Overview of Integrating Across Studies
|A good review of research literature does not just describe
and assess the applicable studies. It also integrates across them.
The integration stage forges something new from the prior studies.
This introductory lesson and the following five Integration lessons (I-2
to I-6) will help you several ways of doing this.
The "new" may come from a redefinition of a research problem, modification of conceptual framework applied to the problem, identification of methodological shortcomings in a body of research, or a best guess about the "truth" of some issue from a body of research with inconsistent results. The Search and Assessment stages of a literature review provide the foundation for the Integration stage.
There are many ways of approaching integration. They can be grouped into the following six categories. Rarely would all six approaches be used simultaneously, but these indicate the range of possibilities:
As with the Search and Assessment stages of a literature review, a scholar's beliefs, hopes, predispositions, and opinions can unintentionally, and sometimes intentionally, bias the results of the Integration stage, making them invalid, misleading, and dysfunctional. To avoid this, be cognizant of your biases and rigorously verify and document the resulting integrations. As a final check, ask yourself: were there any surprises in your integrations? If not, you may have proceeded with blinders.
The integration of research is a scholarly endeavor. Accordingly, your conclusions are considered of little importance without careful documentation of the evidence upon which they are based.
There are at least five domains where integration can be undertaken during reviews of the research literature. They are:
Although the steps in research normally begin with a research problem, followed in order by a conceptual framework, methodology, and findings, in the following lessons, integration of research problems will be discussed last because it usually draws heavily on integrations of the other domains.
Other Integration Lessons
This is the first of six brief lessons on integrating across research studies. The other lessons are as follows:
Treasure Chest on Integration
Last Update: June 29, 2000