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Early Childhood Education

Useful resources for research in Early Childhood Education

Key Resources for Early Childhood Leadership Research

Peer-Reviewed Research in Early Childhood Leadership

peer-reviewed (or refereed) journal:

  • uses experts from the same subject field or profession as the author to evaluate a manuscript prior to acceptance for publication
  • has articles that report on research studies or provide scholarly analysis of topics
  • may include book reviews, editorials, or other brief items that are not considered scholarly articles
Peer Review in 3 Minutes

(3:15) Explains the academic publishing process for research articles and scholarly journals, including the quality control process of peer review. North Carolina State Univ. Libraries

In OneSearch:

On the Advanced Search screen, select Articles, enter keywords, then click Search. The results will be indicated as peer-reviewed with a purple icon underneath the title. Using the pane on the left-hand side, apply filters for Peer-reviewed Journals and (if necessary) Articles to limit all results to peer-reviewed journal articles.

OneSearch example screenshot

In EBSCO databases:

On the Advanced Search screen, type in your keywords, then limit your results to Scholarly (Peer Reviewed) Journals. Look also at Publication Type for Academic Journals

EBSCO advanced search example screenshot

Defining Research in Early Childhood Leadership

  Trade Journals Scholarly Journals
  • inform & report on news, trends, & issues relevant to an industry or profession
  • inform & report on research done by scholars & experts
  • cover specialized academic topics
  • journalists, freelance writers, editorial staff, or industry practitioners
  • brief editing process
  • subject specialists & experts
  • extensive editing process
  • usually peer-reviewed*
  • those who work in a particular field or profession
  • researchers, scholars, higher education students
Other Characteristics
  • usually short or medium-length articles
  • may include brief reference lists/works cited
  • usually published monthly
  • specialized & lengthy articles
  • include reference lists/works cited
  • takes months to publish due to extensive editing process; often published quarterly

* Peer review is a process in which experts from the same subject field or profession as the author evaluate a manuscript prior to acceptance for publication.
Based on a chart by Kerry Creelman, Univ. of Houston Libraries, which was adapted from content by Kristina De Voe, Temple Univ. Libraries.


Trade Journal Scholarly Journal

Educational Leadership


Trade Journal Cover

Educational Management,
Administration,& Leadership

Scholarly Journal Cover


In the field of education, many trade journals (also called professional or practitioner journals) are also peer-reviewed. As a result, when you are looking for scholarly articles describing empirical (primary) research, it can be difficult to determine whether a journal article fits the criteria for an assignment.

Below are some resources and tips for helping you distinguish between scholarly journals and trade journals.

  • Consult Ulrichsweb Global Serials Directory
    Ulrichsweb Global Serials Directory provides detailed information about a journal, including whether or not it is refereed (peer-reviewed), serial type (Journal or Magazine), and its content type (Trade or Academic/Scholarly).
    Ulrichsweb screenshot
  • Check the journal's website for more information
    Often, the website for the journal will provide more detailed information regarding the publication type, the scope of the journal's content, process for publication review, and other details that may be helpful in determining the appropriateness of the journal for your particular assignment.
    In this example from the website for Educational Leadership, the publication is described distinctively as a trade journal/magazine written "by practitioners for practitioners":
    Screenshot from Education Leadership website

Empirical research is research that is based on observation and measurement of phenomena based on real life experience. These studies typically involve:

  • a research question that defines the objectives and hypothesis for the study,
  • a design or methodology for collecting data,
  • an analysis of results from the data collection, and
  • discussion of the significance and implications for the study for the field. 

Example of an Empirical Research Article:

Cherrington, S., & Thornton, K. (2015). The Nature of Professional Learning Communities in New Zealand Early Childhood Education: An Exploratory Study. Professional Development in Education, 41(2), 310–328.


A literature review is an analysis of existing scholarship on a specific topic. Most research articles begin with a selective literature review in order to provide context for the article, and can either appear as its own section, or as part of the introduction. Some articles are standalone literature reviews; these often provide in-depth descriptions of various studies. Literature reviews are excellent places to start your research, as they often provide a concise summary of the scope and nature of current scholarship on a topic.

meta-analysis is a statistical analysis combining results from individual studies to form a larger aggregate of data from which new results may be realized. Challenges to meta-analysis studies include the standardization and comparability of data, as well as the combination of effects that were estimated using different research designs.

Example of a Literature Review Article:

Hobbs, M., & Stovall, R. (2015). Supporting Mentors of Preservice Early Childhood Education Teachers: A Literature Review. Journal of Early Childhood Teacher Education, 36(2), 90–99.


Example of a Meta-Analysis Article:

Gordon, E., Tucker, P., Burke, S., & Carron, A. (2013). Effectiveness of Physical Activity Interventions for Preschoolers: A Meta-Analysis. Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport, 84(3), 287–294.
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