A Primer on Qualitative Research Synthesis in TESOL

Sin Wang Chong, Luke Plonsky

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


Secondary research in the form of literature reviews facilitates consolidation and transfer of knowledge. In the field of TESOL, the majority of secondary research is conducted in the form of narrative reviews, which rely on the researchers' selection and interpretation of primary studies and findings. Systematic reviews, which can be broadly categorized into meta-analysis (focusing on quantitative data) and qualitative research synthesis (focusing on qualitative data), are gaining popularity (see Plonsky, 2017) but are still less common. In particular, qualitative data collected from language classrooms, which are often criticized because of their lack of generalizability, are seldom synthesized in a systematic fashion. Against this backdrop, this article first attempts to make a case for conducting qualitative research synthesis in the field of TESOL. Second, this article provides a methodological framework and an example of how qualitative research synthesis can be conducted. The article closes with recommendations to promote qualitative research synthesis in the field of TESOL.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1024-1034
Number of pages11
JournalTESOL Quarterly
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language


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