literature review paper

literature review paper

The Impact of Literature Review on Academic Research

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1. Introduction

Literature review is an explicit section of any research. Its importance and role can be appreciated from the fact that it is one of the few or maybe the only thing that will be read by anyone who will read your paper, be it a report, a thesis, a dissertation, etc. Literature review provides the reader with that knowledge and it gives solid proof that you have a strong background in the field of your research. The purpose of your research can be seen as the logical explanation of the problem. It is very crucial to convince the reader of the research problem. Review of literature serves this purpose well. It allows you to present the logical explanation of the problem and finally helps you to convince the reader that your research problem is logical and feasible. Coming back to the idea of how literature review is a proof of your knowledge, this is because literature review interprets your thoughts into something that is credible and shows your improved understanding of the topic over the years spent. This means that whatever concepts you have understood reading journals, articles, theses, newspapers, etc., finally gets translated into the right knowledge while writing the literature review, and also updating that knowledge. Simulation of this knowledge can prove to be beneficial to many. For example, if a student asks for guidance on the same topic of your interest, you can always give the respective matter of your literature review. This will help the student to quickly understand the topic with the use of consolidated information. Another example is that most of us are constantly annoyed by information overloads. We may have the knowledge of something but the constant flow of information causes us to forget things. With consolidated information, at least you will have one place where you can go back and review what you have understood. In both situations, the reader can take the information from what you have interpreted, thus reducing his workload. This shows how the literature review not only benefits the person who writes it but also acts as guidance for others.

2. Importance of Literature Review

The significance of literature review became more evident to me as I went through an article in the quest of understanding what research meant in the context of an academic field. Sure, it is all about answering questions and solving problems. But how does a beginner scientist break into the field and generate questions and problems? Where do existing questions stem from? They stem from issues being faced and questioned by a certain culture at a given point of historical time. Further, the questions posed must be relevant not only to the investigator, but to others in the field. This is especially true in the case of a graduate student who will produce a thesis, or an academic or private sector scientist who may publish and disseminate findings in journals or books. He or she must realize that funds for research projects come from public taxes. In good conscience, one cannot waste money doing research that does not address issues or solve problems that are relevant to the culture. The key is to identify and define what these issues are. This step in the formation of research-worthy questions is essentially a literature review. A process of looking at various pieces of work, in the attempt to develop a view or an understanding of a particular topic or issue.

3. Process of Conducting a Literature Review

A literature review is a critical, in-depth evaluation of research already undertaken on a specific topic. It should be noted that a potential for bias is a major shortcoming associated with argumentative techniques, so a dispassionate, comprehensive approach to the literature search is deemed the most effective way to achieve results. This stage is as important as putting the pen to paper. There is no point in reinventing the wheel. A well-researched literature review will not simply list the research that has been done on a topic, but will synthesize and evaluate it according to the writing in question. It is the successful synthesis of the evaluated research that will lead to an original and successful contribution to the subject area. At this stage, it is also important to be conscious of the categorical imperative cited by Stern that: “We must work according to strict and clear principles, so long as we are in the process of constructing something universal.” This is valid both in terms of the ideas constructed through the literature review and the recommendations and implementations of the research. In both, it is a necessity to be in conceptual terms, universal. Given the importance of literature reviews in both formulating sound research incentives and developing strong research papers, understanding how to search and identify existing literature is imperative. This video will talk about conducting a literature review and provide insights into the best methods of search, the benefits of a good literature review, and the strategies to attain the depth and breadth required.

4. Benefits of a Well-executed Literature Review

High levels of evidence-based understanding will result in a sound and appropriate research study. This is an obvious benefit from the review but worthy of a reminder, considering the tendency of students to “cut corners” with the rationale that research assignments are only a learning exercise and are of no real consequence to their career. An efficient, effective literature review gives a sound platform for primary research, whether it is for an academic assignment or a formal piece of research – a common and undervalued maxim is that “good research follows from a good literature review”.

This level of effort is commensurate with the depth of understanding the topic deserves and is well reported by Nieswiadomy (1998) who said, “The broader and more complex a study, the more work needs to be devoted to reviewing the literature.” In it, he goes on to give an example suggesting that a comprehensive review of the literature for a study on the physiology of young adults with type 2 diabetes could take over a year to complete. This may seem excessive, and it is possible to become bogged down in literature review (Oliver, 2012), forgetting that the purpose of it is to inform the research that will follow. However, it does highlight what a complex review might involve and how it should relate to research, while giving an idea of the time it should take.

Reviewing the literature requires the researcher to invest substantial time to identify the purpose of the review, scan articles to determine their relevance against the topic under investigation, thoroughly read those that are deemed relevant, extract the necessary information, organize that information in a meaningful way, and write a critical analysis.

5. Conclusion

The next step in most research is to be able to make some sort of inference or analogy from some existing information to an unknown or little understood topic. This will come in various forms such as comparison or even the testing of a hypothesis. By thoroughly understanding the literature which is to be compared up against or using as a basis for the new information, it is more likely to make a strong and relevant link, and it could also save time by finding that the comparison is not actually worth doing.

Given the lack of empirical evidence, it is not surprising that there is necessarily an overabundance of different purposes to literature review. And while it is possible for one piece of research to have more than one purpose for the review, it is important for the decided purpose to be carried through to the end. This means that it should influence the types of literature that are used, the depth of understanding, and the way that information is presented. By understanding the purpose of the research, it is much easier to assess whether or not it has been achieved.

The lack of empirical evidence regarding the impact of literature review on academic research is evident from the disparate array of purposes and objectives attributed to it. Yet, literature review appears to be a fundamental part of research, be it for a dissertation, an academic journal, a thesis, and so on. Authors and academics have often had to assume a lot when it comes to the practicality and significance of their review. I shall now attempt to bolster the significance of literature review in research by identifying its impact through a series of potential advantages. Step one will be to establish the area of research being undertaken.

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