Comprehensive. Research is comprehensive if it sufficiently discusses previous research that relates to the research topic. To omit important research or to give only out of date references is not comprehensive. It can be called “Adequacy of literature review”, “Breadth of coverage”, “Sufficient and appropriate references”,“Theoretical/Conceptual base” or “Information content”. It answers the reader concern “How does this research fit with other’s work?” Comprehensiveness is important because science is collegial, i.e. based on the work of others. It also reflects that the author has taken the care to connect their work to that of others. To ask a question that others have answered shows one is uninformed and annoys informed readers, just as it does when people ask questions on bulletin boards that have already been answered elsewhere.
Elements. To check if a paper is comprehensive, consider research elements such as:
- Is the research scope well-defined?
- Does the literature review cover all important work in the field, old and new?
- Does the literature review only discuss what is relevant to the topic?
- Is research from other disciplines mentioned?
- What previous work, the author’s or another’s, does the paper build on as a precedent?
- Are ideas or words from others presented without quotes, as if they were the author’s?
- Are the references sufficient, of good quality and up-to-date?
- Are all citations quoted listed in the references?
- Is the research question well founded in theory?
- Is the theory used positioned with respect to other theories?