Through this process of winnowing, you will be able to place the relevance of your research in the larger context of what others researchers have already done on your topic in the past See Reference 1. The literature review will help you compare and contrast what you are doing in the historical context of the research as well as how your research is different or original from what others have done, helping you rationalize why you need to do this particular research See Reference 2.
Perhaps you are using a new or different research method which has not been available before, allowing you to collect the data more accurately or conduct an experiment that is more precise and exact thanks to many innovations of modern technology. Thus, it is essential in helping you shape and guide your research in the direction you may not have thought of by offering insights and different perspectives on the research topic. Source Many Different Types Depending on your area of specialization, a literature review can take various forms: argumentative review, integrative review, historical review, methodological review, systematic review, and theoretical review See Reference 1.
An argumentative review is written to present an opposing view to a given position. This will be valuable to persuade others to join you in supporting your thesis. An integrative review is composed of examinations and critical analysis on a given topic to introduce a need for a new research.
Keep Your Own Voice While the literature review presents others' ideas, your voice [the writer's] should remain front and center. For example, weave references to other sources into what you are writing but maintain your own voice by starting and ending the paragraph with your own ideas and wording.
Use Caution When Paraphrasing When paraphrasing a source that is not your own, be sure to represent the author's information or opinions accurately and in your own words. Common Mistakes to Avoid These are the most common mistakes made in reviewing social science research literature. Sources in your literature review do not clearly relate to the research problem; You do not take sufficient time to define and identify the most relevent sources to use in the literature review related to the research problem; Relies exclusively on secondary analytical sources rather than including relevant primary research studies or data; Uncritically accepts another researcher's findings and interpretations as valid, rather than examining critically all aspects of the research design and analysis; Does not describe the search procedures that were used in identifying the literature to review; Reports isolated statistical results rather than synthesizing them in chi-squared or meta-analytic methods; and, Only includes research that validates assumptions and does not consider contrary findings and alternative interpretations found in the literature.
Cook, Kathleen E. Online Writing Center. Liberty University; Literature Reviews. The Writing Center. University College Writing Centre. University of Toronto; Writing a Literature Review. Academic Skills Centre. University of Canberra. Thinking interdisciplinarily about a research problem can be a rewarding exercise in applying new ideas, theories, or concepts to an old problem.
For example, what might cultural anthropologists say about the continuing conflict in the Middle East? In what ways might geographers view the need for better distribution of social service agencies in large cities than how social workers might study the issue?
However, particularly in the social sciences, thinking about research problems from multiple vectors is a key strategy for finding new solutions to a problem or gaining a new perspective. Consult with a librarian about identifying research databases in other disciplines; almost every field of study has at least one comprehensive database devoted to indexing its research literature. Frodeman, Robert.
The Oxford Handbook of Interdisciplinarity. New York: Oxford University Press, While conducting a review of the literature, maximize the time you devote to writing this part of your paper by thinking broadly about what you should be looking for and evaluating.
Review not just what scholars are saying, but how are they saying it. Some questions to ask: How are they organizing their ideas? What methods have they used to study the problem? What theories have been used to explain, predict, or understand their research problem? What sources have they cited to support their conclusions?
How have they used non-textual elements [e. When you begin to write your literature review section, you'll be glad you dug deeper into how the research was designed and constructed because it establishes a means for developing more substantial analysis and interpretation of the research problem.
Hart, Chris. Here are several strategies you can utilize to assess whether you've thoroughly reviewed the literature: Look for repeating patterns in the research findings. If the same thing is being said, just by different people, then this likely demonstrates that the research problem has hit a conceptual dead end.
At this point consider: Does your study extend current research? Does it forge a new path? Or, does is merely add more of the same thing being said? Look at sources the authors cite to in their work. If you begin to see the same researchers cited again and again, then this is often an indication that no new ideas have been generated to address the research problem. Search the Web of Science [a.
This is called citation tracking and there are a number of sources that can help you identify who has cited whom, particularly scholars from outside of your discipline.
If you can manage to provide the necessary information for each of the three points and do it in a logical and appropriate manner, then you are half-way to the desired high grade!
What are those main aspects that you have to include in your literature review? Now that you understand the purpose of a literature review and have a clear understanding of what it has to consist of, you should find it much easier to complete this task. The literature review connects your ideas to the other ideas in your field. In the next blog, you will learn how to organize your literature review and how to review the essential, current, and relevant literature written on your topic.
Jessica says: Jul 18, at am Thanks for this post! I think it is really useful. Where I can find more information about academic writing? Joshua says: Aug 10, at am Hi Jessica! Benjamin Okoro says: Nov 02, at am This post is like a light in the midst of darkness. Brief and explicit.
When writing your review, keep in mind these issues. Given the value-laden nature of some social science research [e.
The literature review acknowledges the work of previous researchers, and in so doing, assures the reader that your work has been well conceived.
Recapitulate important features of a research study, but then synthesize it by rephrasing the study's significance and relating it to your own work. Typically it focuses on a very specific empirical question, often posed in a cause-and-effect form, such as "To what extent does A contribute to B? It is assumed that by mentioning a previous work in the field of study, that the author has read, evaluated, and assimiliated that work into the work at hand. The literature review must be defined by a guiding concept eg. It Sharpens Your Research Focus As you assemble outside sources, you will condense, evaluate, synthesize, and paraphrase the gist of outside sources in your own words. Use Quotes Sparingly Some short quotes are okay if you want to emphasize a point, or if what an author stated cannot be easily paraphrased.
If the same thing is being said, just by different people, then this likely demonstrates that the research problem has hit a conceptual dead end. In other words, a complete understanding the research problem requires you to deliberately examine how knowledge and perspectives have changed over time. As a result, the more books, articles, and other sources you can list in the literature review, the more trustworthy your scholarship and expertise will be. You can also review the indexes of books to find references to specific issues that can serve as the focus of your research. Give credit to researchers who have come before you, but highlight your own new significant contribution. What sources have they cited to support their conclusions?
Thinking About Your Literature Review The structure of a literature review should include the following: An overview of the subject, issue, or theory under consideration, along with the objectives of the literature review, Division of works under review into themes or categories [e. The body of literature includes all studies that address related or identical hypotheses or research problems. However, sometimes you may need to add additional sections that are necessary for your study, but do not fit in the organizational strategy of the body. Given the fundamental nature of providing one, your research paper will be not considered seriously if it is lacking one at the beginning of your paper. This is particularly true in disciplines in medicine and the sciences where research conducted becomes obsolete very quickly as new discoveries are made.