literature review matrix

literature review matrix

The Importance of Literature Review in Research

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1. Introduction

An examination of the literature review process, its importance and benefits, and its application is presented. This will help researchers to be familiar with and understand how to conduct and write effective literature reviews. The importance of research in a dissertation is stated by two doctoral students as, “obviously, without a theory a research is nearly impossible to comprehend, and without a concrete understanding of research, the study is rendered essentially useless” (Reiff, 2009). The research mentioned in a dissertation should contribute to the readers, be it a new theory, a new perspective on an existing theory, or new evidence to support or refute a theory. One way to advance the research is by making a theoretical framework. A theoretical framework is a collection of interrelated concepts, like a map; it provides direction for the research, and constructs the foundation for the development of new insights on the research topic. The literature review is an important part of a dissertation or thesis. It is the foundation of the theoretical framework that is constructed; it identifies the theories and evidence that are relevant to the research’s new theory and it will serve to support the theory. The theoretical insights and the improvement of the study are a direct result of the literature review, therefore making it an essential underlying factor in advancing research from which the theoretical framework takes form, and the resulting new insights on the research topic, is vital to the overall implications of the research.

2. Benefits of Conducting a Literature Review

This form of literature review is most often found in academic journals, for these journals are now the primary means in which scholars communicate their work. In writing a stand-alone review, the purpose is to provide concise summaries and critical evaluations of the research presented in a particular journal, book, or article, etc. With this, there is a clear dichotomy between the act of researching and the act of writing about the research. In writing the review, previous research plays a paramount role with the vast majority of the time dedicated to developing a comprehensive understanding of the research which will be conveyed to the audience.

From (1), a literature review may be a stand-alone work or the introduction to a larger research paper, depending on the assignment. Rios defines a stand-alone literature review as an essay that “provides a general summary of a particular subject matter to the research and practice of a field. It is analytical and that it sort critiques, previous work with the objective of showing where the limitations are which further work may need to address. As such, it is not intended to promote or advocate a stance on the subject” (3).

1. Identifies gaps in current knowledge. 2. Avoids duplication of previous research. 3. Produces a more focused research question. 4. Brings new researchers up to speed. 5. Provides the intellectual context for your work. 6. Points the way forward for further research. (

3. Steps to Conducting a Literature Review

By following these steps, you can conduct a comprehensive literature review that provides a solid foundation for your research.

3. Close the search when you reach a point of saturation, where no new sources are found. This is rare in an academic setting, and typically occurs when all available material has been exhausted.

2. Conduct a thorough bibliographic search of books and articles in your field. You can use a combination of traditional and online catalog systems to find resources. With tools like Google Scholar and interlibrary loans, it is now easier to access up-to-date sources from remote locations. For example, if you are a student studying in another city, you can request a current book from a UK university to be loaned to a nearby US library.

1. Define your subject and the scope of the review. This will help narrow down your search and find relevant sources. For example, you can limit your analysis to sources within the past decade or focus on handbooks and trade journals. Having a clear focus will make it easier to gather literature that supports your argument.

Steps to conducting a literature review:

4. Challenges in Literature Review

As has been mentioned in the opening paragraph, the purpose of this literature review is not to cover the entire body of knowledge concerning the study under investigation. Rather, it is aimed to provide evidence of the reviewer’s understanding on the subject with a view to building a conceptual framework and when necessary, formulating a hypothesis. This is an extremely difficult goal, as can be seen by the vast number of theories on any subject, leading to the possibility of an unlimited number of interpretations. As a result, the literature review is laden with many grey areas and the reviewer will often find themselves in an unclear or confused state regarding the concepts they are trying to understand. Information may be contradictory or the same topic may be explained in different contexts, and it is down to the reviewer to make some sense of this information and build a meaningful knowledge structure. This process is very time-consuming, requiring a great deal of analysis and much thought, possibly leading to periods of frustration or anxiety. A quality review will most likely test the bias of the reviewer at certain stages, especially if the information found is unexpected or provocative. It is not unusual for a study to be purely descriptive, although the reviewer anticipates some concrete theory to be derivable from the information. He or she may also be looking for evidence that supports certain ideas they already have or at least provides some logical explanation to those ideas. If the evidence is lacking or contrary to what is expected, the reviewer may become disillusioned and question the purpose of the literature search. This is, however, an essential part of using the literature to construct a coherent argument, and it is likely that continued review will build a clearer picture of the subject, resolving any previous doubts.

5. Conclusion

As an agreement on the relevance of “The Importance of Literature Review in Research,” in this research we have learned that literature review is the first piece of research being conducted. It is obvious from reviewing the various literatures that many researchers are perplexed about the difference between a literature review in bringing fruitful results as compared to the previous research carried out so far. This is one area all researchers should strive to improve and achieve perfection, as it is essential in providing an online knowledge base for other researchers in the later years. The recommendation and a sort of guideline to the step by step literature review should aid the researcher in achieving a quality literature review. It will indirectly ease the researcher to have a clear understanding of his current or future research work and on what field the research is to be conducted. From the analysis that we have done, it can be suggested that the current methods of evaluating a student’s literature review are not sufficient to truly measure the knowledge the student has on his research and the effort he has put in trying to find a new idea on the research conducted so far. The methods known today are more to a theoretical work and not relating to the research work; suitable grades for his literature review will aid the student in the case of research to understand where exactly he is and what he has to do next.

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