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Importance and Issues of Literature Review in Research


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A presentation made at workshop on 'Tackle a literature review' under the series 'Publish or Perish‘ organised by Mysore University Library and Mysore Librarians and Information Scientists Association (MyLISA) on November 30, 2013

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Importance and Issues of Literature Review in Research

  1. 1. Importance and Issues of Literature Review in Research M S Sridhar A presentation made at workshop on 'Tackle a literature review' under the series 'Publish or Perish‘ organisedby Mysore University LibraryandMysore Librarians and Information Scientists Association(MyLISA) onNovember 30, 2013
  2. 2. Synopsis •Introduction •Definition •Importance & purposes of literature review •Some issues in literature review •Judging relevance & evaluation of a work •The processes of literature review Research notes and references Use of computer Note taking techniques, format and layout •Characteristics of effective review •Conclusion M S Sridhar 2Literature Review
  3. 3. Introduction Researchis •a voyage of discovery or a journey from the known to unknown •an art of scientific investigation •a systematized effort to gain new knowledge M S Sridhar3Literature Review
  4. 4. Definition •Reviewis a formal assessment of something with the intention of instituting change if necessary •Book Review is a critical appraisal of a book, play, film, etc. published in a newspaper or magazine •A literature review is a “critical analysis of a segment of a published body of knowledge through summary, classification, and comparison of prior research studies, reviews of literature, and theoretical articles” (University of Wisconsin Writing Center) = Assessment/ evaluation + explanation + Digest / consolidation + comparison + categorisation/ classification M S Sridhar Literature Review 4
  5. 5. Definition •Annotated bibliography should not be confused for a literature review; it is just bibliography with a short annotation for each item •Literature analysis is a process in literature review •Literature survey is often used interchangeably with literature review, but an activity more done at the time of selection and formulation of research problem M S Sridhar Literature Review 5
  6. 6. Importance of Literature Review 1.A literature review may be an end in itself to publish it as a review 2.It can be a preparatory work for taking up / motivating future research 3.It can be to choose and formulate a research problem (more appropriately called as ‘literature survey’) 4.Literature Review enables a researcher to become an expert/ specialist/ authority in the specific area; the expertise acquired is often directly proportional to the efforts put in literature review M S Sridhar6Literature Review
  7. 7. Purposes of Literature Review 1.To understand the purpose and expectations of the prompt for research so as to place appropriate emphasis in the analysis and summary 2.Like laying a brick for building, Literature review enables to continue the tradition cohesively and to integrate past works and sources to the body of knowledge and also to say something new about them 3.To demonstrate knowledge of available sources 4.To identify gaps in theories 5.To check consistency and continuity of existing studies and their results M S Sridhar7 Literature Review
  8. 8. Purposes of Literature Review 6. Enables to delimit the scope and to narrow down the research problem 7. To ascertain availability of expected data and techniques for research problem 8. To compare ones findings/ results with that of past studies and to place the work in the context 9. To avoid duplication of work 10. To learn from earlier endeavours, i.e., to know the type of difficulties encountered and to get insight for new lines of approach M S Sridhar8 Literature Review
  9. 9. Some Issues in Literature Review 1.A continuous and time consuming process runs through out research work (more while selecting a research problem and writing ‘review of literature’) 2.Each research problem being unique, demands an unique research design and uniquely written literature review 3.Literature review becomes a prime data collection method in historical research 4.Ready made literature reviews like that in earlier theses, Advances and Annual reviews in the subject should serve more as spring board to start review rather than as substitutes M S Sridhar 9Literature Review
  10. 10. Some Issues in Literature Review 5. Quoting from some one or using abstract/ annotation should be the last resort and only when cannot access, read and digest the original 6.Beware of ones hidden bias (mother complex) in choosing only those results that suits researcher’s perspectives 7.Resist collecting and accumulating all references and copies of documents with the hope of using at a later point of time M S Sridhar 10Literature Review
  11. 11. Some Issues in Literature Review 8. When to start reading? Read at the earliest to avoid accumulating copies of all works for later reading 9. From where to start reading? Some times reverse chronological order or ‘latest first’ may be more appropriate 10. When to start drafting review? As early as possible 11. Avoiding duplication of efforts requires systematic updated and maintenance of all references including those rejected or excluded from review M S Sridhar11Literature Review
  12. 12. How many sources (references) should be reviewed? •Literature search may yield a large number (thousands) of references •Browse/ skim all and choose the most relevant •If still the number is too large, the research problem may not be sufficiently narrow or you are too liberal in deciding relevance •Try narrowing down the problem and/ or delimiting the problem M S Sridhar Literature Review 12References collected Sources skimmed Sources Selected
  13. 13. Judging Relevance & Evaluation of a Work •Judging whether a work/ study is relevant or not is tricky and depends much on how well the research problem is formulated •First hand examination and inclusion of most significant past studies is more important than exhaustive coverage of every less relevant/ trivial studies (use ABC analysis when the number is large) •Note that there may be plenty of relevant studies in allied areas from the point of view of methodology; Use only those which are highly significant ones M S Sridhar 13 Literature Review
  14. 14. Judging Relevance & Evaluation of a Work •Evaluation presupposes prior knowledge of (i) subject (ii) research methodology and (iii) statistical techniques •To evaluate a study use all the criteria of research evaluation like those about sample strategy, research design, data collection methods, techniques of analysis, drawing inference, generalisation, etc. M S Sridhar 14 Literature Review
  15. 15. The Processes of Literature Review •Determine the clear purpose of review •Search, access and gather literature •Skim through literature followed by a detailed reading of significant ones •Notice similarities and differences in terms of methodologies, philosophies, claims, choice and interpretation of evidence, reliability, etc. •Observe gaps in research or areas that require further study •Note any particular issue or problem that stands out M S Sridhar15 Literature Review
  16. 16. The Processes of Literature Review •Look for prompt to compare texts in general or hone in on a specific issue or question •Avoid going back and forth and changing direction and focus of review / research problem •Notes taking with categorisation/ classification and creating structure (Keep track of sources by writing a brief summary for each) •Note significance of each work to the research problem (The amount of space dedicated in review should be in proportion to its significance within the body of literature) M S Sridhar16 Literature Review
  17. 17. The Processes of Literature Review •Build References database Working bibliography Cyclic method of building references Eliminating duplication Managing reference with Styles (software like Reference Manager can help) •Build a database of notes (Personal Information System / Library) integrating references, text, quotes and comments (Make a table or chart to map how different sources relate to/contrast with one another) M S Sridhar17 Literature Review
  18. 18. Research Notes and References •Any form of note-taking that requires compilation of information by categories, rather than in narrative form is best done using index cards Notes card: landscape format 4 X 6” thick cards for notes, quotes and own observations References card: landscape format 3 X 5” thick cards •You can sort, edit and arrange index cards to suit your particular study needs •The most important point in using cards is to indicate the correct reference and topic at the top of the card •Use the cards for study, review, to help organize information for writing paper, report, or thesis M S Sridhar18Literature Review
  19. 19. Plagiarism •Plagiarism is an intellectual theft and is a major offence •Any academic work draws from published information supplemented by own ideas, results and findings •Making use of and building on the others’ (usually past) works is acceptable as long as others works are identified and properly and fully acknowledged •There are softwaresto check and detect plagiarism (CrossCheckpowered by iThentiocate) M S SridharLiterature Review19
  20. 20. Use of Computer •It is even better idea to organize categorical information in a database. Once computer is set up, finding, updating and adding new information becomes quite easy; Softwareslike NoteScribe, EndNotesand EverNotehelp a lot •For references to be used for citation and bibliography, a number of softwareslike ‘Reference manager’, ‘Librarian’, etc., make it easy and accurate to produce in whichever style they are required later once data is entered completely and correctly M S Sridhar20Literature Review
  21. 21. Use of Computer •There are online personal libraries like that of ResearchGate, Mandeley, Colwizand Google Scholar where in you can build references of your own and other publications; they can later be imported and exported from one to the other in Bibtex, Refworksand Endnote formats M S Sridhar 21Literature Review
  22. 22. Tips for Notes Taking 1. Be selective and systematic 2. Identify the purpose and function of a text 3.Identify how information is organised 4. Include your thoughts •What ideas did you have about your research when you read that information •How do you think you could use this information in your research? 5. Use symbols, standard abbreviations and own shorthand for words (shortcut) 6. Don’t rely on memory M S Sridhar22Literature Review
  23. 23. Notes Taking Techniques •Set out your notebooks so that you have a similar format each time you take notes •Have columns to distinguish the source information and your own thoughts/ comments (see sample format & layout) •Use headings, sub-headings and number each point •Include bibliographic reference/ details of the sources of information M S Sridhar23Literature Review
  24. 24. Notes Taking Techniques Whichever form of notes taking chosen: •Use different colouredinks for headings, major sections, main points, diagrams and notes, i.e., use color to highlight Outlining Topic sentence or main idea Patterning: flowcharts, diagrams, etc. Listing, margin notes, highlighting •Allow plenty of free space around notes to expand further –write on one side of sheet or use alternate lines •Order information (categorisation) •Use extensive cross-reference system M S Sridhar 24 Literature Review
  25. 25. Notes Taking Techniques •Use as much as possible diagrams, charts, graphs, drawings and other visual aids Try diagram or patterned notes like Main idea in the centre of the page Related ideas and facts around linked to main idea with link to indicate relation More important the idea, placed nearer to the main idea (centre) M S Sridhar25Literature Review
  26. 26. Notes Format & layout Category/ Classification Codes Notes Source information (Bibliographic reference) and location Own thoughts/ comments M S Sridhar Literature Review 26Headings/ Sub-headings
  27. 27. Characteristics of Effective Review 1.A clear logical structure: Logical analysis of the subject matter based on mental connections and associations between one thing and another (Simple possible to most complex structure or Logically or chronologically arranged) 2.Present well thought out ideas 3.Well organisedwork 4.Clear assumptions justified with evidence 5.No grammatical errors and no spelling mistakes M S Sridhar Literature Review27
  28. 28. Characteristics of Effective Review 6.No obscure or too long sentences or paragraphs 7.No borrowed ideas or sentences without giving credit to sources 8.Not much repetition 9.No irrelevant information 10.Strong and effective summary and conclusion M S Sridhar Literature Review 28
  29. 29. Conclusion •An unique research problem demands an unique research design and so an unique review of literature •A borrowed or an imitated research problem implies that the researches has reused an earlier literature review •A researcher acquires expertise on a specific area mainly through extensive and intensive unique literature review M S Sridhar Literature Review 29
  30. 30. References •Academic Resource Center, Sweet Briar College, Sweet Briar, VA 24595. •Buzan, Tony. The speed reading book: read more, learn more, achieve more. England, BBC, 2010. •Cohen, Louis and Manion, Lawrence. Research methods in education. London: Routledge, 1980. •Dudley, Geoffrey A. Rapid reading: the high-speed way to increase your learning power. Bombay: Jaico, 1980. •Kothari, C.R. Research methodology: methods and techniques.2 ed., New Delhi: Vishwaprakashan, 1990. •Jones, Gwyn and Mort, Pam. Study Skills for Academic Writing. Phoenix, 1994. •University of Wisconsin Writing Center’s online guide to Literature Reviews: M S Sridhar Literature Review 30
  31. 31. M S Sridhar Literature Review 31 Thank You