Literature Review The selection of available documents (both published and unpublished) on the topic, which contain information, ideas, data and evidence written from a particular standpoint to fulfil certain aims or express certain views on the nature of the topic and how it is to be investigated, and the effective evaluation of these documents in relation to the research being proposed. Hart, Chris. Doing a Literature Review: Releasing the Social Science
Research Imagination. London: Sage Publications, 1998. According to Ranjit, the functions of literature review are: It provides theoretical background It enables you to refine research methodology It enables you to define your contribution to knowledge It enables you to contextualise your findings
According to Hart, a literature review allows the
researcher to: distinguish what has been done from what needs to be done discover important variables relevant to the topic synthesise and gain a new perspective identify relationships between ideas and practice establish the context of a topic or problem rationalise the significance of the problem enhance and acquire the subject vocabulary understand the structure of the subject relate ideas and theory to applications identify the main methodologies and research
techniques that have been used place the research in a historical context and show familiarity with up-to-date developments. Questions that the literature review can help you to answer (Hart)
What are the major issues and debates? What are the epistemological grounds for the discipline? How is knowledge on the topic organised? What are the main questions addressed to date? What are the political standpoints? Are there important definitions or terms to clarify? According to Ranjit literature review should be undertaken in four steps: Search for existing literature in your area of study (you need to have an idea or problem in
mind) Review the literature selected Develop a theoretical framework Develop a conceptual framework According to Walliman, the literature review will need to be carried out in four major directions: Research theory and philosophy (intellectual context of your research) History of developments in your subject Latest research and development in your subject Research methods (practical techniques)
Review the literature selected: Note available theories and methodologies, as well as their criticisms Notice where there are significant differences of opinions Identify gaps in the body of knowledge
The University of Queensland PhD website offers the following questions as a starting point for evaluating existing material: Is the problem clearly articulated?
Are the results new? Was the research influential? How large a sample was used? How convincing is the argument? How were the results analysed? What perspective are they coming from? Are the generalisations justified by the evidence? What is the significance of this research? What are the assumptions behind the research? Is the methodology well justified? Is the theoretical basis transparent?
http://www.uq.edu.au/student-services/linkto/phdwriting/index.html Some questions: Is literature review a linear process? No should literature review be written up as one chapter? Not necessarily Should literature review include critical analysis? yes Kumar, Ranjit (2005) Research Methodology: A step-by-step guide for beginners, London: Sage
Walliman, Nicholas (2005) Your research project, London: Sage Reading and Writing According to Walliman, the goals of reading are: To review a text To use context clues and a dictionary to understand new words To identify and mark important ideas To identify new words and phrases that
describe the methods or patterns of organizing and developing ideas To apply comprehension skills to vocabulary and text material Reading techniques:
Skimming Scanning Reading to understand Word-by-word reading Reading for pleasure Reasons for taking notes: To help remember something To keep a permanent record To help in your planning To reorder material To help you understand what you are
learning To help you concentrate To share knowledge with other people
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