Components of the literature review The literature review should include the following: Objective of the literature review Overview of the subject under consideration. Clear categorization of sources selected into those in support of your particular position, those opposed, and those offering completely different arguments. Discussion of both the distinctiveness of each source and its similarities with the others. Steps in the literature review process Preparation of a literature review may be divided into four steps: Define your subject and the scope of the review.
Search the library catalogue, subject specific databases and other search tools to find sources that are relevant to your topic. You can find out how many times an article has been cited on Google Scholar—high citation counts mean the article has been influential in the field. You will have to evaluate which sources are most valuable and relevant to your questions.
For each publication, ask yourself: What question or problem is the author addressing? What are the key concepts and how are they defined? What are the key theories, models and methods? Does the research use established frameworks or take an innovative approach?
What are the results and conclusions of the study? How does the publication relate to other literature in the field? Does it confirm, add to, or challenge established knowledge? How does the publication contribute to your understanding of the topic?
What are its key insights and arguments? What are the strengths and weaknesses of the research? Make sure the sources you use are credible , and make sure you read any landmark studies and major theories in your field of research. The scope of your review will depend on your topic and discipline: in the sciences you usually only review recent literature, but in the humanities you might take a long historical perspective for example, to trace how a concept has changed in meaning over time.
The focus of a literature review, however, is to summarize and synthesize the arguments and ideas of others without adding new contributions. Why do we write literature reviews? Literature reviews provide you with a handy guide to a particular topic. If you have limited time to conduct research, literature reviews can give you an overview or act as a stepping stone. For professionals, they are useful reports that keep them up to date with what is current in the field. For scholars, the depth and breadth of the literature review emphasizes the credibility of the writer in his or her field.
Comprehensive knowledge of the literature of the field is essential to most research papers. Who writes these things, anyway? Literature reviews are written occasionally in the humanities, but mostly in the sciences and social sciences; in experiment and lab reports, they constitute a section of the paper.
Sometimes a literature review is written as a paper in itself. What should I do before writing the literature review? Clarify If your assignment is not very specific, seek clarification from your instructor: Roughly how many sources should you include? What types of sources books, journal articles, websites? Should you summarize, synthesize, or critique your sources by discussing a common theme or issue?
Should you evaluate your sources? Find models Look for other literature reviews in your area of interest or in the discipline and read them to get a sense of the types of themes you might want to look for in your own research or ways to organize your final review. Narrow your topic There are hundreds or even thousands of articles and books on most areas of study. The narrower your topic, the easier it will be to limit the number of sources you need to read in order to get a good survey of the material.
Consider whether your sources are current Some disciplines require that you use information that is as current as possible. In the sciences, for instance, treatments for medical problems are constantly changing according to the latest studies. Information even two years old could be obsolete. However, if you are writing a review in the humanities, history, or social sciences, a survey of the history of the literature may be what is needed, because what is important is how perspectives have changed through the years or within a certain time period.
Try sorting through some other current bibliographies or literature reviews in the field to get a sense of what your discipline expects. You can also use this method to consider what is currently of interest to scholars in this field and what is not. Strategies for writing the literature review Find a focus A literature review, like a term paper, is usually organized around ideas, not the sources themselves as an annotated bibliography would be organized.
This means that you will not just simply list your sources and go into detail about each one of them, one at a time. As you read widely but selectively in your topic area, consider instead what themes or issues connect your sources together. Do they present one or different solutions? Is there an aspect of the field that is missing? How well do they present the material and do they portray it according to an appropriate theory?
Do they reveal a trend in the field? Recapitulate important features of a research study, but then synthesize it by rephrasing the study's significance and relating it to your own work.
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.How to write a research essay What is scholarships literature review The literature review is a written thesis of major writings and other sources on related selected topic. Sources covered in the review may include scholarly journal articles, books, government reports, Web sites, etc. The literature review provides writing description, summary and evaluation of each source. It is usually presented as a distinct section of a graduate thesis or review. Purpose of the literature review The purpose of the literature improvement is to provide a critical written account of the current state of research on a selected topic: Identifies areas of prior scholarship Places each source in the context of its contribution to the understanding of the specific issue, area of literature, or theory under review. Describes the relationship of each source to the others that write have selected Identifies how ways to interpret, ummadi kutumbam essay writer shed light on any gaps in, previous research Points paper way forward for further research.
Works consulted We consulted these works while writing this handout. Qualitative Inquiry, 21 3 , Other Sections of Your Literature Review Once you've decided on the organizational method for your literature review, the sections you need to include in the paper should be easy to figure out because they arise from your organizational strategy. Here is an example of a recent literature review published as a scholarly journal article: Ledesma, M. Step 3: Identify the literature that you will review: Familiarize yourself with online databases see UMD library resource links below for help with this , identifying relevant databases in your field of study.
What types of sources should I review books, journal articles, websites; scholarly versus popular sources?
Step 4: Write your literature review Like any other academic text, your literature review should have an introduction , a main body, and a conclusion. Identify major trends or patterns: As you read a range of articles on your topic, you should make note of trends and patterns over time as reported in the literature.
How well do they present the material and do they portray it according to an appropriate theory? Ways to Organize Your Literature Review Chronology of Events If your review follows the chronological method, you could write about the materials according to when they were published. Dissertation literature review If the literature review is part of your thesis or dissertation, show how your research addresses gaps and contributes new knowledge, or discuss how you have drawn on existing theories and methods to build a framework for your research. Typically a review will cover the last five years, but should also refer to any landmark studies prior to this time if they have significance in shaping the direction of the field.
And a review does not necessarily mean that your reader wants you to give your personal opinion on whether or not you liked these sources.
Data evaluation -- determining which literature makes a significant contribution to the understanding of the topic. Baumeister, Roy F.
Is there an aspect of the field that is missing? Standards: the way in which you present your information. Step 4: Analyze the literature Once you have identified and located the articles for your review, you need to analyze them and organize them before you begin writing: Overview the articles: Skim the articles to get an idea of the general purpose and content of the article focus your reading here on the abstract, introduction and first few paragraphs, the conclusion of each article. 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.
Endnote is an excellent way to store your research library and import it into the manuscript in the format required by the journal. How will you further your research as a result of the review? For example: Look at what results have emerged in qualitative versus quantitative research Discuss how the topic has been approached by empirical versus theoretical scholarship Divide the literature into sociological, historical, and cultural sources Theoretical A literature review is often the foundation for a theoretical framework.
How you end the review, however, will depend on your reason for writing it. For instance, the review might examine whaling from pre, , and Thematically with different themes organized chronologically For the more tech-savy users, organization of literature either by year of publication or themes would be more ideal.