outline literature review example

outline literature review example

The Importance of Literature Review in Research

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1. Introduction

The word “literature” means “sources of information” or “collection of written materials”. It, therefore, means that researching for the particular information from different written sources. Literature may be found in books, journals, government documents, and the internet. These written sources should eventually become the reference materials. Different information such as historical background, theoretical information, or past research findings. This information can be invaluable while researching as at times information found may correlate to the past information and it may turn out to be a new discovery. For example, the result of some kind of experiment. Past results can be compared to the present result and find if there is any consistency. This will save time as the existing information will only need to be re-studied.

Review and research literature in different fields of study is considerably important. It introduces different benefits to explore new ideas, concepts, and different ways of problem-solving. Reviewing literature in research forms the foundation on the topic. It provides comprehensive information as it is written by experts who are knowledgeable in that area. Therefore, it also provides a learning opportunity for the students or people who are undertaking the research. Literature review also helps in developing an intellectual framework on the topic or area to be researched. It also shows different opinions of researchers on the topic. This is because when reviewing literature, it is an ongoing process where new information is continuously being brought by new researchers. Literature review is the best opportunity to showcase the research that has been done in the past in the particular subject area.

2. Purpose and Objectives of Literature Review

Literature review is a process of looking at what research has been done in a specific field of study. It is a critical and evaluative account of what has been published on a chosen topic in the written literature. The aim in doing a review is to find out what significant literature already exists in the proposed area of research and to do this one must know why. Children need prerequisite language and literacy skills before they start formal education in order to succeed. These include print knowledge, vocabulary, phonological and morphological awareness, and understanding and narrative and oral language skills. Australia’s increasingly multicultural society has meant that many children are commencing school without the necessary language and literacy skills required. Failure to achieve and maintain these skills will lead to academic difficulties and potential long-term consequences for these children. This has been recognized by education systems and research has shown that early childhood is the best time to address this issue. A literature review was conducted to determine what literature exists on providing basic literacy skills to multicultural and indigenous children in early childhood so as to gain a better understanding. The purpose and objectives of a literature review will help to achieve these aims.

3. Methodology for Conducting a Literature Review

The literature review is probably the most time-consuming of all the stages. Thus, it is important to plan and set aside specific time to do your review. This may mean setting goals, for example, “By the end of this week, I want to have summaries of 10 key papers in the field.” It is very easy to go off on a tangent and discuss irrelevant studies which will not help in the development of a model for a specific research question. Thus, it may be useful to keep the research question in mind as a continual point of reference. Furthermore, it is important to differentiate between “informative” and “integrative” literature reviews. The former will focus on specific aspects of the research question and may be done in sections, for example, discussing the topic in one section and then a related theory. The latter is usually the most effective and will discuss papers in terms of their relevance to the research question. By the end of the review, a researcher should (hopefully) have identified key areas of debate, thus leading to his research being able to make a valuable contribution.

When conducting a literature review, scholars “step back” (Boote and Beile, 2005) and look at a topic at a more general level, not necessarily focusing on the specific research question. This means that the research is aimed to look into the topic in great depth, whereas the literature review provides an outline of the models and theories within the topic. It is often based on previous literature reviews that identify the specific research question. Thus, it is often a good idea to discuss the topic of the literature review with peers in the area to gain a general idea about what others think about that topic. This will help identify what has already been done in the topic.

4. Key Findings and Analysis from Literature Review

Primarily, the findings demonstrated that the type of funding in schools is the most significant factor in determining how persuasive head teachers are in causing change. This again reinforces the initial idea that head teachers are pivotal to the change process within schools. When it is considered that head teachers are more influential in schools deemed to be failing and the fact that funding is usually increased when problems arise, it was always likely that the next results were going to be found. These results were that heads in failing schools are usually more persuasive than those in successful schools and they are also more determined. Failure in a school was identified through the percentage of pupils getting 5 or more A-C grade GCSEs. The statistics showed that this differs greatly depending on the affluence of the core and surrounding area. Schools in the low income bracket group percentage equates to 27.4% of the students whereas in the higher income bracket group it is as high as 61.70% of the students. This is rather significant as this affects the ability for head teachers to cause an effective change with the lack of resources available to them.

5. Conclusion and Implications

Though literature review is a cornerstone of good research, many researchers feel that the literature review process stifles creativity in research. However, this does not need to be the case. A well-conducted literature review provides you with the chance to “uncover” the research that has already been done, and then identify what is most relevant to your research. In this way, the literature review can provide an important springboard for conducting original research. It is important to locate your research in the context of previous research. In this way you can build on what has gone before, rather than reinventing the wheel. This is an important question for all researchers, but it is particularly pertinent in the case of postgraduate research. Undertaking a literature review is a major means for a graduate student, or a researcher to master the art of research conduct, an important skill for the postgraduate student as well as the professional. Coming across the wealth of work that has already been done in your subject area is getting increasingly harder. An in-depth literature review will provide an important background to your own work and show the tutor that you know what others have done, and are taking the topic of research seriously. If the end result of the art of the review is real understanding and new knowledge, then the review is seen to have been successful. This can take a modest amount of time. However, you will find that an overzealous literature review can stifle creativity. This is due to the researchers’ belief that they must cover all/any related work to ensure they haven’t missed anything. As time goes by and workloads get larger, this approach becomes more and more unfeasible. For this reason, it is important to narrow down the search to something which can realistically be covered. Coming out of/returning to the notion of ‘uncovering’ information, it is important not to make the mistake of using the literature review to inform the reader of the amount of effort that has gone into the research. This is a common mistake. An effective literature review is a focused one, with the judicious selection of a range of quality sources targeted at a specific issue. This provides a sharp image for discussion, giving the research the attention it deserves.

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