Reporting Research Findings
- LAST REVIEWED: 19 October 2016
- LAST MODIFIED: 28 April 2016
- DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199846740-0032
- LAST REVIEWED: 19 October 2016
- LAST MODIFIED: 28 April 2016
- DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199846740-0032
Not all research studies culminate in publication. This bibliography surveys themes in reporting research findings for scholars and students. As context, consider that investigations of organizational phenomena require a series of choices that are cast here as craft. Choices span primary, secondary, and synthesis designs across qualitative and quantitative traditions. Primary research is the traditional design, measurement, and analysis of collected data, while secondary research involves reanalysis of existing datasets (obtained from peers or repositories), and research synthesis involves narrative or quantitative aggregation of studies. This distinction also holds for the qualitative mode. Reporting research findings is important for dissemination and for synthesis and evidence-based management (EBM). Primarily, the importance lies in dissemination across conferences, journals, books, and increasingly digital media. Understanding and replication by outside scholars depend on complete and accurate reporting; this centrality to the research craft commands a learning-development focus. Within a communications paradigm, individuals or teams create or send a persuasive message and the reader or listener receives (or may choose not to receive) the message. Persuasion is targeted via rhetoric across writing and graphics. Although oral and written forms of dissemination dominate, data repositories are emerging. Two additional reasons for importance pertain to the accumulation of knowledge. One is research synthesis. Structuring knowledge through synthesis uses the results of individual studies as data, and the audience is scientists. Narrative and quantitative reviews depend on the completeness and accuracy of reported findings. A related source of importance pertains to evidence-based management at the interface of research and practice—translation of research findings into practices and bundles of practices that can be used by managers. Given that practicing managers appear to rely on obsolete knowledge (aka fads, fashions, and folderol), proponents of evidence-based management advocate that firms consider the adoption of evidence-based medicine. Communicating clearly and establishing a context of implementation to assist practitioners are essential for EBM (in parallel to research synthesis, for an audience of practitioners). This bibliography organizes a range of resources on writing and reviewing articles across the taxonomy above. For completeness, this bibliography includes citations for scientific graphics (tables, charts, figures) organized around conceptualizations of graphics and related guidance, research on perception of scientific graphics, and recent developments in computing technology. Especially relevant are software routines for interactive graphics based on “grammars.” While this bibliography draws on work in management studies (organizational behavior and human resources), it necessarily searches beyond traditional boundaries.
There are sporadic specialized sources on reporting of research findings. On scholarly writing, Cummings and Frost 1995 is an influential analysis of the publishing system in the organizational sciences. Abelson 1995 defines rhetoric as styles of writing up results in psychology. Research synthesis writing is addressed comprehensively in Cooper, et al. 2009 (cited under Guidance on Reporting Quantitative Reports, Syntheses, and Meta-Analyses). For graphics and quantitative studies, Tufte 2001 and Tukey 1977 are classics for guidance and perspective; others, including Cleveland 1985, Kosslyn 2006, Wainer 2000 (cited under History and Trends), and Wilkinson 2005, provide unique value. Sternberg 2010 is typical guidance offered to students. Many of these texts can be mined for dimensions to code content of published organizational behavior and human resources research to facilitate the investigation and critique of published research.
Abelson, Robert P. Statistics as Principled Argument. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum, 1995.
Describes magnitude-articulation-generality-interestingness-credibility (MAGIC) criteria to organize rhetoric in presenting research findings. Accepting statistics as an organizer of arguments using quantitative evidence allows identification of styles. Brash and stuffy are end points on a liberal-conservative style dimension. Management students and scholars could learn MAGIC for reporting quantitative findings; qualitative researchers might consider translation.
Cleveland, William S. The Elements of Graphing Data. New York: Chapman and Hall, 1985.
Cognitive science and statistical principles help dissect and improve graphics (a predecessor book from 1983 and articles that searched prestigious journals for common graphic errors are also useful). Based on extensive experience with AT&T data, the author distills and emphasizes procedural knowledge for constructing graphic displays.
Cummings, Larry L., and Peter J. Frost, eds. Publishing in the Organizational Sciences. 2d ed. Foundations of Organizational Science. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE, 1995.
This edition covers most aspects of publishing in organizational behavior and human resources (absent are emergent digital-technological issues). Organized into sections on perspectives on and realities of publishing, which are insightful for scholar and student alike. Benjamin Schneider’s ten propositions on “getting research published” end with practicing the skill of writing. This edition inaugurated the Foundations of Organizational Science series, and the 1985 edition is also useful.
Few, Stephen. Now You See It: Simple Visualization Techniques for Quantitative Analysis. Oakland, CA: Analytics, 2009.
Suggests that in a data-dense world, the human brain—and hence, visualization—is key to avoiding overload. Three sections, namely “Building Core Skills . . .” and “Honing Skills,” each with six chapters plus a “Further Thoughts and Hopes” with eight promising trends, cover much ground. Based on quantitative preferences, the most substantive portion is contained in Part 2. The book ends with an excerpt from the poetry of T. S. Eliot.
Kosslyn, Stephen M. Graph Design for the Eye and Mind. New York: Oxford University Press, 2006.
Based on sound cognitive science and ample research by the author, presents and elaborates eight principles of effective graph construction (summarized in pp. 5–20). Analyzes prominent guidance on graphics, Edward R. Tufte for example, and suggests flaws.
Sternberg, Robert J. The Psychologist’s Companion: A Guide to Writing Scientific Papers for Students and Researchers. 5th ed. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2010.
Aligned to American Psychological Association (APA) style as a prototype of good practice in publishing; the author is a productive researcher and APA journal editor; thus tacit knowledge in this edition is well-grounded and -expressed. Represents a class of books on research communication. Some translation required to organizational behavior and human resources context. Comparable to Cooper 2010 (cited under Writing Review Articles).
Tufte, Edward R. The Visual Display of Quantitative Information. 2d ed. Cheshire, CT: Graphics Press, 2001.
Revises a classic 1983 text in analytic design (Tufte’s preferred term); presents and expands on five core principles and coins numerous terms (“chartjunk” and “data-ink ratios” are personal favorites). Critiqued for its advice, however, by other researchers on graphics (Kosslyn 2006).
Tukey, John W. Exploratory Data Analysis. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley, 1977.
A classic presenting Tukey’s data detective work rooted in his 1962 “The Future of Data Analysis” exposition (Annals of Mathematical Statistics 33.1: 1–67). Premise is that exploratory data analysis (EDA) deserves status with confirmatory. Loaded with philosophy of EDA and tools—the stem leaf, box plot, and “five-number summary.” Graphic display and analysis are covered in the service of learning about data. A part of research craft to be honed postschooling.
Wilkinson, Leland L. The Grammar of Graphics. 2d ed. New York: Springer-Verlag, 2005.
Cited by many, this conceptualization rooted in the work of Jacques Bertin extends work done with the Task Force on Statistical Reporting in 1999. Within an object-oriented design approach, the grammar consists of the rules and elements of graphics, for example, geoms, scales, and coordinates. Framework has been useful for deriving tools, such as Wilkinson’s GPL, Wickham’s ggplot2, and others.
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