sections in an article or research paper)
- Summarize and synthesize: Give an overview of the main points of each source and combine them into a coherent whole
- Analyze and interpret: Don’t just paraphrase other researchers – add your own interpretations where possible, discussing the significance of findings in relation to the literature as a whole
- Critically Evaluate: Mention the strengths and weaknesses of your sources
- Write in well-structured paragraphs: Use transition words and topic sentence to draw connections, comparisons, and contrasts.
- Summarize the key findings you have taken from the literature and emphasize their significance
- Connect it back to your primary research question
How should I organize my lit review?
Lit reviews can take many different organizational patterns depending on what you are trying to accomplish with the review. Here are some examples:
- Chronological : The simplest approach is to trace the development of the topic over time, which helps familiarize the audience with the topic (for instance if you are introducing something that is not commonly known in your field). If you choose this strategy, be careful to avoid simply listing and summarizing sources in order. Try to analyze the patterns, turning points, and key debates that have shaped the direction of the field. Give your interpretation of how and why certain developments occurred (as mentioned previously, this may not be appropriate in your discipline — check with a teacher or mentor if you’re unsure).
- Thematic : If you have found some recurring central themes that you will continue working with throughout your piece, you can organize your literature review into subsections that address different aspects of the topic. For example, if you are reviewing literature about women and religion, key themes can include the role of women in churches and the religious attitude towards women.
- Qualitative versus quantitative research
- Empirical versus theoretical scholarship
- Divide the research by sociological, historical, or cultural sources
- Theoretical : In many humanities articles, the literature review is the foundation for the theoretical framework. You can use it to discuss various theories, models, and definitions of key concepts. You can argue for the relevance of a specific theoretical approach or combine various theorical concepts to create a framework for your research.
What are some strategies or tips I can use while writing my lit review?
Any lit review is only as good as the research it discusses; make sure your sources are well-chosen and your research is thorough. Don’t be afraid to do more research if you discover a new thread as you’re writing. More info on the research process is available in our "Conducting Research" resources .
As you’re doing your research, create an annotated bibliography ( see our page on the this type of document ). Much of the information used in an annotated bibliography can be used also in a literature review, so you’ll be not only partially drafting your lit review as you research, but also developing your sense of the larger conversation going on among scholars, professionals, and any other stakeholders in your topic.
Usually you will need to synthesize research rather than just summarizing it. This means drawing connections between sources to create a picture of the scholarly conversation on a topic over time. Many student writers struggle to synthesize because they feel they don’t have anything to add to the scholars they are citing; here are some strategies to help you:
- It often helps to remember that the point of these kinds of syntheses is to show your readers how you understand your research, to help them read the rest of your paper.
- Writing teachers often say synthesis is like hosting a dinner party: imagine all your sources are together in a room, discussing your topic. What are they saying to each other?
- Look at the in-text citations in each paragraph. Are you citing just one source for each paragraph? This usually indicates summary only. When you have multiple sources cited in a paragraph, you are more likely to be synthesizing them (not always, but often
- Read more about synthesis here.
The most interesting literature reviews are often written as arguments (again, as mentioned at the beginning of the page, this is discipline-specific and doesn’t work for all situations). Often, the literature review is where you can establish your research as filling a particular gap or as relevant in a particular way. You have some chance to do this in your introduction in an article, but the literature review section gives a more extended opportunity to establish the conversation in the way you would like your readers to see it. You can choose the intellectual lineage you would like to be part of and whose definitions matter most to your thinking (mostly humanities-specific, but this goes for sciences as well). In addressing these points, you argue for your place in the conversation, which tends to make the lit review more compelling than a simple reporting of other sources.
Literature Review Research
Literature review, what is not a literature review, purpose of the literature review, types of literature review.
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- Summarizes and analyzes previous research relevant to a topic
- Includes scholarly books and articles published in academic journals
- Can be an specific scholarly paper or a section in a research paper
- Help gather ideas or information
- Keep up to date in current trends and findings
- Help develop new questions
A literature review is important because it:
- Explains the background of research on a topic.
- Demonstrates why a topic is significant to a subject area.
- Helps focus your own research questions or problems
- Discovers relationships between research studies/ideas.
- Suggests unexplored ideas or populations
- Identifies major themes, concepts, and researchers on a topic.
- Tests assumptions; may help counter preconceived ideas and remove unconscious bias.
- Identifies critical gaps, points of disagreement, or potentially flawed methodology or theoretical approaches.
Keep in mind the following, a literature review is NOT:
Not an essay
Not an annotated bibliography in which you summarize each article you reviewed. A literature review goes beyond basic summarizing to critically analyze the reviewed works and their relationship to your research question.
Not a research paper where you select resources to support one side of an issue versus another. A lit review should explain and consider all sides of an argument to avoid bias, and areas of agreement and disagreement should be highlighted.
A literature review serves several purposes. For example, it
- provides thorough knowledge of previous studies; introduces seminal works.
- helps focus one’s own research topic.
- identifies a conceptual framework for one’s own research questions or problems; indicates potential directions for future research.
- suggests previously unused or underused methodologies, designs, and quantitative and qualitative strategies.
- identifies gaps in previous studies; identifies flawed methodologies and/or theoretical approaches; avoids replication of mistakes.
- helps the researcher avoid the repetition of earlier research.
- suggests unexplored populations.
- determines whether past studies agree or disagree; identifies controversy in the literature.
- tests assumptions may help counter preconceived ideas and remove unconscious bias.
As Kennedy (2007) notes*, it is important to think of knowledge in a given field as consisting of three layers. First, there are the primary studies that researchers conduct and publish. Second are the reviews of those studies that summarize and offer new interpretations built from and often extending beyond the original studies. Third, there are the perceptions, conclusions, opinion, and interpretations that are shared informally that become part of the lore of field. In composing a literature review, it is important to note that it is often this third layer of knowledge that is cited as "true" even though it often has only a loose relationship to the primary studies and secondary literature reviews.
Given this, while literature reviews are designed to provide an overview and synthesis of pertinent sources you have explored, there are several approaches to how they can be done, depending upon the type of analysis underpinning your study. Listed below are definitions of types of literature reviews:
Argumentative Review This form examines literature selectively in order to support or refute an argument, deeply imbedded assumption, or philosophical problem already established in the literature. The purpose is to develop a body of literature that establishes a contrarian viewpoint. Given the value-laden nature of some social science research [e.g., educational reform; immigration control], argumentative approaches to analyzing the literature can be a legitimate and important form of discourse. However, note that they can also introduce problems of bias when they are used to to make summary claims of the sort found in systematic reviews.
Integrative Review Considered a form of research that reviews, critiques, and synthesizes representative literature on a topic in an integrated way such that new frameworks and perspectives on the topic are generated. The body of literature includes all studies that address related or identical hypotheses. A well-done integrative review meets the same standards as primary research in regard to clarity, rigor, and replication.
Historical Review Few things rest in isolation from historical precedent. Historical reviews are focused on examining research throughout a period of time, often starting with the first time an issue, concept, theory, phenomena emerged in the literature, then tracing its evolution within the scholarship of a discipline. The purpose is to place research in a historical context to show familiarity with state-of-the-art developments and to identify the likely directions for future research.
Methodological Review A review does not always focus on what someone said [content], but how they said it [method of analysis]. This approach provides a framework of understanding at different levels (i.e. those of theory, substantive fields, research approaches and data collection and analysis techniques), enables researchers to draw on a wide variety of knowledge ranging from the conceptual level to practical documents for use in fieldwork in the areas of ontological and epistemological consideration, quantitative and qualitative integration, sampling, interviewing, data collection and data analysis, and helps highlight many ethical issues which we should be aware of and consider as we go through our study.
Systematic Review This form consists of an overview of existing evidence pertinent to a clearly formulated research question, which uses pre-specified and standardized methods to identify and critically appraise relevant research, and to collect, report, and analyse data from the studies that are included in the review. Typically it focuses on a very specific empirical question, often posed in a cause-and-effect form, such as "To what extent does A contribute to B?"
Theoretical Review The purpose of this form is to concretely examine the corpus of theory that has accumulated in regard to an issue, concept, theory, phenomena. The theoretical literature review help establish what theories already exist, the relationships between them, to what degree the existing theories have been investigated, and to develop new hypotheses to be tested. Often this form is used to help establish a lack of appropriate theories or reveal that current theories are inadequate for explaining new or emerging research problems. The unit of analysis can focus on a theoretical concept or a whole theory or framework.
* Kennedy, Mary M. "Defining a Literature." Educational Researcher 36 (April 2007): 139-147.
All content in this section is from The Literature Review created by Dr. Robert Larabee USC
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- Last Updated: May 8, 2023 4:25 PM
- URL: https://guides.lib.odu.edu/literaturereview
Why is it important to do a literature review in research?
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“A substantive, thorough, sophisticated literature review is a precondition for doing substantive, thorough, sophisticated research”. Boote and Baile 2005
Authors of manuscripts treat writing a literature review as a routine work or a mere formality. But a seasoned one knows the purpose and importance of a well-written literature review. Since it is one of the basic needs for researches at any level, they have to be done vigilantly. Only then the reader will know that the basics of research have not been neglected.
The aim of any literature review is to summarize and synthesize the arguments and ideas of existing knowledge in a particular field without adding any new contributions. Being built on existing knowledge they help the researcher to even turn the wheels of the topic of research. It is possible only with profound knowledge of what is wrong in the existing findings in detail to overpower them. For other researches, the literature review gives the direction to be headed for its success.
The common perception of literature review and reality:
As per the common belief, literature reviews are only a summary of the sources related to the research. And many authors of scientific manuscripts believe that they are only surveys of what are the researches are done on the chosen topic. But on the contrary, it uses published information from pertinent and relevant sources like
- Scholarly books
- Scientific papers
- Latest studies in the field
- Established school of thoughts
- Relevant articles from renowned scientific journals
and many more for a field of study or theory or a particular problem to do the following:
- Summarize into a brief account of all information
- Synthesize the information by restructuring and reorganizing
- Critical evaluation of a concept or a school of thought or ideas
- Familiarize the authors to the extent of knowledge in the particular field
- Compare & contrast
By doing the above on the relevant information, it provides the reader of the scientific manuscript with the following for a better understanding of it:
- It establishes the authors’ in-depth understanding and knowledge of their field subject
- It gives the background of the research
- Portrays the scientific manuscript plan of examining the research result
- Illuminates on how the knowledge has changed within the field
- Highlights what has already been done in a particular field
- Information of the generally accepted facts, emerging and current state of the topic of research
- Identifies the research gap that is still unexplored or under-researched fields
- Demonstrates how the research fits within a larger field of study
- Provides an overview of the sources explored during the research of a particular topic
Importance of literature review in research:
The importance of literature review in scientific manuscripts can be condensed into an analytical feature to enable the multifold reach of its significance. It adds value to the legitimacy of the research in many ways:
- Provides the interpretation of existing literature in light of updated developments in the field to help in establishing the consistency in knowledge and relevancy of existing materials
- It helps in calculating the impact of the latest information in the field by mapping their progress of knowledge.
- It brings out the dialects of contradictions between various thoughts within the field to establish facts
- The research gaps scrutinized initially are further explored to establish the latest facts of theories to add value to the field
- Indicates the current research place in the schema of a particular field
- Provides information for relevancy and coherency to check the research
- Apart from elucidating the continuance of knowledge, it also points out areas that require further investigation and thus aid as a starting point of any future research
- Justifies the research and sets up the research question
- Sets up a theoretical framework comprising the concepts and theories of the research upon which its success can be judged
- Helps to adopt a more appropriate methodology for the research by examining the strengths and weaknesses of existing research in the same field
- Increases the significance of the results by comparing it with the existing literature
- Provides a point of reference by writing the findings in the scientific manuscript
- Helps to get the due credit from the audience for having done the fact-finding and fact-checking mission in the scientific manuscripts
- The more the reference of relevant sources of it could increase more of its trustworthiness with the readers
- Helps to prevent plagiarism by tailoring and uniquely tweaking the scientific manuscript not to repeat other’s original idea
- By preventing plagiarism , it saves the scientific manuscript from rejection and thus also saves a lot of time and money
- Helps to evaluate, condense and synthesize gist in the author’s own words to sharpen the research focus
- Helps to compare and contrast to show the originality and uniqueness of the research than that of the existing other researches
- Rationalizes the need for conducting the particular research in a specified field
- Helps to collect data accurately for allowing any new methodology of research than the existing ones
- Enables the readers of the manuscript to answer the following questions of its readers for its better chances for publication
- What do the researchers know?
- What do they not know?
- Is the scientific manuscript reliable and trustworthy?
- What are the knowledge gaps of the researcher?
22. It helps the readers to identify the following for further reading of the scientific manuscript:
- What has been already established, discredited and accepted in the particular field of research
- Areas of controversy and conflicts among different schools of thought
- Unsolved problems and issues in the connected field of research
- The emerging trends and approaches
- How the research extends, builds upon and leaves behind from the previous research
A profound literature review with many relevant sources of reference will enhance the chances of the scientific manuscript publication in renowned and reputed scientific journals .
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Literature Review in Research Writing
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Table of Contents
Research on research? If you find this idea rather peculiar, know that nowadays, with the huge amount of information produced daily all around the world, it is becoming more and more difficult to keep up to date with all of it. In addition to the sheer amount of research, there is also its origin. We are witnessing the economic and intellectual emergence of countries like China, Brazil, Turkey, and United Arab Emirates, for example, that are producing scholarly literature in their own languages. So, apart from the effort of gathering information, there must also be translators prepared to unify all of it in a single language to be the object of the literature survey. At Elsevier, our team of translators is ready to support researchers by delivering high-quality scientific translations , in several languages, to serve their research – no matter the topic.
What is a literature review?
A literature review is a study – or, more accurately, a survey – involving scholarly material, with the aim to discuss published information about a specific topic or research question. Therefore, to write a literature review, it is compulsory that you are a real expert in the object of study. The results and findings will be published and made available to the public, namely scientists working in the same area of research.
How to Write a Literature Review
First of all, don’t forget that writing a literature review is a great responsibility. It’s a document that is expected to be highly reliable, especially concerning its sources and findings. You have to feel intellectually comfortable in the area of study and highly proficient in the target language; misconceptions and errors do not have a place in a document as important as a literature review. In fact, you might want to consider text editing services, like those offered at Elsevier, to make sure your literature is following the highest standards of text quality. You want to make sure your literature review is memorable by its novelty and quality rather than language errors.
Writing a literature review requires expertise but also organization. We cannot teach you about your topic of research, but we can provide a few steps to guide you through conducting a literature review:
- Choose your topic or research question: It should not be too comprehensive or too limited. You have to complete your task within a feasible time frame.
- Set the scope: Define boundaries concerning the number of sources, time frame to be covered, geographical area, etc.
- Decide which databases you will use for your searches: In order to search the best viable sources for your literature review, use highly regarded, comprehensive databases to get a big picture of the literature related to your topic.
- Search, search, and search: Now you’ll start to investigate the research on your topic. It’s critical that you keep track of all the sources. Start by looking at research abstracts in detail to see if their respective studies relate to or are useful for your own work. Next, search for bibliographies and references that can help you broaden your list of resources. Choose the most relevant literature and remember to keep notes of their bibliographic references to be used later on.
- Review all the literature, appraising carefully it’s content: After reading the study’s abstract, pay attention to the rest of the content of the articles you deem the “most relevant.” Identify methodologies, the most important questions they address, if they are well-designed and executed, and if they are cited enough, etc.
If it’s the first time you’ve published a literature review, note that it is important to follow a special structure. Just like in a thesis, for example, it is expected that you have an introduction – giving the general idea of the central topic and organizational pattern – a body – which contains the actual discussion of the sources – and finally the conclusion or recommendations – where you bring forward whatever you have drawn from the reviewed literature. The conclusion may even suggest there are no agreeable findings and that the discussion should be continued.
Why are literature reviews important?
Literature reviews constantly feed new research, that constantly feeds literature reviews…and we could go on and on. The fact is, one acts like a force over the other and this is what makes science, as a global discipline, constantly develop and evolve. As a scientist, writing a literature review can be very beneficial to your career, and set you apart from the expert elite in your field of interest. But it also can be an overwhelming task, so don’t hesitate in contacting Elsevier for text editing services, either for profound edition or just a last revision. We guarantee the very highest standards. You can also save time by letting us suggest and make the necessary amendments to your manuscript, so that it fits the structural pattern of a literature review. Who knows how many worldwide researchers you will impact with your next perfectly written literature review.
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Chapter 1: Introduction
At the conclusion of this chapter, you will be able to:
- Identify the purpose of the literature review in the research process
- Distinguish between different types of literature reviews
1.1 What is a Literature Review?
Pick up nearly any book on research methods and you will find a description of a literature review. At a basic level, the term implies a survey of factual or nonfiction books, articles, and other documents published on a particular subject. Definitions may be similar across the disciplines, with new types and definitions continuing to emerge. Generally speaking, a literature review is a:
- “comprehensive background of the literature within the interested topic area…” ( O’Gorman & MacIntosh, 2015, p. 31 ).
- “critical component of the research process that provides an in-depth analysis of recently published research findings in specifically identified areas of interest.” ( House, 2018, p. 109 ).
- “written document that presents a logically argued case founded on a comprehensive understanding of the current state of knowledge about a topic of study” ( Machi & McEvoy, 2012, p. 4 ).
As a foundation for knowledge advancement in every discipline, it is an important element of any research project. At the graduate or doctoral level, the literature review is an essential feature of thesis and dissertation, as well as grant proposal writing. That is to say, “A substantive, thorough, sophisticated literature review is a precondition for doing substantive, thorough, sophisticated research…A researcher cannot perform significant research without first understanding the literature in the field.” ( Boote & Beile, 2005, p. 3 ). It is by this means, that a researcher demonstrates familiarity with a body of knowledge and thereby establishes credibility with a reader. An advanced-level literature review shows how prior research is linked to a new project, summarizing and synthesizing what is known while identifying gaps in the knowledge base, facilitating theory development, closing areas where enough research already exists, and uncovering areas where more research is needed. ( Webster & Watson, 2002, p. xiii )
A graduate-level literature review is a compilation of the most significant previously published research on your topic. Unlike an annotated bibliography or a research paper you may have written as an undergraduate, your literature review will outline, evaluate and synthesize relevant research and relate those sources to your own thesis or research question. It is much more than a summary of all the related literature.
It is a type of writing that demonstrate the importance of your research by defining the main ideas and the relationship between them. A good literature review lays the foundation for the importance of your stated problem and research question.
- define a concept
- map the research terrain or scope
- systemize relationships between concepts
- identify gaps in the literature ( Rocco & Plathotnik, 2009, p. 128 )
The purpose of a literature review is to demonstrate that your research question is meaningful. Additionally, you may review the literature of different disciplines to find deeper meaning and understanding of your topic. It is especially important to consider other disciplines when you do not find much on your topic in one discipline. You will need to search the cognate literature before claiming there is “little previous research” on your topic.
Well developed literature reviews involve numerous steps and activities. The literature review is an iterative process because you will do at least two of them: a preliminary search to learn what has been published in your area and whether there is sufficient support in the literature for moving ahead with your subject. After this first exploration, you will conduct a deeper dive into the literature to learn everything you can about the topic and its related issues.
Literature Review Tutorial
1.2 Literature Review Basics
An effective literature review must:
- Methodologically analyze and synthesize quality literature on a topic
- Provide a firm foundation to a topic or research area
- Provide a firm foundation for the selection of a research methodology
- Demonstrate that the proposed research contributes something new to the overall body of knowledge of advances the research field’s knowledge base. ( Levy & Ellis, 2006 ).
All literature reviews, whether they are qualitative, quantitative or both, will at some point:
- Introduce the topic and define its key terms
- Establish the importance of the topic
- Provide an overview of the amount of available literature and its types (for example: theoretical, statistical, speculative)
- Identify gaps in the literature
- Point out consistent finding across studies
- Arrive at a synthesis that organizes what is known about a topic
- Discusses possible implications and directions for future research
1.3 Types of Literature Reviews
There are many different types of literature reviews, however there are some shared characteristics or features. Remember a comprehensive literature review is, at its most fundamental level, an original work based on an extensive critical examination and synthesis of the relevant literature on a topic. As a study of the research on a particular topic, it is arranged by key themes or findings, which may lead up to or link to the research question. In some cases, the research question will drive the type of literature review that is undertaken.
The following section includes brief descriptions of the terms used to describe different literature review types with examples of each. The included citations are open access, Creative Commons licensed or copyright-restricted.
1.3.1 Types of Review
Guided by an understanding of basic issues rather than a research methodology. You are looking for key factors, concepts or variables and the presumed relationship between them. The goal of the conceptual literature review is to categorize and describe concepts relevant to your study or topic and outline a relationship between them. You will include relevant theory and empirical research.
Examples of a Conceptual Review:
- Education : The formality of learning science in everyday life: A conceptual literature review. ( Dohn, 2010 ).
- Education : Are we asking the right questions? A conceptual review of the educational development literature in higher education. ( Amundsen & Wilson, 2012 ).
An empirical literature review collects, creates, arranges, and analyzes numeric data reflecting the frequency of themes, topics, authors and/or methods found in existing literature. Empirical literature reviews present their summaries in quantifiable terms using descriptive and inferential statistics.
Examples of an Empirical Review:
- Nursing : False-positive findings in Cochrane meta-analyses with and without application of trial sequential analysis: An empirical review. ( Imberger, Thorlund, Gluud, & Wettersley, 2016 ).
- Education : Impediments of e-learning adoption in higher learning institutions of Tanzania: An empirical review ( Mwakyusa & Mwalyagile, 2016 ).
Unlike a synoptic literature review, the purpose here is to provide a broad approach to the topic area. The aim is breadth rather than depth and to get a general feel for the size of the topic area. A graduate student might do an exploratory review of the literature before beginning a synoptic, or more comprehensive one.
Examples of an Exploratory Review:
- Education : University research management: An exploratory literature review. ( Schuetzenmeister, 2010 ).
- Education : An exploratory review of design principles in constructivist gaming learning environments. ( Rosario & Widmeyer, 2009 ).
A type of literature review limited to a single aspect of previous research, such as methodology. A focused literature review generally will describe the implications of choosing a particular element of past research, such as methodology in terms of data collection, analysis and interpretation.
Examples of a Focused Review:
- Nursing : Clinical inertia in the management of type 2 diabetes mellitus: A focused literature review. ( Khunti, Davies, & Khunti, 2015 ).
- Education : Language awareness: Genre awareness-a focused review of the literature. ( Stainton, 1992 ).
Critiques past research and draws overall conclusions from the body of literature at a specified point in time. Reviews, critiques, and synthesizes representative literature on a topic in an integrated way. Most integrative reviews are intended to address mature topics or emerging topics. May require the author to adopt a guiding theory, a set of competing models, or a point of view about a topic. For more description of integrative reviews, see Whittemore & Knafl (2005).
Examples of an Integrative Review:
- Nursing : Interprofessional teamwork and collaboration between community health workers and healthcare teams: An integrative review. ( Franklin, Bernhardt, Lopez, Long-Middleton, & Davis, 2015 ).
- Education : Exploring the gap between teacher certification and permanent employment in Ontario: An integrative literature review. ( Brock & Ryan, 2016 ).
A subset of a systematic review, that takes findings from several studies on the same subject and analyzes them using standardized statistical procedures to pool together data. Integrates findings from a large body of quantitative findings to enhance understanding, draw conclusions, and detect patterns and relationships. Gather data from many different, independent studies that look at the same research question and assess similar outcome measures. Data is combined and re-analyzed, providing a greater statistical power than any single study alone. It’s important to note that not every systematic review includes a meta-analysis but a meta-analysis can’t exist without a systematic review of the literature.
Examples of a Meta-Analysis:
- Education : Efficacy of the cooperative learning method on mathematics achievement and attitude: A meta-analysis research. ( Capar & Tarim, 2015 ).
- Nursing : A meta-analysis of the effects of non-traditional teaching methods on the critical thinking abilities of nursing students. ( Lee, Lee, Gong, Bae, & Choi, 2016 ).
- Education : Gender differences in student attitudes toward science: A meta-analysis of the literature from 1970 to 1991. ( Weinburgh, 1995 ).
An overview of research on a particular topic that critiques and summarizes a body of literature. Typically broad in focus. Relevant past research is selected and synthesized into a coherent discussion. Methodologies, findings and limits of the existing body of knowledge are discussed in narrative form. Sometimes also referred to as a traditional literature review. Requires a sufficiently focused research question. The process may be subject to bias that supports the researcher’s own work.
Examples of a Narrative/Traditional Review:
- Nursing : Family carers providing support to a person dying in the home setting: A narrative literature review. ( Morris, King, Turner, & Payne, 2015 ).
- Education : Adventure education and Outward Bound: Out-of-class experiences that make a lasting difference. ( Hattie, Marsh, Neill, & Richards, 1997 ).
- Education : Good quality discussion is necessary but not sufficient in asynchronous tuition: A brief narrative review of the literature. ( Fear & Erikson-Brown, 2014 ).
- Nursing : Outcomes of physician job satisfaction: A narrative review, implications, and directions for future research. ( Williams & Skinner, 2003 ).
Aspecific type of literature review that is theory-driven and interpretative and is intended to explain the outcomes of a complex intervention program(s).
Examples of a Realist Review:
- Nursing : Lean thinking in healthcare: A realist review of the literature. ( Mazzacato, Savage, Brommels, 2010 ).
- Education : Unravelling quality culture in higher education: A realist review. ( Bendermacher, Egbrink, Wolfhagen, & Dolmans, 2017 ).
Tend to be non-systematic and focus on breadth of coverage conducted on a topic rather than depth. Utilize a wide range of materials; may not evaluate the quality of the studies as much as count the number. One means of understanding existing literature. Aims to identify nature and extent of research; preliminary assessment of size and scope of available research on topic. May include research in progress.
Examples of a Scoping Review:
- Nursing : Organizational interventions improving access to community-based primary health care for vulnerable populations: A scoping review. ( Khanassov, Pluye, Descoteaux, Haggerty, Russell, Gunn, & Levesque, 2016 ).
- Education : Interdisciplinary doctoral research supervision: A scoping review. ( Vanstone, Hibbert, Kinsella, McKenzie, Pitman, & Lingard, 2013 ).
- Nursing : A scoping review of the literature on the abolition of user fees in health care services in Africa. ( Ridde, & Morestin, 2011 ).
Unlike an exploratory review, the purpose is to provide a concise but accurate overview of all material that appears to be relevant to a chosen topic. Both content and methodological material is included. The review should aim to be both descriptive and evaluative. Summarizes previous studies while also showing how the body of literature could be extended and improved in terms of content and method by identifying gaps.
Examples of a Synoptic Review:
- Education : Theoretical framework for educational assessment: A synoptic review. ( Ghaicha, 2016 ).
- Education : School effects research: A synoptic review of past efforts and some suggestions for the future. ( Cuttance, 1981 ).
220.127.116.11 Systematic Review
A rigorous review that follows a strict methodology designed with a presupposed selection of literature reviewed. Undertaken to clarify the state of existing research, the evidence, and possible implications that can be drawn from that. Using comprehensive and exhaustive searching of the published and unpublished literature, searching various databases, reports, and grey literature. Transparent and reproducible in reporting details of time frame, search and methods to minimize bias. Must include a team of at least 2-3 and includes the critical appraisal of the literature. For more description of systematic reviews, including links to protocols, checklists, workflow processes, and structure see “ A Young Researcher’s Guide to a Systematic Review “.
Examples of a Systematic Review:
- Education : The potentials of using cloud computing in schools: A systematic literature review ( Hartmann, Braae, Pedersen, & Khalid, 2017 )
- Nursing : Is butter back? A systematic review and meta-analysis of butter consumption and risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and total mortality. ( Pimpin, Wu, Haskelberg, Del Gobbo, & Mozaffarian, 2016 ).
- Education : The use of research to improve professional practice: a systematic review of the literature. ( Hemsley-Brown & Sharp, 2003 ).
- Nursing : Using computers to self-manage type 2 diabetes. ( Pal, Eastwood, Michie, Farmer, Barnard, Peacock, Wood, Inniss, & Murray, 2013 ).
18.104.22.168 Umbrella/Overview of Reviews
Compiles evidence from multiple systematic reviews into one document. Focuses on broad condition or problem for which there are competing interventions and highlights reviews that address those interventions and their effects. Often used in recommendations for practice.
Examples of an Umbrella/Overview Review:
- Education : Reflective practice in healthcare education: An umbrella review. ( Fragknos, 2016 ).
- Nursing : Systematic reviews of psychosocial interventions for autism: an umbrella review. ( Seida, Ospina, Karkhaneh, Hartling, Smith, & Clark, 2009 ).
For a brief discussion see “ Not all literature reviews are the same ” (Thomson, 2013).
1.4 Why do a Literature Review?
The purpose of the literature review is the same regardless of the topic or research method. It tests your own research question against what is already known about the subject.
1.4.1 First – It’s part of the whole. Omission of a literature review chapter or section in a graduate-level project represents a serious void or absence of critical element in the research process.
The outcome of your review is expected to demonstrate that you:
- can systematically explore the research in your topic area
- can read and critically analyze the literature in your discipline and then use it appropriately to advance your own work
- have sufficient knowledge in the topic to undertake further investigation
1.4.2 Second – It’s good for you!
- You improve your skills as a researcher
- You become familiar with the discourse of your discipline and learn how to be a scholar in your field
- You learn through writing your ideas and finding your voice in your subject area
- You define, redefine and clarify your research question for yourself in the process
1.4.3 Third – It’s good for your reader. Your reader expects you to have done the hard work of gathering, evaluating and synthesizes the literature. When you do a literature review you:
- Set the context for the topic and present its significance
- Identify what’s important to know about your topic – including individual material, prior research, publications, organizations and authors.
- Demonstrate relationships among prior research
- Establish limitations of existing knowledge
- Analyze trends in the topic’s treatment and gaps in the literature
1.4.4 Why do a literature review?
- To locate gaps in the literature of your discipline
- To avoid reinventing the wheel
- To carry on where others have already been
- To identify other people working in the same field
- To increase your breadth of knowledge in your subject area
- To find the seminal works in your field
- To provide intellectual context for your own work
- To acknowledge opposing viewpoints
- To put your work in perspective
- To demonstrate you can discover and retrieve previous work in the area
1.5 Common Literature Review Errors
Graduate-level literature reviews are more than a summary of the publications you find on a topic. As you have seen in this brief introduction, literature reviews are a very specific type of research, analysis, and writing. We will explore these topics more in the next chapters. Some things to keep in mind as you begin your own research and writing are ways to avoid the most common errors seen in the first attempt at a literature review. For a quick review of some of the pitfalls and challenges a new researcher faces when he/she begins work, see “ Get Ready: Academic Writing, General Pitfalls and (oh yes) Getting Started! ”.
As you begin your own graduate-level literature review, try to avoid these common mistakes:
- Accepts another researcher’s finding as valid without evaluating methodology and data
- Contrary findings and alternative interpretations are not considered or mentioned
- Findings are not clearly related to one’s own study, or findings are too general
- Insufficient time allowed to define best search strategies and writing
- Isolated statistical results are simply reported rather than synthesizing the results
- Problems with selecting and using most relevant keywords, subject headings and descriptors
- Relies too heavily on secondary sources
- Search methods are not recorded or reported for transparency
- Summarizes rather than synthesizes articles
In conclusion, the purpose of a literature review is three-fold:
- to survey the current state of knowledge or evidence in the area of inquiry,
- to identify key authors, articles, theories, and findings in that area, and
- to identify gaps in knowledge in that research area.
A literature review is commonly done today using computerized keyword searches in online databases, often working with a trained librarian or information expert. Keywords can be combined using the Boolean operators, “and”, “or” and sometimes “not” to narrow down or expand the search results. Once a list of articles is generated from the keyword and subject heading search, the researcher must then manually browse through each title and abstract, to determine the suitability of that article before a full-text article is obtained for the research question.
Literature reviews should be reasonably complete, and not restricted to a few journals, a few years, or a specific methodology or research design. Reviewed articles may be summarized in the form of tables, and can be further structured using organizing frameworks such as a concept matrix.
A well-conducted literature review should indicate whether the initial research questions have already been addressed in the literature, whether there are newer or more interesting research questions available, and whether the original research questions should be modified or changed in light of findings of the literature review.
The review can also provide some intuitions or potential answers to the questions of interest and/or help identify theories that have previously been used to address similar questions and may provide evidence to inform policy or decision-making. ( Bhattacherjee, 2012 ).
Read Abstract 1. Refer to Types of Literature Reviews. What type of literature review do you think this study is and why? See the Answer Key for the correct response.
Nursing : To describe evidence of international literature on the safe care of the hospitalised child after the World Alliance for Patient Safety and list contributions of the general theoretical framework of patient safety for paediatric nursing.
An integrative literature review between 2004 and 2015 using the databases PubMed, Cumulative Index of Nursing and Allied Health Literature (CINAHL), Scopus, Web of Science and Wiley Online Library, and the descriptors Safety or Patient safety, Hospitalised child, Paediatric nursing, and Nursing care.
Thirty-two articles were analysed, most of which were from North American, with a descriptive approach. The quality of the recorded information in the medical records, the use of checklists, and the training of health workers contribute to safe care in paediatric nursing and improve the medication process and partnerships with parents.
General information available on patient safety should be incorporated in paediatric nursing care. ( Wegner, Silva, Peres, Bandeira, Frantz, Botene, & Predebon, 2017 ).
Read Abstract 2. Refer to Types of Literature Reviews. What type of lit review do you think this study is and why? See the Answer Key for the correct response.
Education : The focus of this paper centers around timing associated with early childhood education programs and interventions using meta-analytic methods. At any given assessment age, a child’s current age equals starting age, plus duration of program, plus years since program ended. Variability in assessment ages across the studies should enable everyone to identify the separate effects of all three time-related components. The project is a meta-analysis of evaluation studies of early childhood education programs conducted in the United States and its territories between 1960 and 2007. The population of interest is children enrolled in early childhood education programs between the ages of 0 and 5 and their control-group counterparts. Since the data come from a meta-analysis, the population for this study is drawn from many different studies with diverse samples. Given the preliminary nature of their analysis, the authors cannot offer conclusions at this point. ( Duncan, Leak, Li, Magnuson, Schindler, & Yoshikawa, 2011 ).
See Answer Key for the correct responses.
The purpose of a graduate-level literature review is to summarize in as many words as possible everything that is known about my topic.
A literature review is significant because in the process of doing one, the researcher learns to read and critically assess the literature of a discipline and then uses it appropriately to advance his/her own research.
Read the following abstract and choose the correct type of literature review it represents.
Nursing: E-cigarette use has become increasingly popular, especially among the young. Its long-term influence upon health is unknown. Aim of this review has been to present the current state of knowledge about the impact of e-cigarette use on health, with an emphasis on Central and Eastern Europe. During the preparation of this narrative review, the literature on e-cigarettes available within the network PubMed was retrieved and examined. In the final review, 64 research papers were included. We specifically assessed the construction and operation of the e-cigarette as well as the chemical composition of the e-liquid; the impact that vapor arising from the use of e-cigarette explored in experimental models in vitro; and short-term effects of use of e-cigarettes on users’ health. Among the substances inhaled by the e-smoker, there are several harmful products, such as: formaldehyde, acetaldehyde, acroleine, propanal, nicotine, acetone, o-methyl-benzaldehyde, carcinogenic nitrosamines. Results from experimental animal studies indicate the negative impact of e-cigarette exposure on test models, such as ascytotoxicity, oxidative stress, inflammation, airway hyper reactivity, airway remodeling, mucin production, apoptosis, and emphysematous changes. The short-term impact of e-cigarettes on human health has been studied mostly in experimental setting. Available evidence shows that the use of e-cigarettes may result in acute lung function responses (e.g., increase in impedance, peripheral airway flow resistance) and induce oxidative stress. Based on the current available evidence, e-cigarette use is associated with harmful biologic responses, although it may be less harmful than traditional cigarettes. (J ankowski, Brożek, Lawson, Skoczyński, & Zejda, 2017 ).
Education: In this review, Mary Vorsino writes that she is interested in keeping the potential influences of women pragmatists of Dewey’s day in mind while presenting modern feminist re readings of Dewey. She wishes to construct a narrowly-focused and succinct literature review of thinkers who have donned a feminist lens to analyze Dewey’s approaches to education, learning, and democracy and to employ Dewey’s works in theorizing on gender and education and on gender in society. This article first explores Dewey as both an ally and a problematic figure in feminist literature and then investigates the broader sphere of feminist pragmatism and two central themes within it: (1) valuing diversity, and diverse experiences; and (2) problematizing fixed truths. ( Vorsino, 2015 ).
Literature Reviews for Education and Nursing Graduate Students by Linda Frederiksen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License , except where otherwise noted.
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Importance of the Literature Review in Research
The literature review is a fundamental part of any research, as it highlights already existing knowledge on the studied topic. Baker et al. (2015) analyzed sources related to the state of delirium and the ability of nurses to determine it. For example, Voyer et al. (2008) discuss the assessment of signs and symptoms that are least noticeable for identifying the condition (as cited in Baker et al., 2015). The study was conducted in long-term care settings using interview methods and questionnaires (Voyer et al., 2008, as cited in Baker et al., 2015). It confirms Baker et al. (2015) assumptions that nurses usually poorly recognize the state of delirium.
Other sources mentioned in the literature review also support the authors’ hypotheses in their responses to research questions. They proved that nurses’ knowledge levels about delirium and its risk factors are insufficient, and the problem requires intervention.
The literature review is also crucial because it helps to detect knowledge gaps and provides an understanding of the direction in which the subsequent study of the problem should be developed. The topic described by Baker et al. (2015), as noted by the authors, is under-covered in the literature. For this reason, when reading the source review section, an interesting aspect was the observation of which sides of the issue had already been explored. For example, many papers focus on interventions, that is, disease prevention or management, but little on staff’s ability to identify it (Baker et al., 2015). Based on this, I consider it essential to critically evaluate the existing knowledge base for a strong literature review. Such a strategy would help to eliminate unnecessary sources and identify gaps in knowledge about the topic.
Baker, N. D., Taggart, H. M., Nivens, A., & Tillman, P. (2015). Delirium: why are nurses confused? MEDSURG nursing , 24 (1), 15-22.
Voyer, R, Richard, S., Doucet, L., Danjou, C., & Carmichael, P. H. (2008). Detection of delirium by nurses among long-term care residents with dementia . BMC Nursing, 7 (4), 1-14. Web.
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- How to Write a Literature Review | Guide, Examples, & Templates
How to Write a Literature Review | Guide, Examples, & Templates
Published on January 2, 2023 by Shona McCombes .
What is a literature review? A literature review is a survey of scholarly sources on a specific topic. It provides an overview of current knowledge, allowing you to identify relevant theories, methods, and gaps in the existing research that you can later apply to your paper, thesis, or dissertation topic .
There are five key steps to writing a literature review:
- Search for relevant literature
- Evaluate sources
- Identify themes, debates, and gaps
- Outline the structure
- Write your literature review
A good literature review doesn’t just summarize sources—it analyzes, synthesizes , and critically evaluates to give a clear picture of the state of knowledge on the subject.
Table of contents
What is the purpose of a literature review, examples of literature reviews, step 1 – search for relevant literature, step 2 – evaluate and select sources, step 3 – identify themes, debates, and gaps, step 4 – outline your literature review’s structure, step 5 – write your literature review, free lecture slides, frequently asked questions, introduction.
- Quick Run-through
- Step 1 & 2
When you write a thesis , dissertation , or research paper , you will likely have to conduct a literature review to situate your research within existing knowledge. The literature review gives you a chance to:
- Demonstrate your familiarity with the topic and its scholarly context
- Develop a theoretical framework and methodology for your research
- Position your work in relation to other researchers and theorists
- Show how your research addresses a gap or contributes to a debate
- Evaluate the current state of research and demonstrate your knowledge of the scholarly debates around your topic.
Writing literature reviews is a particularly important skill if you want to apply for graduate school or pursue a career in research. We’ve written a step-by-step guide that you can follow below.
Writing literature reviews can be quite challenging! A good starting point could be to look at some examples, depending on what kind of literature review you’d like to write.
- Example literature review #1: “Why Do People Migrate? A Review of the Theoretical Literature” ( Theoretical literature review about the development of economic migration theory from the 1950s to today.)
- Example literature review #2: “Literature review as a research methodology: An overview and guidelines” ( Methodological literature review about interdisciplinary knowledge acquisition and production.)
- Example literature review #3: “The Use of Technology in English Language Learning: A Literature Review” ( Thematic literature review about the effects of technology on language acquisition.)
- Example literature review #4: “Learners’ Listening Comprehension Difficulties in English Language Learning: A Literature Review” ( Chronological literature review about how the concept of listening skills has changed over time.)
You can also check out our templates with literature review examples and sample outlines at the links below.
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Before you begin searching for literature, you need a clearly defined topic .
If you are writing the literature review section of a dissertation or research paper, you will search for literature related to your research problem and questions .
Make a list of keywords
Start by creating a list of keywords related to your research question. Include each of the key concepts or variables you’re interested in, and list any synonyms and related terms. You can add to this list as you discover new keywords in the process of your literature search.
- Social media, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, TikTok
- Body image, self-perception, self-esteem, mental health
- Generation Z, teenagers, adolescents, youth
Search for relevant sources
Use your keywords to begin searching for sources. Some useful databases to search for journals and articles include:
- Your university’s library catalogue
- Google Scholar
- Project Muse (humanities and social sciences)
- Medline (life sciences and biomedicine)
- EconLit (economics)
- Inspec (physics, engineering and computer science)
You can also use boolean operators to help narrow down your search.
Make sure to read the abstract to find out whether an article is relevant to your question. When you find a useful book or article, you can check the bibliography to find other relevant sources.
You likely won’t be able to read absolutely everything that has been written on your topic, so it will be necessary to evaluate which sources are most relevant to your research question.
For each publication, ask yourself:
- What question or problem is the author addressing?
- What are the key concepts and how are they defined?
- What are the key theories, models, and methods?
- Does the research use established frameworks or take an innovative approach?
- What are the results and conclusions of the study?
- How does the publication relate to other literature in the field? Does it confirm, add to, or challenge established knowledge?
- What are the strengths and weaknesses of the research?
Make sure the sources you use are credible , and make sure you read any landmark studies and major theories in your field of research.
You can use our template to summarize and evaluate sources you’re thinking about using. Click on either button below to download.
Take notes and cite your sources
As you read, you should also begin the writing process. Take notes that you can later incorporate into the text of your literature review.
It is important to keep track of your sources with citations to avoid plagiarism . It can be helpful to make an annotated bibliography , where you compile full citation information and write a paragraph of summary and analysis for each source. This helps you remember what you read and saves time later in the process.
To begin organizing your literature review’s argument and structure, be sure you understand the connections and relationships between the sources you’ve read. Based on your reading and notes, you can look for:
- Trends and patterns (in theory, method or results): do certain approaches become more or less popular over time?
- Themes: what questions or concepts recur across the literature?
- Debates, conflicts and contradictions: where do sources disagree?
- Pivotal publications: are there any influential theories or studies that changed the direction of the field?
- Gaps: what is missing from the literature? Are there weaknesses that need to be addressed?
This step will help you work out the structure of your literature review and (if applicable) show how your own research will contribute to existing knowledge.
- Most research has focused on young women.
- There is an increasing interest in the visual aspects of social media.
- But there is still a lack of robust research on highly visual platforms like Instagram and Snapchat—this is a gap that you could address in your own research.
There are various approaches to organizing the body of a literature review. Depending on the length of your literature review, you can combine several of these strategies (for example, your overall structure might be thematic, but each theme is discussed chronologically).
The simplest approach is to trace the development of the topic over time. However, if you choose this strategy, be careful to avoid simply listing and summarizing sources in order.
Try to analyze patterns, turning points and key debates that have shaped the direction of the field. Give your interpretation of how and why certain developments occurred.
If you have found some recurring central themes, you can organize your literature review into subsections that address different aspects of the topic.
For example, if you are reviewing literature about inequalities in migrant health outcomes, key themes might include healthcare policy, language barriers, cultural attitudes, legal status, and economic access.
If you draw your sources from different disciplines or fields that use a variety of research methods , you might want to compare the results and conclusions that emerge from different approaches. For example:
- Look at what results have emerged in qualitative versus quantitative research
- Discuss how the topic has been approached by empirical versus theoretical scholarship
- Divide the literature into sociological, historical, and cultural sources
A literature review is often the foundation for a theoretical framework . You can use it to discuss various theories, models, and definitions of key concepts.
You might argue for the relevance of a specific theoretical approach, or combine various theoretical concepts to create a framework for your research.
Like any other academic text , your literature review should have an introduction , a main body, and a conclusion . What you include in each depends on the objective of your literature review.
The introduction should clearly establish the focus and purpose of the literature review.
Depending on the length of your literature review, you might want to divide the body into subsections. You can use a subheading for each theme, time period, or methodological approach.
As you write, you can follow these tips:
- Summarize and synthesize: give an overview of the main points of each source and combine them into a coherent whole
- Analyze and interpret: don’t just paraphrase other researchers — add your own interpretations where possible, discussing the significance of findings in relation to the literature as a whole
- Critically evaluate: mention the strengths and weaknesses of your sources
- Write in well-structured paragraphs: use transition words and topic sentences to draw connections, comparisons and contrasts
In the conclusion, you should summarize the key findings you have taken from the literature and emphasize their significance.
When you’ve finished writing and revising your literature review, don’t forget to proofread thoroughly before submitting. Not a language expert? Check out Scribbr’s professional proofreading services !
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A literature review is a survey of scholarly sources (such as books, journal articles, and theses) related to a specific topic or research question .
It is often written as part of a thesis, dissertation , or research paper , in order to situate your work in relation to existing knowledge.
There are several reasons to conduct a literature review at the beginning of a research project:
- To familiarize yourself with the current state of knowledge on your topic
- To ensure that you’re not just repeating what others have already done
- To identify gaps in knowledge and unresolved problems that your research can address
- To develop your theoretical framework and methodology
- To provide an overview of the key findings and debates on the topic
Writing the literature review shows your reader how your work relates to existing research and what new insights it will contribute.
The literature review usually comes near the beginning of your thesis or dissertation . After the introduction , it grounds your research in a scholarly field and leads directly to your theoretical framework or methodology .
A literature review is a survey of credible sources on a topic, often used in dissertations , theses, and research papers . Literature reviews give an overview of knowledge on a subject, helping you identify relevant theories and methods, as well as gaps in existing research. Literature reviews are set up similarly to other academic texts , with an introduction , a main body, and a conclusion .
An annotated bibliography is a list of source references that has a short description (called an annotation ) for each of the sources. It is often assigned as part of the research process for a paper .
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Need, Importance and 5 Sources of Review of Related Literature in Educational Research
Back to: Introduction to Educational Research Methodology
Educational research means the organized collection and examination of the data related to education. It is a scientific study that examines the learning and teaching methods for better understanding of the education system. It is an observation and investigation in the field of education. Research is done in search of new knowledge or to use the existing knowledge in a better way. It helps to acquire useful knowledge and solve the challenges faced in education. Research tries to get a better understanding of education.
Literature review means the overview of the works published previously on a subject matter. It is the summary of the work done by other authors on a topic. Literature review will help a researcher in understanding how to carry on the research and what needs to be covered.
Need of Reviewing Related Literature
i. Avoid repetition and duplication of the study.
ii. Find out the gaps in research.
iii. Identify the additional research needed to be done.
iv. Gain extensive knowledge on a particular topic.
v. Help understand what has already been covered about a topic and the findings need to be done for future research.
Importance of Review of Related Literature
i. Help researchers to understand their topic of interest in-depth.
ii. Help to identify the gaps uncovered by previous authors on a topic and collect relevant data.
iii. Get an understanding of how to carry on the research.
Five Sources to Review Related Literature
Scholarly journal articles.
Journal articles are an important source of literature review. It helps to understand how to carry out the research and the findings to be done.
To collect statistical data, government websites can be very beneficial as it can provide a lot of information. Government websites are another important source of literature review.
Academic books consist of works written by several authors. It contains original work which will be very helpful in literature review.
Conference and seminar reports are also an important source of literature review to understand the thoughts of authors and works previously published in a field of study.
Libraries contain numerous books and works on a topic by different authors. Plenty of information and facts can be obtained from this source of literature review.
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Importance of Literature Review
research proposal as a problem to investigate, it usually has to be fairly narrow and focused, and because of this it can be difficult to appreciate how one's research subject is connected to other related areas. Therefore, the overall purpose of a literature review is to demonstrate this, and to help the reader to understand how your study fits into a broader context. This paper seeks to examine this topic of literature review, its significance and role in research proposal and report. It will start by explaining in detail what literature is; by citation of different scholars and its constituent components, such as the theoretical framework. Thereafter, it will look at the importance of literature review and its role in research proposals and reports. Finally, a conclusion will be written based on this topic. A Literature Review is a critical review of existing knowledge on areas such as theories, critiques, methodologies, research findings, assessment and evaluations on a particular topic. A literature review involves a critical evaluation identifying similarities and differences between existing literatures and the work being undertaken. It reviews what have already been done in the context of a topic. Therefore, on the basis of the existing knowledge, people can build up innovative idea and concept for further research purpose (Cooper, 1998). In doing empirical literature review is reading reports of other relevant studies conducted by different researchers. In doing so, a researcher gets knowledge and experiences that were established by other researchers when conducting their studies. While Conceptual framework is a set of coherent ideas or concepts organised in a manner that makes them easy to communicate to others. It represents less formal structure and used for specific concepts and propositions derived from empirical observation and intuition (ibid). According Aveyard, H. (2010) Theoretical framework is a theoretical perspective. It can be simply a theory, but can also be more general a basic approach to understanding something. Typically, a theoretical framework consists of concepts, together with their definitions, and existing framework must demonstrate an understanding of theories, and existing framework demonstrate an understanding of theories and concepts that are relevant to the topic of your research proposal and that will relate it to the broader fields of knowledge in the class you are taking.
Dubravka Cecez-Kecmanovic , Sebastian K Boell
The quality and success of scholarly work depends in large measure on the quality of the literature review process. This paper advances conceptual understanding of the literature review process and extends earlier guidelines on literature reviews. It proposes a hermeneutic framework that integrates the analysis and interpretation of literature and the search for literature. This hermeneutic framework describes the literature review process as fundamentally a process of developing understanding that is iterative in nature. Using the hermeneutic circle it describes the literature review process as being constituted by literature searching, classifying and mapping, critical assessment, and argument development. The hermeneutic approach emphasizes continuous engagement with and gradual development of a body of literature during which increased understanding and insights are developed. The paper contributes to better understanding of the literature review process and provides guidelines to assist researchers in conducting high quality reviews. Approaches for efficient searching are included in an Appendix.
• Learning outcomes • The nature of a literature review • Identifying the main subject and themes • Reviewing previous research • Emphasizing leading research studies • Exploring trends in the literature • Summarizing key ideas in a subject area • Summary A literature review is usually regarded as being an essential part of student projects, research studies and dissertations. This chapter examines the reasons for the importance of the literature review, and the things which it tries to achieve. It also explores the main strategies which you can use to write a good literature review.
In this article we develop a typology of review types and provide a descriptive insight into the most common reviews found in top IS journals. Our assessment reveals that the number of IS reviews has increased over the years. The majority of the 139 reviews are theoretical in nature, followed by narrative reviews, meta-analyses, descriptive reviews, hybrid reviews, critical reviews, and scoping reviews. Considering the calls for IS research to develop a cumulative tradition, we hope more review articles will be published in the future and encourage researchers who start a review to use our typology to position their contribution.
Proceedings of the International Conference …
The systematic review of the literature is a fundamental methodology for analyzing critically the existing literature on a given research theme. They are designed to be methodical, replicable and guide the author in identifying the main lines of investigation and conclusions in each scientific domain and, in addition, help them in the identification of new directions of research. However, the systematic review process is typically viewed as too heterogeneous, complex and time-consuming. In this sense, it is pertinent to propose a new approach for conducting systematic reviews that may be more agile, not only in terms of development, but also in the analysis of the results of a systematic review process. This article presents a canvas framework for conducting a systematic review composed of nine blocks and based on a set of identified good practices found in the literature, in which it is possible to easily identify all the steps of the process, options taken, and main results.
Omed Bapir Sabir Sadq
Abdullah Ramdhani , Tatam Chiway , Muhammad Ali Ramdhani
Jason E Thomas
Mohammed I S
PhD Thesis @uO Research
Journal of Asian Development
Nur Azaliah Abu Bakar
Jara Mi Serino
Dr Haradhan K U M A R Mohajan
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Dr Dr Motsamai John Modise MJ
Elvis Nguelela , Marie Ferru-Clément
Wan Mohd Farid Wan Yusof
Steven Van Hook
shadreck phiri chisulo
CC The Journal: A Multidisciplinary Research Review
DR. DAVID C . BUENO
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Systematic review article, developing a cvtae-based conceptual framework for examining emotions in higher education teaching: a systematic literature review.
- 1 Department of Educational Psychology, Institute of Psychology, Goethe University, Frankfurt, Germany
- 2 School of Education and Institute of Educational Science, School Research and School Practice, Paris Lodron University of Salzburg, Salzburg, Austria
- 3 Department of Education, Faculty of Psychology, University of Bergen, Bergen, Norway
- 4 Institute for Educational Science, Research and Teaching Unit for Pedagogy With a Focus on Media Education, University of Erlangen-Nuremberg, Nuremberg, Germany
- 5 Independent Researcher, Lemgo, Germany
A number of studies on higher education (HE) teachers' emotions have been carried out, but overall, the literature on this issue is relatively limited, even though HE teaching can be regarded as an emotional endeavor and represents an important topic in HE research. The main goal of this article was to develop a conceptual framework for examining teaching-related emotions of HE teachers by revising and extending the control-value theory of achievement emotions (CVTAE) developed to systematically classify existing findings on emotions in HE teachers and to identify a research agenda for future studies in this field. Therefore, we conducted a systematic literature review on empirical studies investigating HE teachers' teaching-related emotions to gain insights into (1) the theoretical concepts and approaches used to study HE teachers' emotions as well as the (2) antecedents and (3) consequences of experienced emotions identified in the existing studies. By applying a systematic literature review, 37 studies were found. Based on the conducted systematic review, we propose a CVTAE-based conceptual framework for examining HE teachers' emotions in HE teaching with additional components relating to both antecedents and consequences of HE teachers' experienced emotions. We discuss the proposed conceptual framework from the theoretical perspective, pointing out new aspects that should be considered in future research on HE teachers' emotions. From the methodological perspective, we address aspects related to research designs and mixed-method approaches. Finally, we list implications for future higher education development programs.
Although a growing body of research concerning the emotions of schoolteachers has been conducted over the last 20 years, the emotions of teachers in higher education (HE) have been of little interest to researchers thus far. In 2007, Pekrun stated, “To date, next to nothing is known about professors' emotions experienced in classroom teaching, and the role these emotions play in the quality of their teaching, their professional development, and their wellbeing, burnout, and physical health” (p. 604) ( Pekrun, 2007 ). We argue that HE teachers' emotions should be acknowledged in research because emotions guide behavior and are thus likely to influence the quality of teaching and, as a result, the learning outcomes of HE students. In addition, emotions are linked to personal wellbeing. These associations have been repeatedly confirmed for schoolteachers ( Frenzel, 2014 ), but research on HE teachers is comparatively scarce. We further propose that teaching-related emotions of HE teachers could be particularly salient, as academics must negotiate the demands of multiple roles simultaneously (e.g., Lai et al., 2014 ), which could be especially emotionally taxing owing to the potential tensions arising between the different roles (e.g., Avargues Navarro et al., 2010 ). Additionally, HE teachers frequently do not have (much) professional education in the teaching domain and are thus, at best, loosely formally guided in their professionalization processes. It should also be noted that the pressure on HE teachers due to (mandatory) student evaluations is intense and unrelenting (e.g., Roxå and Mårtensson, 2011 ), in particular when such evaluations co-determine a teacher's academic career. This is likely to cause various negative emotional side effects and tensions, especially for those who have a strong teaching orientation, but are compelled to enhance their research at the same time. In sum, the above-mentioned studies underline the variability of factors linked to teaching-related emotions of HE teachers and make the systematic examination of theoretical approaches and empirical findings touching upon the emotional experiences of HE teachers an important agenda in HE research.
Among existing theoretical models that have been used for examining emotions experienced in achievement and academic settings (e.g., Fredrickson, 2001 ; Scherer, 2005 ; Gross, 2010 ), the most prominent one is the control-value theory of academics emotions (CVTAE, Pekrun, 2006 ). This theory was developed based on appraisal-orientated approaches to emotions ( Moors et al., 2013 ). It explains (achievement) emotions in educational settings and has been frequently applied in conjunction with the emotions of school students and HE students. This theory states that emotions are evoked based on two antecedent appraisals, namely control and value appraisals. If learners perceive the environment as controllable and (intrinsically) valuable , positive emotions typically occur (e.g., enjoyment). Conversely, if an environment or learning activity is experienced as uncontrollable and relevant, negative emotions usually result (e.g., anxiety or hopelessness). As a consequence, these emotions influence attitudinal changes, motivational, cognitive, and regulatory processes, implying different types of attempts to manage the emerging emotions.
Although CVTAE provides a solid basis for studying emotions in academic contexts and for classifying antecedents and consequences of affective experiences, it focuses predominantly on the affective phenomena of learners. Therefore, a specification and elaboration of a modified conceptual framework including the revision of existing theoretical approaches such as CVTAE seem to be necessary for a systematic examination of various factors connected to the emergence and processing as well as the consequences of emotions experienced by HE teachers. Consequently, we seek to review the existing empirical studies on teaching-related emotions of HE teachers systematically, considering both theoretical approaches and findings in order to extend the CVTAE into a modified conceptual framework that reflects aspects specific to teaching-related emotions within the HE context. Based on the modified conceptual framework, a broader picture can be painted to obtain a systematic and holistic overview of what is already known about HE teachers' emotions and what aspects of teaching-related emotions of HE teachers are still underrepresented in the current studies. Furthermore, methodological issues of research on teaching-related emotions of HE teachers could be analyzed and implications for teaching development programs could be derived.
2. Research questions and aim of the study
The main goal of this review was to revise the CVTAE ( Pekrun, 2006 ) to modify the conceptual framework for examining HE teachers' teaching-related emotions by classifying antecedents and consequences specific to HE teachers' emotions. For this purpose, we identified the following research questions for our systematic literature review, including both theoretical issues and empirical findings touching upon HE teachers' teaching-related emotions.
First, we sought to gain insight into the theories and models of emotions used to study the emotions of HE teachers and to check for CVTAE in particular ( Pekrun, 2006 ).
RQ 1: How widely is CVTAE ( Pekrun, 2006 ) used as a theoretical framework for studying HE teachers' teaching-related emotions? What other theoretical concepts and approaches were used in existing studies?
Second, we were interested in antecedents linked to HE teachers' teaching-related emotional experiences.
RQ 2: What kinds of antecedents specific to teaching-related emotions experienced by HE teachers were identified in the existing research and how can the revealed antecedents be classified?
Third, we sought to investigate the consequences of the emotions experienced by HE teachers.
RQ3: What kinds of consequences were reported as being linked to the experienced teaching-related emotions in HE teachers, and how can the revealed consequences be classified?
In order to answer the research questions outlined above, we conducted a systematic literature search and a stepwise analysis of the selected studies.
3.1. Search terms and databases
An initial systematic literature search was undertaken by the main author in May 2020 in selected databases in education and psychology (ERIC, PubPsych, PsycINFO, Web of Science), following the current standards defined in the PRISMA statement ( Page et al., 2021 ). The keywords in their diverse combinations, linked with Boolean Operators (AND/OR), were “emotion,” “affect,” “emotion regulation,” “emotion management,” “HE teaching,” “HE teachers,” “higher education teaching,” “higher education teachers,” “university teaching,” “university teachers,” “university lecturers,” and “university instructors.” Furthermore, following the “standard systematic review practice” ( Petticrew and Roberts, 2006 , p. 104), experienced researchers in this research field were contacted and asked for further literature suggestions (in this case: the co-authors).
3.2. Selection criteria
Formal criteria included that articles (1) were written in English or German and (2) were published between 2000 and 2020. Several researchers around the turn of the millennium emphasized the role of emotions in school teaching as well as in HE teaching (e.g., Hargreaves, 1998 , 2000 ), but also stressed that especially the latter was a largely under-researched area ( Martin and Lueckenhausen, 2005 ). In recent years, there has been a slight increase in publications, which is why we considered it promising to investigate publications within this timespan. Regarding the study design, we picked only studies that (3) were empirical (quantitative, qualitative, or mixed method), as the aim was to provide an evidence-based overview of HE teachers' emotions. Furthermore, we selected only studies (4) whose subjects were HE teachers (and not, e.g., tutors). Regarding the content of the studies, we were solely and explicitly interested in HE teachers' teaching-related emotions. Consequently, we selected studies that (5) examined HE teachers' emotions regarding teaching and excluded studies that addressed constructs other than teaching-related emotions, such as profession-related emotions such as work satisfaction, wellbeing, stress, or burnout (e.g., Azeem and Nazir, 2008 ; Abdullah and Akhtar, 2016 ). To ensure the quality of the articles, we included only studies published in (6) peer-reviewed journals due to their trustworthiness in academia and their rigorous review processes ( Nicholas et al., 2015 ).
3.3. Study collection process and data extraction
The study collection process is graphically illustrated in a flow chart (see Figure 1 ). Altogether, 679 records were identified (239 in ERIC, 51 in PubPsych, 212 in PsycINFO, and 177 in Web of Science [including the SSCI, the SCI, and the A & HCI]). A total of 145 duplicates were removed. The examination for formal criteria lead to the exclusion of four articles (three articles were not written in English or German, and one article was published before 2000). By screening the titles and abstracts of the remaining 530 titles, 482 articles were sorted out gradually: 252 studies did not take place in an educational setting, the subjects of a further 106 articles were not HE teachers (but students or [preservice] teachers, tutors, or other faculty), 116 articles did not focus on HE teachers' emotions, and an additional eight articles were sorted out because they did not appear in peer-reviewed journals ( N = 3) or were not empirical in nature ( N = 5). The main author examined full texts of the remaining 48 articles as well as of 39 further articles that experts in this research field recommended for closer examination. If there were doubts regarding the inclusion of articles, at least two authors discussed the respective articles until a consensus was reached. A total of 50 out of these 87 studies were eventually excluded (21 from among the expert recommendations and 29 of the further articles): 26 articles only focused on related constructs (such as identity or wellbeing), 21 articles did not focus on HE teachers' teaching-related emotions, and in three other studies, no systematic observation took place. No further studies could be identified by cross-referencing the included studies. In total, 37 studies were included in this literature review. A summary of the included studies is presented in Table 1 , providing information on the research objective, sample and country, empirical approach, and data collection strategy.
Figure 1 . Flowchart of systematic literature search results, number of hits, and reasons for study exclusion.
Table 1 . Summary of empirical studies on emotions in HE teaching.
4.1. RQ 1: How widely is CVTAE used as a theoretical framework for studying HE teachers' teaching-related emotions? What other theoretical concepts and approaches were used in existing studies?
To answer RQ 1, we analyzed the theoretical concepts and approaches of emotions used in the included studies (see Table 2 ). The results showed that CVTAE ( Pekrun, 2006 ) was referred to in 10 out of the 37 included studies.
Table 2 . Theoretical concepts and approaches of emotions, indicating study authors, years of study, and the number of studies that used this concept/approach.
Regarding the understanding of what emotions are, the analysis revealed that six out of the 37 included studies that explicitly stressed their multi-componential understanding of emotions. “Multi-componential” refers to the assumption that emotions consist of various emotion components (e.g., Kleinginna and Kleinginna, 1981 ; Scherer, 2005 ), which are presumed to interact during an emotional episode. They include cognitive processes (e.g., appraisals and judgments), experiential or affective processes (e.g., positive or negative feelings), physiological processes (e.g., peripheral arousal and central nervous activation), expression (e.g., gestures and facial expressions), and behavioral tendencies (e.g., preparations for action), whereby the affective component is particularly characteristic of emotions ( Frenzel et al., 2015 ). In contrast, one of the included studies referred to a dichotomous understanding of emotions, following Kemper's theory (1978 ), which divides emotions into positive and negative emotions ( Zhang et al., 2019 ).
Two studies referred to Fredrickson's (2001) broaden-and-build theory of emotion ( Lutovac et al., 2017 ; Thies and Kordts-Freudinger, 2019a ). This theory states that experiencing positive emotions broadens one's momentary thought-action repertoires, resulting in the construction of persistent individual resources on different levels (physical, intellectual, social, and psychological). A social-psychological-orientated approach to emotions was used in three studies, insofar that the social nature of teachers' emotions was emphasized (e.g., Postareff and Lindblom-Ylanne, 2011 ; Hagenauer and Volet, 2014a ; Zhang et al., 2019 ). Teaching can be regarded as a social practice ( Zembylas, 2005 ), and thus teachers' emotions are not only influenced by their own individual reality but also by the social context and the relationships which are formed within it.
Thirteen studies focused on approaches related to different aspects of emotion regulation after experiencing teaching-related emotions, namely emotion regulation strategies (five studies), emotional labor or emotion work (eight studies), and emotion display rules (four studies) [note that two studies made use of all three approaches]. Emotion regulation can be described as an attempt to “influence which emotions we have, when we have them, and how we experience [them]” ( Gross, 2010 , p. 497). This includes a set of different processes on physiological, behavioral, and cognitive levels ( Gross and Thompson, 2007 ; Gross, 2010 ), in accordance with the multi-component understanding of emotions described above. These strategies include, e.g., cognitive strategies, such as cognitive reappraisal (i.e., to reinterpret or re-evaluate an emotional situation), or response-focused strategies, such as suppressing the expression of emotions. In a similar vein, emotional labor or emotion work is defined as the effort to display the emotion that is perceived as being the expected emotion (e.g., Hochschild, 1983 ). This can be achieved through one of the following coping strategies: (1) surface acting (i.e., displaying emotions that are not felt but are perceived as appropriate) or (2) deep acting (i.e., attempting to truly experience the expected emotions). The appropriate display of emotion in specific contexts and interaction settings can be defined using Ekman and Friesen's (1969) concept of “emotion display rules.” These cognitively represented rules influence the individual display of emotion in accordance with cultural and/or professional definitions of acceptable display modes for emotions (e.g., Matsumoto et al., 2008 ; Mendzheritskaya et al., 2018 ).
Regarding the emergence of emotions, six studies made use of appraisal theories. According to appraisal theories, an emotion is triggered by an individual's evaluation of a corresponding situation. Consequently, the same situation can cause different emotions in different people, depending on their respective appraisals (for an overview, see Moors et al., 2013 ).
No assignment to any emotion theory could be made in 10 studies. This means that the authors did not point out in an explicit manner what emotion theory or approach is applied as a theoretical framework in their studies.
In sum, 27 out of 37 included studies made use of one or more theoretical approaches when examining HE teachers' emotions. Furthermore, the results demonstrated that 10 studies used CVTAE ( Pekrun, 2006 ) as the theoretical model for investigating the emotions of HE teachers. This renders it the most widely used theory when examining HE teachers' emotions within the included studies.
Control-value theory of achievement emotions is considered a further development of frequently referenced appraisal theories with an underlying multi-componential understanding of emotions. Additionally, CVTAE allows for a precise subdivision into antecedents and consequences of emotions. On this basis, the results of studies dealing with both antecedents and consequences of HE teachers' emotions can be classified systematically, and the new dimensions specific to emotional experiences in the HE context could be added to the existing components of CVTAE. The undertaken classification of involved studies and identification of new aspects relating to antecedents and consequences of HE teachers' emotions resulted in the proposed conceptual framework ( Figure 2 ). The proposed framework demonstrates how components of the CVTAE can be extended by additional factors connected to antecedents of emotions, affective responses, and consequences of the experienced emotions for a better understanding of the unique characteristics of HE teachers' teaching-related emotions.
Figure 2 . Proposed conceptual framework on studying HE teachers' teaching-related emotions.
4.2. RQ 2: What kinds of antecedents specific to teaching-related emotions experienced by HE teachers were identified in the existing research and how can the revealed antecedents be classified?
Following the proposed framework which extends Pekrun's CVTAE (2006 ), this section is devoted to empirical results on antecedents of emotions. The findings are grouped according to the proposed conceptual framework within the section “antecedents” (cf. Figure 2 ). From the included studies, we identified different antecedents of HE teachers' emotions on the micro, macro, and meso levels (for an overview, see Fend, 2008 ) that are related to value and control appraisals of varying intensity. First, we present studies that shed light on individual factors of HE teachers on the micro level (see Section 4.2.1) because the majority of the included studies considered these factors to be relevant variables (or covariates) when analyzing HE teachers' teaching-related experienced emotions, their antecedents, and their consequences. In Section 4.2.2, we analyze results from studies focusing on environmental factors on the micro level (classroom factors on the student and interpersonal levels, see Section 22.214.171.124) and meso level (classroom factors on the structural level, see Section 126.96.36.199). According to CVTAE ( Pekrun, 2006 ), the factors named above influence value and control appraisals and play an important role in the emergence of emotions. We additionally describe broader context factors identified in the studies as antecedents of emotions on the macro level (see Section 4.2.3).
4.2.1. Individual level of HE teachers
Flodén (2017) showed that teaching experience plays a role in the perception of feedback, indicating that HE teachers with less teaching experience were more nervous about receiving feedback and reported more negative emotions pertaining to student feedback compared to more experienced teachers. An emotion that often accompanies limited teaching experience is anxiety, or its less intensive forms reflecting fear and insecurity ( Hagenauer and Volet, 2014a ; Meanwell and Kleiner, 2014 ), which could be explained by a lower perception of one's own control over the environment. In line with this, performance anxiety can be triggered by other emotions, such as worries about a lack of preparedness ( Quinlan, 2019 ). Related to teaching experiences in general, novel situations of any kind (e.g., teaching in a new position, applying a new teaching method or new technology, teaching a new group of students, and teaching in a new country) can evoke positive emotions (e.g., anticipatory joy), but these typically also go hand-in-hand with feelings of insecurity ( Hagenauer and Volet, 2014a ). Comparable findings were reported by Lahtinen (2008) , who stressed that negative experiences are related to unpredictable and uncertain conditions of teaching and discrepancies in expectations and beliefs that cannot be easily managed. Regarding the use of information and communication technology (ICT), Wang (2014) found that teachers who are less familiar with technology were more nervous and anxious about using ICT in the learning context (e.g., if they were not able to fix the system by themselves). Difficulties encountered with equipment and the resulting loss of time caused frustration. In a similar vein, Bennett (2014) found some HE teachers to be frustrated, infuriated, or desperate if they perceived situations as being out of their control (e.g., if the university's system was not reliable). Furthermore, they experienced fear of exposure if they felt that their own knowledge regarding the technology was not adequate. Regan et al. (2012) confirmed these results by outlining that HE teachers felt disconnected, uncertain, and frustrated because they experienced a lack of control and sufficient technology-based knowledge. Further sources of frustration included HE teachers not being able to adapt their teaching based on students' gestures, questions, or behavior.
Attempting to enhance one's teaching practice can also be regarded as a novel situation, which also can influence the perceived control of HE teachers over their environments. Martin and Lueckenhausen (2005) explored the emotions of Australian HE teachers in one institution who were willing to adopt new teaching practices or rethink their teaching roles. Approaching new practices and roles was accompanied by a mixture of emotions, especially negative ones, such as confusion and anxiety. The emotional impact was particularly observable when the teachers adopted a more student-centered teaching approach. Moving toward a more student-centered teaching approach is a source of insecurity in terms of the more unpredictable nature of student behavior in the classroom.
In an intersectional view, Harlow (2003) showed an interaction between HE teachers' race and teaching experience: Less experienced HE teachers with an African American background reported fear, nervousness, and concern regarding “making a mistake” (p. 355). In addition to anxiety, limited teaching experience can also lead to surprising moments that may be either negatively or positively perceived. In general, first-time teachers were surprised by the high emotionality of first-time teaching ( Meanwell and Kleiner, 2014 ). However, “surprise,” but with less negativity, seems to be an emotion also prevalent in the accounts of more experienced teachers ( Hagenauer and Volet, 2014a ; Kordts-Freudinger, 2017 ). In general, perceiving oneself as an expert in the field triggers positive emotions, such as enjoyment ( Löfström and Nevgi, 2014 ).
In some studies, a gender effect was revealed, e.g., with female teachers reporting more negative emotions associated with feedback from students ( Flodén, 2017 ). Furthermore, male HE teachers reported a slightly higher level of pleasure derived from online teaching as compared to their female counterparts ( Badia et al., 2019 ), and “new” (pre-tenured) female faculty members reported overall higher values for teaching ( Stupnisky et al., 2016 ).
Regarding the value for teaching compared to research , there are a few studies that report in part contradictory results: Thies and Kordts-Freudinger (2019b) investigated university instructors' discrete emotions and appraisal antecedents several times a day in a sample of 50 academic staff members in Germany to analyze the state-related emotion-appraisal associations throughout the workday. Their results show that enjoyment, pride, and relief were experienced with a higher intensity in the domain of teaching as compared to the domain of research. More specifically, teaching-related activities such as preparing or holding lectures seem to provoke stronger positive emotions as compared to research-related activities (e.g., the implementation and analyzing of research content). Stupnisky et al. (2019) tested a model of university instructors' discrete emotions for perceived teaching and research success using a single-measurement, retrospective questionnaire. It was shown that the sample of 312 assistant professors on the tenure track in the U.S. and Canada reported overall high levels of enjoyment, moderate levels of anxiety, and low levels of boredom in teaching and research. Furthermore, value appraisals of teaching and research were positively associated with enjoyment and negatively associated with anxiety and boredom. Differing from the results obtained by Thies and Kordts-Freudinger (2019a) , HE teachers in this study reported significantly more enjoyment in research than in teaching. However, they experienced less success in research as compared to teaching, which could also explain why faculty reported slightly more anxiety in research. Nevertheless, HE teachers in this study attributed more value to research than to teaching ( Stupnisky et al., 2019 ). Furthermore, the results of a study by Postareff and Lindblom-Ylanne (2011) showed that their sample of Finnish HE teachers typically enjoyed teaching more than marking exams, theses, or doing preparation or post-processing work for their courses ( Postareff and Lindblom-Ylanne, 2011 ). HE teachers in this study disliked lecturing as a particular teaching form most of all, but some teachers also disliked group methods that were activating in nature.
Teachers who express a high identification with the teaching role and who are highly committed to teaching typically express very positive emotions with regard to teaching, including passion and “love” for teaching itself, as well as for the subject they are teaching ( Postareff and Lindblom-Ylanne, 2011 ; Bennett, 2014 ; Hagenauer and Volet, 2014a ). In contrast, when HE scholars do not identify with the teaching role but view themselves solely as researchers, they typically experience more emotions that are negative or do not feel emotionally involved at all ( Postareff and Lindblom-Ylanne, 2011 ). More specifically, Vannini (2006) found in his qualitative study on the (emotional) experience of authenticity in teaching that moments of authenticity occurred if teachers valued their teaching roles. However, only minority of the professors in the study stated that teaching was important for their identity. Furthermore, he found that mixed emotions regarding authenticity can occur if professors navigate between their different roles as researcher and teacher. If the professors in the study perceived themselves more as a researcher than a teacher, teaching could feel like a burden, accompanied by frustrated authenticity, boredom, apathy, or even disdain toward students. Regarding the teaching role in online teaching, Badia et al. (2019) associated appropriate emotions in online teaching with teachers' roles. Their results showed that satisfaction and pleasure are associated with teachers who are concerned with ensuring that learners acquire and retain knowledge. In contrast, when the acquisition of content is paramount to the teaching approach, a significant negative relationship between these two emotions was found. Hence, the understanding of roles is important in that teachers who intend to develop students' skills and want to support them find online teaching satisfactory and enjoyable. In contrast, teachers who are instead focused on content and technology aspects are more likely to feel fear and stress.
4.2.2. Environmental factors
The following two sections refer to environmental factors as antecedents of emotions, namely classroom factors. First, study results that we have assigned to classroom factors on the structural level are presented (see Section 188.8.131.52). This is followed by results on classroom factors on the student and interpersonal level (see Section 184.108.40.206).
220.127.116.11. Classroom factors on the structural level
Most important classroom factors considered from a structural perspective cover the aspects of course formats and settings including novel technology-based formats. Regarding the influence of the course format on HE teachers' emotions, Löfström and Nevgi (2014) made use of a creative approach in their study. They explored drawings by HE teachers in order to obtain an understanding of their emotions in teaching. Most of the drawings depicted positive emotions ( n = 40), followed by neutral drawings ( n = 30), drawings of mixed emotions ( n = 12), and drawings of negative emotions ( n = 4). The results showed that emotions in teaching are contextual. While positive emotions (e.g., enjoyment, contemplation, and curiosity) are mostly experienced in small group settings with engaged students and a learner-focused teaching approach, negative emotions (e.g., isolation, anxiety, and discontentment) are more likely to be experienced in lectures with a more content-focused approach due to students' lack of engagement or interest.
The course setting , i.e., teaching with new technology, was found to cause mixed emotions, with negative emotions dominating ( Regan et al., 2012 ; Bennett, 2014 ). In her study on the effect of change processes on HE teachers' emotions, Bennett (2014) found an increased fear of exposure (e.g., not knowing the correct answers to students' online questions), negative emotions due to dependence on technical systems, and fear of humiliation and ridicule (e.g., being laughed at). Potential failure to meet the institution's standards, as evidenced by negative reactions from colleagues, caused an emotional burden on those who applied technology-based teaching methods. Such a change in teaching practice may also require teachers to overcome potentially contrary institutional-cultural norms. The negative emotions found in a study by Regan et al. (2012) on distance learning included that some lecturers felt restricted because everything that they said was recorded, which was perceived as “unnerving” (p. 208); others felt isolated, supporting the importance of social interaction for HE teaching. There were also reported feelings of helplessness or insecurity when lecturers sought to adapt to the role of a “conveyor of information” (p. 210) in the distance-learning setting.
Almost all lecturers in a study on HE teachers' role changes due to the use of an asynchronous web-based learning platform reported that teaching online requires more time and effort, which in turn leads to dissatisfaction or frustration ( Coppola et al., 2002 ). However, the fact that online teaching was experienced as challenging was by no means perceived only in a negative sense. It was precisely this circumstance that stimulated enthusiasm and fascination and challenged creativity ( Coppola et al., 2002 ). Furthermore, teaching with new technology was experienced as convenient and efficient ( Coppola et al., 2002 ; Wang, 2014 ), e.g., because questions did not have to be answered multiple times ( Coppola et al., 2002 ). Wang (2014) found that HE teachers are generally satisfied when using ICT because they perceive students as more motivated and concentrated as well as being better in interactions and more willing to give answers.
18.104.22.168. Classroom factors on the student and interpersonal level
Students' behavior can have an important impact on HE teachers' emotions. In total, eight of the studies included in this review provide insights into this antecedent of emotions. Disruptive behavior in the classroom and students being late or absent were reported as sources of anger by Japanese HE teachers ( Cowie, 2011 ). In particular, students blaming the teacher in an aggressive way (e.g., for their grading) causes negative feelings in HE teachers and is perceived as a professional identity threat ( Lahtinen, 2008 ). Hagenauer and Volet (2014a) found that limited student engagement (e.g., lack of interest), as well as over-engagement (e.g., being too dominant, not willing to discuss fixed opinions in a constructive manner), can be a source of negative emotions, mainly annoyance. Similarly, Gates (2000) found that HE teachers felt irritated or angry if students behaved in a disruptive manner (e.g., arriving to class late or leaving early without notification, talking to other students instead of listening, and complaining about grades or assignments).
On the other side, students making progress or seeing students succeed was reported as a source of pleasure ( Hagenauer and Volet, 2014a ), joy ( Myyry et al., 2020 ), satisfaction, and pride ( Vannini, 2006 ). Overall, students and their classroom behavior can challenge a teacher's feeling of passion for teaching. This is reflected in the fact that teachers' joy/passion for teaching varies across different classrooms of students ( Hagenauer and Volet, 2014a ).
A specific emotional challenge for HE teachers arises from interactions with students who are in personal crisis ( Quinlan, 2019 ) or who exhibit mental health issues, as shown in the study by Storrie et al. (2012) on teachers mentoring a clinical practicum. Dealing with such students can evoke feelings of helplessness and powerlessness, but also fear-related feelings (e.g., due to offensive behavior).
Lahtinen (2008) argues that unrealistic expectations in teacher–student interaction can lead to negative feelings. More generally, she notes that the management of relationships between the teacher and students but also among students triggers many emotions in HE teachers (see also Cowie, 2011 ). In a similar vein, Hagenauer and Volet (2014a) determined that negative emotions arise when expectations with regard to positive teacher–student interactions (e.g., student engagement in class) are not fulfilled (see also Mendzheritskaya et al., 2018 ) or if students cross boundaries of the teacher–student relationship (e.g., phoning HE teachers during the weekend). Positive emotions of delight or pleasure result if expectations are fulfilled (e.g., motivated students who contribute constructively in class). Harlow (2003) showed that the quality of the teacher–student interaction and ultimately also teachers' emotions differed based on U.S. HE teachers' race, and the interaction between race and gender. HE teachers with an African American background teaching at an American university with a 90% white student population reported greater frustration but also anxiety because they perceived that their intellectual authority (competence and qualification) was more frequently challenged by student behavior (referred to as the “racial double standard”).
Both receiving feedback from students and delivering feedback to students can be regarded as an emotional issue in the teacher–student interaction. Delivering feedback to students can cause negative feedback for HE teachers if they fear that their pedagogical expertise might be questioned; such an experience can be regarded as a threat to a teacher's identity (e.g., Lahtinen, 2008 ). Furthermore, grading was experienced less joyful compared to giving formative feedback ( Myyry et al., 2020 ). Boredom was triggered by monotonous assessment methods, whereas joy was experienced if novel summative assessment methods (e.g., learning diaries) were implemented and if students or colleagues supported the assessment practice. Relief was experienced when working together with colleagues, as it enhanced constructive alignment and justice ( Myyry et al., 2020 ).
Higher education teachers reported receiving direct positive feedback from students as a source of positive emotions ( Hagenauer and Volet, 2014a ). Furthermore, Lutovac et al. (2017) provided evidence of the relevance of student feedback for HE teachers' emotions and their professional development. Positive student feedback was experienced as encouraging, whereas negative feedback was typically perceived as emotionally daunting. Similarly, in an experimental set-up with German HE teachers, Nowakowski and Hannover (2015) determined that qualitative feedback in student evaluations had a stronger influence on emotions than the quantitative data; this was especially true when the students' remarks were negative. Using a vignette approach, Kowai-Bell et al. (2012) found correlations between anonymous ratings on the “Rate My Professors” platform and U.S. professors' (anticipated) emotions, with positive ratings leading to a positive mood and negative ratings, respectively, to a negative mood.
4.2.3. Context factors
As mentioned above, we identified broader context factors on the macro level in the included studies. These factors are related to cognitive appraisals but are also linked to the experiencing of emotions and their consequences (e.g., the expression of emotions). For this reason, the contextual factors are listed as antecedents of emotions but are separated from the environmental factors within the proposed conceptual framework.
Hagenauer et al. (2016) found cultural differences in understanding which HE teachers' emotions are appropriate to express while communicating with students. Especially, the role of cultural-pedagogical context is evident regarding the display of negative emotions ( Mendzheritskaya et al., 2018 ). Furthermore, it was found that the perception of the characteristics of quality teacher–student relationships is likely to vary across cultural-educational contexts, depending on underlying institutional and cultural norms, values, and practices ( Hagenauer et al., 2016 ).
The institutional context played a role in the following four studies: Cowie (2011) found that negative emotions were evoked if HE teachers perceived a strong hierarchy or a lack of trust in their institution. In contrast, positive emotions were evoked if the HE teachers had the impression of improvement taking place within the institution. In an interview study by Ramezanzadeh et al. (2016) , 20 Iranian adjunct teachers reported on their emotional lives in connection to their perceived authenticity in teaching. In particular, anger was related to attempts to challenge the expectations of the educational system, low salaries, and the inadequate quality of teaching due to existing policies. Quinlan (2019) used poems in order to gain access to teachers' emotions in teaching. She found that emotions can be triggered by institutional rules that should be followed (e.g., no food allowed in the classroom) as well as by self-disclosure (how much of myself should I reveal?). Furthermore, negative emotions might be triggered if the purity of the research subject is violated (e.g., due to the demand of giving “sexy presentations,” p. 1670). Bahia et al. (2017) demonstrated for a sample of Portuguese HE teachers that the Bologna process, i.e., higher education reforms in Europe, triggered ambivalent emotions in HE teachers, but with negative emotions dominating. Many of the interviewed HE teachers described the Bologna process as a threat to their professional identity. Specifically, they experienced their professional autonomy as being threatened, which ultimately caused a decrease in teaching enthusiasm and an increase in sadness, in part because the extended teaching load resulted in less time for individual students. In addition, the HE teachers reported concern and dissatisfaction due to publication pressure, which was experienced as a limitation on their academic freedom. Other emotions that were mentioned were fear and anger. Both dissatisfaction and pressure were experienced as a result of the increasing impact of evaluations, particularly student evaluations.
Higher education teachers interact not only with students but also with their colleagues. This collegial surrounding also forms a part of the context. Cowie (2011) study on Japanese HE teachers revealed that interactions with colleagues were often a source of positive emotions, but in case of differences in educational values, could also engender negative emotions. Stupnisky et al. (2016) , too, confirmed the relevance of perceived collegiality in the department for HE teachers' emotions in teaching: HE teachers experienced more positive emotions in teaching when collegiality was perceived as better, and when the teachers exhibited personal balance between work and leisure. Moreover, the results of a more recent study by Stupnisky et al. (2019) showed that perceived collegiality predicted value, which in turn negatively predicted teaching anxiety and positively predicted teaching enjoyment.
4.3. RQ 3: What kinds of consequences were reported as being linked to the experienced teaching-related emotions in HE teachers, and how can the revealed consequences be classified?
Adopting the well-known proposition of the CVTAE that “achievement emotions affect the cognitive, motivational, and regulatory processes mediating learning and achievement[…]” ( Pekrun, 2006 , p. 326) for the context of HE teaching, we consider HE teachers' emotional experiences as associated with cognitive, motivational, and regulatory processes linked to teaching practices. CVTAE refers to the so-called consequences of experiencing achievement emotions, stressing the causality and the impact of experienced emotions on individual's cognitive, motivational, and behavioral changes. At the same time, due to the correlative designs applied predominantly in the reviewed studies, it is not possible in each case to infer causal relationships between the analyzed variables from the perspective of the interferential statistics. Therefore, we followed the considerations of the authors regarding the possible effect directions as well as the propositions of the CVTAE concerning the consequences of experienced emotion while summarizing and grouping the research results within our framework into aspects relating to attitudinal changes (Section 4.3.1), motivational changes (Section 4.3.2), changes in cognitive-affective regulation processes (Section 4.3.3), and changes in behavioral regulation processes (Section 4.3.4).
4.3.1. Attitudinal changes
The analysis of the included studies revealed that attitudinal changes as a consequence of HE teachers' teaching-related emotions mainly refer to HE teachers' teaching roles and approaches.
Although research has shown that teaching approaches are significant for teaching behavior and student learning, little is known about the link between HE teachers' emotions and teaching approaches or between HE teachers' emotions and emotion regulation ( Kordts-Freudinger, 2017 ). The few available studies have consistently found a positive correlation between HE teachers' positive emotions or affect and a student-centered approach to teaching, which also includes the establishment of a positive climate in the classroom ( Postareff and Lindblom-Ylanne, 2011 ; Trigwell, 2012 ; Badia Gargante et al., 2014 ; Meanwell and Kleiner, 2014 ; Kordts-Freudinger, 2017 ; Kordts-Freudinger and Thies, 2018 ).
The pattern of the interrelationship between HE teachers' negative emotions and their teaching approaches is less clear. Generally speaking, no correlation between negative emotions or affect and a teaching-centered approach has been found (e.g., Trigwell, 2012 ; Badia Gargante et al., 2014 ; Kordts-Freudinger, 2017 ). However, with regard to distinct negative emotions, Kordts-Freudinger (2017) detected a positive correlation between anger and boredom and a teacher-centered teaching approach, whereas Trigwell (2012) revealed a positive association between anxiety and embarrassment and this orientation. Additionally, teachers employing a more teacher-centered approach to teaching exhibited lower levels of pride. The missing overall interrelation between negative emotions and a teacher-centered teaching approach might be traced back to the varying functions of negative emotions in terms of activation or deactivation. Furthermore, the beliefs of teachers regarding professional behavior likely interfere with the direct link between negative emotions and classroom behavior, indicating emotional management. Zhang et al. (2019) found that HE teachers' emotions in teaching, assessed by the Emotions in Teaching Inventory ( Trigwell, 2012 ), can directly predict HE teachers' teaching styles. They focused on two so-called “Type-I-teaching styles,” including a legislative and a liberal style, and two “Type-II-teaching styles,” including an executive and a conservative one (see Appendix 1 of the study by Zhang et al., 2019 for key characteristics of the teaching styles). More precisely, the results showed that HE teachers scoring higher on positive emotions tended to use Type I and Type II teaching styles with Type I styles prevailing, whereas HE teachers scoring higher on negative emotions used more Type II teaching styles. They further found that HE teachers' teaching-related emotions indirectly influence their teaching styles through the mediating role of academics' self-efficacy in teaching and research.
The reconsideration of a teacher's role can be a response to their experiencing negative feelings while teaching. Lahtinen (2008) stressed that more intensive reflection on whether the role of the learning facilitator or the role of the learning evaluator is dominant in a teacher's behavior is evoked by unpleasant emotional experiences.
4.3.2. Motivational changes
We found in our analysis that motivational changes as consequences of emotions have only been examined in a few studies, predominantly focusing on the effects of students' feedback or rethinking teachers' roles. The results of the existing research on this matter include the investigation of approach tendencies and readiness to change or improve one's own teaching practice as a consequence of the experienced emotions. Nowakowski and Hannover (2015) showed in a German sample of HE teachers that positive feedback from students' course evaluations was positively connected with an emotional experience of positive valence and negatively linked to the motivation to improve one's future teaching.
Furthermore, if receiving positive student feedback was important to HE teachers, i.e., the value of feedback was high, it influenced the improvement of their teaching ( Flodén, 2017 ). The results of Flodén's study also indicated that HE teachers who reported positive feelings toward receiving student feedback used the feedback more to improve their teaching, as compared to teachers with more negative feelings associated with student feedback. Instead, the latter group rather introduced unnecessary elements in their teaching in order to avoid negative feedback by pleasing students. Next, emotions of anxiety and discomfort experienced while adopting new teaching practices and teaching roles are connected to conceptual change in lecturers' mindsets, including rethinking not only their own but also the students' roles in the teaching-learning process and reflecting on the nature of knowledge and knowledge construction in the subject/discipline ( Postareff and Lindblom-Ylanne, 2011 ).
4.3.3. Cognitive-affective changes
The use of response-focused emotion regulation strategies , such as sharing negative emotions with friends or colleagues after negative emotional experiences, was reported by HE teachers in interviews ( Hagenauer and Volet, 2014a ). Other response-focused regulation strategies reported as reactions to negative emotions experienced were rationalization or acceptance of the situation by the adaptation of expectations ( Hagenauer and Volet, 2014a ).
Further strategies for dealing with emotions in teaching were observed by Gates (2000) , including HE teachers' hiding their emotions or using cognitive strategies such as redefining a situation by holding particular definitions of students or responding selectively to stimuli (e.g., by remembering positive interactions). Another way for HE teachers to prevent the emergence of negative emotions caused by unfavorable student feedback and evaluations is by distancing themselves from these emotions ( Hagenauer and Volet, 2014a ). Distancing oneself from student evaluation seems to become easier as the teaching experience increases, as demonstrated by Kowai-Bell et al. (2012) . This phenomenon is reflected in the words of an experienced professor: “After 30 years and tons of reviews, anonymous comments (are) not a big deal” (p. 347).
Some studies highlighted that HE teachers became aware that dealing with emotions associated with student feedback required professional support. Lutovac et al. (2017) showed, for instance, that distancing oneself from students' feedback and reflecting on it more rationally can be learned through pedagogical training and social exchange. The authors note that lecturers are frequently isolated within their departments, amplifying the need for out-of-department pedagogical training opportunities for HE teachers, especially for those at the beginning of their teaching careers (see also Meanwell and Kleiner, 2014 ).
Few authors considered further factors influencing emotion regulation after experiencing challenging emotions in HE teachers. For example, Bennett (2014) derived from the results of her study that more intensive emotional work is required when difficulties occur external to HE teachers' control as compared to difficulties internal to one's control. Kordts-Freudinger (2017) and Kordts-Freudinger and Thies (2018) found a positive correlation between adaptive emotion regulation (high cognitive reappraisal and low expressive suppression) and a student-centered teaching approach, which is linked to the experience of positive emotions. In comparison, HE teachers with a more teacher-centered approach reported a higher level of emotion suppression.
4.3.4. Behavioral changes
We categorized behavioral changes due to experienced emotions into display rules and adopting new behavior .
22.214.171.124. Display of emotions
In general, the display of positive emotions as a consequence of experiencing positive emotions occurs often ( Hagenauer and Volet, 2014a ; Hagenauer et al., 2016 ; Mendzheritskaya et al., 2018 ). How teachers communicate their emotions in the classroom can be regarded as a part of their professionalism, as the appropriate communication of emotions fulfills relevant pedagogical functions, including its importance in the shaping of the teacher–student relationships ( Hagenauer and Volet, 2014b ). Gates (2000) argues that HE teachers also manage their emotions “to model for students particular affective norms” (p. 502) and to use the expression of emotions for socializing students into the preferred role as “questioning, reflective, and responsible learner” (p. 502).
Kordts-Freudinger and Thies (2018) revealed an interrelation between the emotional display and domination teaching approaches. The findings demonstrated a positive link between a student-centered teaching approach and both the controlled display of positive and negative emotions and an uncontrolled display of positive emotions ( Kordts-Freudinger and Thies, 2018 ).
Ramezanzadeh et al. (2016) identified the physical display of emotions as one strategy for dealing with ambivalent emotions. However, other studies found that HE teachers tend to suppress negative emotions due to the belief that the open expression of negative emotions is unprofessional and would interfere with communication and learning ( Hagenauer and Volet, 2014a ; Hagenauer et al., 2016 ; Mendzheritskaya et al., 2018 ). Cultural differences regarding the display rules of HE teachers were examined in a few studies (e.g., Hagenauer and Volet, 2014b ; Mendzheritskaya et al., 2018 ), indicating, e.g., that lecturers in Germany expressed their anger more openly in class compared to their Australian counterparts ( Hagenauer and Volet, 2014b ), and that Russian lecturers claimed to express their emotions more genuinely than German instructors did ( Mendzheritskaya et al., 2018 ). In addition to cultural differences, there seem to be differences in displaying emotions by the status of faculty members. More specifically, Tunguz (2016) reported that untenured, “low-power” American male faculty reported putting more effort into displaying authoritative emotions (such as anger) when experiencing classroom incivility (e.g., chatting and using mobile phones) in comparison to male faculty who were tenured. Interestingly, this difference was not observed for female faculty. The author traces this finding back to the buffering role of job autonomy in the experience of emotional labor: the traditional gender role (whereby female lecturers are not expected to express authoritative emotions) seemed to impede this effect for female tenured faculty.
126.96.36.199. Adopting new behavior
Coppola et al. (2002) shifted the perspective from the consequences of experiencing emotions to the consequences of expressing emotions. The authors pointed out that the energy and humor that instructors normally experience in the classroom are difficult to convey in asynchronous learning. One consequence of teaching in asynchronous learning networks is that instructors need different tools to express emotions. From the results, it was concluded that online learning environments require better instructional skills, including communication, organization, and motivation ( Coppola et al., 2002 ). Regan et al. (2012) , in their study on distance learning, reported that HE teachers experiencing mixed emotions in digital environments use typical problem-oriented coping strategies such as participating in technological training, offering synchronous office hours, or phoning students to deal with their negative emotions.
Ramezanzadeh et al. (2016) found that, in order to deal with ambivalent emotions, faculty members sought dialogue with learners, colleagues, and administrators, and they held internal discourse. In Harlow's study (2003 ), female professors of color reported investing extensive energy in emotion management, reflecting the merging of two factors: blackness and femaleness. To cope with the fear of making a mistake in front of students, they used coping strategies—among others, overly preparing their lessons (“perfectionism”) and teaching more authoritatively ( Harlow, 2003 ).
5. Discussion and conclusion
We conducted the presented systematic literature review to develop a conceptual framework by expanding and revising CVTAE ( Pekrun, 2006 ) for studying teaching-related emotions of HE teachers based on the existing empirical literature. By applying for a systematic literature review, 37 studies were found. First, we analyzed what theoretical concepts and approaches were used in the identified studies for examining HE teachers' teaching-related emotions to gain insight into the approaches used and to explore how widely CVTAE ( Pekrun, 2006 ) was used in this research field (RQ 1). We found that the majority of the included studies (27 out of 37 included studies) made use of one or more theoretical approaches when examining HE teachers' emotions. These results are in line with observations made by Pekrun (2019) that there has been a shift from undertheorized research (see also Quinlan, 2016 ) toward research that is mostly theory-based. We support Pekrun's (2019) view that this is important for generating a more consistent body of research findings and interpretations. Furthermore, the results demonstrated that 10 out of 37 included studies used CVTAE ( Pekrun, 2006 ) as the theoretical model for investigating the emotions of HE teachers. This represents the highest number of studies applying one specific theory.
Therefore, the components of CVTAE were revised and extended for a new conceptual framework for examining antecedents (RQ 2) and consequences (RQ 3) of HE teachers' teaching-related emotions (see Figure 2 ). Specifically, additional groups of factors at the micro-, meso-, and macro-levels (for an overview, see Fend, 2008 ) were integrated into the “antecedents”-component, and differentiated groups of consequences were identified within the “consequences”-component, separated into attitudinal, motivational, affective-cognitive, and behavioral aspects.
Thus, we deduced that environmental factors are antecedents of HE teachers' teaching-related emotions on different levels. We grouped antecedents of emotions into environmental factors on the micro level, i.e., classroom factors on the student and interpersonal level (e.g., students' characteristics and behavior, quality of teacher–student interaction/relationship, quality of feedback to and from students), and on the meso level, i.e., classroom factors on the structural level, including, e.g., the course format (e.g., lecture, seminar) and the setting (e.g., distant teaching / online teaching). Furthermore, the above-mentioned environmental aspects were often analyzed in relation to individual factors of HE teachers on the micro level, such as their demographic variables (e.g., gender, teaching experience). Next, we found that identified factors not only to be related to cognitive appraisals as antecedents of emotions but also to directly influence (to some extent) the experiencing of emotions and their consequences (e.g., the expression of emotions). Additionally, we found broader context factors on the macro level as an antecedent of emotions, i.e., the cultural-educational context (e.g., different cultures), the institutional context (e.g., Bologna process, institutional rules), and the collegial surrounding (e.g., interaction with colleagues). Regarding consequences of experienced emotions in HE teachers, we defined four groups of factors reflecting attitudinal changes relating to teaching roles and approaches, motivational changes linked to readiness to change own teaching practices, cognitive-affective changes associated with emotion regulation, and behavioral changes including the emotional display and adopting new behavior.
Examining the included studies of the systematic review, it can be seen that some areas of the framework have been more addressed in existing studies than others. Much of the reviewed studies cover individual factors and classroom factors on the student and interpersonal levels as well as cognitive-affective changes and behavioral changes in emotions. However, research gaps exist in the area of classroom factors on the structural level, more precisely on course formats. There is also little research on motivational and attitudinal changes due to emotions, which should be addressed more in future studies.
Furthermore, due to the complexity and context specificity of the phenomenon of HE teachers' emotions and emotion regulation, an adequate research methodology is required. Most of the reviewed studies applied a cross-sectional design (generally relying on non-representative samples) and have used either interviews (in various forms) or questionnaires as data collection methods to assess emotions retrospectively. Only Thies and Kordts-Freudinger (2019a , b ) assessed in two studies emotions at the moment they occurred and conducted intra-individual analysis. Overall, qualitative studies were more common than quantitative ones (see Table 1 ). Future research is needed that goes beyond these qualitative and correlational research designs. We would also like to suggest that researchers take advantage of the complementary nature of qualitative and quantitative research on HE teachers' emotions and their regulation by applying mixed-methods designs, including experimental, longitudinal, and within-person research, as suggested as well by Pekrun (2019) . This could contribute to gaining a deeper understanding of underlying temporal and causal relations when studying HE teachers' emotions.
In addition, the multi-component nature of emotions permits the use of assessment methods that capture other components, such as physiological, expressive, or motivational aspects of emotion. To the best of our knowledge, no study on HE teaching has yet directly assessed such components. We recommend their inclusion in addition to the methods already employed, to validate past results and to integrate the multi-component perspective upon which current theorizing on emotions is built.
Overcoming the aforementioned methodological issues can provide researchers in the field of HE teachers' emotions with research designs allowing for a more profound examination of causal associations between the different components of the proposed conceptual framework. For instance, the predominantly correlative investigated links between experienced emotions and motivational, cognitive-affective, or behavioral changes in HE teachers could be tested with other research designs including other research and statistical methods.
Future research could also be complemented by social-psychological approaches to emotions ( Manstead and Fischer, 2001 ). They do not only highlight the core role of relationships in emotional interactions ( Boiger and Mesquita, 2012 ), but also suggest an additional appraisal category—namely “social appraisal,” reflecting the fact that “behaviors, thoughts, or feelings of one or more other persons in the emotional situation are appraised in addition to the appraisal of the event per se ” ( Manstead and Fischer, 2001 , p. 222).
Furthermore, it would be beneficial to examine the interplay of various antecedent factors identified for the proposed conceptual framework while studying HE teachers' emotions. For instance, when research on HE teachers' emotions and emotion regulation is conducted, the complexity and context specificity of the HE field must be thoroughly considered. Considering the interrelations between cultural factors and pedagogical practices ( Volet, 2001 ) represents a promising approach for investigating the influence of cultural context on the affective phenomena of HE teachers. Following this approach, we have argued that what is perceived as an “appropriate” teaching practice in HE (including appropriate emotion display) varies across cultural-educational contexts. Thus, the possibility of generalizing results to other cultural-educational contexts (e.g., disciplines, institutions, and countries) is limited; if attempted, it must be approached with caution and restraint.
The classification of antecedents into micro-, meso-, and macro-levels demonstrated the complementarity of some factors such as classroom factors. Accordingly, we suggest including both the individual perspective focusing on relationships and interaction between teachers and students and the institutional perspective relating to teaching and organizational culture while investigating the role of the classroom factors in the emotional experience of HE teachers. As mentioned above, it should also be kept in mind that academics must negotiate the demands of multiple roles simultaneously (e.g., Lai et al., 2014 ; Thies and Kordts-Freudinger, 2019a ), which might be especially emotionally challenging owing to the potential tensions arising between the different roles (e.g., Avargues Navarro et al., 2010 ). It should also be noted that due to educational reforms in Europe, i.e., the Bologna process, there is considerable publication pressure and an extended teaching load ( Bahia et al., 2017 ). This is likely to cause various negative emotional side effects and tensions, especially for those who have a strong teaching orientation but are compelled to enhance their personal research qualifications and output as well (e.g., Wilson and Holligan, 2013 ). This potential conflict provides a battleground for competing emotions. Thus, future research has to take into account the complexity of the institutional field in which HE teachers are placed, with its multiple demands that ultimately could also affect teaching-related emotions (e.g., addressed in the study by Bahia et al., 2017 ).
As far as the complexity of HE is concerned, not only the Bologna process and other effects of neoliberal policies but also the COVID-19 pandemic have led to sudden changes in the teaching practices of HE teachers. This review has only considered publications until May 2020 and also includes studies that investigated HE teachers' emotions in the context of online teaching/teaching with technology; however, recent research has shown that emergency remote teaching has been experienced as highly emotional by HE teachers ( Okoye et al., 2021 ) and has increased the speed with which digital media and forms of online teaching have been integrated into university teaching in general. This rapid change raises concerns but also hopes in HE teachers ( Eringfeld, 2021 ) and needs further exploration. Considering that only a few studies are addressing the role of teaching format in HE teachers' affective experiences, future studies must take the impact of new technologies and subsequent changes in the HE teaching and learning environment into account.
Based on the results obtained, we would also like to point out some implications for teaching praxis and programs for teaching support. Accordingly, findings connected to different components of the proposed framework (e.g., display rules as a behavioral consequence) should be considered and included when designing professional development programs for HE teachers. This is also important because, e.g., the way HE teachers display their emotions can have an impact on students' learning ( Mendzheritskaya and Hansen, 2019 ). Furthermore, opportunities for social reflection should be created, as sharing and discussing one's teaching-related experiences and emotions can support teachers' development ( Pekkarinen et al., 2023 ). Professional development programs could also contribute to higher levels of perceived control when HE teachers are faced, e.g., with new situations in teaching (especially for HE teachers with little teaching experience), which could in turn lead to the experiencing of more positive teaching-related emotions.
However, this literature review has some limitations. Our database search failed to find articles that experts in this research field recommended for further analysis. Possible explanations could be that we used general search terms such as emotions and affect and did not include specific types of emotions, such as anxiety or physiological reactions such as arousal, and that we only searched four databases. In order to avoid missing relevant articles, the search scope should be expanded in future literature searches. Furthermore, it must be taken into account that we categorized consequences of emotions (e.g., motivational changes due to emotions) based on study results originating from correlational designs that do not allow causal conclusions from the statistical point of view. As noted above, the increased use of mixed-method designs would be fruitful in allowing causal interpretations.
To sum up, CVTAE ( Pekrun, 2006 ) seems to provide a fruitful theoretical foundation to explain not only students' achievement emotions but also teachers' emotions, as teaching in HE can also be regarded as an achievement-related situation. We expanded and revised it for the context of HE teachers. Thereby, we identified additional groups of antecedents that go beyond the environmental factors, i.e., individual factors of HE teachers on the micro level and broader context factors on the macro level, e.g., institutional context factors. Thus, the proposed framework takes specifics of HE teachers (such as the different roles as teachers and researchers) into account that were not addressed in the CVTAE ( Pekrun, 2006 ). We suggest that the proposed CTVAE-based conceptual framework (see Figure 2 ) could be a productive avenue when examining HE teachers' emotions with new theoretical, methodological, and practical perspectives. With its theoretical and empirical foundation, it could aid in building a starting point for research attempts in this field and could help to close existing research gaps.
Data availability statement
The original contributions presented in the study are included in the article/supplementary material, further inquiries can be directed to the corresponding author.
NM reviewed the literature and extracted the data. NM and JM decided on the inclusion of articles and took the lead in writing the manuscript. MH, GH, MS, and KT wrote sections of the manuscript. GH, MH, RK, MS, and KT provided critical feedback and contributed to the discussion. All authors contributed to the conception of the literature review. All authors approved the final version of the manuscript.
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that the research was conducted in the absence of any commercial or financial relationships that could be construed as a potential conflict of interest.
All claims expressed in this article are solely those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of their affiliated organizations, or those of the publisher, the editors and the reviewers. Any product that may be evaluated in this article, or claim that may be made by its manufacturer, is not guaranteed or endorsed by the publisher.
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Keywords: higher education teachers, systematic review, teaching related emotions, emotion regulation, antecedents and consequences of emotions
Citation: Maier NA, Mendzheritskaya J, Hagenauer G, Hansen M, Kordts R, Stephan M and Thies K (2023) Developing a CVTAE-based conceptual framework for examining emotions in higher education teaching: a systematic literature review. Front. Psychol. 14:1142506. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2023.1142506
Received: 11 January 2023; Accepted: 30 March 2023; Published: 05 May 2023.
Copyright © 2023 Maier, Mendzheritskaya, Hagenauer, Hansen, Kordts, Stephan and Thies. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY) . The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.
*Correspondence: Nicola A. Maier, firstname.lastname@example.org
This article is part of the Research Topic
Teaching and Learning in Higher Education: The Role of Emotion and Cognition
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A literature review is a piece of academic writing demonstrating knowledge and understanding of the academic literature on a specific topic placed in context. A literature review also includes a critical evaluation of the material; this is why it is called a literature review rather than a literature report. It is a process of reviewing the literature, as well as a form of writing.
To illustrate the difference between reporting and reviewing, think about television or film review articles. These articles include content such as a brief synopsis or the key points of the film or programme plus the critic’s own evaluation. Similarly the two main objectives of a literature review are firstly the content covering existing research, theories and evidence, and secondly your own critical evaluation and discussion of this content.
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…your task is to build an argument, not a library. Rudestam, K.E. and Newton, R.R. (1992) Surviving your dissertation: A comprehensive guide to content and process. California: Sage, p49.
In a larger piece of written work, such as a dissertation or project, a literature review is usually one of the first tasks carried out after deciding on a topic. Reading combined with critical analysis can help to refine a topic and frame research questions. Conducting a literature review establishes your familiarity with and understanding of current research in a particular field before carrying out a new investigation. After doing a literature review, you should know what research has already been done and be able to identify what is unknown within your topic.
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A literature review is a comprehensive summary of previous research on a topic. The literature review surveys scholarly articles, books, and other sources relevant to a particular area of research. The review should enumerate, describe, summarize, objectively evaluate and clarify this previous research. It should give a theoretical base for the research and help you (the author) determine the nature of your research. The literature review acknowledges the work of previous researchers, and in so doing, assures the reader that your work has been well conceived. It is assumed that by mentioning a previous work in the field of study, that the author has read, evaluated, and assimiliated that work into the work at hand.
A literature review creates a "landscape" for the reader, giving her or him a full understanding of the developments in the field. This landscape informs the reader that the author has indeed assimilated all (or the vast majority of) previous, significant works in the field into her or his research.
"In writing the literature review, the purpose is to convey to the reader what knowledge and ideas have been established on a topic, and what their strengths and weaknesses are. The literature review must be defined by a guiding concept (eg. your research objective, the problem or issue you are discussing, or your argumentative thesis). It is not just a descriptive list of the material available, or a set of summaries.( http://www.writing.utoronto.ca/advice/specific-types-of-writing/literature-review )
Many thanks to Kate Houston and Libbie Blanchard of CQ University Libraries, (Queensland, Australia) whose LibGuide on the Literature Review served as a framework for this guide.
Designed and updated by Michael Coffta
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- 5. The Literature Review
- Purpose of Guide
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- Tiertiary Sources
- Scholarly vs. Popular Publications
- Qualitative Methods
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- Further Readings
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 your readers how your research fits within a larger field of study.
Fink, Arlene. Conducting Research Literature Reviews: From the Internet to Paper . Fourth edition. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE, 2014.
Importance of a Good Literature Review
A literature review may consist of simply a summary of key sources, but in the social sciences, a literature review usually has an organizational pattern and combines both summary and synthesis, often within specific conceptual categories . A summary is a recap of the important information of the source, but a synthesis is a re-organization, or a reshuffling, of that information in a way that informs how you are planning to investigate a research problem. The analytical features of a literature review might:
- Give a new interpretation of old material or combine new with old interpretations,
- Trace the intellectual progression of the field, including major debates,
- Depending on the situation, evaluate the sources and advise the reader on the most pertinent or relevant research, or
- Usually in the conclusion of a literature review, identify where gaps exist in how a problem has been researched to date.
Given this, the purpose of a literature review is to:
- Place each work in the context of its contribution to understanding the research problem being studied.
- Describe the relationship of each work to the others under consideration.
- Identify new ways to interpret prior research.
- Reveal any gaps that exist in the literature.
- Resolve conflicts amongst seemingly contradictory previous studies.
- Identify areas of prior scholarship to prevent duplication of effort.
- Point the way in fulfilling a need for additional research.
- Locate your own research within the context of existing literature [very important].
Fink, Arlene. Conducting Research Literature Reviews: From the Internet to Paper. 2nd ed. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, 2005; Hart, Chris. Doing a Literature Review: Releasing the Social Science Research Imagination . Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, 1998; Jesson, Jill. Doing Your Literature Review: Traditional and Systematic Techniques . Los Angeles, CA: SAGE, 2011; Knopf, Jeffrey W. "Doing a Literature Review." PS: Political Science and Politics 39 (January 2006): 127-132; Ridley, Diana. The Literature Review: A Step-by-Step Guide for Students . 2nd ed. Los Angeles, CA: SAGE, 2012.
Types of Literature Reviews
It is important to think of knowledge in a given field as consisting of three layers. First, there are the primary studies that researchers conduct and publish. Second are the reviews of those studies that summarize and offer new interpretations built from and often extending beyond the primary studies. Third, there are the perceptions, conclusions, opinion, and interpretations that are shared informally among scholars that become part of the body of epistemological traditions within the field.
In composing a literature review, it is important to note that it is often this third layer of knowledge that is cited as "true" even though it often has only a loose relationship to the primary studies and secondary literature reviews. Given this, while literature reviews are designed to provide an overview and synthesis of pertinent sources you have explored, there are a number of approaches you could adopt depending upon the type of analysis underpinning your study.
Argumentative Review This form examines literature selectively in order to support or refute an argument, deeply embedded assumption, or philosophical problem already established in the literature. The purpose is to develop a body of literature that establishes a contrarian viewpoint. Given the value-laden nature of some social science research [e.g., educational reform; immigration control], argumentative approaches to analyzing the literature can be a legitimate and important form of discourse. However, note that they can also introduce problems of bias when they are used to make summary claims of the sort found in systematic reviews [see below].
Integrative Review Considered a form of research that reviews, critiques, and synthesizes representative literature on a topic in an integrated way such that new frameworks and perspectives on the topic are generated. The body of literature includes all studies that address related or identical hypotheses or research problems. A well-done integrative review meets the same standards as primary research in regard to clarity, rigor, and replication. This is the most common form of review in the social sciences.
Historical Review Few things rest in isolation from historical precedent. Historical literature reviews focus on examining research throughout a period of time, often starting with the first time an issue, concept, theory, phenomena emerged in the literature, then tracing its evolution within the scholarship of a discipline. The purpose is to place research in a historical context to show familiarity with state-of-the-art developments and to identify the likely directions for future research.
Methodological Review A review does not always focus on what someone said [findings], but how they came about saying what they say [method of analysis]. Reviewing methods of analysis provides a framework of understanding at different levels [i.e. those of theory, substantive fields, research approaches, and data collection and analysis techniques], how researchers draw upon a wide variety of knowledge ranging from the conceptual level to practical documents for use in fieldwork in the areas of ontological and epistemological consideration, quantitative and qualitative integration, sampling, interviewing, data collection, and data analysis. This approach helps highlight ethical issues which you should be aware of and consider as you go through your own study.
Systematic Review This form consists of an overview of existing evidence pertinent to a clearly formulated research question, which uses pre-specified and standardized methods to identify and critically appraise relevant research, and to collect, report, and analyze data from the studies that are included in the review. The goal is to deliberately document, critically evaluate, and summarize scientifically all of the research about a clearly defined research problem . Typically it focuses on a very specific empirical question, often posed in a cause-and-effect form, such as "To what extent does A contribute to B?" This type of literature review is primarily applied to examining prior research studies in clinical medicine and allied health fields, but it is increasingly being used in the social sciences.
Theoretical Review The purpose of this form is to examine the corpus of theory that has accumulated in regard to an issue, concept, theory, phenomena. The theoretical literature review helps to establish what theories already exist, the relationships between them, to what degree the existing theories have been investigated, and to develop new hypotheses to be tested. Often this form is used to help establish a lack of appropriate theories or reveal that current theories are inadequate for explaining new or emerging research problems. The unit of analysis can focus on a theoretical concept or a whole theory or framework.
NOTE : Most often the literature review will incorporate some combination of types. For example, a review that examines literature supporting or refuting an argument, assumption, or philosophical problem related to the research problem will also need to include writing supported by sources that establish the history of these arguments in the literature.
Baumeister, Roy F. and Mark R. Leary. "Writing Narrative Literature Reviews." Review of General Psychology 1 (September 1997): 311-320; Mark R. Fink, Arlene. Conducting Research Literature Reviews: From the Internet to Paper . 2nd ed. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, 2005; Hart, Chris. Doing a Literature Review: Releasing the Social Science Research Imagination . Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, 1998; Kennedy, Mary M. "Defining a Literature." Educational Researcher 36 (April 2007): 139-147; Petticrew, Mark and Helen Roberts. Systematic Reviews in the Social Sciences: A Practical Guide . Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishers, 2006; Torracro, Richard. "Writing Integrative Literature Reviews: Guidelines and Examples." Human Resource Development Review 4 (September 2005): 356-367; Rocco, Tonette S. and Maria S. Plakhotnik. "Literature Reviews, Conceptual Frameworks, and Theoretical Frameworks: Terms, Functions, and Distinctions." Human Ressource Development Review 8 (March 2008): 120-130; Sutton, Anthea. Systematic Approaches to a Successful Literature Review . Los Angeles, CA: Sage Publications, 2016.
Structure and Writing Style
I. Thinking About Your Literature Review
The structure of a literature review should include the following in support of understanding the research problem :
- An overview of the subject, issue, or theory under consideration, along with the objectives of the literature review,
- Division of works under review into themes or categories [e.g. works that support a particular position, those against, and those offering alternative approaches entirely],
- An explanation of how each work is similar to and how it varies from the others,
- Conclusions as to which pieces are best considered in their argument, are most convincing of their opinions, and make the greatest contribution to the understanding and development of their area of research.
The critical evaluation of each work should consider :
- Provenance -- what are the author's credentials? Are the author's arguments supported by evidence [e.g. primary historical material, case studies, narratives, statistics, recent scientific findings]?
- Methodology -- were the techniques used to identify, gather, and analyze the data appropriate to addressing the research problem? Was the sample size appropriate? Were the results effectively interpreted and reported?
- Objectivity -- is the author's perspective even-handed or prejudicial? Is contrary data considered or is certain pertinent information ignored to prove the author's point?
- Persuasiveness -- which of the author's theses are most convincing or least convincing?
- Validity -- are the author's arguments and conclusions convincing? Does the work ultimately contribute in any significant way to an understanding of the subject?
II. Development of the Literature Review
Four Basic Stages of Writing 1. Problem formulation -- which topic or field is being examined and what are its component issues? 2. Literature search -- finding materials relevant to the subject being explored. 3. Data evaluation -- determining which literature makes a significant contribution to the understanding of the topic. 4. Analysis and interpretation -- discussing the findings and conclusions of pertinent literature.
Consider the following issues before writing the literature review: Clarify If your assignment is not specific about what form your literature review should take, seek clarification from your professor by asking these questions: 1. Roughly how many sources would be appropriate to include? 2. What types of sources should I review (books, journal articles, websites; scholarly versus popular sources)? 3. Should I summarize, synthesize, or critique sources by discussing a common theme or issue? 4. Should I evaluate the sources in any way beyond evaluating how they relate to understanding the research problem? 5. Should I provide subheadings and other background information, such as definitions and/or a history? Find Models Use the exercise of reviewing the literature to examine how authors in your discipline or area of interest have composed their literature review sections. Read them to get a sense of the types of themes you might want to look for in your own research or to identify ways to organize your final review. The bibliography or reference section of sources you've already read, such as required readings in the course syllabus, are also excellent entry points into your own research. Narrow the Topic The narrower your topic, the easier it will be to limit the number of sources you need to read in order to obtain a good survey of relevant resources. Your professor will probably not expect you to read everything that's available about the topic, but you'll make the act of reviewing easier if you first limit scope of the research problem. A good strategy is to begin by searching the USC Libraries Catalog for recent books about the topic and review the table of contents for chapters that focuses on specific issues. You can also review the indexes of books to find references to specific issues that can serve as the focus of your research. For example, a book surveying the history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict may include a chapter on the role Egypt has played in mediating the conflict, or look in the index for the pages where Egypt is mentioned in the text. Consider Whether Your Sources are Current Some disciplines require that you use information that is as current as possible. This is particularly true in disciplines in medicine and the sciences where research conducted becomes obsolete very quickly as new discoveries are made. However, when writing a review in the social sciences, a survey of the history of the literature may be required. In other words, a complete understanding the research problem requires you to deliberately examine how knowledge and perspectives have changed over time. Sort through other current bibliographies or literature reviews in the field to get a sense of what your discipline expects. You can also use this method to explore what is considered by scholars to be a "hot topic" and what is not.
III. Ways to Organize Your Literature Review
Chronology of Events If your review follows the chronological method, you could write about the materials according to when they were published. This approach should only be followed if a clear path of research building on previous research can be identified and that these trends follow a clear chronological order of development. For example, a literature review that focuses on continuing research about the emergence of German economic power after the fall of the Soviet Union. By Publication Order your sources by publication chronology, then, only if the order demonstrates a more important trend. For instance, you could order a review of literature on environmental studies of brown fields if the progression revealed, for example, a change in the soil collection practices of the researchers who wrote and/or conducted the studies. Thematic [“conceptual categories”] Thematic reviews of literature are organized around a topic or issue, rather than the progression of time. However, progression of time may still be an important factor in a thematic review. For example, a review of the Internet’s impact on American presidential politics could focus on the development of online political satire. While the study focuses on one topic, the Internet’s impact on American presidential politics, it will still be organized chronologically reflecting technological developments in media. The only difference here between a "chronological" and a "thematic" approach is what is emphasized the most: the role of the Internet in presidential politics. Note however that more authentic thematic reviews tend to break away from chronological order. A review organized in this manner would shift between time periods within each section according to the point made. Note that this is the most common approach in the social and behavioral sciences. Methodological A methodological approach focuses on the methods utilized by the researcher. For the Internet in American presidential politics project, one methodological approach would be to look at cultural differences between the portrayal of American presidents on American, British, and French websites. Or the review might focus on the fundraising impact of the Internet on a particular political party. A methodological scope will influence either the types of documents in the review or the way in which these documents are discussed.
Other Sections of Your Literature Review Once you've decided on the organizational method for your literature review, the sections you need to include in the paper should be easy to figure out because they arise from your organizational strategy. In other words, a chronological review would have subsections for each vital time period; a thematic review would have subtopics based upon factors that relate to the theme or issue. However, sometimes you may need to add additional sections that are necessary for your study, but do not fit in the organizational strategy of the body. What other sections you include in the body is up to you. However, only include what is necessary for the reader to locate your study within the larger scholarship about the research problem.
Here are examples of other sections, usually in the form of a single paragraph, you may need to include depending on the type of review you write:
- Current Situation : Information necessary to understand the current topic or focus of the literature review.
- Sources Used : Describes the methods and resources [e.g., databases] you used to identify the literature you reviewed.
- History : The chronological progression of the field, the literature, or an idea that is necessary to understand the literature review, if the body of the literature review is not already a chronology.
- Selection Methods : Criteria you used to select (and perhaps exclude) sources in your literature review. For instance, you might explain that your review includes only peer-reviewed articles and journals.
- Standards : Description of the way in which you present your information.
- Questions for Further Research : What questions about the field has the review sparked? How will you further your research as a result of the review?
IV. Writing Your Literature Review
Once you've settled on how to organize your literature review, you're ready to write each section. When writing your review, keep in mind these issues.
Use Evidence A literature review section is, in this sense, just like any other academic research paper. Your interpretation of the available sources must be backed up with evidence [citations] that demonstrates that what you are saying is valid. Be Selective Select only the most important points in each source to highlight in the review. The type of information you choose to mention should relate directly to the research problem, whether it is thematic, methodological, or chronological. Related items that provide additional information but that are not key to understanding the research problem can be included in a list of further readings . Use Quotes Sparingly Some short quotes are appropriate if you want to emphasize a point, or if what an author stated cannot be easily paraphrased. Sometimes you may need to quote certain terminology that was coined by the author, is not common knowledge, or taken directly from the study. Do not use extensive quotes as a substitute for using your own words in reviewing the literature. Summarize and Synthesize Remember to summarize and synthesize your sources within each thematic paragraph as well as throughout the review. Recapitulate important features of a research study, but then synthesize it by rephrasing the study's significance and relating it to your own work and the work of others. Keep Your Own Voice While the literature review presents others' ideas, your voice [the writer's] should remain front and center. For example, weave references to other sources into what you are writing but maintain your own voice by starting and ending the paragraph with your own ideas and wording. Use Caution When Paraphrasing When paraphrasing a source that is not your own, be sure to represent the author's information or opinions accurately and in your own words. Even when paraphrasing an author’s work, you still must provide a citation to that work.
V. Common Mistakes to Avoid
These are the most common mistakes made in reviewing social science research literature.
- Sources in your literature review do not clearly relate to the research problem;
- You do not take sufficient time to define and identify the most relevant sources to use in the literature review related to the research problem;
- Relies exclusively on secondary analytical sources rather than including relevant primary research studies or data;
- Uncritically accepts another researcher's findings and interpretations as valid, rather than examining critically all aspects of the research design and analysis;
- Does not describe the search procedures that were used in identifying the literature to review;
- Reports isolated statistical results rather than synthesizing them in chi-squared or meta-analytic methods; and,
- Only includes research that validates assumptions and does not consider contrary findings and alternative interpretations found in the literature.
Cook, Kathleen E. and Elise Murowchick. “Do Literature Review Skills Transfer from One Course to Another?” Psychology Learning and Teaching 13 (March 2014): 3-11; Fink, Arlene. Conducting Research Literature Reviews: From the Internet to Paper . 2nd ed. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, 2005; Hart, Chris. Doing a Literature Review: Releasing the Social Science Research Imagination . Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, 1998; Jesson, Jill. Doing Your Literature Review: Traditional and Systematic Techniques . London: SAGE, 2011; Literature Review Handout. Online Writing Center. Liberty University; Literature Reviews. The Writing Center. University of North Carolina; Onwuegbuzie, Anthony J. and Rebecca Frels. Seven Steps to a Comprehensive Literature Review: A Multimodal and Cultural Approach . Los Angeles, CA: SAGE, 2016; Ridley, Diana. The Literature Review: A Step-by-Step Guide for Students . 2nd ed. Los Angeles, CA: SAGE, 2012; Randolph, Justus J. “A Guide to Writing the Dissertation Literature Review." Practical Assessment, Research, and Evaluation. vol. 14, June 2009; Sutton, Anthea. Systematic Approaches to a Successful Literature Review . Los Angeles, CA: Sage Publications, 2016; Taylor, Dena. The Literature Review: A Few Tips On Conducting It. University College Writing Centre. University of Toronto; Writing a Literature Review. Academic Skills Centre. University of Canberra.
Break Out of Your Disciplinary Box!
Thinking interdisciplinarily about a research problem can be a rewarding exercise in applying new ideas, theories, or concepts to an old problem. For example, what might cultural anthropologists say about the continuing conflict in the Middle East? In what ways might geographers view the need for better distribution of social service agencies in large cities than how social workers might study the issue? You don’t want to substitute a thorough review of core research literature in your discipline for studies conducted in other fields of study. However, particularly in the social sciences, thinking about research problems from multiple vectors is a key strategy for finding new solutions to a problem or gaining a new perspective. Consult with a librarian about identifying research databases in other disciplines; almost every field of study has at least one comprehensive database devoted to indexing its research literature.
Frodeman, Robert. The Oxford Handbook of Interdisciplinarity . New York: Oxford University Press, 2010.
Another Writing Tip
Don't Just Review for Content!
While conducting a review of the literature, maximize the time you devote to writing this part of your paper by thinking broadly about what you should be looking for and evaluating. Review not just what scholars are saying, but how are they saying it. Some questions to ask:
- How are they organizing their ideas?
- What methods have they used to study the problem?
- What theories have been used to explain, predict, or understand their research problem?
- What sources have they cited to support their conclusions?
- How have they used non-textual elements [e.g., charts, graphs, figures, etc.] to illustrate key points?
When you begin to write your literature review section, you'll be glad you dug deeper into how the research was designed and constructed because it establishes a means for developing more substantial analysis and interpretation of the research problem.
Hart, Chris. Doing a Literature Review: Releasing the Social Science Research Imagination . Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, 1 998.
Yet Another Writing Tip
When Do I Know I Can Stop Looking and Move On?
Here are several strategies you can utilize to assess whether you've thoroughly reviewed the literature:
- Look for repeating patterns in the research findings . If the same thing is being said, just by different people, then this likely demonstrates that the research problem has hit a conceptual dead end. At this point consider: Does your study extend current research? Does it forge a new path? Or, does is merely add more of the same thing being said?
- Look at sources the authors cite to in their work . If you begin to see the same researchers cited again and again, then this is often an indication that no new ideas have been generated to address the research problem.
- Search Google Scholar to identify who has subsequently cited leading scholars already identified in your literature review [see next sub-tab]. This is called citation tracking and there are a number of sources that can help you identify who has cited whom, particularly scholars from outside of your discipline. Here again, if the same authors are being cited again and again, this may indicate no new literature has been written on the topic.
Onwuegbuzie, Anthony J. and Rebecca Frels. Seven Steps to a Comprehensive Literature Review: A Multimodal and Cultural Approach . Los Angeles, CA: Sage, 2016; Sutton, Anthea. Systematic Approaches to a Successful Literature Review . Los Angeles, CA: Sage Publications, 2016.
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- Open Access
- Published: 13 April 2023
Challenges and opportunities for increasing patient involvement in heart failure self-care programs and self-care in the post–hospital discharge period
- Javed Butler 1 , 2 ,
- Mark C. Petrie 3 ,
- Marc Bains 4 ,
- Tracy Bawtinheimer 4 ,
- Jillianne Code 4 , 5 ,
- Teresa Levitch 6 ,
- Elmas Malvolti 7 ,
- Pasquale Monteleone 8 ,
- Petrina Stevens 9 ,
- Jenny Vafeiadou 10 &
- Carolyn S. P. Lam 11
Research Involvement and Engagement volume 9 , Article number: 23 ( 2023 ) Cite this article
People living with heart failure (HF) are particularly vulnerable after hospital discharge. An alliance between patient authors, clinicians, industry, and co-developers of HF programs can represent an effective way to address the unique concerns and obstacles people living with HF face during this period. The aim of this narrative review article is to discuss challenges and opportunities of this approach, with the goal of improving participation and clinical outcomes of people living with HF.
This article was co-authored by people living with HF, heart transplant recipients, patient advocacy representatives, cardiologists with expertise in HF care, and industry representatives specializing in patient engagement and cardiovascular medicine, and reviews opportunities and challenges for people living with HF in the post–hospital discharge period to be more integrally involved in their care. A literature search was conducted, and the authors collaborated through two virtual roundtables and via email to develop the content for this review article.
Numerous transitional-care programs exist to ease the transition from the hospital to the home and to provide needed education and support for people living with HF, to avoid rehospitalizations and other adverse outcomes. However, many programs have limitations and do not integrally involve patients in the design and co-development of the intervention. There are thus opportunities for improvement. This can enable patients to better care for themselves with less of the worry and fear that typically accompany the transition from the hospital. We discuss the importance of including people living with HF in the development of such programs and offer suggestions for strategies that can help achieve these goals. An underlying theme of the literature reviewed is that education and engagement of people living with HF after hospitalization are critical. However, while clinical trial evidence on existing approaches to transitions in HF care indicates numerous benefits, such approaches also have limitations.
Numerous challenges continue to affect people living with HF in the post–hospital discharge period. Strategies that involve patients are needed, and should be encouraged, to optimally address these challenges.
Plain English Summary
Heart failure (HF) is a common, serious condition that causes debilitating symptoms. HF results in an enormous burden on individuals and society. For many people living with HF, the transition to the home after hospital discharge is filled with uncertainty, fear, miscommunication, feelings of vulnerability, loss of control, high rates of being hospitalized again, and the need for education about HF self-care. People living with HF need reliable support, personalized education, and encouragement to minimize disruption to their lives and to enable them to participate in and take ownership of their health. Interventions after hospitalization focused on self-care and education have been shown to improve confidence, medication adherence rates, quality of life, and self-care, and to reduce the risk of death or being hospitalized again. However, not all studies have found benefits. Many interventions do not include patients in their co-design and co-development, and/or co-authorship of the study publications. In this review article, we discuss challenges and opportunities for better involving people living with HF in self-care HF programs, both as co-creators and as participants. A literature search was conducted and the authors collaborated through email and two remote discussions to develop the article’s content. We discuss the burden of HF and existing approaches to care after hospitalization. We also provide an overview of some of the challenges and opportunities in involving people living with HF more closely in their care. We conclude that patient-focused solutions aligned with behavioral approaches and education related to self-care may help overcome these challenges.
Peer Review reports
Epidemiology and burden of heart failure
Heart failure (HF) is a clinical syndrome characterized by current or prior symptoms and/or signs caused by a structural and/or functional cardiac abnormality, corroborated by elevated levels of natriuretic peptide or objective evidence of cardiogenic pulmonary or systemic congestion, such as indicative echocardiography findings [ 1 ]. Typical symptoms include breathlessness, fatigue, swelling, and reduced exercise tolerance [ 1 ]. Globally, approximately 64 million cases of HF were reported in 2017 [ 2 , 3 ]. Prevalence rates of HF in Europe have been estimated at 1%–2% and in the United States at 2%, whereas substantially higher rates have been reported in Southeast Asia, such as in Taiwan (6%) and Indonesia (5%) [ 4 ]. In Canada, approximately 669,600 adults aged 40 years and older are living with diagnosed HF, and 92,900 Canadians of this age group are diagnosed with HF each year [ 5 ]. In the United States, approximately 6 million adults have HF (based on data from 2015 to 2018); this number is estimated to increase by 46% from 2012 to 2030 [ 6 ]. Although HF is typically a disease of older adults, HF affects younger people as well [ 7 ]. The heterogeneity of HF in terms of who it affects, its causes, and its clinical and personal manifestations underscores the idea that each person is affected by HF in a unique way.
Globally, the economic and societal burden of HF is enormous [ 3 ], exerting a major toll on patients. The global annual cost of HF in 2012 was estimated at US$108 billion [ 8 ]. Total direct costs of HF in the United States have been calculated at US$60.2 billion [ 9 ], whereas in Canada HF costs more than C$2.8 billion annually [ 10 ]. The high burden of HF is due to its many negative outcomes, such as death, hospitalizations, and reduced quality of life [ 11 ]. The first few months after hospital discharge is a particularly vulnerable time for people living with HF [ 12 ]. Approximately 21% of patients with HF are rehospitalized within 30 days of discharge [ 13 ], approximately 29% during the 60- to 90-day post-discharge period [ 14 ], and 61% within 1 year of discharge [ 15 ]. This has resulted in a substantial and growing global public health burden [ 16 ]. Subsequent rehospitalizations for HF are associated with an increased risk of death [ 17 , 18 ] and reduced quality of life [ 19 ] and are frequently associated with poor self-care management and confidence [ 20 ].
For many people living with HF, rehospitalization requires absence from work, finding appropriate transportation, and dealing with other major personal setbacks (as well as those of their caregivers and loved ones) that are not always accounted for in clinical trials or guideline consensus statements. Indeed, the social isolation and psychological and existential issues [ 21 ] experienced by people living with HF are often overlooked by health care professionals [ 22 ]. Many people living with HF are confused about HF, and they and their caregivers feel fearful and lack awareness about HF [ 23 ]. There are low levels of health literacy among people living with HF and their caregivers, related to lack of awareness of HF, its symptoms, and how HF is characterized [ 23 ]. The high levels of fatigue and anxiety experienced by both parties owing to the effects of HF itself can also make it difficult to understand educational material about HF.
For many people living with HF, the consequences of HF are a major change from their usual life, for example, by not being able to work as much [ 23 ]. A high rate of HF undertreatment is in turn associated with a high risk of hospital admission and death [ 24 , 25 ]. The high rate of undertreatment and poor adherence to guidelines by both patients and physicians represent opportunities to improve HF management [ 26 ]. Other opportunities and obstacles to HF care are shown in the infographic (see Additional file 1 ).
The importance of person-centered care for people living with heart failure
Person-centered care affirms the patient as an active partner in their care and decision-making and fundamentally respects their subjectivity, strengths, and preferences, not reducing them to or defining them by their disease or as mere recipients of medical services [ 27 ]. The right panel of the infographic (see Additional file 1 ) summarizes this, emphasizing the importance of patients actively participating in their care and of person-centered, co-designed, and co-developed HF programs (see also Additional files 2 and 3 ). A literature review showed many benefits of people living with HF receiving person-centered care, including improved quality of life, self-care, and clinical status; lower symptom burden; and shorter hospital stays [ 28 ]. Person-centered care involves using outcomes in clinical studies that are important to people living with HF, such as health-related quality of life, symptoms, functional status, decision-making, and process measures, such as patient self-efficacy measures and post-discharge follow-up metrics [ 29 ]. Such outcomes are commonly reported in transitional-care studies that integrally involve patients in the research process [ 30 ]. Nonetheless, a significant challenge to implementing person-centered care in patients with long-term illness includes relegation of the patient narrative to a subsidiary role in favor of objective biological markers [ 27 ]. For example, hospital readmission rates are considered an important outcome by which the effectiveness of transitional-care interventions can be assessed [ 31 ], and are the primary outcome measure used in many studies. Yet for some patients, a variety of emotion-, symptom-, and disease-related factors aggravate a cycle of despair that contributes to making hospital readmission a rational choice [ 32 ]. Moreover, “hard outcomes” such as readmission rates and adherence to medication neglect attention to the journey people living with HF take after being discharged from the hospital and the person-centered outcomes that may be difficult to quantify but that are immensely important to people living with HF. Other outcomes that could help optimize HF management include measures of psychological and social support, complex care coordination, and assistance with treatment decision-making [ 32 ]. Ultimately, the journey/learning pathway of an individual living with HF is more important than the clinical outcome measures used in trials involving groups of people living with HF. This is underscored by the idea that people living with HF want to know what it will be like to get to the outcomes and what to expect along the way, including how hard it will be and what it is like to take the recommended medications.
Motivation and aims of this article
Collectively, these and other data discussed later in this article suggest that effective transition and education of people living with HF after hospital discharge are extremely important for improving HF management. Because of the personal nature of each HF patient’s experience after hospital discharge, this transition and the time thereafter can be considered a journey, the goals of which are to engage people living with HF to advance from being novices to becoming skilled self-advocates in their care (see Additional file 1 ).
This article is based on several patient-centered principles and ideals. First, people living with HF who want to learn about their possible life journey ahead and feel confident in taking ownership of their health should be given the tools to do so. After diagnosis in the hospital, people living with HF need reliable psychological and physical support, personalized education, and practical tools and resources that they can implement to minimize disruption to their lives and facilitate more active participation in and ownership of their health. Second, caregivers and family members can be vital to the journey of a person living with HF, and the impact on these stakeholders can also be substantial and involve isolation and poor mental and physical health [ 33 , 34 ]. Caregivers and family members may also want to understand the challenges, management, and opportunities faced by people living with HF. Third, holistic patient interventions jointly created by people living with HF along with other stakeholders can be an important method within the HF health care environment to educate and better drive the quality of care in the critical period after hospitalization. Finally, patient-focused solutions aligned with behavioral approaches and education related to self-care and guideline-recommended treatment may improve the confidence of people living with HF, help them participate in their health care, recognize when to seek help, and potentially avoid rehospitalization. In this review article, we examine the evidence for these claims. Our principal aim is to highlight opportunities for improvement with respect to the co-design of meaningful solutions for transitions in care, particularly within the first few months after hospital discharge for HF. The motivation behind this article is to help people living with HF to actively and effectively participate in their care, with the ultimate goal of people living with HF benefiting from improved symptom management and quality of life.
This article is co-authored by people living with HF, heart transplant recipients, patient advocacy representatives, cardiologists with expertise in HF care, and industry representatives specializing in patient engagement and cardiovascular medicine. The authors collaborated through two virtual roundtables and via email to agree on the content for this article. A targeted literature search was conducted in PubMed, with no filters or date limits, using various combinations of the following terms: "epidemiology", "prevalence", "cost", "burden", "heart failure", "patient experience", "patient education", "patient self-management", "co-design", "self-care", "person-centered care", "post-hospital discharge period", "transitional programs", "patient involvement". Articles retrieved from the literature searches were screened for relevance for inclusion. From the reference lists of relevant articles that were retrieved, further articles were identified. Some of the authors also suggested articles for inclusion based on their detailed knowledge of the subject. Relevant articles were included in the current narrative review article.
Challenges in the post–hospital discharge period
Although many HF treatments exist, for people living with HF the transition from the hospital to the home can be fraught with feelings of fear, vulnerability, anxiety, isolation, and depression; a disconnect from medical support (by no longer having clinicians and nurses on hand to consult); information overload and possibilities for miscommunication; and uncertainty regarding actionable next steps. Multidisciplinary care that includes the support of cardiologists, nurses, physician assistants, and other professionals can be critical to helping people living with HF during this time. During this time of uncertainty, people living with HF can feel a loss of control. This feeling of a loss of control can be compounded by changes in functional status and medication regimens and variable confidence in reaching out to clinicians for clarifications or support. Ideally, people living with HF should have access to cardiac rehabilitation that includes an exercise component. In addition to this, nutritional programs, devices, and various pharmacologic therapies exist for the treatment of HF [ 35 ]. However, after hospital discharge, people living with HF can become overwhelmed by the number of medications. They may lack an understanding of how they work (in simple terms) and why they are taking them. Some HF medications require complex scheduling (e.g., various times throughout the day, some with food, and some without food). Some medications cause adverse effects that can add to the physical and mental burden of chronic illness and contribute to lower adherence to treatment plans. Lack of access to certain HF medications is an issue in some locations and among certain populations [ 36 ]. Many patients eligible for effective treatments are not prescribed optimal doses during their follow-up [ 37 ]. This undertreatment highlights a significant lapse in the degree to which evidence-based guidelines are followed [ 38 , 39 ].
Consistent adherence to HF medications is important to avoid hospitalization or death [ 40 ]. Yet for some people living with HF, adherence to general HF medical recommendations is not viewed as an either/or proposition [ 32 ]. Instead, adherence is viewed as a question of adapting recommendations to their individual circumstances [ 32 ]. Adherence to HF medication varies widely and depends on the medication [ 41 ]. Adherence could also depend on patients’ awareness of alternative treatments that might have fewer adverse effects. Patients may be unaware of these alternatives and simply stop taking their current medication when faced with intolerable adverse effects or with a delay in the provision of health care support to explore viable alternatives. The costs of HF medications can also vary widely, influence adherence, and be prohibitive for some patients. Awareness of the consequences of nonadherence could vary depending on the patient’s health literacy and interactions with clinicians. Low adherence to HF medication is associated with an increased risk of mortality and hospitalization related to cardiovascular events [ 41 ]. Strategies to improve adherence and facilitate the transition from the hospital to the home are therefore needed.
Addressing the needs of people living with heart failure in the post–hospital discharge period
A wide variety of transitional-care programs have been developed to address the challenges faced by patients with HF in the post–hospital discharge period. Many of them include educational components. Overall, the programs have had varying degrees of success. For example, self-care interventions have been shown to improve adherence rates and reduce the risk of hospitalizations and death [ 42 ]. In addition to improving these and other clinical outcomes, the importance of transitional care is underscored by the need to emotionally support patients, validate the individuality of their HF journey, and provide relevant self-care information in an easy-to-understand format. Along with the mandate for patient education comes attention to the ways in which people living with HF prefer to learn and receive information. These ways are diverse and can be affected by many factors including individual preferences, education level, digital savviness, and culture. People living with HF have expressed a preference for multimodal learning that focuses on information about symptoms, prognosis, risk factors, and medications [ 43 ]. Despite some progress, there are important gaps in education for people living with HF. A recent analysis of mobile health apps targeting patients with HF found lapses in readability, functionality, and linkage to authoritative sources for evidence on HF care [ 44 ]. Additionally, self-care behaviors for HF vary markedly across countries and cultures and have been shown to be suboptimal in people living with HF [ 45 ]. There are also numerous challenges in the home management of HF. For instance, although telemonitoring has been shown to have a positive effect on self-care in people living with HF [ 46 ], utilization and adoption of telehealth by people living with HF in the pre–COVID-19 era have been limited. There are several reasons for this finding. These include a preference for direct consultation with health care providers, a limited understanding of the advantage and benefits of technology over existing care, physical or mental impairments, and a lack of confidence and willingness in using new technology [ 47 ]. With the considerations brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, telehealth for people living with HF has rapidly expanded and evolved [ 48 ]. By involving patients in the design and testing of digital health and telemedicine applications, we can expect a better uptake of such technologies compared to those developed without effectively acknowledging patient needs and preferences. It is also worth noting that the utilization and “application of, and reporting on, behaviour change theories in the design of self-care interventions is needed to progress this field” [ 49 ].
People living with HF at various times also experience suboptimal understanding of HF and self-care, ongoing anxiety and concern about their condition, feelings of frustration due to treatment changes, being exhausted by their symptoms, poor communication with health care providers, and a sense of being controlled by their symptoms of HF [ 50 ]. Some people living with HF have also been shown to have low levels of confidence regarding self-care and difficulty in implementing self-care knowledge [ 51 ]. Collectively, these factors in the post–hospital discharge period emphasize an important need that should be a call for action in the HF community.
Existing approaches to transitions in heart failure care
Globally, there is a wide disparity in how people living with HF are followed up after a hospital admission. For example, in the United Kingdom, Sweden, and Denmark, follow-up is conducted by an HF team involving specialist nurses and pharmacists, whereas in other countries hospitalized patients are discharged to primary care with no or minimal follow-up [ 52 ]. The European Society of Cardiology guidelines for acute and chronic HF recommend “that evidence-based oral medical treatment be administered before discharge” and that a follow-up visit occur 1–2 weeks after discharge [ 53 ]. Transitional-care programs for people living with HF are recommended by European [ 53 ], Canadian [ 54 ], and American [ 11 ] cardiology guidelines. There are numerous approaches to HF transitional programs, which involve teaching people living with HF various self-management and symptom recognition strategies. We present some illustrative examples of the benefits and limitations of some of the existing approaches. Our intention is not to be exhaustive, as that would constitute a systematic review, which is outside the scope of the present article.
Table 1 shows examples of prominent randomized controlled trials of transitional-care interventions for HF.
Systematic reviews of transitional-care heart failure interventions
As with systematic reviews of randomized and uncontrolled trials, some trials have shown benefits, whereas others have not. A review of 25 studies of transitional-care interventions for people living with HF found that for the studies that measured rehospitalizations, the interventions led to a reduction in the rate of rehospitalizations in approximately half of those studies [ 59 ]. Patient-related outcomes, such as measures of quality of life, self-care, self-efficacy for self-care, discharge preparedness, and satisfaction, were measured by some of the studies. However, 13 of the 25 studies did not measure patient-related outcomes. While interventions such as patient health education and counseling were planned, only 20% of the studies reported early assessment of patients for hospital transition. A systematic review and meta-analysis of 47 studies reported the success of home-visiting programs and multidisciplinary HF clinics in reducing all-cause readmission and mortality, and of structured telephone support in reducing HF-specific readmission and mortality [ 60 ]. Similarly, results from another systematic review and meta-analysis highlight the importance of educational interventions on HF in reducing readmissions and length of hospital stay in adults with HF [ 61 ]. Many of these educational interventions, however, were implemented by experienced cardiovascular nurses. Thus, while the review emphasizes the importance of nurse participation in multidisciplinary transitional care of people living with HF, the need for self-driven education and care is also apparent, especially in contexts where health care providers are unavailable, due to resource limitations, for example. There was a large degree of heterogeneity in the outcome measures, study designs, and methods of the studies included in the systematic reviews. Nonetheless, a key message derived from many of the studies included in these systematic reviews is that many transitional-care interventions for people living with HF do not integrally include patient participation, such as through the co-design and development of the intervention and/or co-authorship of the study publications.
Many approaches to transitions in HF care involve the use of mobile-based apps. A Cochrane review of mobile health education interventions for HF conducted in 2019 did not find evidence for a difference in the use of interventions for people living with HF on their knowledge of HF; the evidence was uncertain regarding self-care, self-efficacy, and health-related quality of life [ 62 ]. Nonetheless, the results of individual trials have shown benefit to people living with HF. For example, the use of web- or mobile-based interventions has indicated improvement in self-care and quality of life [ 63 , 64 , 65 ], reduction in all-cause unplanned readmission [ 66 ], and increase in HF knowledge [ 67 ] among people living with HF.
Although self-care programs have been shown to benefit a variety of outcomes in people living with HF, because such programs are complex interventions consisting of multiple components, identifying the elements responsible for positive benefits has been challenging [ 49 ]. A tentative conclusion arising from these studies is that person-centered interventions, including those using mobile health technology, may play an important role in improving self-care in chronic conditions such as HF. Further study, however, is warranted to better understand the pathways and points along the patient journey and the role of behavioral elements in this journey.
Engaging patients through person-centered care and the co-design of educational programs
Examples of patient co-designed transitional-care heart failure interventions.
A basic tenet of the present article is that improving patient self-management and outcomes through education and engagement could benefit from person-centered and patient co-designed transitional-care HF programs. This is reflected by some patient co-designed interventions that show benefit in people living with HF. For example, a mobile health app, ThessHF, was shown to improve quality of life, self-care, and the rate of hospitalization in people living with HF [ 68 ]. The app was co-designed with patients to the extent that the opinions of people living with HF on the app’s features were sought in the development phase, and people living with HF were involved in the usability study of the app. A pilot randomized controlled study of another mobile health app, HeartMapp, demonstrated trends in improvements in self-care confidence, self-care management, and HF knowledge [ 67 ]. This app was also developed with input from people living with HF. The feasibility of a discharge tool co-designed by patients to increase confidence for the self-management of people transitioning to home after a hospitalization for HF has also been demonstrated [ 69 ]. A mobile health app, Care4myHeart, was co-designed by patients, clinicians, and caregivers, demonstrating the feasibility of this approach [ 70 , 71 ], including the perceived relevance of the app to people living with HF [ 72 ]. A usability study of the app revealed the lack of integration of technology into everyday life in patients’ already established HF self-care routines as a significant barrier to adoption of the app [ 73 ]. Nonetheless, a diverse group of stakeholders, including patients involved in the co-design process, gave positive feedback about the design process; suggestions were made that the design team should be sufficiently diverse and that patients should be involved from an early stage [ 72 ]. Overall, an interdisciplinary, collaborative, and user-centered approach to the design of mobile health apps could enhance usability, feasibility, and acceptability [ 74 ].
The importance of the patient’s voice in heart failure educational programs
A common theme running through many of the interventions discussed in the previous sections is the importance of understanding key challenges, barriers, and expectations in patients’ journeys/experiences, and including patient participation for improving the management of HF. Patient participation, however, is a complex phenomenon that is not necessarily viewed the same way by patients and clinicians. Nonetheless, patient participation generally involves the exchange of information with health care professionals, the exercise of a sense of confidence and control, and engaging in decision-making [ 75 ]. Shared decision-making is recognized as a crucial element of HF care [ 76 ]. Shared decision-making involves patients and clinicians working together on treatment decisions in a way aligned with the patient’s goals, values, and preferences [ 76 , 77 ]. However, the opportunity for patients to participate in the management of their disease in a way that delivers against the health care professional’s expectations and intended outcomes can be remarkably hindered by factors such as a patient’s overall level of health literacy, a patient’s ability to ask questions (having the knowledge and time to do it) during consultations, the clarity of a clinician’s input, and a clinician’s appreciation of a patient’s emotional dimension. For example, while the extent of patient engagement in the development of best-practice reports related to transitions from the hospital to the home increased over time, only half of these reports actively involved patients in their development. Furthermore, only a few organizations involved patients in shared leadership [ 78 ]. There are thus opportunities for patients to be more involved in transitional-care interventions for HF—as is true for transitional-care programs in general.
Strategies to improve patient involvement in transitional-care programs for heart failure
Involving patients in the planning, administration, and evaluation stages can improve outcomes, reduce patient engagement barriers, and avert the perception of patients being involved in merely perfunctory or symbolic roles [ 78 ]. Early involvement of patients could also catalyze researchers and other stakeholders to engage in optimally designed programs and could reduce research waste by focusing on topics patients care about most [ 79 ]. Involving patients as authors of peer-reviewed medical publications is also a good way to critically involve the patient’s voice; in the video (see Additional file 2 ) one of the authors (Teresa Levitch) discusses her experience living with HF and co-creating HF programs and co-authoring the present article. Factors that have been shown to facilitate partnerships with patients include identifying a shared purpose and well-defined guidance for participation [ 80 ], effective communication (involving sharing information and providing compassionate care), building relationships with patients and their families, and being sensitive to patients’ needs [ 81 ]. In the podcast (see Additional file 3 ) three of the authors (Javed Butler, Petrina Stevens, and Teresa Levitch) discuss the importance of the patient’s voice in HF educational interventions.
Several considerations when integrally involving people living with HF in programs should be kept in mind. Learning materials should reflect patients’ needs and could therefore benefit from patient input given that some differences exist in the learning needs and priorities of people living with HF and health care providers [ 82 ]. To reach a broad audience, the perspectives of as many types of patients as possible should be covered in transitional-care programs for people living with HF, including patients with varying levels of formal education, those whose primary language is not English, and those with different abilities to comprehend information. How information about transitional-care programs is disseminated is important. In addition to more frequent use of plain-language summaries in journal articles involving the care of people living with HF, involving patients as co-authors can make articles more attractive to other patients, who may perceive the article as more relevant to themselves. Not providing full details with respect to the specific nature of the co-design process, as well as not including minority and indigenous groups, have been cited as limitations of mobile health interventions (specifically those aimed at improving nutrition and physical activity that have been co-designed by patients) [ 83 ]. Future co-designed programs aiming for greater transparency and inclusiveness could overcome these limitations.
Collaborating with patient advocacy organizations can also be a way to integrally involve the patient’s voice. This is exemplified by the HeartLife Foundation [ 84 ], a patient-driven charity. Their mission is to transform the quality of life of people living with HF by engaging, educating, and empowering a global community to create lasting solutions and build healthier lives. Another way to advance patient-driven research and programs is through collaboration with industry and clinicians, which can leverage the resources of each stakeholder.
For people living with HF, the period after hospitalization and the transition to the home carry a heightened risk of adverse health outcomes. Nonetheless, this period also offers an opportunity to foster self-care knowledge and behavior that can help avoid negative outcomes and mitigate the burden of living with HF. There is potentially great value in bringing forth the lived experience of people living with HF in the design and authorship of HF programs, studies, and articles via collaborative/co-designed approaches that fully involve people living with HF from the outset. Even minor progress on the journey for people living with HF to become thriving self-care advocates could improve their quality of life and reduce HF rehospitalizations. Establishing these principles and goals as the benchmark for transitional-care HF programs can strengthen the program structure and goals and could contribute to the evolution of medical research and clinical care.
Availability of data and materials
Care Optimization Through Patient and Hospital Engagement Clinical Trial for Heart Failure
- Heart failure
Electronically Delivered, Patient-Activation Tool for Intensification of Medications for Chronic Heart Failure with Reduced Ejection Fraction
Patient-Centered Care Transitions in HF
Rehabilitation Enablement in Chronic Heart Failure
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HeartLife Foundation. https://heartlife.ca/ . Accessed 1 December 2022.
The authors thank Steven Tresker of Cactus Life Sciences (part of Cactus Communications) for medical writing, which was funded by AstraZeneca. MB gratefully acknowledges that he lives and works on the traditional, ancestral, and unceded territories of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), and Səl̓ílwətaɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations.
Funding for this article was provided by AstraZeneca. AstraZeneca authors were involved in the co-development of the content of the article, reviewed the manuscript for medical and scientific accuracy, and approved the manuscript for submission in conjunction with the other co-authors of this publication.
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JB has consulted for Abbott, Adrenomed AG, Amgen, Array BioPharma, AstraZeneca, Bayer, Boehringer Ingelheim, Bristol Myers Squibb, CVRx, G3 Pharmaceuticals, Impulse Dynamics, Innolife, Janssen, LivaNova, Luitpold Pharmaceuticals, Medtronic, Merck, Novartis, Novo Nordisk, Roche, and Vifor. TB is a volunteer patient advocate with the HeartLife Foundation and, as a patient with lived experience, has provided consultation on an AstraZeneca-sponsored heart failure patient engagement program. MB is a co-founder of the HeartLife Foundation and, as a patient with lived experience, has provided consultation to Boehringer Ingelheim and AstraZeneca. JC is a co-founder of the HeartLife Foundation and, as a patient with lived experience, has participated in advisory boards for Boehringer Ingelheim and AstraZeneca. TL is a patient with lived experience and has nothing to disclose. MCP has received research funding from Boehringer Ingelheim, Roche, SQ Innovations, AstraZeneca, Novartis, Novo Nordisk, Medtronic, Boston Scientific, Pharmacosmos, and 3R LifeScience; served in consultancy roles and on clinical trial committees for Boehringer Ingelheim, Novartis, Roche, Corvia Medical, AstraZeneca, Novo Nordisk, Medtronic, AbbVie, Bayer, Takeda, Cardiorentis, Pharmacosmos, and Siemens; and is supported by the British Heart Foundation (BHF) Centre of Research Excellence Award (RE/13/5/30177 and RE/18/6/34217+). CSL is supported by a Clinician Scientist Award from the National Medical Research Council of Singapore; has received research support from Bayer and Roche Diagnostics; has served as consultant or on the Advisory Board/Steering Committee/Executive Committee for Abbott, Actelion, Allysta Pharma, Amgen, AnaCardio AB, Applied Therapeutics, AstraZeneca, Bayer, Boehringer Ingelheim, Boston Scientific, Cytokinetics, Darma Inc., EchoNous Inc, Impulse Dynamics, Ionis Pharmaceutical, Janssen Research & Development LLC, Medscape/WebMD Global LLC, Merck, Novartis, Novo Nordisk, Prosciento Inc, Radcliffe Group Ltd., Roche Diagnostics, Sanofi, Siemens Healthcare Diagnostics, and Us2.ai; and serves as co-founder and non-Executive Director of Us2.ai. EM and PS are employees of AstraZeneca, and PM and JV were employees of AstraZeneca at the time the study was conducted.
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Patient author: Tracy Bawtinheimer and Teresa Levitch.
Additional file 1.
. Opportunities and obstacles for people living with heart failure—Infographic.
Additional file 2 . Patient participation in heart failure publications and programs: Teresa’s Experience—Video.
Additional file 3.
A podcast of the review article—Podcast.
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Butler, J., Petrie, M.C., Bains, M. et al. Challenges and opportunities for increasing patient involvement in heart failure self-care programs and self-care in the post–hospital discharge period. Res Involv Engagem 9 , 23 (2023). https://doi.org/10.1186/s40900-023-00412-x
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Research and trends in STEM education: a systematic review of journal publications
- Yeping Li 1 ,
- Ke Wang 2 ,
- Yu Xiao 1 &
- Jeffrey E. Froyd 3
International Journal of STEM Education volume 7 , Article number: 11 ( 2020 ) Cite this article
With the rapid increase in the number of scholarly publications on STEM education in recent years, reviews of the status and trends in STEM education research internationally support the development of the field. For this review, we conducted a systematic analysis of 798 articles in STEM education published between 2000 and the end of 2018 in 36 journals to get an overview about developments in STEM education scholarship. We examined those selected journal publications both quantitatively and qualitatively, including the number of articles published, journals in which the articles were published, authorship nationality, and research topic and methods over the years. The results show that research in STEM education is increasing in importance internationally and that the identity of STEM education journals is becoming clearer over time.
A recent review of 144 publications in the International Journal of STEM Education ( IJ - STEM ) showed how scholarship in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education developed between August 2014 and the end of 2018 through the lens of one journal (Li, Froyd, & Wang, 2019 ). The review of articles published in only one journal over a short period of time prompted the need to review the status and trends in STEM education research internationally by analyzing articles published in a wider range of journals over a longer period of time.
With global recognition of the growing importance of STEM education, we have witnessed the urgent need to support research and scholarship in STEM education (Li, 2014 , 2018a ). Researchers and educators have responded to this on-going call and published their scholarly work through many different publication outlets including journals, books, and conference proceedings. A simple Google search with the term “STEM,” “STEM education,” or “STEM education research” all returned more than 450,000,000 items. Such voluminous information shows the rapidly evolving and vibrant field of STEM education and sheds light on the volume of STEM education research. In any field, it is important to know and understand the status and trends in scholarship for the field to develop and be appropriately supported. This applies to STEM education.
Conducting systematic reviews to explore the status and trends in specific disciplines is common in educational research. For example, researchers surveyed the historical development of research in mathematics education (Kilpatrick, 1992 ) and studied patterns in technology usage in mathematics education (Bray & Tangney, 2017 ; Sokolowski, Li, & Willson, 2015 ). In science education, Tsai and his colleagues have conducted a sequence of reviews of journal articles to synthesize research trends in every 5 years since 1998 (i.e., 1998–2002, 2003–2007, 2008–2012, and 2013–2017), based on publications in three main science education journals including, Science Education , the International Journal of Science Education , and the Journal of Research in Science Teaching (e.g., Lin, Lin, Potvin, & Tsai, 2019 ; Tsai & Wen, 2005 ). Erduran, Ozdem, and Park ( 2015 ) reviewed argumentation in science education research from 1998 to 2014 and Minner, Levy, and Century ( 2010 ) reviewed inquiry-based science instruction between 1984 and 2002. There are also many literature reviews and syntheses in engineering and technology education (e.g., Borrego, Foster, & Froyd, 2015 ; Xu, Williams, Gu, & Zhang, 2019 ). All of these reviews have been well received in different fields of traditional disciplinary education as they critically appraise and summarize the state-of-art of relevant research in a field in general or with a specific focus. Both types of reviews have been conducted with different methods for identifying, collecting, and analyzing relevant publications, and they differ in terms of review aim and topic scope, time period, and ways of literature selection. In this review, we systematically analyze journal publications in STEM education research to overview STEM education scholarship development broadly and globally.
The complexity and ambiguity of examining the status and trends in STEM education research
A review of research development in a field is relatively straight forward, when the field is mature and its scope can be well defined. Unlike discipline-based education research (DBER, National Research Council, 2012 ), STEM education is not a well-defined field. Conducting a comprehensive literature review of STEM education research require careful thought and clearly specified scope to tackle the complexity naturally associated with STEM education. In the following sub-sections, we provide some further discussion.
Diverse perspectives about STEM and STEM education
STEM education as explicated by the term does not have a long history. The interest in helping students learn across STEM fields can be traced back to the 1990s when the US National Science Foundation (NSF) formally included engineering and technology with science and mathematics in undergraduate and K-12 school education (e.g., National Science Foundation, 1998 ). It coined the acronym SMET (science, mathematics, engineering, and technology) that was subsequently used by other agencies including the US Congress (e.g., United States Congress House Committee on Science, 1998 ). NSF also coined the acronym STEM to replace SMET (e.g., Christenson, 2011 ; Chute, 2009 ) and it has become the acronym of choice. However, a consensus has not been reached on the disciplines included within STEM.
To clarify its intent, NSF published a list of approved fields it considered under the umbrella of STEM (see http://bit.ly/2Bk1Yp5 ). The list not only includes disciplines widely considered under the STEM tent (called “core” disciplines, such as physics, chemistry, and materials research), but also includes disciplines in psychology and social sciences (e.g., political science, economics). However, NSF’s list of STEM fields is inconsistent with other federal agencies. Gonzalez and Kuenzi ( 2012 ) noted that at least two US agencies, the Department of Homeland Security and Immigration and Customs Enforcement, use a narrower definition that excludes social sciences. Researchers also view integration across different disciplines of STEM differently using various terms such as, multidisciplinary, interdisciplinary, and transdisciplinary (Vasquez, Sneider, & Comer, 2013 ). These are only two examples of the ambiguity and complexity in describing and specifying what constitutes STEM.
Multiple perspectives about the meaning of STEM education adds further complexity to determining the extent to which scholarly activity can be categorized as STEM education. For example, STEM education can be viewed with a broad and inclusive perspective to include education in the individual disciplines of STEM, i.e., science education, technology education, engineering education, and mathematics education, as well as interdisciplinary or cross-disciplinary combinations of the individual STEM disciplines (English, 2016 ; Li, 2014 ). On the other hand, STEM education can be viewed by others as referring only to interdisciplinary or cross-disciplinary combinations of the individual STEM disciplines (Honey, Pearson, & Schweingruber, 2014 ; Johnson, Peters-Burton, & Moore, 2015 ; Kelley & Knowles, 2016 ; Li, 2018a ). These multiple perspectives allow scholars to publish articles in a vast array and diverse journals, as long as journals are willing to take the position as connected with STEM education. At the same time, however, the situation presents considerable challenges for researchers intending to locate, identify, and classify publications as STEM education research. To tackle such challenges, we tried to find out what we can learn from prior reviews related to STEM education.
Guidance from prior reviews related to STEM education
A search for reviews of STEM education research found multiple reviews that could suggest approaches for identifying publications (e.g., Brown, 2012 ; Henderson, Beach, & Finkelstein, 2011 ; Kim, Sinatra, & Seyranian, 2018 ; Margot & Kettler, 2019 ; Minichiello, Hood, & Harkness, 2018 ; Mizell & Brown, 2016 ; Thibaut et al., 2018 ; Wu & Rau, 2019 ). The review conducted by Brown ( 2012 ) examined the research base of STEM education. He addressed the complexity and ambiguity by confining the review with publications in eight journals, two in each individual discipline, one academic research journal (e.g., the Journal of Research in Science Teaching ) and one practitioner journal (e.g., Science Teacher ). Journals were selected based on suggestions from some faculty members and K-12 teachers. Out of 1100 articles published in these eight journals from January 1, 2007, to October 1, 2010, Brown located 60 articles that authors self-identified as connected to STEM education. He found that the vast majority of these 60 articles focused on issues beyond an individual discipline and there was a research base forming for STEM education. In a follow-up study, Mizell and Brown ( 2016 ) reviewed articles published from January 2013 to October 2015 in the same eight journals plus two additional journals. Mizell and Brown used the same criteria to identify and include articles that authors self-identified as connected to STEM education, i.e., if the authors included STEM in the title or author-supplied keywords. In comparison to Brown’s findings, they found that many more STEM articles were published in a shorter time period and by scholars from many more different academic institutions. Taking together, both Brown ( 2012 ) and Mizell and Brown ( 2016 ) tended to suggest that STEM education mainly consists of interdisciplinary or cross-disciplinary combinations of the individual STEM disciplines, but their approach consisted of selecting a limited number of individual discipline-based journals and then selecting articles that authors self-identified as connected to STEM education.
In contrast to reviews on STEM education, in general, other reviews focused on specific issues in STEM education (e.g., Henderson et al., 2011 ; Kim et al., 2018 ; Margot & Kettler, 2019 ; Minichiello et al., 2018 ; Schreffler, Vasquez III, Chini, & James, 2019 ; Thibaut et al., 2018 ; Wu & Rau, 2019 ). For example, the review by Henderson et al. ( 2011 ) focused on instructional change in undergraduate STEM courses based on 191 conceptual and empirical journal articles published between 1995 and 2008. Margot and Kettler ( 2019 ) focused on what is known about teachers’ values, beliefs, perceived barriers, and needed support related to STEM education based on 25 empirical journal articles published between 2000 and 2016. The focus of these reviews allowed the researchers to limit the number of articles considered, and they typically used keyword searches of selected databases to identify articles on STEM education. Some researchers used this approach to identify publications from journals only (e.g., Henderson et al., 2011 ; Margot & Kettler, 2019 ; Schreffler et al., 2019 ), and others selected and reviewed publications beyond journals (e.g., Minichiello et al., 2018 ; Thibaut et al., 2018 ; Wu & Rau, 2019 ).
The discussion in this section suggests possible reasons contributing to the absence of a general literature review of STEM education research and development: (1) diverse perspectives in existence about STEM and STEM education that contribute to the difficulty of specifying a scope of literature review, (2) its short but rapid development history in comparison to other discipline-based education (e.g., science education), and (3) difficulties in deciding how to establish the scope of the literature review. With respect to the third reason, prior reviews have used one of two approaches to identify and select articles: (a) identifying specific journals first and then searching and selecting specific articles from these journals (e.g., Brown, 2012 ; Erduran et al., 2015 ; Mizell & Brown, 2016 ) and (b) conducting selected database searches with keywords based on a specific focus (e.g., Margot & Kettler, 2019 ; Thibaut et al., 2018 ). However, neither the first approach of selecting a limited number of individual discipline-based journals nor the second approach of selecting a specific focus for the review leads to an approach that provides a general overview of STEM education scholarship development based on existing journal publications.
Two issues were identified in setting the scope for this review.
What time period should be considered?
What publications will be selected for review?
We start with the easy one first. As discussed above, the acronym STEM did exist until the early 2000s. Although the existence of the acronym does not generate scholarship on student learning in STEM disciplines, it is symbolic and helps focus attention to efforts in STEM education. Since we want to examine the status and trends in STEM education, it is reasonable to start with the year 2000. Then, we can use the acronym of STEM as an identifier in locating specific research articles in a way as done by others (e.g., Brown, 2012 ; Mizell & Brown, 2016 ). We chose the end of 2018 as the end of the time period for our review that began during 2019.
Focusing on publications beyond individual discipline-based journals
As mentioned before, scholars responded to the call for scholarship development in STEM education with publications that appeared in various outlets and diverse languages, including journals, books, and conference proceedings. However, journal publications are typically credited and valued as one of the most important outlets for research exchange (e.g., Erduran et al., 2015 ; Henderson et al., 2011 ; Lin et al., 2019 ; Xu et al., 2019 ). Thus, in this review, we will also focus on articles published in journals in English.
The discourse above on the complexity and ambiguity regarding STEM education suggests that scholars may publish their research in a wide range of journals beyond individual discipline-based journals. To search and select articles from a wide range of journals, we thought about the approach of searching selected databases with keywords as other scholars used in reviewing STEM education with a specific focus. However, existing journals in STEM education do not have a long history. In fact, IJ-STEM is the first journal in STEM education that has just been accepted into the Social Sciences Citation Index (SSCI) (Li, 2019a ). Publications in many STEM education journals are practically not available in several important and popular databases, such as the Web of Science and Scopus. Moreover, some journals in STEM education were not normalized due to a journal’s name change or irregular publication schedule. For example, the Journal of STEM Education was named as Journal of SMET Education when it started in 2000 in a print format, and the journal’s name was not changed until 2003, Vol 4 (3 and 4), and also went fully on-line starting 2004 (Raju & Sankar, 2003 ). A simple Google Scholar search with keywords will not be able to provide accurate information, unless you visit the journal’s website to check all publications over the years. Those added complexities prevented us from taking the database search as a viable approach. Thus, we decided to identify journals first and then search and select articles from these journals. Further details about the approach are provided in the “ Method ” section.
Given a broader range of journals and a longer period of time to be covered in this review, we can examine some of the same questions as the IJ-STEM review (Li, Froyd, & Wang, 2019 ), but we do not have access to data on readership, articles accessed, or articles cited for the other journals selected for this review. Specifically, we are interested in addressing the following six research questions:
What were the status and trends in STEM education research from 2000 to the end of 2018 based on journal publications?
What were the patterns of publications in STEM education research across different journals?
Which countries or regions, based on the countries or regions in which authors were located, contributed to journal publications in STEM education?
What were the patterns of single-author and multiple-author publications in STEM education?
What main topics had emerged in STEM education research based on the journal publications?
What research methods did authors tend to use in conducting STEM education research?
Based on the above discussion, we developed the methods for this literature review to follow careful sequential steps to identify journals first and then identify and select STEM education research articles published in these journals from January 2000 to the end of 2018. The methods should allow us to obtain a comprehensive overview about the status and trends of STEM education research based on a systematic analysis of related publications from a broad range of journals and over a longer period of time.
We used the following three steps to search and identify journals for inclusion:
We assumed articles on research in STEM education have been published in journals that involve more than one traditional discipline. Thus, we used Google to search and identify all education journals with their titles containing either two, three, or all four disciplines of STEM. For example, we did Google search of all the different combinations of three areas of science, mathematics, technology Footnote 1 , and engineering as contained in a journal’s title. In addition, we also searched possible journals containing the word STEAM in the title.
Since STEM education may be viewed as encompassing discipline-based education research, articles on STEM education research may have been published in traditional discipline-based education journals, such as the Journal of Research in Science Teaching . However, there are too many such journals. Yale’s Poorvu Center for Teaching and Learning has listed 16 journals that publish articles spanning across undergraduate STEM education disciplines (see https://poorvucenter.yale.edu/FacultyResources/STEMjournals ). Thus, we selected from the list some individual discipline-based education research journals, and also added a few more common ones such as the Journal of Engineering Education .
Since articles on research in STEM education have appeared in some general education research journals, especially those well-established ones. Thus, we identified and selected a few of those journals that we noticed some publications in STEM education research.
Following the above three steps, we identified 45 journals (see Table 1 ).
In this review, we will not discuss or define the meaning of STEM education. We used the acronym STEM (or STEAM, or written as the phrase of “science, technology, engineering, and mathematics”) as a term in our search of publication titles and/or abstracts. To identify and select articles for review, we searched all items published in those 45 journals and selected only those articles that author(s) self-identified with the acronym STEM (or STEAM, or written as the phrase of “science, technology, engineering, and mathematics”) in the title and/or abstract. We excluded publications in the sections of practices, letters to editors, corrections, and (guest) editorials. Our search found 798 publications that authors self-identified as in STEM education, identified from 36 journals. The remaining 9 journals either did not have publications that met our search terms or published in another language other than English (see the two separate lists in Table 1 ).
To address research question 3, we analyzed authorship to examine which countries/regions contributed to STEM education research over the years. Because each publication may have either one or multiple authors, we used two different methods to analyze authorship nationality that have been recognized as valuable from our review of IJ-STEM publications (Li, Froyd, & Wang, 2019 ). The first method considers only the corresponding author’s (or the first author, if no specific indication is given about the corresponding author) nationality and his/her first institution affiliation, if multiple institution affiliations are listed. Method 2 considers every author of a publication, using the following formula (Howard, Cole, & Maxwell, 1987 ) to quantitatively assign and estimate each author’s contribution to a publication (and thus associated institution’s productivity), when multiple authors are included in a publication. As an example, each publication is given one credit point. For the publication co-authored by two, the first author would be given 0.6 and the second author 0.4 credit point. For an article contributed jointly by three authors, the three authors would be credited with scores of 0.47, 0.32, and 0.21, respectively.
After calculating all the scores for each author of each paper, we added all the credit scores together in terms of each author’s country/region. For brevity, we present only the top 10 countries/regions in terms of their total credit scores calculated using these two different methods, respectively.
To address research question 5, we used the same seven topic categories identified and used in our review of IJ-STEM publications (Li, Froyd, & Wang, 2019 ). We tested coding 100 articles first to ensure the feasibility. Through test-coding and discussions, we found seven topic categories could be used to examine and classify all 798 items.
K-12 teaching, teacher, and teacher education in STEM (including both pre-service and in-service teacher education)
Post-secondary teacher and teaching in STEM (including faculty development, etc.)
K-12 STEM learner, learning, and learning environment
Post-secondary STEM learner, learning, and learning environments (excluding pre-service teacher education)
Policy, curriculum, evaluation, and assessment in STEM (including literature review about a field in general)
Culture and social and gender issues in STEM education
History, epistemology, and perspectives about STEM and STEM education
To address research question 6, we coded all 798 publications in terms of (1) qualitative methods, (2) quantitative methods, (3) mixed methods, and (4) non-empirical studies (including theoretical or conceptual papers, and literature reviews). We assigned each publication to only one research topic and one method, following the process used in the IJ-STEM review (Li, Froyd, & Wang, 2019 ). When there was more than one topic or method that could have been used for a publication, a decision was made in choosing and assigning a topic or a method. The agreement between two coders for all 798 publications was 89.5%. When topic and method coding discrepancies occurred, a final decision was reached after discussion.
Results and discussion
In the following sections, we report findings as corresponding to each of the six research questions.
The status and trends of journal publications in STEM education research from 2000 to 2018
Figure 1 shows the number of publications per year. As Fig. 1 shows, the number of publications increased each year beginning in 2010. There are noticeable jumps from 2015 to 2016 and from 2017 to 2018. The result shows that research in STEM education had grown significantly since 2010, and the most recent large number of STEM education publications also suggests that STEM education research gained its own recognition by many different journals for publication as a hot and important topic area.
The distribution of STEM education publications over the years
Among the 798 articles, there were 549 articles with the word “STEM” (or STEAM, or written with the phrase of “science, technology, engineering, and mathematics”) included in the article’s title or both title and abstract and 249 articles without such identifiers included in the title but abstract only. The results suggest that many scholars tended to include STEM in the publications’ titles to highlight their research in or about STEM education. Figure 2 shows the number of publications per year where publications are distinguished depending on whether they used the term STEM in the title or only in the abstract. The number of publications in both categories had significant increases since 2010. Use of the acronym STEM in the title was growing at a faster rate than using the acronym only in the abstract.
The trends of STEM education publications with vs. without STEM included in the title
Not all the publications that used the acronym STEM in the title and/or abstract reported on a study involving all four STEM areas. For each publication, we further examined the number of the four areas involved in the reported study.
Figure 3 presents the number of publications categorized by the number of the four areas involved in the study, breaking down the distribution of these 798 publications in terms of the content scope being focused on. Studies involving all four STEM areas are the most numerous with 488 (61.2%) publications, followed by involving one area (141, 17.7%), then studies involving both STEM and non-STEM (84, 10.5%), and finally studies involving two or three areas of STEM (72, 9%; 13, 1.6%; respectively). Publications that used the acronym STEAM in either the title or abstract were classified as involving both STEM and non-STEM. For example, both of the following publications were included in this category.
Dika and D’Amico ( 2016 ). “Early experiences and integration in the persistence of first-generation college students in STEM and non-STEM majors.” Journal of Research in Science Teaching , 53 (3), 368–383. (Note: this article focused on early experience in both STEM and Non-STEM majors.)
Sochacka, Guyotte, and Walther ( 2016 ). “Learning together: A collaborative autoethnographic exploration of STEAM (STEM+ the Arts) education.” Journal of Engineering Education , 105 (1), 15–42. (Note: this article focused on STEAM (both STEM and Arts).)
Publication distribution in terms of content scope being focused on. (Note: 1=single subject of STEM, 2=two subjects of STEM, 3=three subjects of STEM, 4=four subjects of STEM, 5=topics related to both STEM and non-STEM)
Figure 4 presents the number of publications per year in each of the five categories described earlier (category 1, one area of STEM; category 2, two areas of STEM; category 3, three areas of STEM; category 4, four areas of STEM; category 5, STEM and non-STEM). The category that had grown most rapidly since 2010 is the one involving all four areas. Recent growth in the number of publications in category 1 likely reflected growing interest of traditional individual disciplinary based educators in developing and sharing multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary scholarship in STEM education, as what was noted recently by Li and Schoenfeld ( 2019 ) with publications in IJ-STEM.
Publication distribution in terms of content scope being focused on over the years
Patterns of publications across different journals
Among the 36 journals that published STEM education articles, two are general education research journals (referred to as “subject-0”), 12 with their titles containing one discipline of STEM (“subject-1”), eight with journal’s titles covering two disciplines of STEM (“subject-2”), six covering three disciplines of STEM (“subject-3”), seven containing the word STEM (“subject-4”), and one in STEAM education (“subject-5”).
Table 2 shows that both subject-0 and subject-1 journals were usually mature journals with a long history, and they were all traditional subscription-based journals, except the Journal of Pre - College Engineering Education Research , a subject-1 journal established in 2011 that provided open access (OA). In comparison to subject-0 and subject-1 journals, subject-2 and subject-3 journals were relatively newer but still had quite many years of history on average. There are also some more journals in these two categories that provided OA. Subject-4 and subject-5 journals had a short history, and most provided OA. The results show that well-established journals had tended to focus on individual disciplines or education research in general. Multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary education journals were started some years later, followed by the recent establishment of several STEM or STEAM journals.
Table 2 also shows that subject-1, subject-2, and subject-4 journals published approximately a quarter each of the publications. The number of publications in subject-1 journals is interested, because we selected a relatively limited number of journals in this category. There are many other journals in the subject-1 category (as well as subject-0 journals) that we did not select, and thus it is very likely that we did not include some STEM education articles published in subject-0 or subject-1 journals that we did not include in our study.
Figure 5 shows the number of publications per year in each of the five categories described earlier (subject-0 through subject-5). The number of publications per year in subject-5 and subject-0 journals did not change much over the time period of the study. On the other hand, the number of publications per year in subject-4 (all 4 areas), subject-1 (single area), and subject-2 journals were all over 40 by the end of the study period. The number of publications per year in subject-3 journals increased but remained less than 30. At first sight, it may be a bit surprising that the number of publications in STEM education per year in subject-1 journals increased much faster than those in subject-2 journals over the past few years. However, as Table 2 indicates these journals had long been established with great reputations, and scholars would like to publish their research in such journals. In contrast to the trend in subject-1 journals, the trend in subject-4 journals suggests that STEM education journals collectively started to gain its own identity for publishing and sharing STEM education research.
STEM education publication distribution across different journal categories over the years. (Note: 0=subject-0; 1=subject-1; 2=subject-2; 3=subject-3; 4=subject-4; 5=subject-5)
Figure 6 shows the number of STEM education publications in each journal where the bars are color-coded (yellow, subject-0; light blue, subject-1; green, subject-2; purple, subject-3; dark blue, subject-4; and black, subject-5). There is no clear pattern shown in terms of the overall number of STEM education publications across categories or journals, but very much individual journal-based performance. The result indicates that the number of STEM education publications might heavily rely on the individual journal’s willingness and capability of attracting STEM education research work and thus suggests the potential value of examining individual journal’s performance.
Publication distribution across all 36 individual journals across different categories with the same color-coded for journals in the same subject category
The top five journals in terms of the number of STEM education publications are Journal of Science Education and Technology (80 publications, journal number 25 in Fig. 6 ), Journal of STEM Education (65 publications, journal number 26), International Journal of STEM Education (64 publications, journal number 17), International Journal of Engineering Education (54 publications, journal number 12), and School Science and Mathematics (41 publications, journal number 31). Among these five journals, two journals are specifically on STEM education (J26, J17), two on two subjects of STEM (J25, J31), and one on one subject of STEM (J12).
Figure 7 shows the number of STEM education publications per year in each of these top five journals. As expected, based on earlier trends, the number of publications per year increased over the study period. The largest increase was in the International Journal of STEM Education (J17) that was established in 2014. As the other four journals were all established in or before 2000, J17’s short history further suggests its outstanding performance in attracting and publishing STEM education articles since 2014 (Li, 2018b ; Li, Froyd, & Wang, 2019 ). The increase was consistent with the journal’s recognition as the first STEM education journal for inclusion in SSCI starting in 2019 (Li, 2019a ).
Publication distribution of selected five journals over the years. (Note: J12: International Journal of Engineering Education; J17: International Journal of STEM Education; J25: Journal of Science Education and Technology; J26: Journal of STEM Education; J31: School Science and Mathematics)
Top 10 countries/regions where scholars contributed journal publications in STEM education
Table 3 shows top countries/regions in terms of the number of publications, where the country/region was established by the authorship using the two different methods presented above. About 75% (depending on the method) of contributions were made by authors from the USA, followed by Australia, Canada, Taiwan, and UK. Only Africa as a continent was not represented among the top 10 countries/regions. The results are relatively consistent with patterns reported in the IJ-STEM study (Li, Froyd, & Wang, 2019 )
Further examination of Table 3 reveals that the two methods provide not only fairly consistent results but also yield some differences. For example, Israel and Germany had more publication credit if only the corresponding author was considered, but South Korea and Turkey had more publication credit when co-authors were considered. The results in Table 3 show that each method has value when analyzing and comparing publications by country/region or institution based on authorship.
Recognizing that, as shown in Fig. 1 , the number of publications per year increased rapidly since 2010, Table 4 shows the number of publications by country/region over a 10-year period (2009–2018) and Table 5 shows the number of publications by country/region over a 5-year period (2014–2018). The ranks in Tables 3 , 4 , and 5 are fairly consistent, but that would be expected since the larger numbers of publications in STEM education had occurred in recent years. At the same time, it is interesting to note in Table 5 some changes over the recent several years with Malaysia, but not Israel, entering the top 10 list when either method was used to calculate author's credit.
Patterns of single-author and multiple-author publications in STEM education
Since STEM education differs from traditional individual disciplinary education, we are interested in determining how common joint co-authorship with collaborations was in STEM education articles. Figure 8 shows that joint co-authorship was very common among these 798 STEM education publications, with 83.7% publications with two or more co-authors. Publications with two, three, or at least five co-authors were highest, with 204, 181, and 157 publications, respectively.
Number of publications with single or different joint authorship. (Note: 1=single author; 2=two co-authors; 3=three co-authors; 4=four co-authors; 5=five or more co-authors)
Figure 9 shows the number of publications per year using the joint authorship categories in Fig. 8 . Each category shows an increase consistent with the increase shown in Fig. 1 for all 798 publications. By the end of the time period, the number of publications with two, three, or at least five co-authors was the largest, which might suggest an increase in collaborations in STEM education research.
Publication distribution with single or different joint authorship over the years. (Note: 1=single author; 2=two co-authors; 3=three co-authors; 4=four co-authors; 5=five or more co-authors)
Co-authors can be from the same or different countries/regions. Figure 10 shows the number of publications per year by single authors (no collaboration), co-authors from the same country (collaboration in a country/region), and co-authors from different countries (collaboration across countries/regions). Each year the largest number of publications was by co-authors from the same country, and the number increased dramatically during the period of the study. Although the number of publications in the other two categories increased, the numbers of publications were noticeably fewer than the number of publications by co-authors from the same country.
Publication distribution in authorship across different categories in terms of collaboration over the years
Published articles by research topics
Figure 11 shows the number of publications in each of the seven topic categories. The topic category of goals, policy, curriculum, evaluation, and assessment had almost half of publications (375, 47%). Literature reviews were included in this topic category, as providing an overview assessment of education and research development in a topic area or a field. Sample publications included in this category are listed as follows:
DeCoito ( 2016 ). “STEM education in Canada: A knowledge synthesis.” Canadian Journal of Science , Mathematics and Technology Education , 16 (2), 114–128. (Note: this article provides a national overview of STEM initiatives and programs, including success, criteria for effective programs and current research in STEM education.)
Ring-Whalen, Dare, Roehrig, Titu, and Crotty ( 2018 ). “From conception to curricula: The role of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics in integrated STEM units.” International Journal of Education in Mathematics Science and Technology , 6 (4), 343–362. (Note: this article investigates the conceptions of integrated STEM education held by in-service science teachers through the use of photo-elicitation interviews and examines how those conceptions were reflected in teacher-created integrated STEM curricula.)
Schwab et al. ( 2018 ). “A summer STEM outreach program run by graduate students: Successes, challenges, and recommendations for implementation.” Journal of Research in STEM Education , 4 (2), 117–129. (Note: the article details the organization and scope of the Foundation in Science and Mathematics Program and evaluates this program.)
Frequencies of publications’ research topic distributions. (Note: 1=K-12 teaching, teacher and teacher education; 2=Post-secondary teacher and teaching; 3=K-12 STEM learner, learning, and learning environment; 4=Post-secondary STEM learner, learning, and learning environments; 5=Goals and policy, curriculum, evaluation, and assessment (including literature review); 6=Culture, social, and gender issues; 7=History, philosophy, Epistemology, and nature of STEM and STEM education)
The topic with the second most publications was “K-12 teaching, teacher and teacher education” (103, 12.9%), followed closely by “K-12 learner, learning, and learning environment” (97, 12.2%). The results likely suggest the research community had a broad interest in both teaching and learning in K-12 STEM education. The top three topics were the same in the IJ-STEM review (Li, Froyd, & Wang, 2019 ).
Figure 11 also shows there was a virtual tie between two topics with the fourth most cumulative publications, “post-secondary STEM learner & learning” (76, 9.5%) and “culture, social, and gender issues in STEM” (78, 9.8%), such as STEM identity, students’ career choices in STEM, and inclusion. This result is different from the IJ-STEM review (Li, Froyd, & Wang, 2019 ), where “post-secondary STEM teacher & teaching” and “post-secondary STEM learner & learning” were tied as the fourth most common topics. This difference is likely due to the scope of journals and the length of the time period being reviewed.
Figure 12 shows the number of publications per year in each topic category. As expected from the results in Fig. 11 the number of publications in topic category 5 (goals, policy, curriculum, evaluation, and assessment) was the largest each year. The numbers of publications in topic category 3 (K-12 learner, learning, and learning environment), 1 (K-12 teaching, teacher, and teacher education), 6 (culture, social, and gender issues in STEM), and 4 (post-secondary STEM learner and learning) were also increasing. Although Fig. 11 shows the number of publications in topic category 1 was slightly more than the number of publications in topic category 3 (see Fig. 11 ), the number of publications in topic category 3 was increasing more rapidly in recent years than its counterpart in topic category 1. This may suggest a more rapidly growing interest in K-12 STEM learner, learning, and learning environment. The numbers of publications in topic categories 2 and 7 were not increasing, but the number of publications in IJ-STEM in topic category 2 was notable (Li, Froyd, & Wang, 2019 ). It will be interesting to follow trends in the seven topic categories in the future.
Publication distributions in terms of research topics over the years
Published articles by research methods
Figure 13 shows the number of publications per year by research methods in empirical studies. Publications with non-empirical studies are shown in a separate category. Although the number of publications in each of the four categories increased during the study period, there were many more publications presenting empirical studies than those without. For those with empirical studies, the number of publications using quantitative methods increased most rapidly in recent years, followed by qualitative and then mixed methods. Although there were quite many publications with non-empirical studies (e.g., theoretical or conceptual papers, literature reviews) during the study period, the increase of the number of publications in this category was noticeably less than empirical studies.
Publication distributions in terms of research methods over the years. (Note: 1=qualitative, 2=quantitative, 3=mixed, 4=Non-empirical)
The systematic analysis of publications that were considered to be in STEM education in 36 selected journals shows tremendous growth in scholarship in this field from 2000 to 2018, especially over the past 10 years. Our analysis indicates that STEM education research has been increasingly recognized as an important topic area and studies were being published across many different journals. Scholars still hold diverse perspectives about how research is designated as STEM education; however, authors have been increasingly distinguishing their articles with STEM, STEAM, or related words in the titles, abstracts, and lists of keywords during the past 10 years. Moreover, our systematic analysis shows a dramatic increase in the number of publications in STEM education journals in recent years, which indicates that these journals have been collectively developing their own professional identity. In addition, the International Journal of STEM Education has become the first STEM education journal to be accepted in SSCI in 2019 (Li, 2019a ). The achievement may mark an important milestone as STEM education journals develop their own identity for publishing and sharing STEM education research.
Consistent with our previous reviews (Li, Froyd, & Wang, 2019 ; Li, Wang, & Xiao, 2019 ), the vast majority of publications in STEM education research were contributed by authors from the USA, where STEM and STEAM education originated, followed by Australia, Canada, and Taiwan. At the same time, authors in some countries/regions in Asia were becoming very active in the field over the past several years. This trend is consistent with findings from the IJ-STEM review (Li, Froyd, & Wang, 2019 ). We certainly hope that STEM education scholarship continues its development across all five continents to support educational initiatives and programs in STEM worldwide.
Our analysis has shown that collaboration, as indicated by publications with multiple authors, has been very common among STEM education scholars, as that is often how STEM education distinguishes itself from the traditional individual disciplinary based education. Currently, most collaborations occurred among authors from the same country/region, although collaborations across cross-countries/regions were slowly increasing.
With the rapid changes in STEM education internationally (Li, 2019b ), it is often difficult for researchers to get an overall sense about possible hot topics in STEM education especially when STEM education publications appeared in a vast array of journals across different fields. Our systematic analysis of publications has shown that studies in the topic category of goals, policy, curriculum, evaluation, and assessment have been the most prevalent, by far. Our analysis also suggests that the research community had a broad interest in both teaching and learning in K-12 STEM education. These top three topic categories are the same as in the IJ-STEM review (Li, Froyd, & Wang, 2019 ). Work in STEM education will continue to evolve and it will be interesting to review the trends in another 5 years.
Encouraged by our recent IJ-STEM review, we began this review with an ambitious goal to provide an overview of the status and trends of STEM education research. In a way, this systematic review allowed us to achieve our initial goal with a larger scope of journal selection over a much longer period of publication time. At the same time, there are still limitations, such as the decision to limit the number of journals from which we would identify publications for analysis. We understand that there are many publications on STEM education research that were not included in our review. Also, we only identified publications in journals. Although this is one of the most important outlets for scholars to share their research work, future reviews could examine publications on STEM education research in other venues such as books, conference proceedings, and grant proposals.
Availability of data and materials
The data and materials used and analyzed for the report are publicly available at the various journal websites.
Journals containing the word "computers" or "ICT" appeared automatically when searching with the word "technology". Thus, the word of "computers" or "ICT" was taken as equivalent to "technology" if appeared in a journal's name.
Information and Communications Technology
International Journal of STEM Education
Science, Mathematics, Engineering, and Technology
Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics
Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics
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Authors and affiliations.
Texas A&M University, College Station, TX, 77843-4232, USA
Yeping Li & Yu Xiao
Nicholls State University, Thibodaux, LA, 70310, USA
Ohio State University, Columbus, OH, 43210, USA
Jeffrey E. Froyd
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YL conceptualized the study and drafted the manuscript. KW and YX contributed with data collection, coding, and analyses. JEF reviewed drafts and contributed to manuscript revisions. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.
Correspondence to Yeping Li .
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Li, Y., Wang, K., Xiao, Y. et al. Research and trends in STEM education: a systematic review of journal publications. IJ STEM Ed 7 , 11 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1186/s40594-020-00207-6
Received : 10 February 2020
Accepted : 12 February 2020
Published : 10 March 2020
DOI : https://doi.org/10.1186/s40594-020-00207-6
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Importance of Literature Review
By Anthony M. Wanjohi:
Review of literature in any study is not a cup of tea; it requires scholarly maturity. Good review of literature is a sign of professional maturity; it shows one’s grasp of the field, one’s methodological sophistication in critiquing others’ research, and the breadth and depth of one’s reading (Krathwohl , 1988).
There are a number of reasons why review of related literature remains core component of any scientific study. These include but not limited to the following:
Firstly, review of literature acts as a stepping-stone towards achievement of the study objectives. For scholars, the depth and breadth of the literature review emphasizes the credibility of the writer in his or her field.
Secondly, literature reviews provide a solid background to back one’s investigation. The review plays a critical role in analyzing the existing literature and giving justification as to how one’s research fits into the existing body of knowledge. This implies that the literature review provides the general understanding which gives meaning to the discussion of findings, conclusions, and recommendations. This allows the author to demonstrate how his / her research is linked to prior efforts and how it extends to build on better understanding.
Thirdly, literature reviews help the researcher to avoid duplication, identify the gaps in other studies with the goal of filling them, borrow from the research design and methodology used to investigate that particular problem and to interpret his or her own findings.
In general terms, the literature review helps to provide a context for the research, justify the research, ensure the research hasn’t been done, show where the research fits into the existing body of knowledge, enable the researcher to learn from previous theory on the subject, illustrate how the subject has previously been studied, highlight flaws in previous research, outline gaps in previous research, show that the work is adding to the understanding and knowledge of the field, help refine, refocus or even change the topic.
The temptation of being shallow, (and even to copy and paste) in review of literature is high. Thus, students of research, practitioners and scholars too are encouraged to shun away from being drawn into scholarly mediocrity.
Krathwohl , D.R. (1988). How to Prepare a Research Proposal: Guidelines for Funding and Dissertations in the Social and Behavioral Sciences. Syracuse NY : Syracuse University Press.
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The Role of the Literature Review Your literature review gives your readers an understanding of the evolution of scholarly research on your topic. In your literature review you will: survey the scholarly landscape provide a synthesis of the issues, trends, and concepts possibly provide some historical background Review the literature in two ways:
In a class, a lit review may be assigned to help students familiarize themselves with a topic and with scholarship in their field, get an idea of the other researchers working on the topic they're interested in, find gaps in existing research in order to propose new projects, and/or develop a theoretical framework and methodology for later …
A literature review is important because it: Explains the background of research on a topic. Demonstrates why a topic is significant to a subject area. Helps focus your own research questions or problems Discovers relationships between research studies/ideas. Suggests unexplored ideas or populations
"A substantive, thorough, sophisticated literature review is a precondition for doing substantive, thorough, sophisticated research". Boote and Baile 2005 . Authors of manuscripts treat writing a literature review as a routine work or a mere formality. But a seasoned one knows the purpose and importance of a well-written literature review.
Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to provide students of educational research with clear guidance on how to choose high quality sources for research papers and theses. Methods: Using an...
The literature review is the informative, evaluative and critical synthesis of a particular topic and provides readers with a clear picture of the subject and its associated range of perspectives ...
A literature review is a study - or, more accurately, a survey - involving scholarly material, with the aim to discuss published information about a specific topic or research question. Therefore, to write a literature review, it is compulsory that you are a real expert in the object of study.
The purpose of a literature review is to demonstrate that your research question is meaningful. Additionally, you may review the literature of different disciplines to find deeper meaning and understanding of your topic. It is especially important to consider other disciplines when you do not find much on your topic in one discipline.
A literature review helps you create a sense of rapport with your audience or readers so they can trust that you have done your homework. As a result, they can give you credit for your due diligence: you have done your fact-finding and fact-checking mission, one of the initial steps of any research writing.
The literature review is also crucial because it helps to detect knowledge gaps and provides an understanding of the direction in which the subsequent study of the problem should be developed. The topic described by Baker et al. (2015), as noted by the authors, is under-covered in the literature. For this reason, when reading the source review ...
What is a literature review and why is it important? A literature review is a summary of journal articles, books, and other documents that describes the past and current state of information on the topic of the research study. The purpose of the literature review is to document what the study adds to the existing literature and to ensure you
Writing a literature review is important for the following reasons: It demonstrates that you understand the issue you're investigating. A literature review allows you to develop a more theoretical framework for your research. It justifies your research and shows the gaps present in the current literature. Get Literature Review Writing Help
The literature review gives you a chance to: Demonstrate your familiarity with the topic and its scholarly context Develop a theoretical framework and methodology for your research Position your work in relation to other researchers and theorists Show how your research addresses a gap or contributes to a debate
Need, Importance and 5 Sources of Review of Related Literature in Educational Research. Educational research means the organized collection and examination of the data related to education. It is a scientific study that examines the learning and teaching methods for better understanding of the education system.
Importance of Literature Review. Bob mweetwa. 2020. research proposal as a problem to investigate, it usually has to be fairly narrow and focused, and because of this it can be difficult to appreciate how one's research subject is connected to other related areas. Therefore, the overall purpose of a literature review is to demonstrate this, and ...
A number of studies on higher education (HE) teachers' emotions have been carried out, but overall, the literature on this issue is relatively limited, even though HE teaching can be regarded as an emotional endeavor and represents an important topic in HE research. The main goal of this article was to develop a conceptual framework for examining teaching-related emotions of HE teachers by ...
A literature review is a piece of academic writing demonstrating knowledge and understanding of the academic literature on a specific topic placed in context. A literature review also includes a critical evaluation of the material; this is why it is called a literature review rather than a literature report.
A literature review is a comprehensive summary of previous research on a topic. The literature review surveys scholarly articles, books, and other sources relevant to a particular area of research. The review should enumerate, describe, summarize, objectively evaluate and clarify this previous research.
More than 3.1 million children a year are either abused or neglected (The State, 2022). During my student teaching this semester, I have seen first-hand the importance of trauma-informed learning in the classroom. How we teach our children has changed a lot throughout time, but change can be very important in making sure that students get the most out of their education and making sure that ...
A literature review may consist of simply a summary of key sources, but in the social sciences, a literature review usually has an organizational pattern and combines both summary and synthesis, often within specific conceptual categories.A summary is a recap of the important information of the source, but a synthesis is a re-organization, or a reshuffling, of that information in a way that ...
An underlying theme of the literature reviewed is that education and engagement of people living with HF after hospitalization are critical. ... Thus, while the review emphasizes the importance of nurse participation in multidisciplinary transitional care of people living with HF, the need for self-driven education and care is also apparent ...
A review of research development in a field is relatively straight forward, when the field is mature and its scope can be well defined. Unlike discipline-based education research (DBER, National Research Council, 2012), STEM education is not a well-defined field.Conducting a comprehensive literature review of STEM education research require careful thought and clearly specified scope to tackle ...
By Anthony M. Wanjohi: Review of literature in any study is not a cup of tea; it requires scholarly maturity. Good review of literature is a sign of professional maturity; it shows one's grasp of the field, one's methodological sophistication in critiquing others' research, and the breadth and depth of one's reading (Krathwohl , 1988). There […]
The review yielded rich findings concerning each dimension, providing K-12 teachers and scholars with a comprehensive overview of research findings on using gamification for educational purposes. Meanwhile, the findings indicated the lack of empirical studies regarding constructively aligned gamified courses, in which the different dimensions ...