Towards Methodologically Inclusive Research Syntheses
By Harsh Suri
Routledge – 2014 – 216 pages
Series: Routledge Research in Education
Primary research in education and social sciences is marked by a diversity of methods and perspectives. How can we accommodate and reflect such diversity at the level of synthesizing research? What are the critical methodological decisions in the process of a research synthesis, and how do these decisions open up certain possibilities, while closing down others?
This book draws upon methodologically diverse literature on research synthesis methods and primary research methods to develop a framework for synthesizing research. It presents a Methodologically Inclusive Research Synthesis framework to facilitate critical and informed decision-making among the producers and users of research synthesis.
Three guiding principles for a quality research synthesis are proposed: informed subjectivity and reflexivity, purposefully informed selective inclusivity, and audience-appropriate transparency. The book then provides a thorough discussion of how these principles might be enacted in the following six phases:
-identifying an appropriate epistemological orientation
-identifying an appropriate purpose
-searching for relevant literature
-evaluating, interpreting and distilling evidence from selected studies
-constructing connected understandings
-communicating with an audience.
A wide range of techniques and perspectives from postpositivist, interpretive, participatory, critical and postmodern traditions are considered in the book, and Suri opens up new areas of debate by exploring numerous aspects of research syntheses from a methodologically inclusive perspective. The book will be valuable reading for researchers and postgraduates in education and social sciences.
‘Suri shows how different methods and approaches can usefully inform key decisions enacted at each phase of the research synthesis process. The MIRS framework offers a conceptual tool that gives some unity to otherwise apparently disparate recommendations for conducting research synthesis. Rather than prescribing what researchers and evaluators ‘ought’ to be doing, the goal is to support critical thinking about when, how and why to use particular approaches or a combination of approaches.
A key strength of Suri’s book is the judicious and balanced treatment given to alternative perspectives. The answer to the question, ‘What constitutes "good" research synthesis?’ is not to be found in the latest research synthesis technique. The reader is challenged to move beyond cookbook approaches to planning and conducting research synthesis.’ Brad Astbury, Evaluation Journal of Australasia
‘Across all the issues raised in this book, the emphasis continually is on quality of interpretation. Harsh Suri argues for quality relating to the search, the purpose, the interpretation and the methods, and her major contribution is the nature of coherence and logic of argument across these many claims. She aims to open discussions, to suggest new ways of thinking about literature reviewing, and to be ready for even more exciting approaches.’ - Professor John Hattie, from the Foreword
1: Contextualizing this Book 2: Growing Diversity in Primary Research 3: Advancements in Research Synthesis Methods 4: Key Methodological Considerations 5: Principles to Guide Research Synthesis 6: Identifying an Appropriate Epistemological Orientation 7: Identifying an Appropriate Purpose 8: Searching for Relevant Literature 9: Evaluating, Interpreting and Distilling Evidence from Selected Studies 10: Constructing Connected Understandings 11: Communicating with an Audience
Harsh Suri is a Lecturer in Higher Education at the University of Melbourne, Australia.