Reviewing Reviews of Research in Educational Leadership: An Empirical Assessment

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

102 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: Reviews of research play a critical but underappreciated role in knowledge production and accumulation. Yet, until relatively recently, limited attention has been given to the "methodology" of conducting reviews of research. This observation also applies in educational leadership and management where reviews of research have charted intellectual progress since the field's inception in the 1950s and 1960s. This paper was framed as a "methodological review of reviews of research" in educational leadership and management. Method: The author analyzed 38 reviews of research in educational leadership published in nine international refereed journals over the past 52 years. The author applies a conceptual framework and analytical rubric for conducting systematic reviews of research in analyzing this sample of research reviews. Data analysis focuses on describing methodological characteristics, illuminating patterns of strength and weakness in review methods, and identifying a set of exemplary reviews. Findings: Despite publication of a number of "exemplary reviews," there remains considerable room for improvement in the methodology of conducting systematic reviews of research in educational leadership and management. The study identified a tendency for research reviews in this field to omit key information concerning the rationale and nature of the studies included in the reviews, methods of data collection, extraction, evaluation and analysis, and how these choices impacted interpretation of the findings. Implications: This comprehensive set of 38 published review articles tracks the historical development of the field and, by itself, represents a rich harvest from the study. Within this historical corpus of reviews, the study identified a subset of "exemplary reviews" that can serve as useful models for future scholarship. Finally, by identifying patterns of methodological strength and weakness among the reviews as a group, the report offers empirically grounded recommendations for strengthening future reviews of research in educational leadership and management.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)539-576
Number of pages38
JournalEducational Administration Quarterly
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • education management
  • educational leadership
  • knowledge production
  • research methods
  • review of research

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Public Administration


Dive into the research topics of 'Reviewing Reviews of Research in Educational Leadership: An Empirical Assessment'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this