literature reviews

literature reviews

The Art of Crafting a Comprehensive Literature Review

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1. Introduction to Literature Reviews

Although being an essential component of both empirical and theoretical research studies, the research practice of crafting a comprehensive literature review is such a complex and difficult task that still puzzles emerging researchers in a variety of ways. Researchers find it a struggle to search in a range of databases and analyze a large amount of potential literature, depict early research direction, and construct the literature review considering alternative conceptual and theoretical insights. The turmoil usually comes from the researchers’ lack of tacit skills, definitive processes, and principles when crafting their review framework, identifying and organizing information for theories and methods, and interpreting and selecting-eliminating the appropriate literature.

A literature review is a critical evaluation, vulnerability, and investigation of the research designed and performed in a chosen area of focus. It establishes not only a foundation upon which a research of interest grows and develops but also background information on the research, addresses contradictions, evidence controversies, and defines scientific subcultures.

Through the literature research, we can specify that there is no such study focusing entirely on the art of crafting a comprehensive literature review, and most of the current writing simply provides guidance for searching and reviewing a few research studies. This study aims at fulfilling the knowledge gap by developing a seven-stage framework for constructing a comprehensive literature review to expand and advance the knowledge in a diverse discipline for emerging researchers.

2. Key Components of a Literature Review

The most appreciated quality of a good literature review is the ability of the author to integrate resources to contribute a comprehensive overview and investigation on a particular topic using clearly defined research questions. Having good tools to conduct the research is invaluable to the researcher in this process. Being able to recognize and critically evaluate the work of the prior related literature related to the research question at hand is necessary so that the goals for doing the investigation and the resulting research output are not obviated.

The key components of a comprehensive literature review are first and foremost the engines that generate the body of work: the contributing authors and their work product. After identifying the collective literature relevant to a research project, the researcher must be able to effectively process, evaluate, and summarize the literature by finding common threads and gaps in the literature as they apply to the research problem of interest. In this regard, it becomes necessary for the researcher to subdivide the media into frameworks or components, identifying the relationships among them, and accommodating the input from various sources while recognizing also the limits of potential reference material. The most common components of a literature review typically include one or more of the following classification types: books, periodicals, geographically related references, and references from the past and into the future. Accompanying each of these different classification types are many approaches to database and Web searching. Additionally, reference and alert services are also an important feature to implementing a literature component.

3. Strategies for Conducting an Effective Literature Search

Much of the literature that writers typically use for their review manuscripts comes from three primary resources: (1) journal articles and monographs; (2) primary data from governmental sources; and (3) secondary data from compilations of research (i.e., other literature reviews). The majority of literature in the management discipline is located in the more than 90 online journals that comprise the Business Source Premier database. Other databases may also be needed to locate information in ancillary subject domains (e.g., business, education). Finally, the researcher should also investigate additional face-to-face resources available from libraries and databases in other geographic regions that collect proprietary sources of data.

Database Searching

Concurrent with the development of broader research hypotheses and research questions, the researcher needs to identify the literature most relevant to writing a comprehensive review. Researchers are also encouraged to retain ongoing notes from their readings and reflective notations about the ways in which the literature, as well as authors’ concerns, engage them. This latter strategy encourages researchers to investigate their own perspectives and preconceived biases. Because new research questions often emerge during preliminary investigations, researchers should also be prepared to venture outside their usual interests to access literature in those domains. Finally, it is important for researchers to maintain perusal of the literature for the duration of the review, as more recent publications might well have significant bearing on their topic or their interpretations.

Setting the Stage

4. Critical Analysis and Synthesis of Literature

There is an attempt to understand the extent to which the summary and critique of literature contribute to the respective body of knowledge. Familiar categories and new properties are other useful techniques for data organization and analysis. These allow for a recommended approach in gaining a holistic perspective on the literature. They foster critical thinking, as it is very concept-based. The major logistical tasks carried out during this literature citation and analysis phase involved organizing process information and the coded texts, revising original research questions, and writing preliminary chapters that presented literature review results.

Critical analysis and synthesis of the studies found in the literature review form the final and most important step in the literature review process. It is at this stage that all the knowledge bubbles in terms of patterns and emerging themes and sub-themes are determined. Major themes are the most significant, dominating ideas driving research in a field. These are well-established understandings about an aspect of the discipline. Sub-themes, on the other hand, are other ideas linked to other areas. These are the lesser-known ideas that help generate knowledge in the field. The nature of connections and causality emanating from major themes and sub-themes is explored. The main question at this stage is: “What key patterns emerge from the literature?”

5. Best Practices for Writing and Formatting a Literature Review

If a personal theory has been informed by the tenets of another study, failing to include this important and relevant information gives the impression that one’s theoretical understanding has been developed in isolation. The most effective literature reviews take contentious arguments and test them out with a practice-oriented consideration of what kinds of insights and exploratory tests ought to be considered. This enables an effective survey of the long-standing and present states of one’s myths so that the reader can have a clearer understanding of what the study can and cannot do and understand why things are the way that they are in the relevant field. A literature review that answers these key questions can provide a great deal of illustration of my own understanding of potential empirical findings, and does so in conversational and illustrative ways.

3. Avoid indicating how the literature has influenced personal theory development.

Citations in the text are not a writing mechanicality. They provide credibility and context by citing primary research findings. They are also required for direct or combined quotes, which allow for scholarship imbued with the “voices” of appoint expert researchers rather than a collection of pseudo-authoritative position statements. To tell a substantial story in this literature review section, a writer must understand what the library or Ebsco databases contain and the relevant authors, and synthesize that expertise with a clear understanding of the article’s specific place in that context. Summarize and report results from the articles without synthesizing them or utilizing those findings to enhance your argument by adding additional logic about what knowledge can be gained from the articles.

2. Frequently use synonyms just for the sake of doing so in order to increase one’s scholarly word count.

Effective literature reviews are not catalogs of the essays one has written but rather a demonstration that one knows every article one writes on top of and that they have consistently connected works that are relevant to a professional or theoretical problem. Including select abstracts may help the reader to understand the shape of the literature in question, as well as the current theories and findings under discussion. However, each copied snippet must be introduced with linking explanations and placed within a useful story, not simply affixed as an illustrative document.

1. Cut and paste the abstracts of one’s articles in order to present the mini literature review as is.

Tonette Rocco and Tim Hatcher argue that, because it requires one to make and justify decisions about writing and organization, a first-rate literature review is a high form of accountability. This section is designed to help writers meet that standard. We will begin by considering, and then criticizing, ten key recommendations about writing literature reviews found in traditional graduate level professionalization readings. With those foundational points critiqued, we will offer, based on the literature itself, direct advice about structuring the review, as well as some commonsense tips that we think are crucial to effective reviews and critical to conducting solid research.

Good writing is not enough. If the purpose of a scholarly article is to persuade the reader that the claims and findings being made are grounded in a solid, critical understanding of the existing literature, then good writing must be paired with a demonstration of ironclad mastery of that literature. A literature review that is both comprehensive and effectively organized accordingly requires significant time and effort. Writers typically produce several drafts of the literature review and may even include citations haphazardly without being certain of their completeness and appropriateness.

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