07 Literature Review


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Theological Research Seminary: Presentation 7

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07 Literature Review

  1. 1. By Kevin G. Smith Literature Review Theological Research Seminar
  2. 2. Literature Review Professional master’s and doctoral degrees begin with a problem in professional practice or experience, and design a research project to resolve the problem (praxis). Research master’s and doctoral degrees begin with a review of literature in the field, identify a gap in the discipline, and then design a research project to fill the gap.
  3. 3. Literature Review In either case, ‘It is essential that every research project begins with a review of the existing literature’ (Mouton 2001, 86). Two Reviews • Preliminary literature review • Primary literature review
  4. 4. Literature Review Review of Scholarship This name draws attention to the type of literature on which you must focus. ‘In short, you are interested in the most recent, credible and relevant scholar-ship in your area of interest’ (Mouton 2001, 87). History of Research This name draws attention to the diachronic nature of a good literature view: it provides a bird’s-eye view of previous research leading to the point at which your study enters the debate.
  5. 5. THE NEED FOR A REVIEW Why must I do a literature review?
  6. 6. The Need for a Review • Avoid duplicating research that has already been done. • Identify gaps in the existing research that call for further study. • Interact with the most recent theories and empirical findings. • Narrow your research idea in the light of greater insight into the field.
  7. 7. THE CRITERIA FOR A REVIEW How will my literature review be judged?
  8. 8. The Criteria for a Review • The principle of exhaustiveness: Does it cover the main aspects of the study thoroughly? • The principle of fairness: Does it treat authors fairly and accurately? • The principle of topicality: Is it up-to-date and in touch with the current debate? • The principle of presentation: Is it well-organised and interpretive?
  9. 9. THE TOOLS FOR A REVIEW How do I obtain sources for my literature review?
  10. 10. Question 1 1) You need the Internet. Initially, the Internet is all you need. You need to spend days surfing and searching for the key resources on your topic. It is not difficult, but it is demanding. 2) You need a Library. After you have done your spadework on the Internet, you will need to visit a major theological library to access resources not available online. What tools do I need to identify and access relevant literature?
  11. 11. Question 2 The general answer is high quality academic sources, particularly recent ones (the last 10 years). You are looking mostly for recent scholarship and research. What kinds of literature am I seeking?
  12. 12. Question 2 The three most important types of material are: 1) Journal articles 2) Academic books 3) Theses or dissertations In the early stages of the research, you can focus considerable attention on Book Reviews. Instead of reading whole books, read reviews of books. What kinds of literature am I seeking?
  13. 13. Question 3 “Blood, sweat, and tears!” 1) Read literature reviews 2) Study bibliographies 3) Search online bookstores 4) Use journal databases 5) Use Google Books and Google Scholar How do I find the key works on my topic?
  14. 14. CONCLUSION