What is a Review of Literature

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What is a review of literature?

The format of a review of literature may vary from discipline to discipline and from assignment to assignment. A review may be a self-contained unit -- an end in itself -- or a preface to and rationale for engaging in primary research. A review is a required part of grant and research proposals and often a chapter in theses and dissertations. Generally, the purpose of a review is to analyze critically a segment of a published body of knowledge through summary, classification, and comparison of prior research studies, reviews of literature, and theoretical articles. top

Writing the introduction

In the introduction, you should:y y


Define or identify the general topic, issue, or area of concern, thus providing an appropriate context for reviewing the literature. Point out overall trends in what has been published about the topic; or conflicts in theory, methodology, evidence, and conclusions; or gaps in research and scholarship; or a single problem or new perspective of immediate interest. Establish the writer's reason (point of view) for reviewing the literature; explain the criteria to be used in analyzing and comparing literature and the organization of the review (sequence); and, when necessary, state why certain literature is or is not included (scope). top

Writing the body

In the body, you should:y


Group research studies and other types of literature (reviews, theoretical articles, case studies, etc.) according to common denominators such as qualitative versus quantitative approaches, conclusions of authors, specific purpose or objective, chronology, etc. Summarize individual studies or articles with as much or as little detail as each merits according to its comparative importance in the literature, remembering that space (length) denotes


significance. Provide the reader with strong "umbrella" sentences at beginnings of paragraphs, "signposts" throughout, and brief "so what" summary sentences at intermediate points in the review to aid in understanding comparisons and analyses. top

Writing the conclusion

In the conclusion, you should:y



Summarize major contributions of significant studies and articles to the body of knowledge under review, maintaining the focus established in the introduction. Evaluate the current "state of the art" for the body of knowledge reviewed, pointing out major methodological flaws or gaps in research, inconsistencies in theory and findings, and areas or issues pertinent to future study. Conclude by providing some insight into the relationship between the central topic of the literature review and a larger area of study such as a discipline, a scientific endeavor, or a profession.

http://writing.wisc.edu/Handbook/ReviewofLiterature.htmlhttp://writing.wisc.edu/Handbook/Reviewof Literature.html

The literature reviewSumber : http://www.deakin.edu.au/library/findout/research/litrev.phpWhat is a literature review?According to Cooper (1988) '... a literature review uses as its database reports of primary or original scholarship, and does not report new primary scholarship itself. The primary reports used in the literature may be verbal, but in the vast majority of cases reports are written documents. The types of scholarship may be empirical, theoretical, critical/analytic, or methodological in nature. Second a literature review seeks to describe, summarise, evaluate, clarify and/or integrate the content of primary reports.' The review of relevant literature is nearly always a standard chapter of a thesis or dissertation. The review forms an important chapter in a thesis where its purpose is to provide the background to and justification for the research undertaken (Bruce 1994). Bruce, who has published widely on the topic of the literature review, has identified six elements of a literature review. These elements comprise a list; a search; a survey; a vehicle for learning; a research facilitator; and a report (Bruce 1994).

Why do a literature review?A crucial element of all research degrees is the review of relevant literature. So important is this chapter that its omission represents a void or absence of a major element in research (Afolabi 1992). According to Bourner (1996) there are good reasons for spending time and effort on a review of the literature before embarking on a research project. These reasons include:y y y y y y y y y y y y

to identify gaps in the literature to avoid reinventing the wheel (at the very least this will save time and it can stop you from making the same mistakes as others) to carry on from where others have already reached (reviewing the field allows you to build on the platform of existing knowledge and ideas) to identify other people working in the same fields (a researcher network is a valuable resource) to increase your breadth of knowledge of your subject area to identify seminal works in your area to provide the intellectual context for your own work, enabling you to position your project relative to other work to identify opposing views to put your work into perspective to demonstrate that you can access previous work in an area to identify information and ideas that may be relevant to your project to identify methods that could be relevant to your project

http://www-development.deakin.edu.au/wmt/delete_from_uat.phpAs far as the literature review process goes, ultimately the goal for students is to complete their review in the allocated time and to ensure they can maintain currency in their field of study for the duration of their research (Bruce 1990).

The literature review process and the libraryA good literature review requires knowledge of the use of indexes and abstracts, the ability to conduct exhaustive bibliographic searches, ability to organise the collected data meaningfully, describe, critique and relate each source to the subject of the inquiry, and present the organised review logically, and last, but by no means least, to correctly cite all sources mentioned (Afolabi 1992). The Library offers a range of training for research students that will assist with the production of literature reviews including sessions on electronic databases, using the bibliographic management software EndNote to download records, Internet searching using Netscape, Library catalogue searching, off-campus student orientation, subject resources, and research skills. Please contact your Liaison Librarian for more details. EndNote reference management software EndNote is a reference database that enables you to create your own list of bibliographical references. The EndNote software is provided on the Software Essentials CD or via the ITS Software Library and makes it possible to connect to selected library catalogues and online databases and to incorporate references directly into an EndNote database. It is also possible to export bibliographic records whilst you are searching the Deakin Library catalogue into EndNote. EndNote is a bibliography maker which can locate cited works in its databases and build and format appropriate lists automatically. It can be used in conjunction with a word processing package. A tutorial has been developed by Deakin University Library staff to assist you to use this feature of EndNote. Links to other sites (all open in a new browser window) How to Critically Analyze Information Sources Deakin Research Services The Dissertation Doctor Writing and Presenting Your Thesis or Dissertation How to Write a PhD Thesis

Bibliography of cited references and other relevant sources

Afolabi, M. (1992) 'The review of related literature in research' International journal of information and library research, vol. 4, no. 1, pp. 59-66. Bourner, T. (1996) 'The research process: four steps to success', in Greenfield, T. (ed), Research methods: guidance for postgraduates, Arnold, London. Bruce, C. S. (1990) 'Information skills coursework for postgraduate students: investigation and response at the Queensland University of Technology' Australian Academic & Research Libraries, vol. 21, no. 4, pp. 224-232. Bruce, C. (1993) 'When enough is enough: or how should research students delimit the scope of their literature review?', in Challenging the Conventional Wisdom in Higher Education: Selected Contributions Presented at the Ninteeth Annual National Conference and Twenty-First Birthday Celebration of the Higher Education Research and Development Society of Australasia Inc., HERDSA, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia. pp. 435-439. Bruce, C. S. (1994) 'Research student's early experiences of the dissertation literature review' Studies in Higher Education, vol. 19, no. 2, pp. 217-229. Bruce, C. (1994) 'Supervising literature reviews', in Zuber-Skerritt, O. and Ryan, Y. (eds), Quality in postgraduate education, Kogan Page, London. Bruce, C. S. (1997) 'From Neophyte to expert: counting on reflection to facilitate complex conceptions of the literature review', in Zuber-Skerritt, O. (ed), Frameworks for postgraduate education, Southern Cross University, Lismore, NSW. Caspers, J. S (1998) 'Hands-on instruction across the miles: using a web tuturial to teach the literature review research process' Research Strategies, vol. 16, no. 3, pp. 187-197. Cooper, H. M. (1988) 'The structure of knowledge synthesis' Knowledge in Society, vol. 1, pp. 104-126 Cooper, H. M. (1989) Integrating research : a guide for literature reviews, 2nd ed, Sage Publications, Newbury Park, Calif. Leedy, P. D. (1997) Practical research: planning and design, 6th ed, Merrill, Upper Saddle River, N.J. Libutti, P.& Kopala, M. (1995) 'The doctoral student, the dissertation, and the library: a review of the literature' Reference Librarian, vol. 48, no. 5, pp. 5-25. Mauch, J. E.& Birch, J. W. (2003) Guide to the successful thesis and dissertation: a handbook for students and faculty, 5th ed, Marcel Dekker, New York.

Library contacts

The Library has Liaison Librarians assigned to all Schools to assist students and staff. Contact details for your Liaison Librarian can be found here.

Getting Started on your Literature Reviewhttp://www.lc.unsw.edu.au/onlib/litrev.html A General Guide for Postgraduate Research StudentsThere is no one single correct method to writing a literature review. Therefore, this resource is a guide only. Check with your supervisor/lecturer/school to ascertain whether there are any specific requirements for your literature review before proceeding.

What is a Literature Review?A literature review is an examination of the research that has been conducted in a particular field of study. Hart (1998) defines it as:y


The selection of available documents (both published and unpublished) on the topic, which contain information, ideas, data and evidence. [This selection is] written from a particular standpoint to fulfil certain aims or express certain views on the nature of the topic and how it is to be investigated, and The effective evaluation of these documents in relation to the research being proposed (p. 13).

What is the Purpose of a Literature Review?y y y y

To demonstrate your scholarly ability to identify relevant information and to outline existing knowledge. To identify the 'gap' in the research that your study is attempting to address, positioning your work in the context of previous research and creating a 'research space' for your work. To evaluate and synthesise the information in line with the concepts that you have set yourself for the research. To produce a rationale or justification for your study.

Initially, you may read quite broadly on the topic to enrich your understanding of the field. This is useful for refining your topic and establishing the perspective that your research will take. For example, reading broadly may help you work out where there are gaps in the research, which may provide you with a niche for your research. It may also enable you to establish how your research extends or enhances the studies already done. However, remember that the literature review needs to relate to and explain your research question. Although there may seem to be hundreds of sources of information that appear pertinent, once you have your question you will be able to refine and narrow down the scope of your reading.


Getting Started on your Literature ReviewA General Guide for Postgraduate Research Students

What do I need to be able to do in order to write a Literature Review?Please be aware that the following steps are not necessarily linear and you may have to revisit them at various points. Remember that undertaking your literature review is really an ongoing process throughout your thesis. However, there will be times when you focus more specifically on reviewing the literature.Identify your research question

This is essential in helping you direct and frame your reading.

Identify and locate appropriate information

Consider searching:y y y y y

library catalogues databases CD Roms media releases research publications etc.

What you search for will depend on your discipline. If you are a postgraduate and are unsure about how to use the UNSW library's print, electronic or internet resources effectively, then make an appointment for a Research Consultation with the UNSW library (this can be done online at http://www.library.unsw.edu.au/web/services/postgraduates.html). This service is available to UNSW postgraduate research students and academic staff. A research consultation will help you to develop and refine your research skills in the area of print, electronic and/or internet resources.Read and critically evaluate the information that you locate

Examine its strengths and weaknesses in relation to your research. Take notes of not only the information that you read, but also your thoughts about this information. This will help you draw your ideas together when you start writing your literature review section. (For effective notemaking strategies, see the Learning Centres study resource on notetaking).File and store your readings and notes

Use an effective method that lets you retrieve information quickly and easily. Remember that there is no one 'right' way of organising your materials. However, it is important to know the literature that you have found and where you have stored it, so that you can access it quickly and easily. Use a program like EndNote (http://www.endnote.com) to help you organise and store your notes relating to the readings that you have undertaken.Plan, organise and write critically about the literature that you have located

You will need to establish which literature is most pertinent to your review and be able to synthesise and critique the relevant materials. Don't underestimate the planning stage. Having a sense of the overall organisation of your literature review may help expedite the process. Some people find that in the initial stages,

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