A literature review (analysis)
A literature review (analysis)
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According to Veal (1997) literature review is an important part of research, which involves, a careful search for information on the relevant published work. It includes not only the review, but also assessing and surmising salient aspects of the useful items for the research proposal. Literature review draws conclusions and implications for the proposed research program. Writing literature review can be daunting task, as it needs patience, insight and lateral thinking. Literature review has two purposes: to systematically describe work done on a specific area of research, and to evaluate this work critically.
Literature review is related with three main activities, collecting, reading and thinking. All of these are interrelated activities, literature review process is reading, writing and thinking and writing again. The important issue is to identify and read the relevant literature, think about the literature and then write (Blaxter and Hughes, 2001).
Bell (2005) mentions, that literature should be based on original idea, and not mere reproduction of the readings. A high-quality literature review reveals whether or not a research question has already been answered. If it has been, the question has to be changed, so that an original contribution to the research is made, rather the re-inventing the wheel. Figure 1.1 illustrates the literature review process.
What Questions to Ask?
Veal (1997) explains, that a research (literature review) should focus on the question, which has not been answered satisfactorily earlier. Such as following:
· What is the range of research?
· What methods have been used, and what methods are neglected?
· Are there any gaps in knowledge of the subject? And how can these gaps be bridged?
· Is there a consensus on relevant issues? Or is there significant debate on the issues?
Data Collection Sources
A researcher can use number of sources to gather information for the research study, some of which are examined below.
Journals are good for up-to-date information and are frequently used in literature reviews, because they offer up-to-date research information.
Book are not up-to-date, as it takes longer time for a book to be published than a journal article. The textbooks are not useful for literature review as they are basically intended for teaching.
Conference proceedings are useful in providing the latest research, which has not been published. They are also helpful in providing information about the people, which are currently involved in the research areas.
Government/corporate reports can provide useful information, depending on the field of study.
Newspapers are generally intended for a general audience, the information they provide are of limited value for the literature review. However newspapers mention the current trends, discoveries and changes more frequently.
Dissertations are useful source of information, but they have certain disadvantage. They are hard to obtain and the students who carry the research are not experienced researchers, therefore their findings should be treated with caution.
Internet is the fastest-growing source of information. It is impossible to characterize the information available, but as anyone can post information on the Internet, the quality may not be reliable. The information over the net is intended for a general audience, and is unsuitable for serious study, unless it has reliable source. Electronic journals (e-journals) are appearing on the Internet – which are often authenticated by an editorial board and are trust worthy and useful for research.
CD-ROMS provide specialized information about the academic research. However bibliographies are often put onto CD-ROM for academic libraries and are valuable source to search the information.
Magazines are intended for a general audience and are unlikely to be useful in providing the sort of information needed literature review, unless they are specialized magazines.
Essential Elements of Good Literature Review
Hughes and Tight (2001) reveal, that originality is the key for any research process to continue. A good literature review should answer the questions (as discussed earlier). It must discuss, how published writers review the literature, good writer use literature to explain their research, not to tell the readers, what other researchers have done.
The literature review should be backed up with evidence and logical arguments Bell (2005) explains, “a counter argument in the same paragraph shows viewpoints” ,such discussion will catch readers attention immediately and make the discussion clear to understand. A skillful researcher is always impartial and objective avoiding personal opinions in the study.
A superior piece of literature review is written with a purpose. A good writer should evaluate and show relationships between the works already done, find the areas which are discussed, and understand the sphere which needs further exploration. At the end of literature review the researcher should be able to develop the research framework and investigate the hypothesis.
A first-rate literature review should present a summary at the end of article that addresses the issues discussed. And this summary should logically lead to the research topic. It should not only fill gaps in the existing body of knowledge, but it should bring up fresh issue and give a direction to the research topic.
The literature review is meant to critically evaluate current approaches on the subject, which means comparison and contrast of different approaches, evaluation of research methodologies and finding the gap in research, all of which are linked together to create knowledge.
1.Bell, J (2005) Doing your research project.
2. Veal, A.J (1997) Research methods for leisure and tourism.
3.Blaxter, L. Hughes,C. Tight, M (2001), How to research ,2nd edition.
4.Saunders, M.Lewis,P and A. Thornhill (2003), Research methods for business students, third edition.