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Review of  Writing about Quantitative Research in Applied Linguistics


Reviewer: Han Luo
Book Title: Writing about Quantitative Research in Applied Linguistics
Book Author: Lindy Woodrow
Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan
Linguistic Field(s): Applied Linguistics
Issue Number: 26.4598

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Review:
Reviews Editor: Helen Aristar-Dry

SUMMARY

‘Writing about Quantitative Research in Applied Linguistics’ by Lindy Woodrow is specifically written to help graduate students and young researchers write about quantitative research in applied linguistics. While most similar books in this area aim at introducing different quantitative research methods, this book focuses on how to report different aspects of a quantitative study for academic journals. The focus of this book is unique and much needed, which makes it an excellent addition to the field of applied linguistics.

This book has 15 chapters. Chapter 1 gives a general introduction of the whole book. The remaining 14 chapters are divided into three parts: general considerations in writing about quantitative research, writing about specific statistical procedures, and publishing quantitative research in applied linguistics. Part I contains 4 chapters, which discuss writing about research design, reporting reliability, validity and ethics, writing about participants, and presenting descriptive statistics respectively. Part II has 7 chapters, which are devoted to writing about commonly used statistical procedures in applied linguistics such as T-tests, ANOVA, ANCOVA and MANOVA, regression, correlation, factor analysis, structural equation modeling, and non-parametric tests. Part III includes three chapters addressing publishing journal articles, publishing book chapters and books, and academic style.

Each typical chapter has the following subsections: introduction, technical information, writing about a specific aspect of a quantitative study (e.g. participants, research design, correlation), common shortcomings in writing about the aspect under discussion, guidelines for writing about the aspect under discussion, summary, questions to consider, further reading, and sources of examples.

The section of introduction briefly describes the content of the present chapter. The section of technical information gives definitions of key concepts, discusses under what circumstances certain statistical procedures are used, and explains relevant theoretical backgrounds. For example, in the chapter on reliability, validity, and ethics, this section explains what is reliability and validity, why reporting validity and reliability is important, and how various types of reliability and validity differ. The section on writing about a specific aspect of a quantitative study is the most essential part of each chapter, which discusses in detail what to write and how to write. The discussions are supplemented with excerpts selected from published journal articles. The section on common shortcomings collects a list of commonly made mistakes among beginner researchers. For examples, common shortcomings in writing about research design include short statements such as “not including a clear purpose statement in the text”, “using badly phrased or imprecise research questions that are not clearly related to the main variables and method”, and so on. The guidelines for writing are a list of points that need to be considered when writing about a certain aspect of a quantitative study. For example, the guidelines for writing about descriptive statistics include statements such as “use a table, chart or graph if this makes it clearer for the reader”, “use two decimal places when writing about descriptive statistics”, and so on. The summary highlights the most important points of a chapter with very brief and clear language. The section on questions to consider invites the reader to connect his/her own research with the topics of the chapter under discussion. For example, the questions listed for the chapter on participants include “what type of sample is used in your study (random, stratified or convenience)?”, “what were the sampling selection criteria for inclusion in your study?”, and so on. Further reading and sources of examples list references that would help readers to explore a certain topic further on their own.

The same pattern of organization is repeated throughout almost all of the book, which makes it easy to follow and convenient to search for some specific information when one does not have time to read the whole book.

EVALUATION

This book boasts high quality writing: language is concise and accessible; design is reader-friendly and informative; and organization is clear and unified.

A significant merit that distinguishes this book from others stems from its focus on writing about quantitative research in order to get published. It is common among graduate students and young researchers that they learn how to design a study and run various statistical procedures from research methods classes, but they are overwhelmed with the statistical outputs and do not know what to report and how to report. This book fills the gap nicely. It covers the essentials of writing about a quantitative study ranging from participants, research design, reliability and validity, various statistical procedures, and academic style. Thus, this book provides refined training on almost every aspect of writing a journal article on quantitative research in applied linguistics. While this book is mainly written for graduate students and young researchers, it will also benefit seasoned researchers because of its comprehensive coverage and in-depth discussion of advanced statistical procedures.

This book is outstandingly practical. After reading the book, a graduate student or a young researcher may be able to write about a quantitative study in a way that meets the criteria of an academic journal article. Many features contribute to its practicality. For example, this book provides abundant examples directly quoted from published journal articles. These examples not only illustrate what to report and how to report, but also model the type of writing required for a certain aspect of an article. The common shortcomings in writing about a certain aspect listed for every chapter are undoubtedly very useful for beginner researchers and could help them avoid potential pitfalls. Similarly, the guidelines for writing about a certain aspect work as a nice checklist before writing. In addition, questions to consider at the end of every chapter lead young researchers to think about their own research in depth before writing. Finally, this book does not only educate one on how to write a sound research article, but it also provides information on where to publish research articles in applied linguistics. The list of journals provided, along with the pros and cons of these journals , are extremely useful for young researchers seeking to publish their research.

It is worth mentioning that the practicality of this book is not at the cost of theoretical information. The section of technical information in every chapter presents theoretical backgrounds, clarifies the definitions of key concepts, and compares and contrasts relevant concepts so that young researchers understand what is behind quantitative data and various types of statistics.

Well-written, practical, and informative as it is, this book has room for improvement in two areas. First, while it provides detailed and useful information on writing about specific aspects of quantitative research, this book does not demonstrate how to write a journal article as a whole. For example, what are the typical sections for a quantitative study? What does the section of conclusion look like? What is the function of the literature review? How should limitations and implications be addressed? Second, as discussed above, the common shortcomings and the guidelines for writing about a certain aspect of quantitative research listed for every chapter are excellent resources, but they could benefit young researchers more if they could be substantiated by in-depth analyses with real examples.

In conclusion, this is an excellent and exciting book on writing about quantitative research in applied linguistics mainly written for graduate students and beginner researchers. Because of its high quality of writing, comprehensive coverage, and highly practical nature, I strongly recommend it to graduate students, beginner researchers, seasoned researchers, and instructors of academic writing in applied linguistics.
 
ABOUT THE REVIEWER:
Dr. Han Luo joined Lafayette College in the Fall of 2014. She received a PhD in Foreign Language Education with a specialization in the teaching of Chinese from the University of Texas at Austin in 2011, and a PhD in Linguistics and Applied Linguistics from Beijing Foreign Studies University in 2007. Before her career at Lafayette, she taught Chinese at Northwestern University for three years and English and linguistics at the Graduate School of Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing for six years. Her research interests include second language acquisition, teaching Chinese as a foreign language, foreign language learning anxiety, Chinese linguistics, cognitive linguistics, and heritage language education.

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Format: Hardback
ISBN-13: 9780230369962
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