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The Literature Review

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These slides provide a general overview of the literature review process. The literature review is defined as well as its characteristics and differences among various types of reviews. In addition, some basic steps and considerations are provided for starting a literature review as well as when to finish one.

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The Literature Review

  1. 1. The Literature Review Kristy Padron, MLIS Instruction and Engagement Librarian kpadron@fau.edu Sept. 2018
  2. 2. What will we be learning today? • Define “the literature” within broader disciplines. • Describe the purpose of literature reviews. • Distinguish various types of reviews, their purposes, and their characteristics. • Illustrate the steps of a literature review. Source: MariSmithPix at Pixabay.com; Permission by CC0
  3. 3. What is the literature? Image credit: by Pixabay.com. Permission by CC0; altered by K. Padron.
  4. 4. What is the literature? A body of work that has been distributed, written, or published on a given topic or concept. Can be in multiple formats, depending on the academic subject or discipline. Various intents: inform, support, persuade, update, or dispute “Banyan Tree.” Photo credit: by Robert Macdonald. Permission by CC BY-NC-ND 2.0. No alteration made to image.
  5. 5. What is the literature? “Banyan Tree.” Photo credit: by Robert Macdonald. Permission by CC BY-NC-ND 2.0. No alteration made to image. The literature consists of the following: Major works: key or seminal publications on a topic Other works or publications that build upon or respond to the major works. The literature is a continuously evolving network of scholarly works that interact with each other.
  6. 6. What is the literature? Literature generally falls into one of three categories: 1. Primary sources: first-hand accounts of events, practices, or conditions being researched. It also includes many original, creative works or artifacts. Caliban’s Rebellion (2008) Image credit: Shehal Joseph at Flickr.com. Permission by CC by 2.0
  7. 7. What is the literature? Humanities:  Creative works (original literature, fiction or non-fiction, poetry, film, performances)  Music scores handwritten by the composer(s)  Diaries  Regalia or original artifacts  Magazine or newspaper articles  Autobiographies  Memoirs  Oral histories  Field notes  Raw data  Statues and laws Sciences / Health Sciences:  Original research (articles, reports, pre-prints)  Conference papers  Dissertations & theses  Interviews  Patents & inventions  Technical reports  Lab notebooks  Raw data Primary Source Examples: Social sciences tend to use a combination from these broad disciplines. Image credits: by Pixabay.com. Permission by CC0.
  8. 8. What is the literature? 2. Secondary sources: sources that discuss, study, or comment on information from primary sources.
  9. 9. Sciences / Health Sciences:  Literature reviews  Data analysis or refined compilations  Reviews (systematic or meta-analysis)  Opinion pieces  Letters to the editor  Articles in trade journals (non-research)  Textbooks and books What is the literature? Secondary Source Examples: Social sciences tend to use a combination from these broad disciplines. Humanities:  Biographies  Literary criticism  Monographs written about a topic  Reviews on creative works  Music scores that have been published or changed.  Bibliographies  Law reviews  Journal articles (criticism and interpretation)
  10. 10. 3. Tertiary sources: sources that utilize and distill information from primary and secondary sources. Reference works such as: • Handbooks • Standards • Almanacs • Encyclopedias • Manuals • Pathfinders (LibGuides) What is “the literature?” Encyclopedia of Caribbean Theater By C. Ocean Handbook of Spiders from Around the World By A.N. Arach-Nid
  11. 11. What is the literature review?  The process of identifying, locating, examining, and synthesizing scholarly information and publications on a particular topic.  One of the first things done by any student or scholar who plans to pursue new knowledge or do research in most subject areas.  The literature review establishes the base upon which any new work stands. “Watching the skyline.” Photo credit: by Peter F. on Flicker.com. Permission by CC BY 2.0.
  12. 12. What is the literature review? A literature review develops an understanding of a topic in four different directions: 1. Research theory and philosophy • Establish intellectual content • Define a concept 2. History of development • Gain background to present history 3. Latest research and development • Identify current thinking, issues, and arguments • Detect a knowledge gap 4. Research methods • Discern techniques and instrumentation Theory History Research Methods Image credit: by Pixabay.com. Permission by CC0; altered by K. Padron.
  13. 13. What is the literature review? The literature review is not…  …an annotated bibliography or laundry list of articles.  …a linear process; earlier steps may need to be revisited because of new or additional information found.  …an optional step when beginning research or exploring a topic. Photo credit: by Pixabay.com. Permission by CC0.
  14. 14. What are uses of the literature review?  Assignments, theses, and dissertations  Background for original research, criticism and interpretation, or new creations  Grant proposals  Evidence-based practice Image credit: by Pixabay.com. Permission by CC0.
  15. 15. Types of Literature Reviews Reviews are not necessarily standard by design or definition. Main differences:  Discipline norms: one for history would be different than for medicine.  Purpose and scope  Rigor: Selection and appraisal  Some disciplines have standards (PRISMA in health care)  The use of pre-established criteria  Organization  Topical or narrative (by subject or theme)  Chronological  Geographical (variations in research methodology by country or region; where things occur) Image credit: by Pixabay.com. Permission by CC0.
  16. 16. Types of Literature Reviews Type of Review Summary Definition Scoping review (Example) How much is out there? • Preliminary assessment of size and scope of available literature. • Identify the extent and nature of past and current research. State-of-the-art or science (Example) What is new or current? • Focus on current research and knowledge. • May offer new perspectives or identify areas for further research. Literature review (a.k.a. narrative review) (Example) What is out there and what are its attributes? • Generic term. • An examination of past and/or current publications. • May cover a range of subjects with varying levels of completeness and comprehensiveness.
  17. 17. Types of Literature Reviews Type of Review Summary Definition Critical review (Example) What are valuable works on this topic, and why? Where can these points lead? • A critical evaluation of extensively researched literature selected for its contribution to the field or understanding of concept.. • Describes degree of analysis with the hopes of deriving new theory. Systematic review (Example) What is out there on this particular concept with these pre-established conditions? • Searching for literature and selecting based on pre-established criteria (subjects, study design, methodology, outcomes, year of publication). • Summarizing what is found (or summarizing the evidence). Meta-Analysis (Example) What are the results when data from similar studies are pooled? • Searching for literature and selecting based on pre-established criteria (subjects, study design, methodology, outcomes, year of publication). • Follows a standard of reporting (e.g., PRISMA). • Combines the data of multiples studies to improve estimates and/or to resolve uncertainties when individual studies disagree.
  18. 18. Activity: Which review is (probably) best? Scenario 1: A nurse professor is applying for an NIH grant and needs strong support and evidence for her proposal. Scenario 2: A student wants to see how much has been published on the 1923 Rosewood (Florida) Massacre. Scenario 3: A civil engineering professor wants current standards for concrete in order to build roads. Scenario 4: A T.A. is looking for studies on how the justice system handles young adults convicted of non-violent offenses. Image credits: by Pixabay.com. Permission by CC0. Type of Review Scoping review (Example) State-of-the-art or science (Example) Literature review (a.k.a. narrative review) (Example) Critical review (Example) Systematic review (Example) Meta-Analysis (Example)
  19. 19. Activity: Which review is (probably) best? Scenario 1: A nurse professor is applying for an NIH grant and needs strong support and evidence for her proposal. Scenario 2: A student wants to see how much has been published on the 1923 Rosewood (Florida) Massacre. Scenario 3: A civil engineering professor wants current standards for concrete in order to build roads. Scenario 4: A T.A. is looking for studies on how the justice system handles young adults convicted of non-violent offenses. Most likely a systematic review. Most likely a scoping review. Most likely a state-of-the-science review. Most likely a literature review. Image credits: by Pixabay.com. Permission by CC0. Type of Review Scoping review (Example) State-of-the-art or science (Example) Literature review (a.k.a. narrative review) (Example) Critical review (Example) Systematic review (Example) Meta-Analysis (Example)
  20. 20. How do I start a literature review? 1. Explore, select, then focus on a topic. Look at “recommendations for further research” in the conclusion of research articles. Use this to formulate your research question and goal or objective of the review. (Generally for a systematic review) Determine the pre-established criteria. Image credit: by Pixabay.com. Permission by CC0.
  21. 21. How do I start a literature review? 2. Gather relevant documents and information.  Identify sources of information for your topic and field: library and information resources, organizations, special collections or archives, etc.  Familiarize yourself with your organization’s library or information services, including interlibrary loan or document delivery.  Read other literature reviews or review articles if they are available on a topic.  Utilize chain searching to find additional documents:  Also known as pearl mining/ growing, citation analysis, reference searching, or citation mining.  Backward searching: exploring the references used in key studies.  Forward searching: reviewing the articles that cite a particular study, or subsequent research that uses a particular article.  Can be done on first- and second-generation bases (and also third).
  22. 22. How do I start a literature review? 3. Organize documents and information. This will depend on preferences based on your workflow, available technology, and working solo or with others.  Use citation management software (EndNote, RefWorks, etc.).  Identify other means of saving documents based on your needs and workflow (Google Docs, DropBox, etc.).  Use a qualitative data analysis software (QDAS) as needed for content analysis.  Examples: Atlas.TI (available through FAU Virtual Apps), MAXQDA, Nvivo  Organize what is found for further exploration (literature review matrix). Image credits: by Pixabay.com. Permission by CC0. Organize!
  23. 23. Citations Theoretical/ Conceptual Framework Research Question(s)/ Hypotheses Methodology Analysis & Results Conclusions Implications for Future Research Implications for Practice Marley, K.M. (July 2017) “Potential of Spider Silk in Biomaterials” Jnl. of Experimental Biomaterials Review of research articles on spider silk use as biomaterials Spider silk has many potential uses as biomaterials, particularly wound and incision care IDs research articles from last 10 years that were done in a lab; reviews 7 articles that fell within criteria N/A Spider silk may be a better biomaterial for wounds and incisions than synthetic materials. More research needs to be done on uses of spider silk for wound and incision care Patients may have faster and more thorough recovery than if synthetic materials were used. Article 2 Article 3 How do I start a literature review? The Literature Review Matrix  The categories can be changed to focus on the needs of the assignment or norms of the discipline.
  24. 24. How do I start a literature review? 4. Summarize, compare, and critically evaluate relevant literature.  Identify major themes and concepts.  Highlight important papers.  Determine what is important, out of scope, or disputed.  Discern the research premise, design, and methodology utilized.  Review described limitations of study or recommendations for future research.  Identify critical gaps (within a given study as well as the overall body of knowledge), disagreements, and anomalies.  Discover relationships between sources (backward and forward searching of cited references). 5. Provide a synthesis and overview of the literature; can be organized by themes or chronologically.
  25. 25. What are some steps in writing the literature review? 1. Develop and then present an understanding of the literature. 2. Organize the literature review on the concepts and relationships found. 3. Discuss what has been published on the topic and include ideas and conclusions. 4. Draft paper, proof-read, and revise; include a bibliography. Image credit: by Pixabay.com. Permission by CC0.
  26. 26. Where can I start my search?  Your library (FAU Libraries).  OneSearch & Subject-Specific Databases.  Web of Science.  ProQuest Dissertations.  LibGuides: subject and topic-specific information sources.  Google Scholar: identifies open access publications, collections from organizations and academic institutions, and gray literature.  Other sources of specialized information for your subject or format (e.g., patents, art, music, special collections, government documents, etc.). Image credit: by Pixabay.com. Permission by CC0.
  27. 27. When can I stop? Consider the following: • Searches were done using standard information sources for your subject (e.g., PsycInfo for psychology) and general library resources (OneSearch). • Amount of time spent and strategy used in your searches. • Amount and quality of articles/ evidence. • Repetition of results with various searches. • Being able to identify seminal works and authorities on topic. • Feedback to your search from advisor, colleagues, etc. Image credit: by Pixabay.com. Permission by CC0. ?
  28. 28. Where are some resources for writing a literature review?  Purdue OWL - Literature Reviews  General literature reviews: Everett, E. L. (2013). Doing your master’s dissertation: From start to finish. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. Walliman, N. (2011). Research methods: The basics. London: Routledge.  Social & Behavioral Sciences: Galvan, J. L. (1999). Writing literature reviews: A guide for students of the social and behavioral sciences. Los Angeles: Pyrczak.  Nursing & Health Sciences: Coughlan, M., Cronin, P., & Ryan, F. (2013). Doing a literature review in nursing, health, and social care. Los Angeles: Sage.
  29. 29. For additional information, contact the FAU Libraries:  Contact or visit your campus library.  Library Service Desk  Ask a Librarian (Chat, text, or email): www.askalibrarian.org/fau  Research Consultations: tinyurl.com/consult-orient

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