scientific literature review example

scientific literature review example

The Importance of Scientific Literature Reviews

1. Introduction

In the present era, the field of science is progressing with remarkable speed. In the present global scenario, it becomes essential for a learned individual, a budding scientist, a teacher, or an accomplished researcher to keep himself updated with the latest scientific information and its effects. A good scientific literature review can be a reason in itself for publication. It unveils the new horizons which scientific knowledge has touched. It helps in figuring out the gaps in the knowledge about the subject. These reviews identify and assess the data to make comparisons of different results and have the potential to develop new concepts and theories. These are an indispensable part of postgraduate studies. It helps the researcher in his efforts to solve a scientific problem. It provides a background of the knowledge which is already available and thereby helps in defining the problem. Scientific literature reviews are generally narrative and take a more liberal approach to express the ideas with freedom, create debates, and justify the concepts with great arguments. The readers of these reviews are different. They can be from the field of science from which the review is being written or even from the general community aspiring to gain knowledge about that particular field. These are written for scholars, students from similar fields, or for the general public. These reviews can be of different types. Looking from the perspective of a postgraduate student planning to write his dissertation in a candid manner, it provides a broad view of the subject which he has chosen to explore and the methods involved. It also aims at his self-development to gain expertise in that field. On the other hand, a review article written for a national or an international journal is more compact, focusing on pinpointing the minuscule details of the topic and making comparisons to explain new scientific developments. Being concise doesn’t imply a particular type of review as both narratives and review articles can be concise or detailed.

2. Purpose and Objectives

The purpose of the literature review is to provide a critical written account of the current state of research on a selected topic: – Identifies areas of prior scholarship – Places each source in the context of its contribution to the understanding of the specific issue, area of research, or theory under review. – Describes the relationship of each source to the others that you have selected – Identifies new ways to interpret and shed light on any inconsistencies in prior research – Resolves conflicts amongst seemingly contradictory previous studies

A review of existing scientific literature is conducted to give a comprehensive document of the work done in the area of particular interest, to critically analyze the information found in the procedure, outcomes, and outcomes of past work, and to evaluate the progression of the field and to compare the findings of previous workers with the method used or the interpretation of results. A literature review will compare studies by looking at methodological and theoretical consistencies and inconsistencies, identify the strengths and weaknesses in earlier research, identify any gaps in the current body of knowledge, and provide a framework for further research.

3. Methodology

Considerable time was spent on developing our search strategy. We consulted a senior librarian with expertise in systematic reviews to help guide this process. The intention was to capture the maximum amount of available evidence, hence improving the generalisability of our findings. We aimed to be inclusive of all study types due to the broad nature of the research question. High, moderate and low quality evidence was all to be included as long as it still related to the effects of interventions. The main focus was to find information about how interventions affect outcomes, resources used, adverse effects and patient reported outcomes. We believed that by capturing this broad scope of research would give a better overall understanding of interventions and all have a bearing on how physiotherapy practice is implemented.

“The first stage in conducting a review is to define the purpose of the review, and to formulate the research questions. Poorly focused questions can produce a lacklustre review” (Aveyard, 2014, p.82). Hence, keeping this in mind, we have formulated a question about the effectiveness and efficiency of the provision of information contained within the scientific literature, and its impact on clinical practice changes. By defining our inclusion and exclusion criteria for different types of study and work, we were able to ensure that our review was focused on the topic of interest, and avoid being sidetracked.

We have followed the procedure suggested by Khan et al. (2003) and have carried out the following steps to conduct this review: a) Formulation of the research question b) Defined inclusion and exclusion criteria c) Identification of the relevant work d) Study quality assessment e) Data extraction f) Data synthesis.

4. Findings and Analysis

The effect of failure to publish research can be quite severe, as shown within medical sciences. Using the example that if a new drug treatment was invented, and testing was performed on this new treatment, yet results show no effective change from using it, and testing cost more than the drug itself, it would be assumed that testing was not performed and an attempt to endorse the drug would be made. This can often have disastrous effects and attempts to find information as to why changes which is not an effective treatment, are summed up by McCormick et al. who state: “A common reason for policy change that produces a failure in people’s welfare is the lack of knowledge” (McCormick et al., 1989). Yet the data for testing the drug and policy change is not effective would never be reached if it was not documented where it would be possible to trace back to research and investigations.

Science as an identified profession has been in existence for a long time, yet a new science bringing opposing consensus towards the effectiveness of the research, which aims to evaluate and judge the effectiveness of scientific research was termed ‘meta-science’. A significant issue when evaluating research and its effectiveness is that often not all research performed is known, which leads to the issue in contemporary times. This is for the most part due to failure to publish research due to whatever circumstances resulting in a lack of information into research.

The assigned task of investigating the importance of literature reviews of published research has been undertaken in order to depict this importance in publication on the effectiveness of scientific research.

5. Conclusion and Recommendations

In conclusion, I wish to reiterate that identifying, locating, and retrieving research data on a particular topic is an important skill for every academic and researcher. Acquiring effective skills in locating and retrieving information can be a time-consuming process with the potential for information overload. Improvement comes with practice and can be sped up with instruction from a skilled librarian. For health and safety scientists, however, using the internet to locate data should be approached with caution. Without access to evidence-based research literature, health and safety decisions may be based on biased findings, thus affecting an economy’s productivity due to unnecessary health and safety regulations, and even risking workers’ lives if the safety standards are incorrect. It is crucial that researchers regularly review the current state of knowledge to avoid these aforementioned problems. This is because the use of literature reviews will provide the researcher with a clear picture as to whether a particular piece of research will either contribute to the body of existing knowledge or simply is not necessary. By doing so, researchers can avoid wasting time and precious resources. Those with access to the best research literature in their work are more productive and their work has a greater impact. Policymakers, for example, will make better decisions if they can access research findings and the evidence behind them. Health professionals are more effective if they understand the evidence on which their practice is based. Workers can handle health and safety hazards if they understand the risks. Unfortunately, in many countries, including New Zealand, university graduates often leave the academic and research environments, lacking the skills and knowledge of how to work effectively with research literature. This is both a cultural and economic problem. Given the importance and potential impact of research literature on improving the health and safety of workers, it is crucial to develop effective skills in this area for health and safety scientists.

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