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Module 4

Our first weekend intensive

Focus: writing an article for a professional journal.

Writing educational research

Time 9 am – 2 pm

Location: G31 2.15 

Program for the day
This is my imagined game plan, clearly we can negotiate around this to best suit everyone’s needs and interests.

9 am
Outline of what I hope we can achieve in the day: another (brief) take on educational research; overview of the two tasks and in particular the annotated bibliography; sharing of everyone’s educational issues; more on reading educational research; preparing an annotated bibliography;  using APA; EndNote for those still curious and for those trying it out.   

9.45 am
Sharing of educational issues. Everyone will have 5 minutes to talk briefly about their issue followed by feedback from the group. We will take a short break after each hour. Don’t be intimidated by this. It is designed to help you think things through a little more and also flag to your colleagues what you are working on. You can use anything as an aid from nothing to your Mind Map, to a computer presentation, to dance, mime, puppets or whatever works for you…. ☺. 

It is an opportunity to indicate where your thinking is up to at the moment; any issues or problems they can see; etc. If you choose to use your Mind Map and it is online you will be able to access it (bring the details you need to do that) and display it via the computer/overhead projector. If you are working with Mind Map software that is not online and you’d like to use that for your short presentation, you’ll need to bring some hard copies to share with folk in the class (I’d guess that ~ 10-12 copies will be sufficient ).

12.15 pm
We agreed that for folk who wanted to that we’d all “bring a plate” and share. We may have to eat outside. I’m not sure we can set up a feast in the computer lab! If you need tea/coffee during the day, a thermos would be a good idea.

I’ll be available to talk to you individually during this time.

1.15 pm
The annotated bibliography task and its relation to the draft professional journal paper

What to bring for the day
We are in a computer lab so if you want to upload or download any files you will need to bring on a thumb/usb drive. To use any of the computers in the lab you will need to have your Griffith username and password. If you have a laptop and want to use it that is fine. 

The other thing to bring are some/all of the papers you have been looking at that inform the educational issue you have chosen to work on. For those who don’t have any papers yet to work on or with, I’ll supply a paper or two for reading practice. 

If you can’t make it to the workshop
Clearly it will be impossible for most of the off campus folk to make it. If you are taking the course off campus/online and are able to attend that is perfectly fine. 

It is important that you pop a sentence or two about your educational issue on the discussion group.  If you are building an online Mind Map around your issue then you can put the URL on the discussion group. 

During the weekend session we will be doing the following activities that if you cannot attend you should also do and post your results online to the discussion group.


It is essential to the process outlined that each student develops their own skills in giving and receiving constructive feedback. The following tips on how to give and receive feedback are provided to help you develop these skills

Giving Constructive Feedback

  • Identify clearly the positives of the work what is good about it. This is often a good place to start.
  • Identify areas for improvement including possible suggestions that take the work forward towards the goals of the course in a manner that are actionable by the person.
  • As a group of colleagues collaborate to brainstorm possible solutions to the areas for improvement. What this means in practice is avoid using terms such as “you need to” this identifies the person. Rather use “ I noticed that” or ask a question to clarify and understand the area of concern.
  • Allow the person being provided with the feedback the opportunity to speak.

Receiving Constructive Feedback

  • Accept that the feedback being provided is about improvement of your work towards the aims of the course. Remember you have the chance to reflect further on the feedback and decide what you will act on later.
  • Listen to the feedback and make sure that you allow the person providing the feedback to finish their idea before you speak. Do not get defensive. Remember, you will choose what to do with the feedback.
  • If you are unsure of what the feedback means, ask for specific examples of the comments being made, whether the comments are positive, or suggesting improvements. Asking questions will ensure that you understand where you are going well and what improvements need to be made.
  • Bring your own list of questions to make sure you make the most of the feedback session? What do you know you need to ask about and make sure it is covered in the feedback session?

Activity 1

  1. Prepare your work to discuss with your colleagues as outlined above regarding feedback. 
  2. Identify questions that you need to seek feedback on during your feedback session. 
  3. Prepare yourself to receive and record the constructive feedback provided to you during the session. 
  4. Actively participate in providing constructive feedback to colleagues either at the workshop or through comments posted on the discussion group. 

Exploring Different Levels of Scholarship

How scholarly is a particular paper that you have found? This is an important question to answer as you undertake your research work. Sometimes you will hear journals make the claim that they are scholarly. What do they mean by this term? Scholarly is defined by the New Oxford American Dictionary ("scholarly adj.," 2005) as:

→ adj.
involving or relating to serious academic study: scholarly journals a scholarly career.

• having or showing knowledge, learning, or devotion to academic pursuits: a scholarly account of the period an earnest, scholarly man.

For the purpose of our studies in this course two different types of scholarly works are going to be identified: research papers and professional papers. Each of these types of papers provides different levels of evidence and knowledge to your exploration of a particular educational issue. In this module we will look at research papers. We will discuss the characteristics of research papers and look at different types of research papers before developing guidelines that will help you to critically analyse research papers. The differences between qualitative and qualitative research papers will be outlined.

The Characteristics of a Research Paper

Research papers report on the findings of original research or experimentation in order to further develop knowledge in the field of education. They include reflections on data that has been gathered to seek further information about a question or problem. This research question or problem has been identified by the author/s as being one that will make a contribution to furthering knowledge in the field of education. The author/s are individuals or teams involved in a research project, usually affiliated with a university. The research paper is characterised by the use of scholarly language. Research papers usually follow a standard format: abstract, main text, bibliography. This format varies slightly depending on the type of research paper. The different types of papers are discussed in more detail below. Good research papers identify a rigorous methodology for collecting data and make use of this data when presenting the results of the research. They may use qualitative or quantitative approaches to the collection and analysis of data. Research papers always include a bibliography that gives all references in full to show how the paper contributes to the scholarly literature. Research papers are published in recognised academic journals, both in hard copy and/or online. Before publication in most academic journals, research papers undergo a blind (anonymous) peer review process. The table below provides a summary of these characteristics of a research paper.

Research Papers

Purpose of the paper is to report the findings or original research or experimentation to make this information available to other scholars. The paper articulates a research questions that is explored.

Articles are written by individuals or teams involved in a research project usually associated with a university or research institute. Usually the article indicated that university and or the level of academic standing of the individual.

The language of the journal is scholarly and assumes some level of understanding of the reader in the relevant discipline.

References are included in full citing scholarly and professional sources that locate how the paper developed contributes to an identified knowledge gap in the scholarly literature.

Articles in research papers are often presented in a standard format including an abstract, the main text including figures, diagrams, tables and graphs followed by the bibliography.

Research articles usually identify a rigorous methodology for collecting data and make use of this data when presenting the results of the research.

Qualitative or quantitative approaches to the collection and analysis of data may be used.

Research articles include a discussion of the findings of the research and demonstrate via data as evidence the outcomes of the research.

Articles usually undergo a peer review process to assess whether colleagues agree that a paper makes a contribution towards the field. The inside front cover of a journal usually provides details on the process of review for papers submitted.

Let’s look at the nature of academic journals. Academic journals share the following features. They have sections that outline the aims and scope of the journal and the potential readership. This information is useful when deciding whether it will contain articles that are of relevance or interest to your issue. It is also useful for authors who are considering submitting papers for publication. Academic journals always list the editors and the academics on the editorial board. The more prestigious the editorial board, the higher the quality of the journal. Evidence of the quality of the journal can be gained also from the peer review process. This process is usually outlined in the instructions to authors.

Qualitative and Quantitative Research Approaches: What’s the Difference?

Although qualitative and quantitative research approaches share basic principles of science, the two approaches differ in significant ways. Neuman (2003) suggests that authors such as Creswell (1994), Denzin and Lincoln (1994), Guba and Lincoln (1994), Mostyn (1985) and Tashakkori and Teddlie (1998) indicate while each approach has its strengths and limitations the general differences can be highlighted. For example, quantitative approaches tend to measure objective facts, focus on variables, reliability is key, positions taken are value free, the research is considered independent of context , involves the use of many cases or subjects, statistical analysis is undertaken and the researcher is detached from the research process. Qualitative studies tend to construct social reality and cultural meaning, they focus on interactive processes and events, authenticity is key, values are present and explicit, the researcher is situationally constrained, few cases or subjects are involved, thematic analysis is common and the researcher is involved in the research process. Figure 1 below provides a summary of the key characteristics that distinguish a qualitative research approach from a quantitative research approach.

Activity 2: Identifying Quantitative and Qualitative approaches in research papers

1. Read the following papers:

Paper 1: Cheung, H. Y. (2008). Teacher Efficacy: A Comparative Study of Hong Kong and Shanghai Primary In-Service Teachers. Australian Educational Researcher, 35(1), 103-123. 

Paper 2: Huntly, H. (2008). Teachers’Work: Beginning Teachers’ Conceptions Of Competence. Australian Educational Researcher, 35(1), 125-145.

2. Use the summary at the end of these notes to compare the following papers. 

Can you identify the paper that illustrates the key features of each approach?
Which paper did you find easiest, most interesting?
What methodological approach appeals to you?

Activity 3: Exploring a Research Paper

1. Access the Thomas (2008) reading using the following steps. Do a title search in the library catalogue for “Journal of Education Policy”. Click to access the electronic version. The home page for Journal of Education Policy will open. Click on Volume 23 Issue 3 and look at the format of the issue. Find the Thomas paper. Download the PDF file.

2. Read the paper. As you read, identify:

- The author and her affiliation

- The abstract

- The introduction

- The statement of the problem/purpose of the paper

- A section on method

- The findings, includes the analysis

- The discussion that interprets the findings

- The bibliography

3. Now look at the journal home page. Click on the tabs for Aims & Scope, Editorial Board, and Instructions for Authors. Note the information on the peer review process. 

Types of Research Papers

The American Psychological Association (APA) (2001) identifies five main types of research papers. They are: reports of empirical studies, review articles, theoretical papers, methodological papers, and case studies. It is useful to be able to recognize each type of article in order to more accurately evaluate the papers value. 

Reports of Empirical Studies report on original (empirical) research. Empirical simply means that the research is derived from experience or experiment. Reports of empirical studies consist of the following distinct sections:

  • The introduction – that outlines the development of the problem under investigation and gives a statement of the purpose of the investigation
  • Method - a section that describes the method used to conduct the investigation
  • Results – that reports the results or findings of the research
  • Discussion – that interprets the results and discusses their implications
Example: Thomas, S. (2008). Leading for quality: Questions about quality and leadership in Australia Journal of Education Policy, 23(3), 323-334.
Review Articles are critical evaluations of material that has already been published. They consider the progress of current research toward clarifying a problem. A review article is a tutorial, because the author/s:

  • Define and clarify the problem
  • Summarise previous investigations to present state of current research
  • Identify relations, contradictions, gaps and inconsistencies
  • Suggest the next steps in identifying the problem
Example: Dillabough, J.-A. (2009). History and the making of young people and the late modern youth researcher: time, narrative, and change. Discourse: Studies in the Cultural Politics of Education, 30(2), 213-229.

Theoretical Papers draw on existing research material to advance theory. They have a similar structure to review articles but, unlike a review article, present empirical evidence only when it affects theoretical issues. Theoretical papers trace the development of theory in order to expand and refine theoretical constructs. The author usually presents a new theory or demonstrates the superiority of one theory over another.

Example: Ray, T. (2009). Rethinking Polanyi’s Concept of Tacit Knowledge: From Personal Knowing to Imagined Institutions. Minerva, 47, 75-92.

Methodological Papers present new methodological approaches, modifications of existing approaches or discussions of data analytic approaches. They focus on the empirical or data analytic approach in question. Methodological papers can introduce empirical data but only as an illustration of the approach being discussed. Reading methodological papers allows researchers to determine the applicability of the method to their own research problem and/or to compare proposed approach with approaches they currently use.

Example: Thomas, S. (2005). The construction of teacher identities in educational policy documents: a Critical Discourse Analysis. Melbourne Studies in Education, 46(1), 25-44.

Case studies describe case material while working with an individual or organization. They indicate a means for solving a problem or shed light on needed research or theoretical matters. Maintaining confidentiality is particularly important when writing up case studies.

Example: Dempster, N. & Johnson, G. (2006). Inter-relationships between leadership and learning: Some findings from Southside High. Leading and Managing, 12(2), 29-39.

Critically Evaluating Research Papers

Critical evaluating a research paper is an important part of the critical review of literature and the development of your scholarly work. A framework for evaluating research papers is provided below. The framework lists questions that you can ask when reading a research paper. Most of the questions are drawn from the discussion above. Note particularly the questions about the quality of the paper and the “Who benefits?” question.

Use the following questions to help you evaluate the quality of research papers:

  • Is the paper an empirical study, review article, theoretical paper, methodological paper or and case study?
  •  Does the paper report the findings of original research or experimentation? What are these findings?
  • Is this research significant i.e. is the work original and important?
  • Who is/are the author/s? To what university/ies are they affiliated?
  • Does the paper follow a standard format: abstract, main text, bibliography?
  • Does the paper use scholarly language?
  • Is the research question or problem stated clearly?
  • Is the method used to conduct the investigation clearly described?
  • Are the results/findings clearly reported?
  • How can these results be interpreted? What are their implications?
  • Is a bibliography, giving full references included? Does the bibliography show how the paper contributes to the scholarly literature?
  • Was the paper published in a recognised academic journal that followed a blind peer review process? What was the date of publication?
  • Who might benefit from or support the arguments expressed in this paper? Who would be influenced by it? 

Activity 4: Critically Evaluating a Research Paper

Read the Thomas paper again and take another look at the journal’s home page.
Use the above Guidelines for Critically Evaluating Research Papers to evaluate the Thomas paper.
Off-campus students and those unable to attend the weekend workshop should post an evaluation of the Thomas paper on the course discussion group.

Activity 5: Collecting and Evaluating Research Papers

Source and collect one qualitative and one quantitative research paper on your issue.
Critically evaluate this paper using the guidelines outlined in the above table. 

Off-campus students and those unable to attend the weekend workshop should then add their evaluation of these papers to the course discussion group and clearly indicating the paper reference and evaluation using the above Guidelines.  

Writing an Annotated Bibliography

The first assignment task asks you to write an annotated bibliography on your educational issue. An annotated bibliography provides a brief account of the available research on an issue. It lists research sources, giving a brief summary and evaluation of each source. Making annotations for each reference that you find useful will help you to manage the literature you are reading on your issue. It is a good idea to write the annotation in the Notes section of each reference in your Endnote library if you are using this. The O’Leary reading has some very useful points about annotating references, as does the online resource at

For your assignment, you could follow the format for an annotation found in O’Leary (2004). She notes that an annotation should always include the following information: Citation, Author/Audience, Summary, Critical comment, and Relevance. Let’s look at each of these types of information in turn. As we do so, you will find that we are noting many of the points found in the Guidelines for Critically Evaluating Research Papers discussed earlier.

Citation: Be sure to keep full references for all the material you read. Many researchers have had to omit material from a paper, or had the publication of the paper delayed, because they have not recorded the reference. Learn the appropriate referencing style at the beginning of your study. In this course, we require APA 5th edition. Get a style guide and use it regularly until the style becomes automatic.

Author/Audience: As we discussed earlier in this module, the author/s and affiliation is an important check of the quality of the literature. It is important to note the intended audience also. Is it the research community, professional, or perhaps policy-makers? Choose sources that indicate that it is credible literature.

Summary: Your summary should briefly describe the paper. The research problem, and the author/s argument relating to this problem should be outlined. A description of the findings that identifies the key themes and ideas should be given. The relationship between these ideas should also be noted, perhaps in a diagram. It is always useful to include a direct quote that sums up a key point. Remember to note the page number. Aim to record information you think you may need in the future.

Critical comment: This section is your critical response to the reference you have read, particularly in terms of how the work sits in relation to the field. ‘Critical’ here does not imply being negative. Rather, in academic work, it means informed and considered evaluation. Use the Guidelines for Critically Evaluating Research Papers to help you. You could comment on any or all of the following: the subjectivities of the author/s, the authenticity of the findings, and the methodological approach adopted and applied. An important consideration here is the answer to the questions, Who might benefit from or support the arguments expressed in this paper? Who would be influenced by it? More information about critically appraising and analysing the sources for your bibliography can be found at How to Critically Analyze Information Sources.

Relevance: The relevance section is the place where you outline how the reference connects what the author/s have done to the issue that you are investigating. It should answer the question, Why am I reading this? Answering this, and the following questions, will help you to write a brief statement about the relevance of this reference to your issue.

  • How does this reference sit in relation to my issue? 
  • What does it contribute to my understanding of the issue? 
  • How does it 'fit in' with other works on the issue? 
  • Is there anything in the work that excites, or appals, me? 

O’Leary (2004, p. 72) has an excellent idea for using post-it notes to help you rank the relevance of the literature you are reading. She suggests that you use a different coloured post-it note for each key idea, or concept, identified in the literature. As you read, rank the overall work, or each chapter in the work on a three point scale, where 1 is minimally relevant, 2 is somewhat relevant and 3 is highly relevant. These rankings will help you to both write a statement about the relevance of the work, and to select the most relevant references for your annotated bibliography.

In addition to the references mentioned above, the following links may help you to write an annotated bibliography for your assignment:

How to Prepare an Annotated Bibliography, Cornell University Library (pdf file), The University of Adelaide.

Writing an annotated bibliography, University of Toronto

Writing an annotated bibliography, QUT Write, Queensland University of Technology

Writing an annotated bibliography, Queensland University of Technology Library

Annotated Bibliographies, OWL at Purdue University

Activity 6: What are the problems with this annotation?

Example Annotation: Source

1.     Review the sample annotation below. Identify the various aspects of the annotation format evident in this particular example using O’Leary’s format.

2.     This annotation does not provide an annotation in the format required. What are the problems you can identify with this annotation? Off campus students or those unable to attend the weekend workshop should comment on this annotation via the course discussion group. 

Trevor, C.O., Lansford, B. and Black, J.W., 2004, ‘Employee turnover and job performance: monitoring the influences of salary growth and promotion’, Journal of Armchair Psychology, vol 113, no.1, pp. 56-64.

In this article Trevor et al. review the influences of pay and job opportunities in respect to job performance, turnover rates and employee motivation. The authors use data gained through organisational surveys of blue-chip companies in Vancouver, Canada to try to identify the main causes of employee turnover and whether it is linked to salary growth. Their research focuses on assessing a range of pay structures such as pay for performance and organisational reward schemes. The article is useful to my research topic, as Trevor et al. suggest that there are numerous reasons for employee turnover and variances in employee motivation and performance. The main limitation of the article is that the survey sample was restricted to mid-level management, thus the authors indicate that further, more extensive, research needs to be undertaken to develop a more in-depth understanding of employee turnover and job performance. This article will not form the basis of my research; however it will be useful supplementary information for my research on pay structures.

 Annotation format

 Evidence in this annotation


 Critical comment



Activity 7: Annotating a reference

Use the table below to write an annotation for one of the references you sourced for Activity 5 above. 



 Critical comment



You may find the following plagiarism detection and writing analysis tools of some use


American Psychological Association. (2010). Publication Manual (Sixth ed.). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

Cheung, H. Y. (2008). Teacher Efficacy: A Comparative Study of Hong Kong and Shanghai Primary In-Service Teachers. Australian Educational Researcher, 35(1), 103-123.

Creswell, J.W. (2008). Educational Research: Planning, Conducting, and Evaluating Quantitative and Qualitative Research. Australia: Pearson Publishers.

Dempster, N. & Johnson, G. (2006). Inter-relationships between leadership and learning: Some findings from Southside High. Leading and Managing, 12(2), 29-39.

Dillabough, J.-A. (2009). History and the making of young people and the late modern youth researcher: time, narrative, and change. Discourse: Studies in the Cultural Politics of Education, 30(2), 213-229.

Huntly, H. (2008). Teachers’ Work: Beginning Teachers’ Conceptions Of Competence. Australian Educational Researcher, 35(1), 125-145.

Neuman, W. L. (2003). Social Research Methods: Qualitative and Quantitative Approaches. New York: Allyn and Bacon Publishes.

O’Leary, Z. (2004). The Essential Guide to Doing Research. London: Sage.

Ray, T. (2009). Rethinking Polanyi’s Concept of Tacit Knowledge: From Personal Knowing to Imagined Institutions. Minerva, 47, 75-92.

Thomas, S. (2008). Leading for quality: Questions about quality and leadership in Australia. Journal of Education Policy, 23(3), 323-334.

Thomas, S. (2005). The construction of teacher identities in educational policy documents: a Critical Discourse Analysis. Melbourne Studies in Education, 46(1), 25-44.

Jason Zagami,
22 Aug 2012, 01:56
Jason Zagami,
22 Aug 2012, 01:57
Jason Zagami,
24 Aug 2012, 04:48
Jason Zagami,
22 Aug 2012, 01:57