A conceptual framework for systematic reviews of research in educational leadership and management


Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

68 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to present a framework for scholars carrying out reviews of research that meet international standards for publication. Design/methodology/approach: This is primarily a conceptual paper focusing on the methodology of conducting systematic reviews of research. However, the paper draws on a database of reviews of research previously conducted in educational leadership and management. In a separate effort, the author identified 40 reviews of research that had been published in educational leadership conducted over the past five decades. The paper draws upon narrative examples from the empirical review as a means of clarifying and elaborating on the elements of the conceptual framework. The paper also refers to specific findings from the earlier paper in order to illustrate broader trends with respect to how the various elements of the framework have been employed in exemplary reviews. Findings: As scholars working across a broad range of scientific fields suggest, high quality reviews of research represent a potentially powerful means of reducing the gap between research and practice. Yet, the quality of research reviews conducted in educational leadership and management remain highly variable in methodological rigor. This paper provides a conceptual framework and language that scholars might use to guide the conduct and evaluation of future research reviews in educational leadership and management. Research limitations/implications: The contribution of this paper lies first in highlighting the need for scholars to employ systematic methods when conducting research reviews in educational leadership and management. Beyond this broad purpose, the paper provides a framework for decision‐making at different points in the review process, and a set of criteria or standards by which authors, readers and reviewers can judge the quality of a research review. It is hoped that this conceptual framework can provide useful methodological guidance that will enhance longstanding efforts in our field to advance knowledge in a more systematic and coherent fashion. Originality/value: This originality of this paper lies in its adaptation and application of recent methodological advances in conducting reviews of research across the natural and social sciences to the field of educational leadership and management. A search of core journals in educational leadership and management found not a single paper that discussed methods of conducting reviews of research. The paper offers a clear framework that will allow future scholars in educational leadership and management to improve the quality of their research reviews. Copyright © 2013 Emerald Group Publishing Limited.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)126-149
JournalJournal of Educational Administration
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2013


natural sciences
social science


Hallinger, P. (2013). A conceptual framework for systematic reviews of research in educational leadership and management. Journal of Educational Administration, 51(2), 126-149.


  • Educational administration
  • Educational research
  • Methods
  • Methodology
  • Research methodology
  • Literature
  • Education
  • Research
  • Leadership