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What is a literature review?
A literature review is an integrated analysis -- not just a summary-- of scholarly writings and other relevant evidence related directly to your research question. That is, it represents a synthesis of the evidence that provides background information on your topic and shows a association between the evidence and your research question.
A literature review may be a stand alone work or the introduction to a larger research paper, depending on the assignment. Rely heavily on the guidelines your instructor has given you.
Why is it important?
A literature review is important because it:
- Explains the background of research on a topic.
- Demonstrates why a topic is significant to a subject area.
- Discovers relationships between research studies/ideas.
- Identifies major themes, concepts, and researchers on a topic.
- Identifies critical gaps and points of disagreement.
- Discusses further research questions that logically come out of the previous studies.
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1. Choose a topic. Define your research question.
Your literature review should be guided by your central research question. the literature represents background and research developments related to a specific research question, interpreted and analyzed by you in a synthesized way.
- Make sure your research question is not too broad or too narrow. Is it manageable?
- Begin writing down terms that are related to your question. These will be useful for searches later.
- If you have the opportunity, discuss your topic with your professor and your class mates.
2. Decide on the scope of your review
How many studies do you need to look at? How comprehensive should it be? How many years should it cover?
- This may depend on your assignment. How many sources does the assignment require?
3. Select the databases you will use to conduct your searches.
Make a list of the databases you will search.
Where to find databases:
- use the tabs on this guide
- Find other databases in the Nursing Information Resources web page
- More on the Medical Library web page
- ... and more on the Yale University Library web page
4. Conduct your searches to find the evidence. Keep track of your searches.
- Use the key words in your question, as well as synonyms for those words, as terms in your search. Use the database tutorials for help.
- Save the searches in the databases. This saves time when you want to redo, or modify, the searches. It is also helpful to use as a guide is the searches are not finding any useful results.
- Review the abstracts of research studies carefully. This will save you time.
- Use the bibliographies and references of research studies you find to locate others.
- Check with your professor, or a subject expert in the field, if you are missing any key works in the field.
- Ask your librarian for help at any time.
- Use a citation manager, such as EndNote as the repository for your citations. See the EndNote tutorials for help.
Review the literature
Some questions to help you analyze the research:
- What was the research question of the study you are reviewing? What were the authors trying to discover?
- Was the research funded by a source that could influence the findings?
- What were the research methodologies? Analyze its literature review, the samples and variables used, the results, and the conclusions.
- Does the research seem to be complete? Could it have been conducted more soundly? What further questions does it raise?
- If there are conflicting studies, why do you think that is?
- How are the authors viewed in the field? Has this study been cited? If so, how has it been analyzed?
- Review the abstracts carefully.
- Keep careful notes so that you may track your thought processes during the research process.
- Create a matrix of the studies for easy analysis, and synthesis, across all of the studies.
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- What is a Literature Review?
- Summarizes and analyzes previous research relevant to a topic
- Includes scholarly books and articles published in academic journals
- Can be an specific scholarly paper or a section in a research paper
- Help gather ideas or information
- Keep up to date in current trends and findings
- Help develop new questions
A literature review is important because it:
- Explains the background of research on a topic.
- Demonstrates why a topic is significant to a subject area.
- Helps focus your own research questions or problems
- Discovers relationships between research studies/ideas.
- Suggests unexplored ideas or populations
- Identifies major themes, concepts, and researchers on a topic.
- Tests assumptions; may help counter preconceived ideas and remove unconscious bias.
- Identifies critical gaps, points of disagreement, or potentially flawed methodology or theoretical approaches.
- Indicates potential directions for future research.
Keep in mind the following, a literature review is NOT:
Not an essay
Not an annotated bibliography in which you summarize each article you reviewed. A literature review goes beyond basic summarizing to critically analyze the reviewed works and their relationship to your research question.
Not a research paper where you select resources to support one side of an issue versus another. A lit review should explain and consider all sides of an argument to avoid bias, and areas of agreement and disagreement should be highlighted.
A literature review serves several purposes. For example, it
- provides thorough knowledge of previous studies; introduces seminal works.
- helps focus one’s own research topic.
- identifies a conceptual framework for one’s own research questions or problems; indicates potential directions for future research.
- suggests previously unused or underused methodologies, designs, and quantitative and qualitative strategies.
- identifies gaps in previous studies; identifies flawed methodologies and/or theoretical approaches; avoids replication of mistakes.
- helps the researcher avoid the repetition of earlier research.
- suggests unexplored populations.
- determines whether past studies agree or disagree; identifies controversy in the literature.
- tests assumptions may help counter preconceived ideas and remove unconscious bias.
As Kennedy (2007) notes*, it is important to think of knowledge in a given field as consisting of three layers. First, there are the primary studies that researchers conduct and publish. Second are the reviews of those studies that summarize and offer new interpretations built from and often extending beyond the original studies. Third, there are the perceptions, conclusions, opinion, and interpretations that are shared informally that become part of the lore of field. In composing a literature review, it is important to note that it is often this third layer of knowledge that is cited as "true" even though it often has only a loose relationship to the primary studies and secondary literature reviews.
Given this, while literature reviews are designed to provide an overview and synthesis of pertinent sources you have explored, there are several approaches to how they can be done, depending upon the type of analysis underpinning your study. Listed below are definitions of types of literature reviews:
Argumentative Review This form examines literature selectively in order to support or refute an argument, deeply imbedded assumption, or philosophical problem already established in the literature. The purpose is to develop a body of literature that establishes a contrarian viewpoint. Given the value-laden nature of some social science research [e.g., educational reform; immigration control], argumentative approaches to analyzing the literature can be a legitimate and important form of discourse. However, note that they can also introduce problems of bias when they are used to to make summary claims of the sort found in systematic reviews.
Integrative Review Considered a form of research that reviews, critiques, and synthesizes representative literature on a topic in an integrated way such that new frameworks and perspectives on the topic are generated. The body of literature includes all studies that address related or identical hypotheses. A well-done integrative review meets the same standards as primary research in regard to clarity, rigor, and replication.
Historical Review Few things rest in isolation from historical precedent. Historical reviews are focused on examining research throughout a period of time, often starting with the first time an issue, concept, theory, phenomena emerged in the literature, then tracing its evolution within the scholarship of a discipline. The purpose is to place research in a historical context to show familiarity with state-of-the-art developments and to identify the likely directions for future research.
Methodological Review A review does not always focus on what someone said [content], but how they said it [method of analysis]. This approach provides a framework of understanding at different levels (i.e. those of theory, substantive fields, research approaches and data collection and analysis techniques), enables researchers to draw on a wide variety of knowledge ranging from the conceptual level to practical documents for use in fieldwork in the areas of ontological and epistemological consideration, quantitative and qualitative integration, sampling, interviewing, data collection and data analysis, and helps highlight many ethical issues which we should be aware of and consider as we go through our study.
Systematic Review This form consists of an overview of existing evidence pertinent to a clearly formulated research question, which uses pre-specified and standardized methods to identify and critically appraise relevant research, and to collect, report, and analyse data from the studies that are included in the review. Typically it focuses on a very specific empirical question, often posed in a cause-and-effect form, such as "To what extent does A contribute to B?"
Theoretical Review The purpose of this form is to concretely examine the corpus of theory that has accumulated in regard to an issue, concept, theory, phenomena. The theoretical literature review help establish what theories already exist, the relationships between them, to what degree the existing theories have been investigated, and to develop new hypotheses to be tested. Often this form is used to help establish a lack of appropriate theories or reveal that current theories are inadequate for explaining new or emerging research problems. The unit of analysis can focus on a theoretical concept or a whole theory or framework.
* Kennedy, Mary M. "Defining a Literature." Educational Researcher 36 (April 2007): 139-147.
All content in this section is from The Literature Review created by Dr. Robert Larabee USC
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Why is it important to do a literature review in research?
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“A substantive, thorough, sophisticated literature review is a precondition for doing substantive, thorough, sophisticated research”. Boote and Baile 2005
Authors of manuscripts treat writing a literature review as a routine work or a mere formality. But a seasoned one knows the purpose and importance of a well-written literature review. Since it is one of the basic needs for researches at any level, they have to be done vigilantly. Only then the reader will know that the basics of research have not been neglected.
The aim of any literature review is to summarize and synthesize the arguments and ideas of existing knowledge in a particular field without adding any new contributions. Being built on existing knowledge they help the researcher to even turn the wheels of the topic of research. It is possible only with profound knowledge of what is wrong in the existing findings in detail to overpower them. For other researches, the literature review gives the direction to be headed for its success.
The common perception of literature review and reality:
As per the common belief, literature reviews are only a summary of the sources related to the research. And many authors of scientific manuscripts believe that they are only surveys of what are the researches are done on the chosen topic. But on the contrary, it uses published information from pertinent and relevant sources like
- Scholarly books
- Scientific papers
- Latest studies in the field
- Established school of thoughts
- Relevant articles from renowned scientific journals
and many more for a field of study or theory or a particular problem to do the following:
- Summarize into a brief account of all information
- Synthesize the information by restructuring and reorganizing
- Critical evaluation of a concept or a school of thought or ideas
- Familiarize the authors to the extent of knowledge in the particular field
- Compare & contrast
By doing the above on the relevant information, it provides the reader of the scientific manuscript with the following for a better understanding of it:
- It establishes the authors’ in-depth understanding and knowledge of their field subject
- It gives the background of the research
- Portrays the scientific manuscript plan of examining the research result
- Illuminates on how the knowledge has changed within the field
- Highlights what has already been done in a particular field
- Information of the generally accepted facts, emerging and current state of the topic of research
- Identifies the research gap that is still unexplored or under-researched fields
- Demonstrates how the research fits within a larger field of study
- Provides an overview of the sources explored during the research of a particular topic
Importance of literature review in research:
The importance of literature review in scientific manuscripts can be condensed into an analytical feature to enable the multifold reach of its significance. It adds value to the legitimacy of the research in many ways:
- Provides the interpretation of existing literature in light of updated developments in the field to help in establishing the consistency in knowledge and relevancy of existing materials
- It helps in calculating the impact of the latest information in the field by mapping their progress of knowledge.
- It brings out the dialects of contradictions between various thoughts within the field to establish facts
- The research gaps scrutinized initially are further explored to establish the latest facts of theories to add value to the field
- Indicates the current research place in the schema of a particular field
- Provides information for relevancy and coherency to check the research
- Apart from elucidating the continuance of knowledge, it also points out areas that require further investigation and thus aid as a starting point of any future research
- Justifies the research and sets up the research question
- Sets up a theoretical framework comprising the concepts and theories of the research upon which its success can be judged
- Helps to adopt a more appropriate methodology for the research by examining the strengths and weaknesses of existing research in the same field
- Increases the significance of the results by comparing it with the existing literature
- Provides a point of reference by writing the findings in the scientific manuscript
- Helps to get the due credit from the audience for having done the fact-finding and fact-checking mission in the scientific manuscripts
- The more the reference of relevant sources of it could increase more of its trustworthiness with the readers
- Helps to prevent plagiarism by tailoring and uniquely tweaking the scientific manuscript not to repeat other’s original idea
- By preventing plagiarism , it saves the scientific manuscript from rejection and thus also saves a lot of time and money
- Helps to evaluate, condense and synthesize gist in the author’s own words to sharpen the research focus
- Helps to compare and contrast to show the originality and uniqueness of the research than that of the existing other researches
- Rationalizes the need for conducting the particular research in a specified field
- Helps to collect data accurately for allowing any new methodology of research than the existing ones
- Enables the readers of the manuscript to answer the following questions of its readers for its better chances for publication
- What do the researchers know?
- What do they not know?
- Is the scientific manuscript reliable and trustworthy?
- What are the knowledge gaps of the researcher?
22. It helps the readers to identify the following for further reading of the scientific manuscript:
- What has been already established, discredited and accepted in the particular field of research
- Areas of controversy and conflicts among different schools of thought
- Unsolved problems and issues in the connected field of research
- The emerging trends and approaches
- How the research extends, builds upon and leaves behind from the previous research
A profound literature review with many relevant sources of reference will enhance the chances of the scientific manuscript publication in renowned and reputed scientific journals .
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Literature Review in Research Writing
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Research on research? If you find this idea rather peculiar, know that nowadays, with the huge amount of information produced daily all around the world, it is becoming more and more difficult to keep up to date with all of it. In addition to the sheer amount of research, there is also its origin. We are witnessing the economic and intellectual emergence of countries like China, Brazil, Turkey, and United Arab Emirates, for example, that are producing scholarly literature in their own languages. So, apart from the effort of gathering information, there must also be translators prepared to unify all of it in a single language to be the object of the literature survey. At Elsevier, our team of translators is ready to support researchers by delivering high-quality scientific translations , in several languages, to serve their research – no matter the topic.
What is a literature review?
A literature review is a study – or, more accurately, a survey – involving scholarly material, with the aim to discuss published information about a specific topic or research question. Therefore, to write a literature review, it is compulsory that you are a real expert in the object of study. The results and findings will be published and made available to the public, namely scientists working in the same area of research.
How to Write a Literature Review
First of all, don’t forget that writing a literature review is a great responsibility. It’s a document that is expected to be highly reliable, especially concerning its sources and findings. You have to feel intellectually comfortable in the area of study and highly proficient in the target language; misconceptions and errors do not have a place in a document as important as a literature review. In fact, you might want to consider text editing services, like those offered at Elsevier, to make sure your literature is following the highest standards of text quality. You want to make sure your literature review is memorable by its novelty and quality rather than language errors.
Writing a literature review requires expertise but also organization. We cannot teach you about your topic of research, but we can provide a few steps to guide you through conducting a literature review:
- Choose your topic or research question: It should not be too comprehensive or too limited. You have to complete your task within a feasible time frame.
- Set the scope: Define boundaries concerning the number of sources, time frame to be covered, geographical area, etc.
- Decide which databases you will use for your searches: In order to search the best viable sources for your literature review, use highly regarded, comprehensive databases to get a big picture of the literature related to your topic.
- Search, search, and search: Now you’ll start to investigate the research on your topic. It’s critical that you keep track of all the sources. Start by looking at research abstracts in detail to see if their respective studies relate to or are useful for your own work. Next, search for bibliographies and references that can help you broaden your list of resources. Choose the most relevant literature and remember to keep notes of their bibliographic references to be used later on.
- Review all the literature, appraising carefully it’s content: After reading the study’s abstract, pay attention to the rest of the content of the articles you deem the “most relevant.” Identify methodologies, the most important questions they address, if they are well-designed and executed, and if they are cited enough, etc.
If it’s the first time you’ve published a literature review, note that it is important to follow a special structure. Just like in a thesis, for example, it is expected that you have an introduction – giving the general idea of the central topic and organizational pattern – a body – which contains the actual discussion of the sources – and finally the conclusion or recommendations – where you bring forward whatever you have drawn from the reviewed literature. The conclusion may even suggest there are no agreeable findings and that the discussion should be continued.
Why are literature reviews important?
Literature reviews constantly feed new research, that constantly feeds literature reviews…and we could go on and on. The fact is, one acts like a force over the other and this is what makes science, as a global discipline, constantly develop and evolve. As a scientist, writing a literature review can be very beneficial to your career, and set you apart from the expert elite in your field of interest. But it also can be an overwhelming task, so don’t hesitate in contacting Elsevier for text editing services, either for profound edition or just a last revision. We guarantee the very highest standards. You can also save time by letting us suggest and make the necessary amendments to your manuscript, so that it fits the structural pattern of a literature review. Who knows how many worldwide researchers you will impact with your next perfectly written literature review.
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Why Is Literature Review Important? (3 Benefits Explained)
by Antony W
January 21, 2023
Every research project needs a literature review. And while it’s one of the most challenging parts of the assignment, in part because of the intensity of the research involved, it’s by far the most important section of a research paper.
Many students fail to write comprehensive literature reviews because they see the assignment as a formality.
For the most part, they’ll vaguely create a list of existing studies and consider the assignment complete. But such an approach overlooks why a literature review is important.
We need to take a step back and look beyond the definition of a literature review.
In particular, the goal of this guide is to help you explore the significance of the review of the existing literature.
Once you understand the role that literature reviews play in research projects, you’ll give the assignment the full attention that it deserves.
Writing a literature review is important for the following reasons:
- It demonstrates that you understand the issue you’re investigating.
- A literature review allows you to develop a more theoretical framework for your research.
- It justifies your research and shows the gaps present in the current literature.
Get Literature Review Writing Help
Do you find the workload involved in writing a literature review for your thesis, research paper, or standalone project overwhelming? We understand how involving the writing process can be, and we are here to help you with writing if you currently feel stuck.
You can hire a professional literature review writer from Help for Assessment to get the writing done for you. Whether you have a flexible deadline or the submission date for the literature is almost due, you can count on our team to help you get the paper done fast.
What is a Literature Review?
A literature review is a study of the already existing research in a given area of study.
While it’s common in physical and social sciences, instructors may also request student to complete the assignment within the humanities space.
The review can be a standalone project or a part of an academic assignment.
If your professor or instructor asks you to write the review as a standalone project, your focus will be on exploring how a specific field of inquiry has developed over the course of time.
In the case where you have to include the review as part of your academic paper, the goal will be to set the background for the topic (or issue) you’re currently investigating.
How is Literature Review Different from an Essay?
In an education setting whether students are used to writing tons of essays every month, it’s likely for many to wonder whether an essay could be the same as a literature review.
While a literature review and an essay both require research before writing, there are a number of differences between them that you need to know.
Types of Literature Review
We’ll look at the significance of a literature review in a moment.
For now let’s look at the types of literature reviews that your instructor may ask you to write.
As of this writing, there are 6 types of reviews that you need to know about. These are:
1. Argumentative Review
Examines a literature review with the intention to support or refuse an argument, with the aim being to develop a body of literature that can establish a contrarian point of view.
2. Integrative Literature Review
This type of review critiques and synthesizes related literature to generate a new framework and perspective on a topic.
Researchers have to address identical and/or related hypotheses or research problems to comply with research standards with regards to replication, vigor, and clarity.
3. Historical Literature
The focus of the review is to examine research within a given period, and usually starts from the time a research problem or issue emerged.
Then, you have to trace its evolution throughout the suggested timeframe within the scholarship of that particular discipline.
4. Methodological Literature Review
The focus shifts from what someone said to how they ended up saying what they said.
Since the focus here is on the method of analysis, methodological reviews gives a better framework that help one to understand exactly how a researcher draws their conclusion from a wide range of knowledge.
5. Systematic Literature
A systematic review focuses on the existing evidence related to a specific research question.
You will need to use a pre-specified and standardized approach to identify, evaluate, and appraise research, not to mention collect, analyze, and report data collected from the review.
Understand that the goal of a systematic review is to evaluate, summarize, and document research that focuses on a specific (or clearly defined) research problem.
6. Theoretical Literature Review
Theoretical review focuses on examining theories that resulted from an issue, a concept, or a situation.
It’s through this type of review that a researcher can easily establish the kind of theories that already formulated, the degree to what researchers have investigated them, and the relationship between them.
It’s through theoretical review that one can develop new hypotheses for testing and can therefore help to determine what theories aren’t sufficient to explain emerging research problems.
Why Is Literature Review Important?
Now that you know the difference between an essay and a review as well as the different types of literature review, it’s important to look at why it’s important to examine existing literature in your research.
There are a number of reasons why instructors ask you to write a review , and they’re as follow:
1. Demonstrate a Clear Understanding of the Subject
Writing a literature review demonstrates that you have a clear understanding of the subject you’re investigating.
It also means that you can easily identify, evaluate, and summarize existing research that’s relevant to your work.
2. Justify Your Research
There’s more to writing a research paper than just identifying topic and generating your research question from it.
You also have to go as far as to justify your research, and the only way to do that is by including a literature review in your work.
It’s important to understand that looking at past research is the only way to identify gaps that exist in the current literature.
That can go a long way to help fill in the gap by addressing them in your own research work.
3. Helps to Set a Resourceful Theoretical Framework
Because a research paper assignment builds up on the ideas of already existing research, doing a literature review can help you to set a resourceful theoretical framework on which to base your study.
The theoretical framework will include concepts and theories that you will base your research on. And keep in mind that it’s this framework that professors will use to judge the overall quality of your work.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. what are the benefits of literature review in research.
A literature review in research allows you to discover exiting knowledge in your field and the boundaries and limitations that exists within that field.
Moreover, doing a review of existing literature helps you to understand the theories that drive an area of investigation, making it easy for you to place your research question into proper context.
2. What is the Effect of a Good Literature Review?
In addition to providing context, reducing research redundancy, and informing methodology, a well-written literature review can maximize relevance, enhance originality, and ensure professional standards in writing.
3. What is a Strength of a Literature Review?
The strength of a literature review is the ability to improve your information seeking skills and enhancing your knowledge about the topic under investigation.
As you can see, a review is quite a significant part of a research project, so you should treat it with the seriousness that it deserves.
At the end of the day, you want to create a good connection between you and your readers, and the best way to do that is to pack just as much value as you can in your literature review project.
About the author
Antony W is a professional writer and coach at Help for Assessment. He spends countless hours every day researching and writing great content filled with expert advice on how to write engaging essays, research papers, and assignments.
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Why the literature review is important
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- Demystifying the clinical nursing research process: the literature review. Colling J. Colling J. Urol Nurs. 2003 Aug;23(4):297-9. Urol Nurs. 2003. PMID: 14552077
- Are we there yet? When is a literature review complete? Shultz SM, Dell EY, Bodan CL. Shultz SM, et al. Am J Nurs. 2009 Sep;109(9):78-9. doi: 10.1097/01.NAJ.0000360321.92491.ae. Am J Nurs. 2009. PMID: 19704244 No abstract available.
- Response to paper by Lang A, Edwards N, and Fleiszer A. Green S, Higgins JP, Schünemann HJ, Becker L. Green S, et al. J Clin Epidemiol. 2007 Jun;60(6):598-9. doi: 10.1016/j.jclinepi.2007.02.001. Epub 2007 Apr 8. J Clin Epidemiol. 2007. PMID: 17493518 No abstract available.
- How important are comprehensive literature searches and the assessment of trial quality in systematic reviews? Empirical study. Egger M, Juni P, Bartlett C, Holenstein F, Sterne J. Egger M, et al. Health Technol Assess. 2003;7(1):1-76. Health Technol Assess. 2003. PMID: 12583822 Review. No abstract available.
- Evidence based medicine. Adhikari N, Shrestha S, Ansari I. Adhikari N, et al. Kathmandu Univ Med J (KUMJ). 2006 Jul-Sep;4(3):383-9. Kathmandu Univ Med J (KUMJ). 2006. PMID: 18603939 Review. No abstract available.
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Q: What is the importance of a review of related literature in the study – and how do you organize it?
Asked by Kenn Ables on 07 Oct, 2020
Hello Kenn – Welcome to the forum!
A review of related – and preferably recent – literature is meant to set your research in the context of what is currently known about the topic and to establish that what you have to offer is novel , something different from what has been already attempted. The review also reassures the referees that you are familiar with current developments in your field: if all of the papers that you cite in the review are, for example, at least 3–5 years old, the referees are bound to notice!
Coming to the second part of your query, a good review is not a chronological inventory. Do not simply list all the papers in the order in which they were published; a thematic organization is more effective. For example, in one paragraph, you may cite papers related to what is currently known about the topic; in another, you can mention papers that specifically relate to the method you have chosen. Another possibility is to group the papers by region: global studies forming one group, for example, and regional studies and national-level studies forming two more groups. Yet another possibility is by results: all the papers with similar results forming one group and those proposing a different hypothesis forming a different group, and so on.
Hope that helps. For more information on writing a review of related literature (RRL), you may refer to these previous queries by other researchers:
- How do I do a review of related literature (RRL)?
- What would be the review of related literature (RRL) for my topic?
All the best for your review!
[With inputs from Yateendra Joshi ]
Answered by Editage Insights on 08 Oct, 2020
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- Rationale of the study
- Concept paper
- Literature review
- Introduction in research
- Under "Editor Evaluation"
- Ethics in research
- Review paper
- Responding to reviewer comments
- Predatory publishers
- Scope and delimitations
- Open access
- Plagiarism in research
- Journal selection tips
- Editor assigned
- Types of articles
- "Reject and Resubmit" status
- Decision in process
- Conflict of interest
Why Keywords Are Necessary to Build a Comprehensive Literature Review
The Importance of Preparation
The quotation, “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend four sharpening my axe,” has been attributed to Abraham Lincoln. Whether or not that attribution is valid, the message of the quotation definitely applies to the development of a comprehensive literature review . With over half a billion active websites, and academic databases with hundreds of millions of entries available for search, adequate preparation for your review is critical to not only ensure that you capture accurate and relevant data, but also that you avoid wasting your most precious resource in academic research—your time!
There’s More to This than Google
The fact that the name of the search engine company has now been adopted in the global vernacular as a verb, gives some indication of the extent to which the ease of searching for anyone and anything has influenced our lives. However, the search skills you may have developed on Google will not, in themselves, automatically make you a proficient academic researcher. The databases you will be searching will probably have their data coded and sorted differently than the rankings attributed to individual websites by Google’s ever-changing search algorithms .
The World of Boolean Search
Named after the British mathematician George Boole , the creator of Boolean logic, Boolean search involves the extension of the search keywords with “operators,” (and, or, not, and near) in order to refine the logical relationships between the search terms. In the PubMed database, for example, those Boolean operators “must be entered in uppercase letters.”
Putting quotation marks around your search term (“Boolean logic”) will limit the search to that pairing, even in general search engines such as Google. The operators will allow you to start with broader keyword pairings and then to narrow the results with each iterative search request. This enables you to track or pursue a keyword pairing that you may not have originally considered in your initial list of keywords.
Moving from Quantity to Quality
When a simple search for “Boolean logic” in Google delivers 462,000 results in 0.29 seconds, you quickly realize the challenge that is facing you. You will never be short of results (unless you pick the most obscure terms imaginable), and the success of your literature review will rest on how well you plan and refine your scientific keyword search. Remember that a literature review is a process.
While your end goal will be sufficient knowledge to establish your expertise and to validate your research question, in the early stages of the process you must come to terms with not knowing what you do not know about the subject.
On that basis, every relevant search result should be assessed before proceeding. Just as goals should be SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-based), your search results can be measured using the CARS checklist:
- C – Is this a credible resource? Anyone can put up a website and claim expertise in any field. Look for evidence of credentials.
- A – How do you know the information is accurate? In this era of predatory and fabricated academic journals , “trust but verify,” should be applied at all times.
- R – Are the research assumptions reasonable? Academic publishing favors the new and counterintuitive, but that should serve as a warning for cautious interpretation of any new results that relate to your topic.
- S – Is this information supported by other sources? Citations from other journals and by other authors are one thing, but has this work ever been verified by a replication study?
Reach Out to the Experts
You can develop a fairly long list of keywords by reviewing some of the leading or classic research in the topics you are considering.
However, “long” does not automatically equate to comprehensive, especially if you are in search of a gap in the research around which you plan to build your study. By all means gather what you can on your own, but then reach out for help to an experienced academic librarian , preferably through a research consultation request, and let him or her help you to refine that list (using Boolean search operators) into a truly focused search plan.
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Literature review basics
A literature review synthesizes and analyzes previous research in a field to inform an audience and establish background knowledge. Literature reviews are most often part of a larger work, like a research article, but may also be written as their own piece to demonstrate a student’s understanding of a concept. In addition to providing the reader with background information relevant to the topic or research question, a literature review may help to identify gaps in the current body of knowledge or criticize previous research practices as a way to present potential for future research.
Why do we write literature reviews?
Literature reviews mainly serve as the section in a research article where the author presents and criticizes relevant background information and may describe the significance their research will have in the field based on this prior research. University students will most often write literature reviews as individual pieces in order to demonstrate their ability to conduct research and understand course content. They are commonly written in social and health science classes, but may be a part of any course in any field.
Narrowing down a topic
- Use the Knowledge Center or Savitt Library to access databases that can provide you with reputable literature or can help narrow your results to your field (e.g. PubMed is great for health and medical sciences)
- Make a list of keywords and phrases to use while searching for articles
- Use Boolean operators (conjunction words, such as AND, OR, and NOT, that help combine or exclude keywords during a search) to define the relationship between certain keywords (e.g. colon health AND fruit intake OR vegetable intake NOT vegetarian diet)
- Take some time to read up on the current literature; abstracts and results sections are especially helpful in identifying what is relevant to your field or topic of interest
- Take note of the questions you have while reading and consider if any of these questions have potential to serve as a question of interest for your literature review
- Take note of how many results you are getting for particular topics. Too many results and your topic may not be narrow enough; too few results and your topic may be too niche to write a comprehensive enough review
- Presents the general context of the literature, including basic background information
- Defines key terms important to the topic
- Describes why the following research should be conducted
- Includes a thesis statement or research question that will be investigated in the results and discussion sections
- Describes your process in collecting and reviewing the literature
- The databases you used (e.g. PubMed, Ebsco Host, etc.)
- Any filters applied to your search (e.g. date limitations, only peer-reviewed scholarly sources, articles only available in English, etc.)
- How you selected key words and phrases (Did any key words not elicit the results you wanted? What combinations of keywords worked best?)
- Inclusion/exclusion criteria are aspects of a study that determine whether or not you will include the information in your review, such as publication date (e.g. no research published more than 10 years prior) or study population (e.g. studies concerning only women over the age of 50)
Results/review of literature
- Summarizes, synthesizes, and critically analyzes the literature included in the review
- Informs the reader of the current research
- These subsections can be organized in a number of ways, depending on the aims of the writer
- Chronologically: if the order in which research was conducted and discoveries were made is relevant to the purpose of the literature review
- Thematically: if the relationships between certain topics or theories is important
- By individual questions: if multiple conclusions need to be made to support the purpose of the literature review
- Or any logical approach to support your purpose
- Presents the significance of the results you discussed in the previous section
- Includes any important criticisms you made, trends you noticed, limitations of research methods, or relevant conclusions to your research question
- Describes the significance of your research to the greater body of knowledge and any thoughts you have for future research
- Is most often the shortest section of a literature review (usually just a paragraph or two)
- Restates the intended research question
- Sums up the reason for the research
- Describes the most significant conclusions from the results and discussion sections.
*Although this resource provides basic guidelines for a literature review, the expectations for this type of assignment may change with your professor’s preferences. If you are in doubt about how to approach a literature review, always follow up with your rubric, syllabus, professor or teaching assistant.
Galvan, J. L. (2009). Writing Literature Reviews: A Guide for Students of the Social and Behavioral Sciences . Glendale: Pyrczak Publishing.
Ling Pan, M. (2008). Preparing Literature Reviews: Qualitative and Quantitative Approaches . Glendale: Pyrczak Publishing.
University of North Carolina Writing Center. (2018). Literature Reviews . Retrieved from https://writingcenter.unc.edu/tips-and-tools/literature-reviews/
Contributed by: Emily Tudorache
Why do we study literature?
When we study literature, our horizons are broadened, because we can learn about and come to understand people who are different from us. Conversely, we might discover characters or poems that we really identify with—it can be really exciting and validating to discover that your exact thoughts and feelings have also been experienced by someone else. Because of these effects, literature encourages us to be sensitive to the whole spectrum of human experience and to consider this when making decisions in our day-to-day lives. Academically, studying literature also helps us to refine our own writing skills and expand our vocabularies.
Cite this page as follows:
"Why do we study literature?" eNotes Editorial , 24 July 2009, https://www.enotes.com/homework-help/why-do-we-study-literature-391197. Accessed 19 Mar. 2023.
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The best metaphor I have ever heard on why we read literature is that literature acts as a window or mirror (or both.) This is expressed so often in education that I am not even able to tell you who said it originally. But the idea struck me the first time I heard it several years ago. Literature as a window allows us to peer out from our lives to learn about what is going on in the lives of people in other times and places. A mirror is literature that we use to hold up and learn something about ourselves. Sometimes literature allows us to do both, learn about another world and learn about ourselves, too.
We study literature for the following reasons:
1. It helps us learn about the world around us. It takes us to new places, different time periods. It broadens our minds and our horizons.
2. By studying literature, we discover ourselves. We see ourselves and our lives reflected in characters. It is amazing that we can see ourselves, glimpses of our own experiences that was written centuries before our birth.
3. Studying literature also fosters higher order thinking skills. We do this through analyzing themes, characters, symbols, motifs ets.
4. We also read literature for the same reason that we watch movies and television. It is entertaining. It is downright fun to peak into the lives of others.
Most people study literature within the confines of an academic setting. Outside of that setting, most people read literature because they enjoy a good story, or a good poem. I don't know too many people that annotate a book outside of an academic setting. There might be some that do, but even in social settings, the ones that do annotate do so in relation to a particular use or question they have.
I disagree somewhat with the comment
many people that annotate a book outside of an academic setting. There might be some that do, but even in social settings, the ones that do annotate do so in relation to a particular use or question they have.
I know many people who annotate books that they read for pleasure. That begs the question though, how do we define reading for pleasure? If we read to learn or gain something, is that not still for pleasure? I think it is. It is a pleasure for me to learn something new. It gives me pleasure to discuss findings from my readings with friends and colleagues.
Outside of academic settings I think people read in order to experience something that they may not otherwise have a chance to experience. That may be a connection with another person or an understanding of something about other people. It may even be experiencing a place and time beyond their own.
We study literature because it feeds our souls. Great works of literature treat timeless themes that resonate with readers across centuries. The human condition remains fundamentally the same today as it was when the printed word was first produced. It is comforting to read of the travails and the joys of characters who struggle with the same issues that we encounter.
I think it was Leo Tolstoy who argued that all of literature, quality literature, revolves around two central issues: Who are we and how shall we live? These two questions strike at the heart of literature and provide answers to why we study literature. If we take Tolstoy's paradigm and study it, we understand why a study of literature is vital to our understanding of ourselves and our world. All literature does, to a large extent, address both questions in different ways. The answers derived help us understand our identities and purposes in this life. The manner in which these questions are answered may vary from text to text, yet the underlying premise behind why we study literature comes back to Tolstoy's predicament: We seek answers to who we are and how we shall live.
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Language of the literature review
- » Purpose of traditional literature reviews
- » Placement of traditional literature reviews
- » Structuring a literature review
- » Language of the literature review
- » Systematic literature reviews
- » Grounded theory literature reviews
The language that you use in a literature review is important for informing readers where you stand on relevant debates on your topic or issue. In a writer-responsible academic culture, it is your job to lead readers to the meanings and conclusions that you want them to make. Since literature reviews can involve complex ideas and various bodies of literature, it is necessary to be explicit about how the the studies that you cite are connected to each other and are relevant for your own research, and how the ideas introduced are relevant for developing your argument. You can achieve this by using language that clearly indicates your position and strengthens your voice in relation to others'.
In your introduction, you should make it clear what the purpose of the literature review is, as in the following.
Note how the author explains the purpose of the literature review ("The aim of the chapter is to define the kinds of intervention that will have the most beneficial impact"). The author also generally identifies the literature review's key message ("Answers to these questions are found in accounts of both cause and action"). In your own introduction, you could go into more detail about your argument. For example, consider the introduction below, which explains the key points more directly.
To see how other people in your field write literature reviews in a thesis, check out the ANU Digital Thesis Collection to find other theses, and ask your supervisor to show you some past samples.
Within paragraphs, your choice of language can help you to explain connections between the literature's concepts. Take a look at the words in bold in the sample text below, and note how they help the author to guide you through the ideas.
Critically evaluating the literature
A key role of your literature review is to show your critical interpretation and evaluation of the literature. When taking notes and researching, you can develop this critical evaluation by asking yourself questions such as:
- what are the strengths and weaknesses/limitations of the different bodies of literature/studies you are reviewing?
- what accounts for authors' different findings-how can these be explained (e.g. theory or methodology adopted etc.)? (Hold your sources in relation)
- to which issues, gaps, ambiguities, unresolved problems, etc. in the literature do you wish to particularly draw attention and why?
- what are the implications of your discussions? (Don't leave your reader thinking: "This is an interesting piece of critical analysis, but what's the point of it all?" "So what?")
When it comes to writing up your literature review, you can use language to show your critical interpretation and evaluation. For example, take a look at the words in bold in the sample text below. How do they show interpretation and evaluation?
Positioning your research in relation to the literature
It could be that you are expected to reserve detailed discussion of your own research for a distinct section within or following your literature review. More likely though, you will be expected to situate your own research in relation to the literature during the review. The examples below shows how the authors relate their own research to the literature they review. Note how they tell you what they are doing, why they are doing it, where they are going, and where you can find more detailed information within other areas of the thesis.
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Learning Research Writing
Apr 19, 2019
Why do a literature review?
Importance of literature review, why there is a need for the literature review.
- Literature reviews examine and evaluate scholarly literature on a particular topic
- A literature review is written as either a stand-alone document or part of a larger piece of work.
A good literature review is
- Details only what is necessary for a given purpose — it does not include everything you’ve read on the topic.
- Focuses on ideas and relationships between ideas, not just on the authors.
- Compares previous research studies, various sources of information, and different concepts or theoretical perspectives.
- the purpose of a review is to critically discuss previous research, so it needs to evaluate it.
The purpose of a literature review is to
- Provide context for a research hypothesis or question.
- Ensure the research is original (i.e. not already published).
- Identify where and how new research fits into the existing body of literature in a particular field of study.
- Highlight the strengths and weaknesses of previous research on a topic.
- Make recommendations for further research.
‘ Literature ’ in this context refers to scholarly publications, not literary art. The collection to be discussed by a reviewer might include books, government reports and media broadcasts where relevant, but it will mainly be made up of research articles, which are published in peer-reviewed academic journals.
‘ Review ’ in this context means extended written discussion of publications, not just summarising them. A scholarly review of literature might be conducted on any topic that is researched and written about — what matters is that the reviewer appraises various sources of information, and discusses them.
‘ The ’ literature does not mean everything published on a topic, but a selection. Carefully selecting publications worth discussing in relation to a research project is a key part of the reviewer’s task, and involves broad reading and tough choices. Defining what is in and out of the collection to be discussed is hard work, and will be done differently by each reviewer.
A review of literature on a technical or medical topic might be approached very differently from a review of literature on a humanities topic. An undergraduate level literature review assignment is very different in scope and purpose to a literature review chapter in a PhD thesis… which is different from the literature review phase of a published journal article… which is different from a stand-alone published review article. The size, complexity and style of a literature review can vary greatly according to the norms of particular disciplines, and the time and space allocated to the task.
What does it mean to be critical?
Being ‘critical’ of the literature is not a matter of finding fault. It is often a matter of finding value in what has been done by others. Being critical means asking questions, and discovering the relevance, value and limitations of previous studies. It’s careful, informed appraisal, aiming to identify what is most useful from past studies for the new study being proposed or presented. It’s a matter of carefully explaining how the work of others informs the new research project’s vision and planning. It’s about the proper analysis of previous publications — in terms of their findings and their method of creating and analyzing data, and their theoretical perspective.
More from Learning Research Writing
This blog demonstrates a basic process for generating a literature review.
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- How to Write a Literature Review | Guide, Examples, & Templates
How to Write a Literature Review | Guide, Examples, & Templates
Published on January 2, 2023 by Shona McCombes .
What is a literature review? A literature review is a survey of scholarly sources on a specific topic. It provides an overview of current knowledge, allowing you to identify relevant theories, methods, and gaps in the existing research that you can later apply to your paper, thesis, or dissertation topic .
There are five key steps to writing a literature review:
- Search for relevant literature
- Evaluate sources
- Identify themes, debates, and gaps
- Outline the structure
- Write your literature review
A good literature review doesn’t just summarize sources—it analyzes, synthesizes , and critically evaluates to give a clear picture of the state of knowledge on the subject.
Table of contents
What is the purpose of a literature review, examples of literature reviews, step 1 – search for relevant literature, step 2 – evaluate and select sources, step 3 – identify themes, debates, and gaps, step 4 – outline your literature review’s structure, step 5 – write your literature review, free lecture slides, frequently asked questions, introduction.
- Quick Run-through
- Step 1 & 2
When you write a thesis , dissertation , or research paper , you will likely have to conduct a literature review to situate your research within existing knowledge. The literature review gives you a chance to:
- Demonstrate your familiarity with the topic and its scholarly context
- Develop a theoretical framework and methodology for your research
- Position your work in relation to other researchers and theorists
- Show how your research addresses a gap or contributes to a debate
- Evaluate the current state of research and demonstrate your knowledge of the scholarly debates around your topic.
Writing literature reviews is a particularly important skill if you want to apply for graduate school or pursue a career in research. We’ve written a step-by-step guide that you can follow below.
Writing literature reviews can be quite challenging! A good starting point could be to look at some examples, depending on what kind of literature review you’d like to write.
- Example literature review #1: “Why Do People Migrate? A Review of the Theoretical Literature” ( Theoretical literature review about the development of economic migration theory from the 1950s to today.)
- Example literature review #2: “Literature review as a research methodology: An overview and guidelines” ( Methodological literature review about interdisciplinary knowledge acquisition and production.)
- Example literature review #3: “The Use of Technology in English Language Learning: A Literature Review” ( Thematic literature review about the effects of technology on language acquisition.)
- Example literature review #4: “Learners’ Listening Comprehension Difficulties in English Language Learning: A Literature Review” ( Chronological literature review about how the concept of listening skills has changed over time.)
You can also check out our templates with literature review examples and sample outlines at the links below.
Download Word doc Download Google doc
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Before you begin searching for literature, you need a clearly defined topic .
If you are writing the literature review section of a dissertation or research paper, you will search for literature related to your research problem and questions .
Make a list of keywords
Start by creating a list of keywords related to your research question. Include each of the key concepts or variables you’re interested in, and list any synonyms and related terms. You can add to this list as you discover new keywords in the process of your literature search.
- Social media, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, TikTok
- Body image, self-perception, self-esteem, mental health
- Generation Z, teenagers, adolescents, youth
Search for relevant sources
Use your keywords to begin searching for sources. Some useful databases to search for journals and articles include:
- Your university’s library catalogue
- Google Scholar
- Project Muse (humanities and social sciences)
- Medline (life sciences and biomedicine)
- EconLit (economics)
- Inspec (physics, engineering and computer science)
You can also use boolean operators to help narrow down your search.
Make sure to read the abstract to find out whether an article is relevant to your question. When you find a useful book or article, you can check the bibliography to find other relevant sources.
You likely won’t be able to read absolutely everything that has been written on your topic, so it will be necessary to evaluate which sources are most relevant to your research question.
For each publication, ask yourself:
- What question or problem is the author addressing?
- What are the key concepts and how are they defined?
- What are the key theories, models, and methods?
- Does the research use established frameworks or take an innovative approach?
- What are the results and conclusions of the study?
- How does the publication relate to other literature in the field? Does it confirm, add to, or challenge established knowledge?
- What are the strengths and weaknesses of the research?
Make sure the sources you use are credible , and make sure you read any landmark studies and major theories in your field of research.
You can use our template to summarize and evaluate sources you’re thinking about using. Click on either button below to download.
Take notes and cite your sources
As you read, you should also begin the writing process. Take notes that you can later incorporate into the text of your literature review.
It is important to keep track of your sources with citations to avoid plagiarism . It can be helpful to make an annotated bibliography , where you compile full citation information and write a paragraph of summary and analysis for each source. This helps you remember what you read and saves time later in the process.
To begin organizing your literature review’s argument and structure, be sure you understand the connections and relationships between the sources you’ve read. Based on your reading and notes, you can look for:
- Trends and patterns (in theory, method or results): do certain approaches become more or less popular over time?
- Themes: what questions or concepts recur across the literature?
- Debates, conflicts and contradictions: where do sources disagree?
- Pivotal publications: are there any influential theories or studies that changed the direction of the field?
- Gaps: what is missing from the literature? Are there weaknesses that need to be addressed?
This step will help you work out the structure of your literature review and (if applicable) show how your own research will contribute to existing knowledge.
- Most research has focused on young women.
- There is an increasing interest in the visual aspects of social media.
- But there is still a lack of robust research on highly visual platforms like Instagram and Snapchat—this is a gap that you could address in your own research.
There are various approaches to organizing the body of a literature review. Depending on the length of your literature review, you can combine several of these strategies (for example, your overall structure might be thematic, but each theme is discussed chronologically).
The simplest approach is to trace the development of the topic over time. However, if you choose this strategy, be careful to avoid simply listing and summarizing sources in order.
Try to analyze patterns, turning points and key debates that have shaped the direction of the field. Give your interpretation of how and why certain developments occurred.
If you have found some recurring central themes, you can organize your literature review into subsections that address different aspects of the topic.
For example, if you are reviewing literature about inequalities in migrant health outcomes, key themes might include healthcare policy, language barriers, cultural attitudes, legal status, and economic access.
If you draw your sources from different disciplines or fields that use a variety of research methods , you might want to compare the results and conclusions that emerge from different approaches. For example:
- Look at what results have emerged in qualitative versus quantitative research
- Discuss how the topic has been approached by empirical versus theoretical scholarship
- Divide the literature into sociological, historical, and cultural sources
A literature review is often the foundation for a theoretical framework . You can use it to discuss various theories, models, and definitions of key concepts.
You might argue for the relevance of a specific theoretical approach, or combine various theoretical concepts to create a framework for your research.
Like any other academic text , your literature review should have an introduction , a main body, and a conclusion . What you include in each depends on the objective of your literature review.
The introduction should clearly establish the focus and purpose of the literature review.
Depending on the length of your literature review, you might want to divide the body into subsections. You can use a subheading for each theme, time period, or methodological approach.
As you write, you can follow these tips:
- Summarize and synthesize: give an overview of the main points of each source and combine them into a coherent whole
- Analyze and interpret: don’t just paraphrase other researchers — add your own interpretations where possible, discussing the significance of findings in relation to the literature as a whole
- Critically evaluate: mention the strengths and weaknesses of your sources
- Write in well-structured paragraphs: use transition words and topic sentences to draw connections, comparisons and contrasts
In the conclusion, you should summarize the key findings you have taken from the literature and emphasize their significance.
When you’ve finished writing and revising your literature review, don’t forget to proofread thoroughly before submitting. Not a language expert? Check out Scribbr’s professional proofreading services !
This article has been adapted into lecture slides that you can use to teach your students about writing a literature review.
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A literature review is a survey of scholarly sources (such as books, journal articles, and theses) related to a specific topic or research question .
It is often written as part of a thesis, dissertation , or research paper , in order to situate your work in relation to existing knowledge.
There are several reasons to conduct a literature review at the beginning of a research project:
- To familiarize yourself with the current state of knowledge on your topic
- To ensure that you’re not just repeating what others have already done
- To identify gaps in knowledge and unresolved problems that your research can address
- To develop your theoretical framework and methodology
- To provide an overview of the key findings and debates on the topic
Writing the literature review shows your reader how your work relates to existing research and what new insights it will contribute.
The literature review usually comes near the beginning of your thesis or dissertation . After the introduction , it grounds your research in a scholarly field and leads directly to your theoretical framework or methodology .
A literature review is a survey of credible sources on a topic, often used in dissertations , theses, and research papers . Literature reviews give an overview of knowledge on a subject, helping you identify relevant theories and methods, as well as gaps in existing research. Literature reviews are set up similarly to other academic texts , with an introduction , a main body, and a conclusion .
An annotated bibliography is a list of source references that has a short description (called an annotation ) for each of the sources. It is often assigned as part of the research process for a paper .
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Writing a literature review.
The following guide has been created for you by the Student Learning Advisory Service , for more detailed guidance and to speak to one of our advisers, please book an appointment or join one of our online workshops .
Preparing a literature review involves:
- Searching for reliable, accurate and up-to-date material on a topic or subject
- Reading and summarising the key points from this literature
- Synthesising these key ideas, theories and concepts into a summary of what is known
- Discussing and evaluating these ideas, theories and concepts
- Identifying particular areas of debate or controversy
- Preparing the ground for the application of these ideas to new research
Finding and choosing material
Ensure you are clear on what you are looking for. ask yourself:.
- What is the specific question, topic or focus of my assignment?
- What kind of material do I need (e.g. theory, policy, empirical data)?
- What type of literature is available (e.g. journals, books, government documents)?
What kind of literature is particularly authoritative in this academic discipline (e.g. psychology, sociology, pharmacy)?
How much do you need?
This will depend on the length of the dissertation, the nature of the subject, and the level of study (undergraduate, Masters, PhD). As a very rough rule of thumb – you may choose 8-10 significant pieces (books and/or articles) for an 8,000 word dissertation, up to 20 major pieces of work for 12-15,000 words, and so on. Bear in mind that if your dissertation is based mainly around an interaction with existing scholarship you will need a longer literature review than if it is there as a prelude to new empirical research. Use your judgement or ask your supervisor for guidance.
Where to find suitable material
Your literature review should include a balance between substantial academic books, journal articles and other scholarly publications. All these sources should be as up-to-date as possible, with the exception of ‘classic texts’ such as major works written by leading scholars setting out formative ideas and theories central to your subject. There are several ways to locate suitable material:
Module bibliography: for undergraduate dissertations, look first at the bibliography provided with the module documentation. Choose one or two likely looking books or articles and then scan through the bibliographies provided by these authors. Skim read some of this material looking for clues: can you use these leads to identify key theories and authors or track down other appropriate material?
Library catalogue search engine: enter a few key words to capture a range of items, but avoid over-generalisations; if you type in something as broad as ‘social theory’ you are likely to get several thousand results. Be more specific: for example, ‘Heidegger, existentialism’. Ideally, you should narrow the field to obtain just a few dozen results. Skim through these quickly to identity texts which are most likely to contribute to your study.
Library bookshelves: browse the library shelves in the relevant subject area and examine the books that catch your eye. Check the contents and index pages, or skim through the introductions (or abstracts, in the case of journal articles) to see if they contain relevant material, and replace them if not. Don’t be afraid to ask one of the subject librarians for further help. Your supervisor may also be able to point you in the direction of some of the important literature , but remember this is your literature search, not theirs.
Online: for recent journal articles you will almost certainly need to use one of the online search engines. These can be found on the ‘Indexing Services’ button on the Templeman Library website. Kent students based at Medway still need to use the Templeman pages to access online journals, although you can get to these pages through the Drill Hall Library catalogue. Take a look as well at the Subject Guides on both the Templeman and DHL websites.
Check that you have made the right selection by asking:
- Has my search been wide enough to ensure that I have identified all the relevant material, but narrow enough to exclude irrelevant material?
- Is there a good enough sample of literature for the level (PhD, Masters, undergraduate) of my dissertation or thesis?
- Have I considered as many alternative points of view as possible?
- Will the reader find my literature review relevant and useful?
Assessing the literature
Read the material you have chosen carefully, considering the following:
- The key point discussed by the author: is this clearly defined
- What evidence has the author produced to support this central idea?
- How convincing are the reasons given for the author’s point of view?
- Could the evidence be interpreted in other ways?
- What is the author's research method (e.g. qualitative, quantitative, experimental, etc.)?
- What is the author's theoretical framework (e.g. psychological, developmental, feminist)?
- What is the relationship assumed by the author between theory and practice?
- Has the author critically evaluated the other literature in the field?
- Does the author include literature opposing their point of view?
- Is the research data based on a reliable method and accurate information?
- Can you ‘deconstruct’ the argument – identify the gaps or jumps in the logic?
- What are the strengths and limitations of this study?
- What does this book or article contribute to the field or topic?
- What does this book or article contribute to my own topic or thesis?
As you note down the key content of each book or journal article (together with the reference details of each source) record your responses to these questions. You will then be able to summarise each piece of material from two perspectives:
Content: a brief description of the content of the book or article. Remember, an author will often make just one key point; so, what is the point they are making, and how does it relate to your own research project or assignment?
Critical analysis: an assessment of the relative strengths and weaknesses of the evidence used, and the arguments presented. Has anything conveniently been left out or skated over? Is there a counter-argument, and has the author dealt with this adequately? Can the evidence presented be interpreted another way? Does the author demonstrate any obvious bias which could affect their reliability? Overall, based on the above analysis of the author’s work, how do you evaluate its contribution to the scholarly understanding and knowledge surrounding the topic?
Structuring the literature review
In a PhD thesis, the literature review typically comprises one chapter (perhaps 8-10,000 words), for a Masters dissertation it may be around 2-3,000 words, and for an undergraduate dissertation it may be no more than 2,000 words. In each case the word count can vary depending on a range of factors and it is always best, if in doubt, to ask your supervisor.
The overall structure of the section or chapter should be like any other: it should have a beginning, middle and end. You will need to guide the reader through the literature review, outlining the strategy you have adopted for selecting the books or articles, presenting the topic theme for the review, then using most of the word limit to analyse the chosen books or articles thoroughly before pulling everything together briefly in the conclusion.
Some people prefer a less linear approach. Instead of simply working through a list of 8-20 items on your book review list, you might want to try a thematic approach, grouping key ideas, facts, concepts or approaches together and then bouncing the ideas off each other. This is a slightly more creative (and interesting) way of producing the review, but a little more risky as it is harder to establish coherence and logical sequencing.
Whichever approach you adopt, make sure everything flows smoothly – that one idea or book leads neatly to the next. Take your reader effortlessly through a sequence of thought that is clear, accurate, precise and interesting.
Writing up your literature review
As with essays generally, only attempt to write up the literature review when you have completed all the reading and note-taking, and carefully planned its content and structure. Find an appropriate way of introducing the review, then guide the reader through the material clearly and directly, bearing in mind the following:
- Be selective in the number of points you draw out from each piece of literature; remember that one of your objectives is to demonstrate that you can use your judgement to identify what is central and what is secondary.
- Summarise and synthesise – use your own words to sum up what you think is important or controversial about the book or article.
- Never claim more than the evidence will support. Too many dissertations and theses are let down by sweeping generalisations. Be tentative and careful in the way you interpret the evidence.
- Keep your own voice – you are entitled to your own point of view provided it is based on evidence and clear argument.
- At the same time, aim to project an objective and tentative tone by using the 3rd person, (for example, ‘this tends to suggest’, ‘it could be argued’ and so on).
- Even with a literature review you should avoid using too many, or overlong, quotes. Summarise material in your own words as much as possible. Save the quotes for ‘punch-lines’ to drive a particular point home.
- Revise, revise, revise: refine and edit the draft as much as you can. Check for fluency, structure, evidence, criticality and referencing, and don’t forget the basics of good grammar, punctuation and spelling.
Essay On Importance Of Literature
Show More Education would not survive without literature. Every aspect of education requires some form of literature. Literature classes should be required for all education levels. It is a subject that is often required less than other subjects. Students gain enormous benefits from studying literature. They are able to gain knowledge, experiences, and improvements that helps them throughout their entire life. Literature offers several benefits to academics and society as a whole. Studying literature will allow one to develop survivor skills that he or she will be able to use throughout life. The benefits that literature provides makes literature very important to any education level in one 's academic life (James 200). Therefore, it is prudent to have …show more content… Through literature children can enhance their knowledge and interests by just reading stories. They can learn about different places, different people, and there is no limit to the knowledge. With this knowledge they can gain new experiences They are able to learn about the past, the present and be able to equip themselves fully for the future. This can be attributed to literature. Children or students can understand about society as they grow. This does some of the common objectives and emotions that are with the people of all times and places (Patricia 197) There are books that teach children about famine, its causes and how to prevent it. For an example, “Nory Ryan’s Song” written by Patricia Giff is a perfect example of some of the harsh conditions that individuals have survived in. It’s a story that is set to explain the harsh conditions that were experienced in Ireland during the famous potato famine of 1845 (David 120). In the story “The Butterfly” written by Patricia Polacco, describes some of the challenges that nations experience. In this case, it talks about dealing with Nazis resistance and in some parts the Jewish persecution during World War Two. It is prudent for children to gain an understanding of some of the challenges that people in society experience so they will be well prepared to face …show more content… Literature aids in thinking capacity because it develops the learners thinking skills through engaging them in a visualization of actions and characters. With this the individual can be creative as the readings will help them think critically. Students can embrace the skills learned through literature and apply them throughout their life. Better thinking skills can help society because individuals can solve problems using critical thinking and have good results at the end. History books and other literature helps students understand the problems that the world has faced and how they were able to overcome. They will be able to resolve their predicaments alone without much dependence on other people. Through this the goals of education are realized, and a society of individuals that can make independent decisions is realized. This is enhanced by the visual literacy that is achieved when students do engage in literature books (Dong
Textual literacy in the classroom.
Grouping students it is beneficial for them because students can discuss about books and summarize them. Students can have discussions, share projects, and self-evaluate. Teachers can assess students through observations and guided instruction. These strategies can be very beneficial for the students who are struggling.When educators make sure they keep a classroom where we can provide many opportunities for students to improve reading skills. Our job is to assess proficiency and any problems to meet the needs of our…
Value Of Studying Literature
If everyone started to read literature, common problems could be solved by acting on the experiences of the characters in the text. This also helps me specifically as I too, like everyone in this world, go through difficult times. If I continue to read and study literature I will be able to find solutions to my problems more effortlessly than before. Literature helps people grow and develop themselves through reflecting upon their actions. However, it also helps readers see other people through their…
The Significance Of Reading Literature: The Importance Of Literature
Reading is an excellent practice to learn how to communicate effectively with others. We need to communicate in our daily life, but if we learn new words we can handle conversation with people from different social class, education, and races. Expanding our vocabulary make us feel better and confident about ourselves with others, because we know how we want to others understand our points of view. I n particular, I have learn a lot in this class, especially vocabulary that help me to improve my word choice in my writing assignments. On the other hand, it can contribute to finding a better job and remuneration.…
My Reflection On The Goal Of Guided Reading
Shared reading is one of the important ways to teach children how to read and understand print concepts. Sometimes the best way to help your students to understand literature is to first read it aloud and discuss the literature (Cooper, 2000). This will also help activate knowledge that the children already know while helping them develop vocabulary.…
Student Conferencing Essay
We as role models and mentors are their to build up students to be the best they can be, by unearthing and utilizing a students strengths not only benefits their work but their self esteem. Such approaches as conferring allows students to be exposed to questioning about their writing, it creates this personal world of self reflections, sharing of ideas and creates closer trust connections as students are able to led a conversation about their work and it gives the teacher an opportunities to tune into their students imaginative world of…
Shared And Guided Reading
The students are then given the opportunity to read the story individually and are generally asked to look for answers to questions during reading, the teacher is able to prompt them if they lose meaning. After reading the teacher guides the students in a discussion relating to the text and the specific learning goal of the lesson. The session is concluded by a related follow up activity and some form of assessment. Guided reading has many benefits as it allows for a more individualised learning experience. It allows the students to interact in a scaffolded environment and discuss aspects of the text and help each other create a deeper meaning to the text.…
Literacy Conference Reflection
The literacy conference was a great experience. It opens my mind to new ideas and strategies I can use in my classroom. I honestly believe reading is the most important facet of education. It is the basis for all other knowledge to grow. I believe that learning to read well is a key part of being successful in life.…
Why Is It Important To Read Well
The Magic of Reading Why it is important to learn to read well? I believe that if I can not read well, I am going to face many problems in my life. Many people throughout the world look at the reading positively. So, they automatically assume that reading is very useful for us. To my mind, reading can improve our writing skills and help us to become knowledgeable.…
Reading Autobiography Analysis
I believe society runs on the idea of people being literate. As a person, I believe reading allows my mind to expand and escape from reality. Writing allows me to express my feelings in a way that I cannot by just speaking about them. It lets me think about what I want to say before actually saying it. As a student, reading and writing are very important to being a successful student.…
Bridge Reading Comprehension: The Importance Of Reading Comprehension
al, 2009). The practice is powerful because it not only keeps students actively engaged as they read, but also helps them to develop the metacognition to understand why they don’t understand the things that confuse them. In particular, annotation can be a gateway to helping students build the necessary background knowledge and academic vocabulary in context that is critical for reading success (Nagy & Scott, 2000). In addition, making text-self, text-text, and text-world connections helps students to process and remember what they read in meaningful ways (Wolfe & Goldman, 2010). By directly modeling these skills and having my students share their annotations with one another, I hope to both foster community and help students of varying literacy backgrounds and skill levels to see how their peers think about and evaluate the world.…
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Why write a literature review?
The first step of any research project is to review the field. So let’s think about surveying, synthesising, critically analysing and presenting in more detail. A literature review does the following.
- Identifies gaps in current knowledge.
- Avoids reinventing the wheel – i.e. it saves you wasting time researching something that’s already been done.
- Allows you to show that you are building on a foundation of existing knowledge and ideas – i.e. carrying on from where others have already reached.
- Identifies other people working in the same field. Knowing who’s already working in your area and getting in touch with them can be an invaluable source of knowledge and support.
- Demonstrates the depth of your knowledge about your research.
- Identifies the important works in your area and shows that you’ve read them.
- Provides an intellectual context for your own work, and enables you to position your project in relation to others in the field.
- Identifies opposing views.
- Puts your own work in perspective – are you doing something completely new, revisiting an old controversy in the light of new evidence, etc?
- Demonstrates your research skills – i.e. you not only know about work in your area, you also know how to access it.
- Identifies information and ideas that may be relevant to your project.
- Identifies methods that may be relevant to your project.
Essay On Importance Of Literature
Voltaire's candide: literary analysis.
Literature is a multidimensional world full of characters, plots, and the like that has brought consistent light to to an otherwise habitually dark world. Whether discussing serious or delightful aspects of the human condition, literature never ceases to teach mankind something of merit. For example, in Voltaire’s Candide, the author discusses existential subjects throughout the novel by using humorous yet tragic events to teach and entertain his audience about the intellectual depth of the human race.
Literature And Literature: The Importance Of Literature
Literature has been a part of our world ever since the first human learned to write and has been growing alongside mankind to this very day. Reading literature gives people a refuge from reality, provides them with historical and cultural facts, and inspires them to become better people; literature is different from all other texts in existence, and reading a variety of them will insure a swift growth of knowledge and vocabulary. All in all, literature provides both enjoyment and knowledge—what better deal is there out in the world than
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Throughout history, literature has served as a prominent tool in the examination of social values, ideas, and dreams. In addition, literature has provided a vital connection between historical, social, and political events. Through the incorporation of religious principles and philosophies, writers have discovered a way to portray different time periods, characters, feelings, and most importantly God.
Social Issues In The Poisonwood Bible By Barbara Kingsolver
Literature is the window to realizing the negatives of society and how destructive certain norms can be. Readers are brought into a completely different story than their own, but by using similar issues in today’s world, the readers can actually learn from the story and its overall message. All writers write for a purpose, whether it’s for a new meaning to life, to live a different life than our own, or to impact others on an emotional level by teaching them to see the importance of the little things. As a reader, you search for pieces of literature that interest you whether you find the story like your own, or wish you lived the life in the story. By using issues in today’s within their works, authors are able to grab the reader's attention long enough for them to get across what they wanted to get across. Often in many works of literature, writers use societal issues as their basis for the work’s themes and symbols. By doing so, this allows the reader to question the morality behind social norms and how impactful certain ideals can be in people’s lives.
Power Of Literature Essay
Literature comes in all forms; its basically everything around us. Movies, books, newspaper, songs, posters, magazines, these are examples of literature. Like the many forms of literature, it also has many purposes; literature is used as a source of entertainment, it in forms people, and it also enlightens them with knowledge. Ever since we entered school, we have constantly been questioned, asked to reflect upon what we read and to analysis what we read, watch and see. All we have been doing since day one had been analysing literature. Don’t you think there must be a reason for all these years of analysing everything? I’ve finally come to the conclusion that all those years of analysing was to prove to us the power of literature. To some extent literature has the power to refute and/or reinforce our prejudice and bias. Literature is able to do this because it is able to open us to the different social and cultural standing around the world, we can always connect with literature, it comes in many forms and it’s composed of facts.
Ap English Literature Essay
Literature is important to allow readers to escape reality within the pages of a book, and also to preserve the past by reading about personal experiences and understanding the norms of different time periods. It is beneficial to provide a new world for the reader, but it shows our history and how it has changed over the years. Many fiction writers hint at real-world experiences or topics and it is up to the reader to interpret the theme of the literature. Authors write to preserve our past and to show a common theme as well as open the door to allow the reader to delve into the words on the page.
How Does Holden Use The Red Hunting Hat Symbolize
Throughout all of time, literature has played an important role in people’s lives. Books are more than just stories to laugh at, cry with, or fall asleep to, but books can teach. Literature
Niheld Revert Alfuid Essay
Though many people nowadays disregard the usefulness of literature in modern society I belong to the opposite sect of folk. Reading and literature is more than just words and writeing, its ways for the dead to speak and advise those to come through understanding of common feelings. Whether the author meant to mean something through metaphor or more literally is not important, what is important is that us as the readers are able to communicate and interpret needed information from the subject and author. Something that I sometimes think is lacking in todays society is not just this communictation but understanding. Furthermore reading it gives us a way to understand and invest in lives other than ourselves. Secondly reading and understanding what we read allows us to feel empathetic towards the subject thus allowing us to share our own story of feeling and ideas. This is
The Road Not Taken, by Robert Frost and A Worn Path, by Eudora Welty
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Throughout this course, I have discovered that literature is more than just words being brought together by an author to form an emotionally charged story. Literature provides an engaging outlet into an imaginary realm to its audience. As the reader is captivated by the story, poem or play, a, emotional connection is established.
Fahrenheit 451: Quality Literature Analysis
Quality literature is important to society’s functionality. In Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 society’s right to have quality literature is taken away. In Joe Fassler’s “How Literature Inspires Empathy” spoken by Alaa Al Aswany, the positive impact of quality literature is displayed. Literature, or the lack thereof, has the ability to drastically change the way a reader views the world.
Analyzing Sarah Smith's 'Why It Matters'
Over the course of history, in every society and culture, humanity has witnessed the emergence of thousands of domains of expression. Dating back to the oldest records known to man, there has been one domain of expression which was, and remains perhaps the most influential: literature. Literature’s main appeal is its ability to focus on any scope of topics and themes. Social issues such as racism, sexism, slavery and several more of the like hold much relevance in society today, even if many people seem to ignore their presence. As Robert Nathan, an american novelist and journalist described in his journal Why It Matters: The Value of Literature as Object of Inquiry in Qualitative
Literary Analysis : Ready Player One By Ernest Cline
Literature is a work of art that is constructed with the fundamental purpose of conveying meaning and messages to readers. Although the idea that is expressed is decided by the author, its underlying messages can be interpreted in various ways by different readers. Literature often explores the gap between reality and imagination. Such an examination can easily lead to a false sense of reality, which promotes the oversimplification of life at a great cost. By oversimplifying reality, people may turn a blind eye to issues that need to be addressed for the sake of social justice. Often times, facing reality is despised because it may create problems that individuals are unable to solve. This is important to note because literature has the
Rhetorical Analysis Of Why Literature, By Mario Vargas Llosa
The Premature Obituary of the Book: Why Literature is an essay written by Mario Vargas Llosa. In this essay Llosa writes that it is crucial for literature to be a part of people’s lives. In Why Literature he writes that reading is important for the mind, communication, and developing knowledge about life and democratic ideals. Reading is not only important for one’s self but for the world. Just as he mentioned in his quote, it’s not just about the leaf, or the person, but its about seeing the world in different ways and being able to experience and gain knowledge on all subjects. Through his writing he gives many valid points as to why reading literature is important to people of all ages and genders all around the world. Llosa’s persuasive essay is relatable and can get readers thinking about the importance of reading by using many valid points in his essay. Llosa presents his reading to many different audiences and he effectively persuades the audience through his points given in the reading. He does this because he wants the reader to understand why it is necessary for people to learn and experience new things through reading literature and other texts.
Essay on The Importance of Reading
Reading has at all times and in all ages been a source of knowledge, of happiness, of pleasure and even moral courage. In today's world with so much more to know and to learn and also the need for a conscious effort to conquer the divisive forces, the importance of reading has increased. In the olden days if reading was not cultivated or encouraged, there was a substitute for it in the religious sermon and in the oral tradition. The practice of telling stories at bed time compensated to some extent for the lack of reading. In the nineteenth century Victorian households used to get together for an hour or so in the evenings and listen to books being read aloud. But today we not only read, we also want to read more and more and catch up
The Importance of Studying Cultural Literature Essay
Education is held to the highest regard no matter what location one lives in. Without any form of education or knowledge on what shapes the world, the deeper connection between events and the human mind would lay untouched. In order for an individual to understand his/her country, it is imperative that they study cultural literature. It allows for an individual to gain stability in their own country as well as becoming open-minded about their surroundings and other cultures.
Why is it important? A literature review is important because it: Explains the background of research on a topic. Demonstrates why a topic is significant to a subject area. Discovers relationships between research studies/ideas. Identifies major themes, concepts, and researchers on a topic. Identifies critical gaps and points of disagreement.
The objective of a Literature Review is to find previous published scholarly works relevant to an specific topic. Explains the background of research on a topic. Demonstrates why a topic is significant to a subject area. Discovers relationships between research studies/ideas. Identifies major themes, concepts, and researchers on a topic.
The aim of any literature review is to summarize and synthesize the arguments and ideas of existing knowledge in a particular field without adding any new contributions. Being built on existing knowledge they help the researcher to even turn the wheels of the topic of research.
What is the purpose of a literature review? There are several reasons to conduct a literature review at the beginning of a research project: To familiarize yourself with the current state of knowledge on your topic To ensure that you're not just repeating what others have already done
A literature review is a study - or, more accurately, a survey - involving scholarly material, with the aim to discuss published information about a specific topic or research question. Therefore, to write a literature review, it is compulsory that you are a real expert in the object of study.
Writing a literature review is important for the following reasons: It demonstrates that you understand the issue you're investigating. A literature review allows you to develop a more theoretical framework for your research. It justifies your research and shows the gaps present in the current literature. Get Literature Review Writing Help
Why the literature review is important. Why the literature review is important. Why the literature review is important J Prosthodont. 2010 Dec;19(8):656. doi: 10.1111/j.1532-849X.2010.00664.x. Author Nellie Kremenak. PMID: ... Review Literature as Topic*
A review of related - and preferably recent - literature is meant to set your research in the context of what is currently known about the topic and to establish that what you have to offer is novel, something different from what has been already attempted.
The Importance of Preparation. The quotation, "Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend four sharpening my axe," has been attributed to Abraham Lincoln. Whether or not that attribution is valid, the message of the quotation definitely applies to the development of a comprehensive literature review.
Literature review is an important part of research. Beginning from the identifying idea till to determine methodology and analysis framework different previous studies can help a novice and even an expert researcher. The review of literature provides us the sense of what already happened and whether is a valley of knowledge still to discover.
Literature review basics. A literature review synthesizes and analyzes previous research in a field to inform an audience and establish background knowledge. Literature reviews are most often part of a larger work, like a research article, but may also be written as their own piece to demonstrate a student's understanding of a concept.
A formal literature review is an evidence-based, in-depth analysis of a subject. There are many reasons for writing one and these will influence the length and style of your review, but in essence a literature review is a critical appraisal of the current collective knowledge on a subject.
Share Cite. The study of literature is important because it, at its most basic, improves reading skills. From this involved reading of quality literature a student then develops their writing ...
We study literature for the following reasons: 1. It helps us learn about the world around us. It takes us to new places, different time periods. It broadens our minds and our horizons. 2. By ...
The language that you use in a literature review is important for informing readers where you stand on relevant debates on your topic or issue. In a writer-responsible academic culture, it is your job to lead readers to the meanings and conclusions that you want them to make. Since literature reviews can involve complex ideas and various bodies of literature, it is necessary
Literature reviews are a crucial part of the research process. This video explains what a literature review is and why it is important, particularly in the M...
A literature review is written as either a stand-alone document or part of a larger piece of work. A good literature review is Details only what is necessary for a given purpose — it does not ...
The literature review gives you a chance to: Demonstrate your familiarity with the topic and its scholarly context Develop a theoretical framework and methodology for your research Position your work in relation to other researchers and theorists Show how your research addresses a gap or contributes to a debate
Preparing a literature review involves: Searching for reliable, accurate and up-to-date material on a topic or subject. Reading and summarising the key points from this literature. Synthesising these key ideas, theories and concepts into a summary of what is known. Discussing and evaluating these ideas, theories and concepts. Preparing the ...
Literature aids in thinking capacity because it develops the learners thinking skills through engaging them in a visualization of actions and characters. With this the individual can be creative as the readings will help them think critically. Students can embrace the skills learned through literature and apply them throughout their life.
A literature review does the following. Identifies gaps in current knowledge. Avoids reinventing the wheel - i.e. it saves you wasting time researching something that's already been done. Allows you to show that you are building on a foundation of existing knowledge and ideas - i.e. carrying on from where others have already reached.
A literature review is a survey of scholarly sources that provides an overview of a particular topic. Literature reviews are a collection of the most relevant and significant publications regarding that topic in order to provide a comprehensive look at what has been said on the topic and by whom. The basic components of a literature review include:
1025 Words. 5 Pages. Open Document. The importance of literature on today's society. In a rapidly developing world, the definition of literature goes beyond what the readers see and perceive. It provides a platform for us to open our minds to ambiguities of meaning, while exploring what the world really has to offer through other cultures and ...