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What is a literature review?

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What is a review of the literature?
What is a NOT a Literature Review?
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It needs to reach the logical conclusion that your research is a good idea. If there is a key article or book that is of major importance to the development of your own research ideas, it is important to give extra space to describing and critiquing that piece of literature in more depth.

Similarly, if there are some studies that you will be referring to more than to others, it would be useful to give them a full report and critique at this stage. As well as using tables to display numerical data, tables can be useful within a literature review when you are comparing other kinds of material. For example, you could use a table to display the key differences between two or more:.

The table format can make the comparisons easier to understand than if they were listed within the text. It can also be a check for yourself that you have identified enough relevant differences. An omission will be more obvious within a table, where it would appear as a blank cell, than it would be within text.

Almost all academic writing will need a reference list. This is a comprehensive list of the full references of sources that you have referred to in your writing.

The reader needs to be able to follow up any source you have referred to. A bibliography is not usually necessary or relevant, unless you have been asked to produce one.

This experience is common in PhD study, but it can happen at any level, and can feel as if you have wasted a lot of effort. Looking at this positively, however, you have probably read more widely than you might otherwise have done. That probably confirms that it was a good question to ask! Although this can feel very disappointing at first, it can often be transformed into a benefit.

It is important that your research fits logically within the existing research in your area, and you may have found an ideal study to link with and to extend in some way. Firstly, this is unlikely. Perhaps if you modify your search strategy you will find something. Check out whether there is an important reason why the research has not been done, which would make it sensible for you to choose a different focus. If you do decide to go ahead, then take extra care designing your research, in the absence of guidance from previous studies.

Ploughing a little-known furrow as a novice researcher is going to be very difficult, and you may find it difficult to get much support or help. An important aspect of your thesis and your viva, is that you can show how your research fits with other research.

This will be just as important when there is limited existing research in your area, as when there is an abundance. Once you have a first draft of your literature review it is possible for you to assess how well you have achieved your aims. One way of doing this is to examine each paragraph in turn, and to write in the margin a very brief summary of the content, and the type of content e. These summaries then provide the outline of the story you are telling, and the way that you are telling it.

Both of these are important and need to be critically reviewed. Beware of becoming too attached to your writing. You need to be ready to cross out whole paragraphs or even whole sections if they do not pass the above tests. It may be mainly a case of cutting and pasting material into a different order, with some additional explanation and linking.

If this produces a more relevant and streamlined argument it is well worth the effort. Health Services Writing Centre: Personal tools Web Editor Log in.

Search Site only in current section. For a printer-friendly PDF version of this guide, click here. Communicating your research , Resources , Writing. Navigation Succeed in your studies. Take our essay writing tour. The term now encompasses a wide range of web-based sources, in addition to the more traditional books and print journals. Increased ease of access to a wider range of published material has also increased the need for careful and clear critique of sources. You need to demonstrate to your reader that you are examining your sources with a critical approach, and not just believing them automatically.

You need to be actively involved in interpreting the literature that you are reviewing, and in explaining that interpretation to the reader, rather than just listing what others have written. Your interpretation of each piece of evidence is just that: The next stage is to critically evaluate the paper and decide if the research is sufficient quality. Think about it this way: A smaller number of quality sources is far preferable than a long but irrelevant list.

Check into the credentials of any source which you rely on heavily for the literature review. The reputation of the University or organization is a factor, as is the experience of the researcher. If their name keeps cropping up, and they have written many papers, the source is probably OK. Good research should have been replicated by other independent researchers, with similar results, showing that the information is fairly safe to use.

If the process is proving to be difficult and in some fields like medicine and environmental research, there is a lot of poor science do not be afraid to ask a supervisor for advice. They should know some trustworthy sources to look at. It may be a little extra work for them, but there will be even more work if they have to tear apart a review because it is built on shaky evidence.

Conducting a good literature review takes patience and is a matter of practice. Take solace that even the best scientists can fall into the trap of using poor evidence. If your research program is well constructed, a less-than-perfect literature review will not affect the results.

Check out our quiz-page with tests about:. Martyn Shuttleworth Sep 16, What is a Literature Review?. Retrieved Sep 13, from Explorable. The text in this article is licensed under the Creative Commons-License Attribution 4. You can use it freely with some kind of link , and we're also okay with people reprinting in publications like books, blogs, newsletters, course-material, papers, wikipedia and presentations with clear attribution.

How to Write an Introduction. Want the full version to study at home, take to school or just scribble on? Whether you are an academic novice, or you simply want to brush up your skills, this book will take your academic writing skills to the next level. Don't have time for it all now? No problem, save it as a course and come back to it later.

This is where you show your committee that you understand what the state of the science is around your topic. These discussions may be informal, as with a quick question of a committee member in the hallway or through email. You will also need to show your mastery of your topic during formal discussions, such as in a 1: You can become an expert on this topic because you will know what is known and unknown! You have read and appraised the literature! You can use your expertise to get on policy committees in your institution and to improve clinical practice.

First let me make a point to say that a literature review or state-of-the-science review is NOT the same as a systematic review! While there is an orderly method to doing a lit review, it is not as exhaustive and deliberate as a systematic review Thompson, A literature review is a broad report, which may discuss key points of a phenomenon but is not necessarily exhaustive in scope.

A systematic review is a thorough, comprehensive, and systematic examination of a broad or narrow look at a phenomenon or topic. If conducted in a rigorous and transparent manner, a systematic review one of the highest levels of evidence we look for to support evidence-based practice.

In a chapter I wrote on for a book on evidence-based practice, I talked about using a mnemonic of 4Ps for designing studies: Prepare, Proceed, Publicize, Practice Thompson, Prepare, Proceed, Produce, Proofread. Decide on your phenomenon of interest and determine your research objectives or questions. Decide which databases you will search. Develop a form to abstract the data from the studies you read in an organized fashion. You can do this as a spreadsheet using the questions I outlined above or use an evidence table or literature synthesis matrix form you find online or from a faculty member.

These forms typically have columns and rows in which you quickly summarize data from each study or theoretical paper you read on your phenomenon. A literature matrix or evidence table will help organize the studies you read and remind you of what they were about. This is an extremely helpful device that you should make a habit of creating — especially if you are a graduate student or plan on becoming a researcher.

Garrard has a good audit trail system outlined in her book to keep track of your work. Conduct your literature search. Review the titles of the search results for relevance to your phenomenon; further refine your result list by reviewing the abstracts of the studies, if available. Keep the articles that are relevant to your topic. Acquire the full-text articles. Come up with a labeling system that will help you find the saved articles again.

So for example, ThompsonDesignStudies Read and abstract the information from each article to your data abstraction sheet or evidence table. You might organize your evidence table by publishing date, themes you identify as you read, types of studies, or results e. You should always assess the quality of the research studies you are including in a review.

Why do I need a literature review?

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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 .

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Aug 02,  · A literature review helps you create a sense of rapport with your audience or readers so they can trust that you have done your homework. As a result, they can give you credit for your due diligence: you have done your fact-finding and fact-checking mission, one of the initial steps of any research resrebal.tks:

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A literature review can be a precursor in the introduction of a research paper, or it can be an entire paper in itself, often the first stage of large research projects, allowing the supervisor to ascertain that the student is on the correct path. 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.

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A literature review surveys scholarly articles, books and other sources relevant to a particular issue, area of research, or theory, and by so doing, providing a description, summary, and critical evaluation of these works. What is the specific thesis, problem, or research question that my literature review helps to define? What type of literature review am I conducting? Am I looking at issues of theory? methodology? policy? quantitative research? qualitative research?