literature review structure

literature review structure

The Importance of a Well-Structured Literature Review

1. Introduction

A good literature review is synthetic: general trends and the way that they are being addressed. A poorly executed scientific literature review can destroy a research thesis in four easy years in the sciences and six to seven in the social sciences. Prior to my PhD research, I was baffled by the enormity of the task. I recognized that my supervisors had expected me to transform the masses of (largely undigested) information on the topic into a systematic literature review. Indeed, I had often asked an elderly colleague about her work on the “big literature review for the social change project.” The guidance was cryptic, and the project never materialized. Now I understand why it failed to get off the ground. My colleague could not bring herself to admit to a student that she did not know how to break the task down into manageable components and the types of questions that would draw out significant messages from a ton of information. If you are in a similar situation, this paper provides an overview of the key concepts to guide my write-up. This is it – in the first line, and you have the right document. Clearly, you want to be consuming the surplus information as quickly as possible, and that means that my guide needs to be specific to your needs and interests. So what’s it worth? To answer this question, I have made use of an extended comparison of the literature review process to the examination of a phenomenon. You can find it all in a table. Compiled versions of figures are available on request.

2. Defining the Literature Review

Literature reviews usually set out to achieve one or more of the following aims: They may be qualitative or quantitative. Some aim to test hypothetical propositions stating that there are more girls with recklessness problems than boys. Some try to generate and test inferences. For example, trying to explain or diagnose the ever-increasing level of laddish behavior amongst young men. Some studies aim to understand complex social phenomena. This will attempt to gain new insights on an issue, sometimes it may be necessary to unearth old information that has been long forgotten in order to prevent problems from recurring. For example, research into social class and educational attainment in the UK has resumed despite it being a long addressed topic. Comparison is another common inference. This can be between two or more different groups on a certain variable, or it may be trying to establish the rate of change of an independent variable on a dependent variable between two points in time. These types of studies are important for generating policies in government or organizations.

Introduction: Why reading with a purpose is important Using the term ‘structured literature review’ for the purpose of this chapter. What literature reviews usually set out to achieve. Step-by-step methods designed for structured literature research. Written method of reviewing from paper and highlighting relevant information, to using computer systems. Importance of thoroughness and how the use of computers have made people lazy by demonstrating how hit and miss techniques often miss information. Problems with naively diving into research without a structured plan. How important is a well-structured literature review?

A chapter providing details on the significance of writing structured literature reviews.

3. Key Components of a Literature Review

Though the literature review is a key component of any research study, it can be useful to think of it as a search problem. A well-planned literature review identifies and locates the relevant work in the field and assesses this work in terms of its strengths and weaknesses. Identification and locating relevant work already done in the field is useful in that it can provide the researcher with insights, or methodology which can be utilized, or offer alternative explanations for results obtained thus far. In some cases, rather than to prepare the reader for the study, the researcher may want to uncover some of the weaknesses in the body of work. Regardless of the approach, the key to a successful literature review is to locate and assess as much of the available work in the field as possible. This requires time and effort. Spending useful hours poring over irrelevant and often poorly written articles can be a frustrating experience, and an experience that can provide a researcher with a good understanding of what their study is not! With this in mind we can divide the literature review process into three key stages: the search, the review, and the assessment.

4. Benefits of a Well-Structured Literature Review

Your well-structured literature review is a very important part of your thesis. A well-written literature review will provide a critical synthesis of information within a particular subject area with a careful analysis of how the arguments are developed, or the relationships between ideas. It’s important to present a well-structured literature review, as you want to avoid muddling up your findings with irrelevant information drawn from an unsystematic review of the topic. A well-structured literature review is characterized by a logical flow of ideas; current and relevant references with consistent, appropriate referencing style; well-organized information to present a thorough understanding of the topic and build to the argument or synthesis; and a good writing style. Well-structured literature reviews provide an overview of your topic, with an emphasis of the relationships between different works, and constructing a bridge that will lead the reader to your research project. By presenting a detailed analysis of the relationships between your works, a well-structured literature review will assess whether the body of work in your subject area has a cumulative effort, or simply a series of isolated studies. An overview of the topic, issues or theory under consideration, along with the objectives of your literature review will provide you with an idea of how a well-structured literature review can tie all the pieces of your work together, and present them in a logical manner to accentuate your research project. With a big picture of your research project in mind, a well-structured literature review will discuss what has gone before your work and how your project will develop the ideas or materials presented. This includes discussing an argument or position on the topic, and how you will justify that your work is an improvement on what has been accomplished. This last point is especially helpful for a research student, who is developing an understanding of his or her subject by exploring ideas from others’ works. Overall, a well-structured literature review can be easily attained by planning and drafting your work consistently, and will help you get a better grade and a clearer understanding of your topic.

5. Conclusion

The literature review has provided evidence that a well-structured and efficient financial system is essential to providing the solid economic growth that developing countries aspire to achieve. The empirical evidence discussed and analyzed in the light of the various theories provided a substantial body of work that brought to light the importance of well-functioning financial systems to development. This survey has attempted to provide a comprehensive analysis, employing theory and empirical evidence to advocate the allocation of resources to build and strengthen the financial system. This is based on the belief that striving for sustainability and reducing vulnerability is sure to increase the benefits of economic growth to the poor. In the initial stages, this may require a reallocation of resources, but in the long run, the evidence suggests that it will be beneficial for all. While the prediction and control of the future is impossible, learning from the mistakes of the Asian crisis and other financial crises, it is reasonably argued that developing countries would be unwise not to make a concerted effort to avoid a recurrence of such damaging events. An essential part of this strategy is to build and strengthen the financial system.

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