Sage Research Methods is a great resource for help with the research process in general (not specific to Applied Linguistics) : research design, methodology, data collection & analysis etc.
What might have been a "good enough" search for resources when you were an undergraduate, may not cut it as a graduate student: you will need to dig deeper and expand your universe, be better organized and more analytical.
The resources detailed below should help.
Regularly check the listings of Graduate Professional Development Events that are offered by departments and services across campus, including the Library. They are free, and time spent at many, but not all, of these events and workshops can count toward paid pedagogical training time if you are working as a TA
There is no single prescribed way to do research: a good researcher will use a variety of sources and techniques and will understand that it is an iterative process. The following are just some of the steps you can take
Beef up your background knowledge
- The more you know about a topic heading into your search, the more thorough you can be.
- If you're starting research in a topic you are not too familiar with, getting overviews from discipline specific encyclopedias can provide context, and specialized vocabulary. Examples are:
- Talk to people: ask a classmate or a professor if they can recommend readings for a particular topic
Know the possibilities of your chosen search tool:
- Use advanced search screens: they often have extra search parameters you can use
- Use truncation: most databases will let you use the * after the root of a word to pick up all forms of that word. teach* will allow you to find not just "teach" but also teacher, teaching...
- Make full use of all boolean capabilities (AND, OR, NEAR, NOT...), field searching, phrase searching, quotations...
For more information on searching in Omni see our Omni Help page.
When searching other databases, look for links to help or search tips to find out what you can do there.
- Use correct terminology: most disciplines have very specific terminology that you may not be familiar with if you are just starting to research the subject areas. You can pick up on the vocabulary a number of ways:
- Do background reading (encyclopedias, introductory chapters in books, review articles..)
- Listen: in lectures, when there are guest speakers
- Browse abstracts of journal articles
- Look at assigned subject terms/descriptors that many databases assign to articles
- Use built-in thesauri that some databases have, e.g. LLBA, ERIC, Sociological Abstracts and browse for possible terms to use
- Use synonyms: Before you do your search, try and think if there are any commonly used synonyms for your keyword that might be useful. Example: if I am interested in second language learning in universities I might try searching for: universit* OR higher education OR college* OR undergraduate*
- If a database comes with a thesaurus explore it for suggested terminology and then use these terms in your search
Example: the link to the LLBA thesaurus in Proquest
Example: Thesaurus entry for "Language Acquisition. Note the broader, narrower, and related terms.
Follow citation chains:
- Forward chains: Look for links in databases to sources that have cited the article/book/essay more recently. This can lead you to the most current research on a topic. The following search tools support forward citation chaining:
- Backward chains: Pay attention to the sources references by books/articles you find: this can help you find foundational research in a given area
- Look for links to "related articles": these are sources that either share a number of cited references with the item you are looking at, or could be ones that other people who have looked at the article you found also looked at.
- See our Cited Reference Searching guide for more details
Relevant Databases for ALDS:
Besides Omni, the Library subscribes to many different discipline or format specific databases. These may allow you to find sources you can't find through Omni. They may also include other features that Omni does not have. All will let you find journal articles. Some will also include other types of resources such as books, book chapters, theses.
- LLBA is a database specializing in topics related to languages and linguistics;
- ERIC is a database that specializes in all areas of Education,
- LearnTechLib (formerly EdITLib) specializes in resources related to use of technology in education...
- Scopus Multidisciplinary for sciences and social sciences with times cited info and links to citing articles plus lots of ways to analyze your results
- Web of Science Core Collection Multidisciplinary for all subject areas with times cited info and links to citing articles plus lots of ways to analyze your results
- You can find a list of recommended databases on the Applied Linguistics & Discourse Studies Subject Guide
Requests through Omni
If you want to expand your searches beyond just what is in our Library's collection start by checking off the "Add results beyond Carleton's collection" option in Omni
- Any journal articles that are note available locally, you can use the request option to order a pdf version
- Any print items you find that are not available from us, but ARE available from one of the 15 other Ontario university libraries that are Omni partners, can also be requested.
- Any items you've found through other means, but are not in Omni, you can request through Interlibrary Loans
Other search tools
- CRL catalog (Center for Research Libraries) : Collects research materials not targeted by other North American research institutions. We are a member which allows you to get long-term loans of much of their material.
- WorldCat: Search the library catalogues of 1000's of libraries around the world. You can get an idea of the importance of a book by seeing how many libraries have it in their collection
- Borrowing directly from other libraries: We participate in a number of partnerships allowing you to borrow in person from libraries across the country and the rest of North America
[COVID NOTE: MANY UNIVERSITY LIBRARIES ARE CURRENTLY LIMITING IN-PERSON ACCESS TO ONLY THOSE FROM THEIR INSTITUTIONS]
Adding to our Library's Collection
- You can also send a purchase suggestion to us! If our budget allows and the item falls within our collection profile, we can usually purchase suggested titles. These can be placed directly on Hold for you (if we buy a print version) or we can notify you when the electronic version has been added to Omni
The last thing you want to find out as you are about to defend your thesis is that someone else has already done what you are doing! One way to avoid this is to make sure you are aware of not just the current journal literature, but of recent theses that have been completed.
We have a number of databases that will allow you to search for theses. They include:
- CURVE: This is the Carleton University institutional repository. It collects, preserves and provides open access to the academic, research output and creative works of Carleton faculty and scholars. One of its collections is CU theses & dissertations.
- Dissertations and Theses Global Covers all the same theses from the former Dissertations & Theses Full Text (full-text of North American theses) and Dissertations & Theses: UK and Ireland (selected full-text, others may be found in the EThOS database listed below) plus it now adds more international coverage of some European and Chinese theses.
- EThOS The UK’s national thesis service, provides a record of all doctoral dissertations with a growing number of them in full-text
- Theses Canada / Thèses Canada
- Center for Research Libraries: Foreign Doctoral Dissertations
- Trove : To find Australian theses, go to the advanced search screen, and choose "format" to be "thesis"
For more information see our Theses & Dissertations page
- Save time and be organized by using some kind of citation managment tool such as Zotero, Mendeley ... for all of the references you are collecting during your research
- Most tools can turn your references into properly formatted bibliographies, and with additional plug-ins they can allow you to easily insert your citations into your papers as you write.
- See our Citation Management page for more information.
- We provide one-on-one support for a number of these tools
Research Data Management & Quantitative Data
- We provide support for preparing a Research Data Management Plan (often required when applying to major funding agencies).
- Check the Grad Professional Development series of workshops to see if a Research Data Management Workshop is being offered
- Our Data centre also provides statistical consulting for software such as SPSS, STAT-A and R
- Portage which offers the DMP Assistant, a step-by-step template to create your own Data Management plan.
- Dataverse: A secure place to store your data and make it accessible to others
NVivo: Qualitative Data
If you are going to be doing your own research project you will be collecting data: quantitative, qualitative or a bit of both.
- NVivo is software that can help in the organization and analysis of QUALITATIVE data.
- See our NVivo page for details on how you can obtain your own copy of the software, links to supporting documentation and our scheduled workshops, and the option to book a consultation with one of our team.
- Conducting a literature review (MacOdrum Library, Carleton)
- How to write a literature review (Concordia University libraries)
- The literature review: A few tips on conducting it (University of Toronto)
- Writing a literature review (University of Toronto, Scarborough Writing Centre)
You can find examples of literature reviews in books and journal articles, try searching for the phrase "literature review". Here is an example:
Liang, X., Mohan, B. A., & Early, M. (1998). Issues of cooperative learning in ESL classes: A literature review. TESL Canada Journal/Revue TESL Du Canada, 15(2), 13-23 [link to pdf]
More detailed information on literature reviews can be found in these books from our collection:
NOTE: print books can be picked up in person or requested via our curbside service (for pick up or mailing)
- Harris, D. (2020). Literature review and research design : A guide to effective research practice.
- Hempel, S. (2020). Conducting your literature review.
- Machi, L.A. & McEvoy, B. T. (2016).The literature review : Six steps to success. 3rd ed.
- Booth, A. (2016). Systematic approaches to a successful literature review
Call Number: LB1047.3 .B66 2016
- Feak, C. B & Swales, J. M. (2009). Telling a research story : writing a literature review.
Call Number: LB2369.F43 2009
- Onwuegbuzie, A. J. & Frels, R. (2016). 7 steps to a comprehensive literature review : a multimodal & cultural approach.
- Call Number: LB2369 .O59 2016
- Ridley, D. (2012). The literature review : a step-by-step guide for students. 2nd ed.
Call Number: LB2369 .R525 2012
Different forms of knowledge synthesis such as scoping reviews and systematic reviews, long popular in medical and health sciences areas, are becoming more common in other disciplines, including in applied linguistics.
- Systematic Reviews and Other Knowledge Syntheses
Our detailed guide explaining the differences in types of knowledge synthesis (e.g. Literature review vs. Scoping review vs. Systematic review), and the steps involved.
- University of South Australia has 2 very nicely laid out guides that break down the steps quite nicely:
- Scoping Reviews
- Systematic Reviews
- Systematic Reviews, Scoping Reviews, and other Knowledge Syntheses: well organized guide from the McGill Library
What you'Il find below are some resources and examples specifically aimed at Applied Linguistics:
A new research method for SLA researchers: Scoping Review! (Blog post, 2018)
Examples (peer reviewed journal articles):
- Jabbari, N. & Eslami, Z. R. (2019). Second language learning in the context of massively multiplayer online games: A scoping review. ReCALL, 31(1), 92–113.
- Jackson, E., Leitão, S., Claessen, M., & Boyes, M. (2019). The evaluation of word‐learning abilities in people with developmental language disorder: a scoping review. International Journal of Language & Communication Disorders, 54(5), 742–755
- Jiang, M. Y., Jong, M. S., Lau, W. W., Chai, C., Liu, K. S., & Park, M. (2020). A scoping review on flipped classroom approach in language education: Challenges, implications and an interaction model. Computer Assisted Language Learning, DOI: 10.1080/09588221.2020.1789171.
- Müller, L.-M., Howard, K., Wilson, E., Gibson, J., & Katsos, N. (2020). Bilingualism in the family and child well-being: A scoping review. The International Journal of Bilingualism : Cross-Disciplinary, Cross-Linguistic Studies of Language Behavior, 24(5-6), 1049–1070.
- Plug, I., Stommel, W. J. , Lucassen, P. L. B. , Olde Hartman, T. C., van Dulmen, S. , & Das, E. (2021). Do women and men use language differently in spoken face-to-face interaction? A scoping review. Review of Communication Research, 9, 43–79.
- Visonà, M. W. & Plonsky, L. (2020). Arabic as a heritage language: A scoping review. International Journal of Bilingualism, 24(4), 599–615.
Duff, P. A., Norris, J. M. , & Ortega, L. (2007). The future of research synthesis in applied linguistics: Beyond art or science. TESOL Quarterly, 41(4), 805-815.
"...we discuss systematic research synthesis as a contemporary framework for reviewing. We offer a selective outline of its history and main characteristics, and we discuss its potential benefits for the field of applied linguistics. We also reflect on limitations, pitfalls, and future challenges that arise from engaging in systematic synthesis of extant research."
Macaro, E. (2019). Systematic reviews in applied linguistics. In J. McKinley & H. Rose (Eds.) The Routledge Handbook of Research Methods in Applied Linguistics (1st ed., pp. 230-239). ***ON ORDER***
"...a systematic review attempts to reduce bias by ensuring that it is carried out by a team of reviewers, that it is transparent in its procedures from beginning to end of the process and that the searching for relevant studies is not only exhaustive but reliable. A systematic review of relevant research aims to produce syntheses containing clear messages about the reliability of the evidence reviewed..."
Examples (Peer-Reviewed Journal Articles):
- Avgousti, M. I. (2018). Intercultural communicative competence and online exchanges: A systematic review. Computer Assisted Language Learning, 31(8), 819–853.
- Brown, A. V., Plonsky, L., & Teimouri, Y. (2018). The use of course grades as metrics in L2 research: A systematic review. Foreign Language Annals, 51(4), 763–778.
- Li, S. , & Zhao, H. (2021). The methodology of the research on language aptitude: A systematic review. Annual Review of Applied Linguistics, 41, 25–54.
- Olate, A., & Cisternas Irarrázabal, C. (2020). Linguistic ideologies about American indigenous languages: A systematic review of research articles. Íkala : Revista de Lenguaje y Cultura, 25(3), 755–773.
- Randour, F., Perrez, J., & Reuchamps, M. (2020). Twenty years of research on political discourse: A systematic review and directions for future research. Discourse & Society, 31(4), 428–443.
- Toliver-Smith, A., & Gentry, B. (2017). Investigating Black ASL: A systematic review. American Annals of the Deaf, 161(5), 560–570.
Multimodal Analysis Tools
- Elan: designed for analysis of language, sign language, and gesture (free)
Computer Assisted Qualitative Data Analysis Softwae (CAQDAS)
- NVivo: We have a site license for this and offer workshops and provide support.
This software " ...helps you organize, analyze and find insights in unstructured, or qualitative data like: interviews, open-ended survey responses, articles, social media and web content." Can import Survey Monkey or Qualtrics surveys directly, other surveys can be imported in Excel or csv formats.
- Other options:
- MaxQDA: recently added stats package, now for "qualitative, quantitative, and mixed methods analysis". 4 different option packages + Many different student licensing options
- QDA Miner: "easy-to-use qualitative data analysis software package for coding, annotating, retrieving and analyzing small and large collections of documents and images". Additional modules for statistical data analysis and quantitative content analysis/text mining. Has free QDA Miner Lite
- Dedoose: web based. "cross-platform app for analyzing qualitative and mixed methods research with text, photos, audio, videos, spreadsheet data and more"
Many of these offer both free versions and paid versions. Free versions may limit maximum number of questions, respondents, surveys. Most of the CAQDAS packages will allow you to import survey data. See this PCMag list of Best Online Survey Tools for 2020 if you want to compare.
- Qualtrics: We have a site license
- Survey Monkey
- Survey Gizmo
- Survey Planet
- Google Forms totally free
Text/Corpus Linguistics Tools
- Linguist List's Software related to Text/Corpus linguistics
- SIL Language Technology: links to a wide variety of software and web tools to help in collecting and analyzing language
- AntConc (free)
- Praat: for phonetics analysis (free)
- Leximancer: automated analysis of text
- Sketch Engine (free)
Many of you may be working towards having some of your work published as journal articles and others may be looking for help with writing your thesis. You may find the following links useful.
Publishing Journal Articles:
Who can help?
- Scholarly Communications: get in touch with our Scholarly Communications Librarian for more information related to publishing your research, establishing/managing your Research IDs, info on our Graduate Student Open Access Fund
Books in our collection:
- Handbook of Scholarly Writing and Publishing
- Academic Writer's Toolkit: A User's Manual
- Try a keyword search for the phrase "Academic writing" for many more
Deciding where you want to publish your article:
- Writing for Scholarly Journals: a series of short video screencasts with accompanying documentation on a variety of topics such as What has been written on my topic? and more
- CURIE Fund: Think you might like to publish in an open access journal? Then look into this fund which is a pilot project to provide funds for the reimbursement of reasonable article processing fees for articles authored or co-authored by Carleton researchers published in eligible peer-reviewed open access journals
- Journal Citation Reports: lets you see how journals in various disciplines are ranked by measures such as impact factor (average number of citations per article).
- Do a search on your topic in one of our journal article databases (e.g. Linguistics and Language Behavior Abstracts) and on the results page look to see if they let you filter your results by title of journal: gives you a quick way to see which journals publish the most on a particular topic [keep in mind though that some journals publish more issues per year than others, so this might skew listings]
- Thesis requirements: from the Faculty of Graduate and Post-Doctoral Affairs. Includes info on formatting and writing, checklists, templates...
- Carleton's Graduate and Postdoc Professional Development often offers workshops specifically related to thesis preparation topics. Check out their calendar or sign up for their mailing list.
Sample of books that might be of help:
NOTE: print books can be picked up in person or requested via our curbside service (for pick up or mailing)
- Axelrod, B.N. (2012). Dissertation solutions: A concise guide to planning, implementing, and surviving the dissertation process.
- Bichener, J. (2010). Writing an applied linguistics thesis or dissertation : a guide to presenting empirical research.
- Biggam, J. (2011). Succeeding with your master's dissertation : a step-by-step handbook.
- Blair, L. (2016). Writing a graduate thesis or dissertation
- Bloomberg, L. D. & Volpe, M. (2016). Completing your qualitative dissertation : A road map from beginning to end. 3rd ed.
- Casanave, C. P. & Swales, J. M. (2014). Before the dissertation : a textual mentor for doctoral students at early stages of a research project.
- Locke, L. F. (2014). Proposals that work: A guide for planning dissertations and grant proposals
- Murray, R. (2011). How to write a thesis
- Single, P. B. (2010). Demystifying dissertation writing : a streamlined process from choice of topic to final text.
- Terrell, S.R. (2016). Writing a proposal for your dissertation: Guidelines and examples
- Wentz, E. A. (2013). How to design, write, and present a successful dissertation proposal
- Check the Graduate Professional Development site for possible workshops on grant writing at Carleton
- Carleton's Professional Writing Program includes courses that help you learn how to write grant proposals
- Browning, B.A. (2014) Grant writing for dummies.