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A research handbook is a book with chapters by different experts in the field. Each chapter is an overview of the research on a defined topic, with references. If you find a chapter that reflects the subject you are interested in, it can be a very good place to start. The range of subjects can also give you ideas for what might work for your paper.
The major handbook is the Handbook of Reading Research. The first two volumes came out in 1984 and 1991, so they're rather dated, but still useful as starting points. Volume III came out in 2000, and a handbook on reading comprehension in 2009.
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