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How to write (and publish) a literature review

How to write (and publish) your literature review? This presentations distinguishes between three types and purposes of "review": (1) a literature review, as part of an empirical study; (2) a stand-alone review article; and (3) a conceptual or theoretical (non-empirical) article. For each of theses types, it gives an overview of considerations for getting done and published (or rejected).

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Surviving 
the 
PhD 
2014 
Edi4on: 
How 
to 
Write 
a 
Literature 
Review 
Marcel 
Bogers 
marcelbogers.com 
@bogers 
November 
3, 
2014 
Scuola 
Superiore 
Sant'Anna, 
Pisa, 
Italy
www.phdcomics.com/comics/ 
archive.php?comicid=715
Three 
types 
of 
“review” 
• A 
literature 
review 
– Part 
of 
an 
empirical 
study 
• A 
review 
ar4cle 
– Stand-­‐alone 
review 
paper 
• A 
conceptual/theore4cal 
ar4cle 
– Non-­‐empirical 
theory 
paper
A 
Literature 
Review
What 
is 
a 
literature 
review? 
• Is 
it 
an 
end 
or 
a 
means? 
• Framework 
for 
empirical 
study 
– Hypotheses 
– (Implicit) 
model 
– How 
to 
do 
it? 
• Analysis 
& 
results 
– Relate 
results 
back 
to 
(original) 
literature 
– Extend 
review 
to 
discover 
other 
relevant 
areas 
• Contribu4on 
to 
theory
The 
t-­‐word! 
• Concepts 
& 
causal 
mechanisms 
• What 
cons4tutes 
a 
theore4cal 
contribu4on? 
– Two 
dimensions 
(Corley 
& 
Gioia, 
2011 
AMR): 
• Originality: 
revelatory 
vs 
incremental 
• U4lity: 
scien4fic 
vs 
prac4cal 
• A 
literature 
review 
offers: 
– Theore4cal 
background 
of 
empirical 
study 
– Basis 
for 
developing 
& 
explaining 
theore4cal 
contribu4on

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How to write (and publish) a literature review

  • 1. Surviving the PhD 2014 Edi4on: How to Write a Literature Review Marcel Bogers marcelbogers.com @bogers November 3, 2014 Scuola Superiore Sant'Anna, Pisa, Italy
  • 3. Three types of “review” • A literature review – Part of an empirical study • A review ar4cle – Stand-­‐alone review paper • A conceptual/theore4cal ar4cle – Non-­‐empirical theory paper
  • 5. What is a literature review? • Is it an end or a means? • Framework for empirical study – Hypotheses – (Implicit) model – How to do it? • Analysis & results – Relate results back to (original) literature – Extend review to discover other relevant areas • Contribu4on to theory
  • 6. The t-­‐word! • Concepts & causal mechanisms • What cons4tutes a theore4cal contribu4on? – Two dimensions (Corley & Gioia, 2011 AMR): • Originality: revelatory vs incremental • U4lity: scien4fic vs prac4cal • A literature review offers: – Theore4cal background of empirical study – Basis for developing & explaining theore4cal contribu4on
  • 8. Why write a review paper? • First step in research project (sunk cost) • Brings together different streams/ perspec4ves • Good way to synthesize and cri4que exis4ng literature (and to build on that) – Helps to find & develop your contribu4on – Adds value to readership (read: cita4ons J) • However: ”review” ≠ ”review paper” • Can be difficult to publish – How to get it rejected?
  • 9. Reasons for rejec8on at IJMR (Jones & Catrell, 2014) Weak analysis of the literature – too descrip4ve 21% Poor coverage of the literature with major gaps in key areas 17% Focus of the paper unclear and key concepts poorly defined 13% Methods poorly explained or inappropriate 5% Omiled key journals from review 5% Topic too broad/ narrow and paper poorly organized Paper did not make a unique contribu4on 12% Paper too similar to exis4ng literature reviews 9% 7% Limited research agenda 5% Other 6%
  • 10. Journal of Management’s call for proposals (2014 Review Issue) “Submissions will be evaluated with respect to the following criteria … a) Relevance – The proposed manuscript should thoroughly review a significant and important research area within the organiza4onal sciences. b) Viability – The proposal should represent an achievable project within the 4ght 4me constraints required. … c) Scope of Interest – Papers of broad interest to scholars in a variety of specialty areas are greatly preferred. d) Organiza8on and Coherence – The proposal should follow a logical structure, read clearly, and thoroughly represent the available research. e) Insight for Future Work – The proposal should convey important implica4ons for future management scholars.”
  • 11. Some guidelines • Gives good overview/summary/report of research field – State of the literature(s) – Scope & depth – Brings something new & adds value • Different styles and types – Systema4c/rigid vs qualita4ve/narra4ve-­‐style – Different structures and outcomes (cf. theory) • Fit with the journal & contribu4on – Audience, “so what”, & future research • See editorials for more guidelines
  • 13. Wri4ng (publishing) a conceptual/ theore4cal ar4cle • Develops some sort of conceptual or theore4cal model • The t-­‐word – “Theory is a statement of concepts and their interrela4onships that shows how and/or why a phenomenon occurs” (Corley & Gioia, 2011 AMR) – ”Theory is about the connec4ons among phenomena, a story about why acts, events, structure, and thoughts occur. Theory emphasizes the nature of causal rela4onships … .” (Sulon & Staw, 1995 ASQ) • What does it mean for your paper? – On the level of the construct (not opera4onalized) – May use proposi4ons (cf. hypotheses) – Focus on theory • Some cri4que & concern related to theory – Lille agreement on what theory is (Corley & Gioia, 2011 AMR) – Too much of a good thing? (Hambrick, 2007 AMJ)
  • 14. Surviving the PhD: Good luck! Marcel Bogers marcelbogers.com @bogers www.phdcomics.com/comics/ archive.php?comicid=715