UHP-Research Methods

by Melinda M. Livas – April 25, 2022


Need help??
Feel free to email me, [mmlivas@ucdavis.edu] or we can set-up a virtual appointment via Zoom.
Select the link below and find a date that works for you.



Melinda M Livas

Student Services
Student Services Librarian



In this Guide:

ObjectiveUsed to understand trends or provide insight into a problem, gain an understanding of underlying reasons or motives.Measure the incidence of a problem in a chosen sample, quantify data and generalize results from a sample. A combination of qualitative and quantitative methods.
Conduct interviews to solicit data. Through open-ended questions, you learn things you never thought about before and gain new insights.
Later, use a survey to test these insights on a larger scale.

It’s also possible to start with a survey to find out the overall trends, followed by interviews to better understand the reasons behind the trends.
Data Collection MethodsInterviews-asking open-ended questions verbally to respondents.

Focus groups- discussion among a group of people about a topic to gather opinions that can be used for further research.

Ethnography-participating in a community or organization for an extended period of time to closely observe culture and behavior.

Literature review: survey of published works by other authors.
Surveys- list of closed or multiple choice questions that is distributed to a sample (online, in person, or over the phone).

Experiments-situation in which variables are controlled and manipulated to establish cause-and-effect relationships.

Observations-observing subjects in a natural environment where variables can’t be controlled.
A combination of interviews and surveys.
SampleA small number of non-representative cases, often chosen.A large number of subjects are randomly selected.A small number of survey participants, and interview participants.
DataData tells a story, non-statistical, anecdotal. Can also include thematic analysis- examining the data to identify themes and patterns. Statistical, data expressed as a number.A combination of non-statistical, anecdotal data and data expressed through data
QuestionExploratory such as how or why.Conclusive such as when, where, or what.A combination of qualitative and quantitative methods.

A literature review is not only a summary of key sources but has an organizational pattern that combines both summary and synthesis, often within specific conceptual categories.

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 assignment- evaluate the sources and advise the reader on the most pertinent or relevant research.
  • In the conclusion of a literature review, identify where gaps exist in how a problem has been researched to date.

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.
  • Locate your own research within the context of existing literature [very important].

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 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.

McMaster University


Peer Review, also known as Refereed. 

Peer-reviewed literature is scholarly/ academic research that is reviewed by one or more experts (i.e. peers) in addition to the editor before being accepted for publication.

Peer-Reviewed vs. Scholarly/ Academic

Not all scholarly literature is peer-reviewed. Scholarly literature is written by experts in the field and is typically published in academic journals. However, the editor reviews the article to decided publication- there is no peer review.

Trade and Professional Publications

Trade and professional literature resembles scholarly literature in that it is written by experts in the field (e.g. specialized journalists or technical writers). Its main purpose is to convey information to other members of the profession or trade.  Articles in trade and professional journals will be more like news stories, reports on research, events, and opinions. Also, they are often published by the professional/trade associations for the field.

Popular, News, or General Interest Publications

Popular literature tends to be written by journalists for magazines and newspapers. Newsweek and New York Times are considered popular literature.

How to Identify Peer-Reviewed Articles:

A selection of databases (many from the Proquest platform)  will  include a checkbox to limit to “Peer Reviewed” articles. For journals retrieved from other databases, use the online Ulrich’s Periodicals Directory to locate your journal and then look for the black symbol indicating the publication is “Refereed.”

  • Ulrich’s Periodicals Directory
    Reports if a journal is peer reviewed or “refereed”. To the left of the journal title, look for a referee icon. Will also tell you journal circulation and publisher.


UC Library Search, the new Library catalog includes all of the UC library collections.  This setting is specific for the UC Davis libraries including (for the first time) the holdings of the Law Library. If you Sign in (on the top right corner) using your UCD login and Kerberos passphrase, you are prompted with your loan period, can renew books online, and request items that have been checked out to another borrower, or are in storage.


BrowZine visually presents the library’s e-journals in a browsable and readable format with seamless synchronization across devices. Includes a My Bookshelf feature which enables users to add their favorite titles and receive notification of newly published articles (including articles in press).  Articles can be saved to My Articles for reading and referencing later.

UC Davis Aggie Data

Access a wide array of information about UC Davis.

University of California Data

Access a wide array of information about the UC System.

Citing Your References

Also see  Citation Guides: This guide describes what a publication citation is and provides information on the most common disciplinary styles — MLA, APA, Chicago, CSE and more.


Using Endnote, citations can be stored, searched, and quickly inserted into research papers in the format of many scholarly journals. Endnote makes identifying and formatting citations for publications a breeze. Check out the Endnote@UCDavis page for more information such as loading software, instructional videos, library endnote workshops, and more.





EndNote is citation management software that allows you to store, manage, and format bibliographic citations, and easily change the formatting of citations in Word documents.  EndNote Online is available, and free to UC Davis students, faculty, and staff. [EndNote online is perfect for undergraduate students].

EndNote Desktop is a more robust version of EndNote Online and you will need to purchase a license. Feel free to visit UC Davis’ OnTheHub for licensing information.


Use “Endnote Online”  to format citations in various citation styles, i.e., APA, MLA, IEEE.

1. Register for an Endnote Online account

***Make sure you have logged into the VPN Pulse secure***

Use the link above, or,
From the Web of Science database: click on the “Endnote” link  (in the toolbar at the top screen)

2.  Getting References INTO Endnote

From Web of Science:

Log on to Endnote Online
Search Web of Science.  Then from the Web of Science results screen:

Select citations to export,

click on the Save to EndNote online link
choose  Save to EndNote online

Use Numbers of Records to identify which citations to send, then for Record Content  choose:  (Full Record and Cited References)
click SEND

Export will happen automatically.

3.  Sharing References

Allows you to share references with others

Manage My Groups
Manage Sharing:   Add email(s)

CITE WHILE YOU WRITE:  How to Use Endnote Web for In-text Citations

The Cite While You Write (CWYW) feature in Endnote and Endnote online allows you to create in-text citations and full citations at the end of your paper.

Select the links below and view the screencasts for instructions on how to install the CWYW Plugin, and use this plug-in.

Introduction to EndNote Online A Citation Management Tool

Part-2 Using the CWYW [Cite While You Write] Plug-in 

Importing Google Scholar Articles to EndNote Online

Impact Factor:

• Is a number used to indicate how influential, or important a particular journal is

• Impact Factor refers to a journal, not to an article, and not to an author (although publishing an article in a journal with a high impact factor is generally considered prestigious)

• The benefits and pitfalls of impact factors are a widely discussed topic in academia. Others measures exist to evaluate the influence of journals, articles, and authors.

• Developed in the 1950’s by Eugene Garfield, Institute of Scientific Information (ISI)

How To Find a Journal’s Impact Factor:

1. From the Library Databases Page select Journal Citation Reports (aka: JCR, and InCites Journal Citation Reports).
From Library Home Page –> Databases  –> Enter “Journal Citation Reports”
Or from Web of Science, click  “Journal Citation Reports”.

2. To find Impact Factor for a journal:

o Enter the name of the journal or click the BROWSE BY JOURNAL box  (then enter journal name)
o On the JOURNAL PROFILE, the most recent Impact factor is in box below on the right, calculation info is directly below

o Unless your assignment specifies otherwise, use the the most recent year available
(because of what is needed to calculate impact factor, the most recent year is the previous year)

How Impact Factors Are Calculated:

2005 Impact Factor for Journal X = A / B, where:

A = Number of times articles published in Journal X in 2003-2004 were cited by indexed journals in 2005

B = Number of articles published in Journal X in 2003-2004

Things to be aware of:

• “indexed journals” means journals indexed by the producer of the Web of Science database (Clarivate Analytics). If  Web of Science doesn’t index the journal, it doesn’t get included.

• “number of articles” Web of Science also decides what counts as an “article” (or “citable item”). Usually included are: articles, communications, reviews, notes, etc. Excluded are “news” type items, letters to the editor, etc.

• The lower the denominator, the higher the impact factor.

• A journal’s impact factor refers to a certain year: impact factors do vary from year to year, although most established journals tend to have fairly consistent impact factors (i.e., they don’t vary widely).




ORCID (Open Researcher and Contributor ID)- distinguishes your research from other researchers by providing a persistent digital identifier.


  • resolve name ambiguity
  • seamlessly links to multiple research formats, i.e., grants, manuscripts, etc.
  • ensures that your work is recognized

Sign up for an ORCiD account:

Register in three easy steps: https://orcid.org/



Altmetric provides a social media profile for an article, including: blogs, tweets,  Facebook, Google+, CiteULike, Wikipedia, Mendeley, Connotea,  Reddit, and news outlets that have referenced the article.  Includes links to postings and metrics.


  • Provides a collated record of who’s saying what about your published work
  • Helps you to monitor and track early engagement
  • Identifies the most effective channels, i.e., Twitter, Facebook, eBlogger

Sign up for an Altmetrics Bookmarklet: it is FREE!!!

Go to  http://www.altmetric.com/bookmarklet.php.
Grab and drag the ALTMETRICS Bookmarklet to your toolbar.

Altmetrics sells access to three products:   Explorer, Embeddable badges, Altmetric API.


Let’s Menti-meter!