what is the purpose of a literature review

what is the purpose of a literature review

The Importance of Literature Reviews in Research

1. Introduction

Literature reviews are an important part of research and are discussed in many meta-analyses. Now that these publications are available online to anyone who wants to read them, it is important to examine how researchers conduct these reviews. There is a barrage of collaborative and individual initiatives to develop systematic approaches to reviews. This essay concerns the use of computer software to conduct literature reviews and identify a few points regarding the use of computer software. Though there are several kinds and uses of computer software for reviews, such as ethnographic data management and software-assisted data analysis, the focus here is on computer software that is used to search the literature and review the developed data. A common term in many of the software’s functions is the use of ‘coding’ wherein the researcher can attach a qualitative code label to a span of text relating to the theme of the article. This feature is especially useful for those doing literature reviews in that the coded excerpts can be a stir stick to the beach of articles found on an internet search and the link or copy of the actual text is not easily accessible. This forces the researcher to go back to the original article to see the context of the excerpt and not just the simple downloading of articles to be later put into a pile of to-read. Another way to code can be the use a create a category based on excerpts that will accrue several codes (or attachments) to different portions of text. An example can be a literature review on medical treatments where a category could be is Drug X more effective than the other drugs and the code it is testing versus the other drugs to see if patients want and example is attached to the data on drug compared to be better than article on data about the other drug. This on-article data storage can steer the computer software literature reviews closer to using primary data for article analysis as a growing trend in research is to bypass datasheets and go directly to the use of computer software. With respect to this on-data storage trend, researchers can store literature review data in a computer software file that may be later used or modified for publication. A great example of the amount of publicity for meta-analyses is the Cochrane collaboration which has made a database of systematic literature reviews available on the internet. The accessibility of literature review data has presented a potential transition from a traditional narrative article to a database-compatible article and use of computer software data could make a meta-analysis closer to a primary data study by using the data on the study to acquire further information from article authors.

2. Definition and Purpose of a Literature Review

A literature review discusses published information in a particular subject area, and sometimes information in a particular subject area within a certain time period. A literature review can be just a simple summary of the sources, but it usually has an organizational pattern and combines both summary and synthesis. A summary is a recap of the important information of the source, but a synthesis is a reorganization, or a reshuffling, of that information in a way that informs how you are planning to investigate a research problem. The analytical features of a literature review might: – It creates groups of sources which are similar in their findings, and others in which they differ. – It combines the summary and the assessment of the source, and compares the source with other sources that have conflicting viewpoints. – It analyzes sources to identify the strengths and weaknesses of their research before your own research begins.

3. Benefits of Conducting a Literature Review

One of the greatest advantages of the published sources is that the material is archived and indexed, so it is usually possible to search for previous literature on a topic to find out what has been written. This method involves using databases to search for literature on a topic. Databases are collections of data or information which can be searched, sorted, and retrieved. EBSCOhost articles are available in full text, with most of these being in PDF format. This format of the literature makes it easier to read, and many consider this to be the closest thing to reading articles off of paper. Online journals are also very rewarding, as one can email authors and receive an email response. If there is no reply, one could still add the authors to his/her knowledge source for the next topic. The quality and quantity of the subject matter available also varies from search to search. By evaluating these materials, one can further decide if the literature is worth further exploration or if it can be absolute rubbish to avoid wasting time and energy. Now, many journals are coming up with the newer issues, as literature review is the backbone for research. Reviewing articles simplifies work and makes note-making a lot easier than it would be reading through the article in a magazine. Nowadays, there are many instruction manuals for a particular guide and self-study materials employing some old research papers. It becomes increasingly necessary to establish the knowledge for the particular topic and decide whether the subject matter has been covered already and what the future perspectives are in this area. The next benefit that comes from conducting the review is one can add his own viewpoint and validate his argument to build new theories and concepts or modify existing ones. This is also a stepping stone for future research, since having evaluated what has already been done in comparison to the available knowledge, one can directly approach solving problems with the right methodology. The credibility of the sources evaluated by the researcher needs to be high, and it is often easier to jot down a summarized report with a visual idea of the available literature so that it is not lost in memory. This method also helps one in reaching an informed decision mastered by consensus. After all, it is better to be well informed about something. Last but not least, the personal satisfaction gained from knowing one has evaluated and understood something very thoroughly.

4. Steps to Conducting a Literature Review

01 Start with the question on the top of your head. Begin with your research question in mind. All research articles and reports should be relevant to your research question. Although it may be tempting at this stage to perform an initial Google search entering keywords into a database, it is important at this stage to focus your question. Write it down and consider what are the concepts related to your question. What synonyms are there for these concepts? Start devising a simple search strategy, e.g. what would you type into a search engine.

There are many approaches to organizing the body of a literature review. You should have a rough idea of your strategy before you start writing. Depending on the length of your literature review, you can combine several of these strategies. For example, your overall structure might be thematic, but each theme is discussed chronologically. Another approach is to organize your review by subtopics or variables, while making clear what each research article is contributing to your understanding of the topic. Finally, each of the steps should be considered in the undertaking of a literature review. This article follows the SPIDER framework as an organizational tool. The SPIDER framework is recommended in a reader on speaking of the steps to conducting a literature review. The author is from the National Centre for Research Methods Role and the reader is aimed at students and early career researchers.

5. Conclusion

A well-constructed literature review is a significant and up-to-date overview of established research in a specific area. The quality of the review depends on the comprehensiveness of the work done by the author and their access to and thoughtful judgment of information revealed in the search process. This paper aims to provide a resource for conducting appropriate and comprehensive literature reviews to support evidence-based primary research. It presents a distillation of the process from a well-conducted and reported systematic review and meta-analysis. We provide an approach to searching and resources to facilitate the steps in the review process that are specific to literature reviews. This paper is primarily intended for public health researchers but is also relevant to health services and biomedical researchers who come across these types of reviews. We do not directly assess the quality of research because it is a separate topic beyond the scope of this paper. However, it is important to remember that the quality of primary studies reviewed is still a key element in the review process and is usually addressed in some manner with specific assessment or implicit judgment. The intended outputs of a literature review are key statements derived from selected articles and studies. These statements provide the stepping stones for the development of research hypotheses. With a well-formulated question, these statements also assist the inquirer in defining the scope of the review. These key statements should convey the direction and purpose of the research. Thus, a literature review justifies the need for the respective study. With systematic reviews becoming more prevalent, the need for literature review methodology has also emerged. The statement justifying the need for the study should be a crafted question that expresses the totality of the research (i.e., in the PICO format). Formulating simple questions improves the ability of the review to facilitate change and further clarifies methods to make a mere idea effective.

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