literature review examples

literature review examples

Literature Review Examples

1. Introduction to Literature Review

A literature review is a scholarly method in which a researcher provides a detailed analysis of present and past information pertaining to a particular field of study. The purpose of a literature review is to provide the researcher with the theory previously established on a topic in order to improve the researchers’ own work. The review should describe, summarise, evaluate, and clarify this previous research. It should give a theoretical base for the research and help the researcher determine the nature of the research. During the writing of a literature review, the researcher is to: i) show what has been published on a topic ii) provide the evidence for general guiding theories iii) provide a criticism on the work done so far iv) indicate the possible gaps which may arise in the literature v) give an idea to the reader what to expect in the following chapters of the review.

2. Importance of Literature Review

A literature review has an important role in the structure of a thesis. It is in the second chapter where much of the research on the structure of a literature review is focused, articulating to the reader how an understanding of the area has led to a clearer question and a research hypothesis. This is followed by research in the form of a systematic review that attempts to identify existing evidence on the hypotheses put forward – it is the emphasis on trying to draw together the existing research that is the focus of a review. The process of reviewing the literature is often ongoing and will provide you with a context for your work, enabling you to position your work in the wider field. It is often useful to write a draft version of the literature review then leave it for a period of time and come back to identify any mistakes or lack of clarity, as review it to see if it fits the flow of your final thesis.

3. Types of Literature Review

There are several different types of literature reviews, including: • Systematic literature review • Traditional/narrative review • Meta-analysis • Meta-synthesis • Scoping review • Rapid review • Realist review Each has its own unique purpose and approach. Understanding the types will assist with the choice of format, structure, scope, and help with framing the review question. This is a critical step which will influence the success of the review outcome. Systematic reviews are reproducible, unbiased form of data collection and analysis that can be replicated by others. The purpose is to summarise the evidence on a specific research question. Rather than narrative, the systematic review has been pre-planned and the methods are documented in a protocol. Meta-analysis will compare results across several studies using statistical methods to compose a conclusion. Meta-synthesis aims to integrate results from a selection of qualitative research studies to generate new interpretations of the findings. This is usually conducted by a team and focuses on a specific concept. A scoping review is a preliminary assessment to assess the potential size and scope of available research literature. A scoping review does not usually synthesise findings to provide answers to the review question, rather it provides a landscape of the current available evidence. A rapid review is conducted to produce timely evidence for decision making and will be completed within a short timeframe. Finally, a realist review is designed for complex policy interventions. It will ask the question ‘what works for whom under what circumstances’. This type of review has recently found popularity within the health sciences.

4. Steps to Conduct a Literature Review

As with many other academic tasks, writing a literature review also requires some careful planning and a lot of work. First off, you need to know your topic well, so you can narrow your search of materials and recognize which key texts are the right ones to draw on. Version of a research question, purpose, and objectives should decide a focus where possible. Once you’ve started to assemble some sources on your topic, you should begin to think of how to critique each one and build a synthesis of the various positions taken across all sources. This can be achieved initially by critically evaluating the value of each source and then identifying the relationships between sources. A comprehensive literature review often compares various sources and eventually leads to a new understanding of the topic from the sum of all the sources taken together. With continued efforts, this understanding can become a purpose in itself and will shape your synthesis. This process should be recursive, meaning that as new understanding is reached, old sources can be revisited and even more concise understandings will develop. Decisions about which literature to include or exclude can be quite complicated, and again, the thoroughness of the literature review is often based on the purpose for conducting one in the first place. High-quality scholarly journal articles are a good place to start and are usually less narrow in focus than it would be efficient to follow up with research undertaken in academic conference papers and then various theses and dissertations. This is part of the aforementioned narrowing process, but it’s quite likely that any academic text on the same topic as yours will help to inform a review across a wider range of topics. Published between 5 and 10 years ago and fulfilling relevance to the subject compared to other sources of the same period makes further analysis to the contemporary academic debate. Finally, as a quick tip, if you, along with your location or institution, have access to academic databases, be sure to use these as they will greatly ease finding the right sorts of sources through various search and filtering options.

5. Examples of Well-Written Literature Reviews

The sources: This paper is a well-detailed and very helpful for the inexperienced. It was submitted to Jossey-Bass by the Department of Counseling and Personnel Services at Georgia State University. It focuses on a specific topic of interest to its audience; it is not a general introduction to the transition from high school to college. The article is systematic in its description of the transition, emphasizing the effects on student by using transitions by sentences and paragraphs. This is the great outline of the article and he or she knows exactly where the author is going with it. The description of the shift in the students life at home to life at college is very well done. The counselor looks at the emotional, intellectual, and social changes students undergo at a crucial period in their lives. He describes the change in each case in a short and easy to understand format. He often mentions how the information can be useful to a counselor aiding the student who is making these transitions. Pigg’s article can easily be used as a teaching tool for anyone wishing to understand the high school to college transition. A Skills Based Approach to Developing and Using Descriptive Questions, by Joesph A. Maxwell is an article that discusses the uses of open-ended questions in research studies. It also provides additional information for using these types of questions in interviews and observations for developing data. This is a great article for those who conduct formal or informal research. Maxwell goes in depth by alleging that most social science researchers know how to ask insight-seeking questions, but are not so implemental at actually displaying these insights from the data. He provides a clear description of descriptive questions and how researchers can utilize them to gain sought out information from given data. He shows the relationship in Table 1, providing an excellent example for those who are visual learners. This article has the potential to be used as a teaching tool for basic or advanced research methods.

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