outline for literature review

outline for literature review

The Impact of Literature Review on Research

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1. Introduction

Literature reviews serve a myriad of functions. Underpinning the purpose is the requirement for the review to be an autonomous piece of work, a precursor for a research project or serving as part of a larger piece of work. Despite the transient nature of the work, it is key to the success of research in a particular field. Literature reviews are an attempt to summarize the existing state of knowledge on a particular topic. They are thorough in identifying the seminal and key works in a field and sorting out the wheat from the chaff. This is of paramount importance as it provides the reader with a basis from which to understand the contemporary state of the art and is an essential element in answering the ever-present question “so what?”. This is often an area that is poorly conducted with the intent being on providing an exhaustive account of the literature whether it be relevant or not to the topic in question. Often the end result is a long list of works with little evaluative commentary. This is best avoided. The reviewer must be able to identify widely what is known and understood about the topic and what remains either contradictory or unknown. When the reader can understand the importance of the topic and what the literature is trying to convey about it, only then can the review be thought of as a success.

When one undertakes research that is of any degree of complexity and significance, a literature review is a vital part of the project. The importance of the literature review lies in its role as the foundation and background upon which the research is built. There are two main areas of impact: firstly, the review will identify the direction and focus of the research. Secondly, the review will help the researcher to avoid unnecessary duplication of work that has already been carried out. The end result of a successful review can be profound, with long-term impact on the field and the researcher. This essay begins with a discussion of the purposes of a review, presents a taxonomy of literature reviews, and then discusses the steps in conducting a quantitative or qualitative literature review.

2. Importance of Literature Review

Literature review makes a case for the significance and relevance of your research. A good literature review is far from just a list of articles and books. They must be organized carefully so that they provide the reader with the framework necessary to understand the significance of your study and the research question or hypothesis. A well-developed review of the literature requires many months of research and reading. It is likely to be one of the first chapters you complete as you go through the writing process. You will be better off writing a literature review that is iterative and incremental, one that continually builds momentum as it develops, and one that you will grow to be proud of. An effective literature review is important for the complete life cycle of a research from defining a topic to conceptualizing and finally writing about the research. The review of literature in research is not the same as a literature review. The former does not include synthesis and analysis of the literature. It is rather a technical step of building the theoretical framework. A good literature review is to show that you used your time to understand a topic, think critically about it, and then write thoughtfully. A good literature review is comprehensive. A comprehensive literature review should include all points that inform a research. A good literature review lays the foundation for the importance of your research, where you will demonstrate to the reader your existing knowledge and what is known in this field.

3. Methods and Approaches for Conducting Literature Review

The variety of sources, including material and the way that these are assessed, varies across different types of literature review. For example, evidence reviews (a specific type of literature review focusing on evidence-base) typically assess the literature available on a particular topic in terms of its quality and validity to answer a specific research question. The evidence might come from a variety of different studies ranging from experimental studies to government statistics. This kind of evidence-based literature review provides a more comprehensive understanding of the topic and its research question.

In the field of the present study, literature can come from books, articles published in professional journals, and some in newspapers, online materials like websites. Electronic media has basically changed the way we do literature review. Now a large amount of literature can be accessed electronically, and if your institution has made a site license agreement, this can be free downloads for you. The advantage of this is that literature is often more accessible this way, and you can retrieve and search through an extensive amount of literature from your own PC.

In ancient times, the literature review process was part of a larger enterprise of “explicit documentation,” where scholars were making comprehensive collections of what they believed to know. Producing a literature review may also be part of graduate and post-graduate student work, including in the preparation of a thesis, dissertation, or a journal article. This chapter suggests different kinds of approaches to conduct a literature review that have been used for the research on the topic “Impact of literature review on research.”

4. Challenges and Limitations of Literature Review

The astute reader will notice that no thorough, in-depth investigation into any given topic is without its limitations, and the literature review is no different. These potential pitfalls may come from a variety of sources, including the researcher’s point of view during data collection, the failing of an author to recollect minute details, or simply the unavailability of certain information. While it is not difficult to find the merits of performing a literature review in order to form a background or lay a foundation for a research question, it is just as easy to find shortcomings. Often one requires a bird’s eye perspective in order to do a literature review. This type of perspective involves skimming through masses of information and trying to abstract and generalize based on the content in order to increase one’s breadth of knowledge. While this would be useful for developing new and innovative ways of thinking in a specific field, it can often skew one’s facts and detract from details needed for an accurate comparison. One other limitation that can be difficult to overcome is the changing point of views in the literature. For topics involving the social sciences, there can be a large array of conflicting ideas. By reviewing different articles, it’s possible to become biased or inadvertently take a side on an issue when the goal is to give a fair assessment of the details. The researcher may also fall victim to the belief that their way of thinking is the most correct and, in turn, disregard those articles that are most beneficial to a comprehensive literature review, that is, the ones with ideas conflicting the most with the researcher’s.

5. Conclusion and Recommendations

The literature review can influence the research in a number of ways. It can promote new ideas by revealing a gap in the current research. Identifying a gap is vital as it justifies the need for the research. It can provide supporting evidence for an idea or theory. Validating the idea can increase the confidence in the research and the potential findings. The literature review can also lead to the refinement of an idea. Sometimes a review of the research already done on a topic can be the reasoning for a change in the direction of the research. It is better to do this at an early stage as it avoids carrying out work that is not cost effective. Lastly, the literature review can influence the methodology that is chosen for a research. Ideas gained from other researchers’ experiences can lead to the adaption of an alternative route to that originally intended. The findings of the review could also identify possible pitfalls, which would then prepare the researcher to deal with them. This is all linked with the quality of the research to be carried out. The higher the quality of a research, the higher the likelihood of valuable findings.

The literature review is an essential part of any research. This chapter is vital due to the in-depth analysis and critical evaluation of the existing published materials relating to the research topic. It will help the researcher to understand the concepts and theories that have been presented by other researchers. It will also enable the researchers to identify the researchers that have been successful in similar studies and can lead to an insight as to how to carry out their own research.

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