What is a review of literature? A literature review is an examination of the research that has been conducted in a particular field of study. Hart (1998) defines it as: • The selection of available documents (both published and unpublished) on the topic, which contain information, ideas, data and evidence.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 fulfill 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).
Why writing a lit review?
the purpose is to analyse critically a segment of a published body of knowledge through summary, classification and comparison of prior research studies, reviews of literature, and theoretical articles.
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 provide you with some ideas you might not of thought of yourself
to demonstrate you can access and evaluate others work
to spark off ideas for future projects (cause they probably know less than you think)
To show other readers how you incorporate the work of others into your own work
How to structure a literature review - Generally use the inverted pyramid Broad introduction to topic Specific information of the topic At the end of your literature review the reader must have only one thought in their heads……. DO I HAVE ENOUGH INFORMATION OF THE TOPIC? level of detail
Who can you trust (everything you read isnt 100% true) ?
- You will probably collect information from journal papers, conference papers, books, media releases, websites (especially manufacturers), etc.
- when assessing the information, you may need to consider:
Who wrote it and why did they write it (what info did they leave out, how did they ‘spin’ the results, etc.)?
Where was it published and how was it reviewed/edited (i.e. journal paper or mad magazine)?
When was it published (and what info has come out since)?
Are the conclusions valid based on the results?
How rigorous were the tests performed/data analysed?
- You will need an opinion on the literature you review as to how good, bad or useful it is – this needs to come out in your review
Besides enlarging your knowledge about the topic, writing a literature review lets you gain and demonstrate skills in two areas: information seeking : the ability to scan the literature efficiently, using manual or computerized methods, to identify a set of useful articles and books critical appraisal : the ability to apply principles of analysis to identify unbiased and valid studies. DEMONSTRATE SKILLS
SAMPLE Here is a sample paragraph from a literature review about sexism and language to illuminate the following discussion:
be organized around and look for information related to your topic of interest
synthesize results into a summary of what is and is not known
identify areas of controversy in the literature
formulate questions that need further research
A LIT REVIEW MUST…
A literature review is a piece of discursive prose , not a list describing or summarizing one piece of literature after another. It's usually a bad sign to see every paragraph beginning with the name of a researcher. Instead, organize the literature review into sections that present themes or identify trends, including relevant theory. You are not trying to list all the material published, but to synthesize and evaluate it according to the guiding concept of your thesis or research question.
Direct Quote Paraphrased work Author’s own ideas
EXAMPLES The structure of sentences when using reporting verbs can vary, and can be flexible – for example: e.g. Jones (1999) argues, in his study of thermodynamics, that….. As Jones (1999) argues in his study of thermodynamics,…. In his study of thermodynamics, Jones (1999) argues that… It is possible (and often quite attractive stylistically) to invert the subject and verb when reporting: e.g. Thermodynamics, Jones (1999) argues, is….. Reporting the work of others often needs an extra sentence introduction or ‘lead-in’: e.g. ‘ In considering Smith’s discussion on thermodynamics , Jones (1999) argues that…. It is important to remember to put the final –s on the verb when the subject is he/she. Very often, in academic writing, reporting takes place in the present tense , as in the examples above – this is because of the need to bring past research into the present moment.
YOUR TASK 1. Select one article and find more information related to the topic under study. 2. After reading the most relevant information, outline it and figure out how to put the most relevant information together in an article. 3. Under each heading, start including the information using summaries, paraphrases and quotes. 4. Have someone proofread your article and make the necessary adjustments. 5. Hand your article in on the 4th of December Office H402
Having analyzed your draft critically - it is time to type your assignment. Complete the assignment front page accurately Type your assignment (hand-written is NOT acceptable) Use 12 point font size (and preferably universal or Arial font) Use double spacing Leave an extra line between paragraphs Use sub headings within your writing to guide the reader Use LETTER sized paper Type your name on each page Insert page numbers Make sure your references section is complete and follows the standard laid out in this unit