Bibliography Definition A literature review surveys books, scholarly articles, and any other sources relevant to a particular issue, area of research, or theory, and by so doing, provides a description, summary, and critical evaluation of these works in relation to the research problem being investigated.
Literature reviews are designed to provide an overview of sources you have explored while researching a particular topic and to demonstrate to your readers how your research fits within a larger field of study. Fink, Arlene. Fourth edition. Importance of a Good Literature Review A literature review may consist of simply a summary of key sources, but in the social sciences, a literature review usually has an organizational pattern and combines both summary and synthesis, often within specific conceptual categories.
A summary is a recap of the important information of the source, but a synthesis is a re-organization, or a reshuffling, of that information in a way that informs how you are planning to investigate a research problem.
The analytical features of a literature review might: Give a new interpretation of old material or combine new with old interpretations, Trace the intellectual progression of the field, including major debates, Depending on the situation, evaluate the sources and advise the reader on the most pertinent or relevant research, or Usually in the conclusion of a literature review, identify where gaps exist in how a problem has been researched to date.
The purpose of a literature review is to: Place each work in the context of its contribution to understanding the research problem being studied. Describe the relationship of each work to the others under consideration. Identify new ways to interpret prior research. Reveal any gaps that exist in the literature. Resolve conflicts amongst seemingly contradictory previous studies. Identify areas of prior scholarship to prevent duplication of effort. Point the way in fulfilling a need for additional research.
Locate your own research within the context of existing literature [very important]. Types of Literature Reviews It is important to think of knowledge in a given field as consisting of three layers.
First, there are the primary studies that researchers conduct and publish. Second are the reviews of those studies that summarize and offer new interpretations built from and often extending beyond the primary studies. Third, there are the perceptions, conclusions, opinion, and interpretations that are shared informally that become part of the lore of field.
In composing a literature review, it is important to note that it is often this third layer of knowledge that is cited as "true" even though it often has only a loose relationship to the primary studies and secondary literature reviews.
Given this, while literature reviews are designed to provide an overview and synthesis of pertinent sources you have explored, there are a number of approaches you could adopt depending upon the type of analysis underpinning your study. Types of Literature Reviews Argumentative Review This form examines literature selectively in order to support or refute an argument, deeply imbedded assumption, or philosophical problem already established in the literature.
The purpose is to develop a body of literature that establishes a contrarian viewpoint. Given the value-laden nature of some social science research [e. However, note that they can also introduce problems of bias when they are used to make summary claims of the sort found in systematic reviews [see below]. Integrative Review Considered a form of research that reviews, critiques, and synthesizes representative literature on a topic in an integrated way such that new frameworks and perspectives on the topic are generated.
The body of literature includes all studies that address related or identical hypotheses or research problems. A well-done integrative review meets the same standards as primary research in regard to clarity, rigor, and replication. This is the most common form of review in the social sciences. Historical Review Few things rest in isolation from historical precedent.
Historical literature reviews focus on examining research throughout a period of time, often starting with the first time an issue, concept, theory, phenomena emerged in the literature, then tracing its evolution within the scholarship of a discipline.
The purpose is to place research in a historical context to show familiarity with state-of-the-art developments and to identify the likely directions for future research. Methodological Review A review does not always focus on what someone said [findings], but how they came about saying what they say [method of analysis].
Reviewing methods of analysis provides a framework of understanding at different levels [i. This approach helps highlight ethical issues which you should be aware of and consider as you go through your own study.
Systematic Review This form consists of an overview of existing evidence pertinent to a clearly formulated research question, which uses pre-specified and standardized methods to identify and critically appraise relevant research, and to collect, report, and analyze data from the studies that are included in the review. The goal is to deliberately document, critically evaluate, and summarize scientifically all of the research about a clearly defined research problem. 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?
Theoretical Review The purpose of this form is to examine the corpus of theory that has accumulated in regard to an issue, concept, theory, phenomena. The theoretical literature review helps to establish what theories already exist, the relationships between them, to what degree the existing theories have been investigated, and to develop new hypotheses to be tested. Often this form is used to help establish a lack of appropriate theories or reveal that current theories are inadequate for explaining new or emerging research problems.
The unit of analysis can focus on a theoretical concept or a whole theory or framework. Baumeister, Roy F. Systematic Approaches to a Successful Literature Review.
Structure and Writing Style I. 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 critical evaluation of each work should consider: Provenance -- what are the author's credentials? Are the author's arguments supported by evidence [e.
Methodology -- were the techniques used to identify, gather, and analyze the data appropriate to addressing the research problem? Was the sample size appropriate? Were the results effectively interpreted and reported? Objectivity -- is the author's perspective even-handed or prejudicial?
Depending on the length of your literature review, you can combine several of these strategies—for example, your overall structure might be thematic, but each theme is discussed chronologically. Chronological The simplest approach is to trace the development of the topic over time. However, if you choose this strategy, be careful to avoid simply listing and summarizing sources in order.
Try to analyze patterns, turning points and key debates that have shaped the direction of the field. Give your interpretation of how and why certain developments occurred.
Thematic If you have found some recurring central themes, you can organize your literature review into subsections that address different aspects of the topic. For example, if you are reviewing literature about inequalities in migrant health outcomes, key themes might include healthcare policy, language barriers, cultural attitudes, legal status, and economic access.
Methodological If you draw your sources from different disciplines or fields that use a variety of research methods , you might want to compare the results and conclusions that emerge from different approaches. 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.
You can use it to discuss various theories, models, and definitions of key concepts. You might argue for the relevance of a specific theoretical approach, or combine various theoretical concepts to create a framework for your research. Step 4: Write your literature review Like any other academic text, your literature review should have an introduction , a main body, and a conclusion. What you include in each depends on the objective of your literature review. Introduction The introduction should clearly establish the focus and purpose of the literature review.
Dissertation literature review If you are writing the literature review as part of your dissertation or thesis, reiterate your central problem or research question and give a brief summary of the scholarly context. Stand-alone literature review If you are writing a stand-alone paper, give some background on the topic and its importance, discuss the scope of the literature you will review for example, the time period of your sources , and state your objective.
What new insight will you draw from the literature? Body Depending on the length of your literature review, you might want to divide the body into subsections. You can use a subheading for each theme, time period, or methodological approach. This paragraph discusses how humanities scholars have approached the concept of wilderness.
Try to narrow it to a specific area of interest within the broad area that you have chosen remember: this is merely an introductory literature review for Educ It is a good idea, as part of your literature search, to look for existing literature reviews that have already been written on this topic.
Import your references into your RefWorks account see: Refworks Import Directions for guide on how to do this from different databases. You can also enter references manually into RefWorks if you need to.
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.
Tip: as you skim the articles, you may want to record the notes that you take on each directly into RefWorks in the box for User 1. You can take notes onto note cards or into a word processing document instead or as well as using RefWorks, but having your notes in RefWorks makes it easy to organize your notes later. Group the articles into categories e. Once again, it's useful to enter this information into your RefWorks record.
You can record the topics in the same box as before User 1 or use User 2 box for the topic s under which you have chosen to place this article. Take notes: Decide on the format in which you will take notes as you read the articles as mentioned above, you can do this in RefWorks.
You can also do this using a Word Processor, or a concept mapping program like Inspiration free 30 trial download , a data base program e. Access or File Maker Pro , in an Excel spreadsheet, or the "old-fashioned" way of using note cards. Be consistent in how you record notes. Define key terms: look for differences in the way keys terms are defined note these differences.
Note key statistics that you may want to use in the introduction to your review. Select useful quotes that you may want to include in your review. Important: If you copy the exact words from an article, be sure to cite the page number as you will need this should you decide to use the quote when you write your review as direct quotes must always be accompanied by page references. Note: although you may collect a large number of quotes during the note taking phase of your review, when you write the review, use quotes very sparingly.
The rule I follow is to quote only when some key meaning would be lost in translation if I were to paraphrase the original author's words, or if using the original words adds special emphasis to a point that I am making. Your role as a reviewer is to evaluate what you read, so that your review is not a mere description of different articles, but rather a critical analysis that makes sense of the collection of articles that you are reviewing.
Critique the research methodologies used in the studies, and distinguish between assertions the author's opinion and actual research findings derived from empirical evidence. 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.Themes: what questions or concepts recur across the literature? Summarize and Synthesize Remember to summarize and synthesize your sources within each thematic paragraph as well as throughout the review. Resolve conflicts among seemingly contradictory previous studies. Our quick guide to proofreading offers some useful tips and tricks! Selection Methods: the criteria you used to select and perhaps exclude sources in your literature review. Selecting and quoting only the most relevant material for your subject and argument.
Use reporting verbs to indicate Positive assessment advocate, argue, hold, see ; Neutral assessment address, cite, comment, look at ; Tentative assessment allude to, believe, hypothesize, suggest ; or Critical assessment attack, condemn, object, refute. You can also review the indexes of books to find references to specific issues that can serve as the focus of your research. 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. Was the sample size appropriate? The body of literature includes all studies that address related or identical hypotheses or research problems. This approach should only be followed if a clear path of research building on previous research can be identified and that these trends follow a clear chronological order of development.
Use reporting verbs to indicate Positive assessment advocate, argue, hold, see ; Neutral assessment address, cite, comment, look at ; Tentative assessment allude to, believe, hypothesize, suggest ; or Critical assessment attack, condemn, object, refute.
It can be helpful to make an annotated bibliography, where you compile full citation information and write a paragraph of summary and analysis for each source. A summary is a recap of the important information of the source, but a synthesis is a re-organization, or a reshuffling, of that information in a way that informs how you are planning to investigate a research problem. Importance of a Good Literature Review A literature review may consist of simply a summary of key sources, but in the social sciences, a literature review usually has an organizational pattern and combines both summary and synthesis, often within specific conceptual categories. Hart, Chris. Provide conclusions about those works that make the greatest contribution to the understanding and development of your subject.
The Oxford Handbook of Interdisciplinarity. Questions for Further Research: What questions about the field has the review sparked? Be consistent in how you record notes.
Historical Review Few things rest in isolation from historical precedent. Identify new ways to interpret, and shed light on any gaps in previous research. How does the publication relate to other literature in the field? Methodological If you draw your sources from different disciplines or fields that use a variety of research methods , you might want to compare the results and conclusions that emerge from different approaches. Writing Your Literature Review Once you've settled on how to organize your literature review, you're ready to write each section. If the same authors, books or articles keep appearing in your reading, make sure to seek them out.
Point the way to further research on your topic. Standards: the way in which you present your information.
Sometimes it includes suggestions about what needs to be done to increase the knowledge and understanding of a particular problem. Example: Calvin and Brommel believe family communication. The purpose of a literature review is to: Place each work in the context of its contribution to understanding the research problem being studied. How does the publication contribute to your understanding of the topic?
You should have a rough idea of your strategy before you start writing. The Writing Center. Is contrary data considered or is certain pertinent information ignored to prove the author's point? Describe the relationship of each work to the others under consideration. Consider the following issues before writing the literature review: Clarify If your assignment is not very specific about what form your literature review should take, seek clarification from your professor by asking these questions: 1.
How does the publication contribute to your understanding of the topic? The Oxford Handbook of Interdisciplinarity. Evaluate your references for currency and coverage: Although you can always find more articles on your topic, you have to decide at what point you are finished with collecting new resources so that you can focus on writing up your findings. You are also developing skills in reviewing and writing, to provide a foundation on which you will build in subsequent courses within your M. Summarize and Synthesize Remember to summarize and synthesize your sources within each thematic paragraph as well as throughout the review. On the other hand, a review in a thesis, dissertation, or journal article presenting original research usually leads to the research questions that will be addressed.
What are the key concepts and how are they defined? Questions for Further Research: What questions about the field has the review sparked? Keep your review focused on your topic: make sure that the articles you find are relevant and directly related to your topic. Or the review might focus on the fundraising impact of the Internet on a particular political party. A summary is a recap of the important information of the source, but a synthesis is a re-organization, or a reshuffling, of that information in a way that informs how you are planning to investigate a research problem.
Download the Dissertation Journey ebook to understand the challenges dissertation writers face and strategies for overcoming them. When writing your review, keep in mind these issues. Writing a Literature Review As an academic writer, you are expected to provide an analytical overview of the significant literature published on your topic. If you are using an electronic form of note taking, you might note these descriptors in a separate field e. This paragraph discusses how humanities scholars have approached the concept of wilderness. When you write your review, you should address these relationships and different categories and discuss relevant studies using this as a framework.