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Tourism & Outdoor Recreation Management: TOUR 327: Research Methods and Applications

Mini literature review assignment

What's the point? 

Researchers conduct literature reviews before they start their research so they know what work has already been done and get an idea of what knowledge their study can contribute to the field

For this assignment, you need to read and critically analyze 3 articles from peer-reviewed tourism and outdoor recreation journals. Luckily for you, academic journal articles have a specific structure that makes it easier for you to identify the information that is listed in your assignment outline.

Sources for peer-reviewed articles

Start with the Library's Discovery Search - don't forget that you can apply the filter for "Peer Reviewed (Scholarly) Articles" on the results page (this isn't a perfect filter, but it's a good start - make sure you confirm on the journal's website that it actually is peer-reviewed.)

Try these other library databases:

Search tips for articles

Try searching for the name of your group and the words travel motivation, e.g. backpackers AND travel motivation*

Hint: the * is a wildcard symbol that will get you results with motivation, motivations, motivational.

Consider alternative terms - remember that backpackers can refer to people who travel to cities with a backpack as well as those who go on multi-day backcountry hiking trips. You may want to try student travelers or low-budget travelers in your search.

What does peer-reviewed mean?

Peer-reviewed is the highest level of academic or scholarly publishing. The quality of the articles is maintained through a review process conducted by experts prior to publication. Not all academic journals are peer-reviewed, but all peer-reviewed journals are academic.

Articles submitted to a refereed or peer-reviewed journal are examined by one or more people with expertise in the field with which the article deals. This process gives the scholartic community assurance that the information in the article is credible and original. Some disciplines require peer-reviewed status more than others.

How can I tell if a journal is scholarly or not?

B. Key themes/issues

Take a look in the abstract and introduction.

An abstract is a summary of the article's contents and will likely highlight the major findings and themes. You might consider making a chart so that you can compare the themes between the three articles. When taking notes, try to use your own words - it may take more time to write the notes but you can be sure of not plagiarizing the authors' exact words when you write your assignment.

An introduction sets the scene for the research conducted by presenting background information, outlining important theories and themes, and providing context. It may mention other research done on your travel motivation topic - this is a good way to identify other researchers and articles to use!

C. Methodology

There is usually a section called Methods or Methodology. Not surprisingly, this is where you'll find information on how the study was conducted - its geographical parameters, timeframe, specifics on the research method.

This section can be difficult for students and beginning researchers to understand, especially when the research method uses complex statistical analysis. Don't stress if you don't understand it all. Identify the answers to the questions, and when needed, use a resource like Credo Reference to learn more about the research method.

D. Research findings

Look in the results and discussion.

Results detail the findings of the study. Depending on the research method, this section can be dense with numbers and information. 

Discussion tells you why these results are significant and how they connect to other research that's already been done in the area. This is one of the most valuable parts of a research article, but students can feel impatient and frustrated after slogging through the results section. I'd recommend reading it before the results so that you have a clearer understanding of the results' significance before looking at the research data.

E. Critical analysis

One of the pieces of information you need to find is on the journal itself - for this, the best bet is the journal's website. Google the name of the journal and see if you can find a publisher's website. You might find that the journal you've selected is published by a big academic publisher like Emerald, Elsevier, or Taylor and Francis, or by a research organization. 

Look in the About section to find out who the journal is written for, as well as what type of research they publish. Since peer review is treated as a measure of credibility (although it has its flaws), many journals will highlight that they're a peer-reviewed publication on this page. If not, most journal websites will also have a section called For Authors or For Reviewers - this is where you can confirm whether the journal publishes peer-reviewed articles.



Don't forget to cite the articles - use the online journal article template for APA!

Check out the Library's citation guides for more detail.