The Literature Review



hello I'm Lydia Sauvignon and this lecture is on writing a literature review there are three areas we are going to explore first we define what a literature review is secondly we look at how to organize a literature review and finally how do we go about writing the literature review what is a literature review as a name implies it is a review of all the literature done so far on your topic it is usually written as a separate chapter in thesis there are four things a literature review sets out to do and these are that it focuses on what has been researched before on your chosen topic then it highlights how your study will fill the current research gap thirdly it points out why it is necessary to conduct your research and finally it sets the boundaries for your study also known as the the limitations of the study an important element in the literature review is critical evaluation it is essential that you include a critical examination of the material you have read for this allows you to justify and show how your work is different and why it is necessary to conduct research however we will look at critical evaluation in detail a little later I want to briefly discuss scope and length as this is a common question asked so what is the scope and length for a literature review well initially you will be required to know a great deal about your topic especially for the PhD but you may not have to write everything you know about it so for the scope you may limit your review to include the current state of the theory but how far back should you go it really depends on the level of your research a rough guide is 10 years for a master's thesis for doctoral students more extensive investigation and going further back in time is required the length will vary and it is best to discuss this matter with your supervisor however avoid being too verbose in other words do not be too lengthy with your discussion your review must demonstrate your ability to synthesize a body of literature so it should be fairly brief but focused so what should be included in the review two things a summary of existing knowledge on your topic and a critical evaluation of these works initially you are examining the key research done on your topic basically the literature review seeks to answer the following questions what research has been done previously what have other said about this topic how is this research relevant to my study how is it different from my study do the results of the existing research agree with one another or is there disagreement are there flaws in the exist in literature always keep in mind that you are showing which gap in the literature your research will fill so how and where do you start with research history all research has a history that provides the precedent for further work this is the starting point for your research you need to decide which literature is most pertinent to your review conduct the library search both online and using hard copies survey university databases abstracts and indices in books it is advise that you make an appointment with a librarian for a research consultation prioritize your examination of material type in this order begin with articles in referee international journals the research published in these materials are recent and widely disseminated because they have been refereed experts in the field have provided its researchers with significant comments for improvement and fine tuning then proceed to books or chapters in edited books followed by articles in national refereed journals next our conference papers or research reports from government committees and professional organizations PhD dissertations and ma theses provide excellent material for your review as well finally peruse websites and articles in non refereed journals as you do your reading constantly check the course requirements and consult with your supervisor to ensure you are on the right track we now turn to organizing a literature review Davidson and tallish 1999 page 94 summarize a literature review as follows the goal of the library search is to assemble what other researchers have said about your topic of interest and to distinct this into a coherent statement this involves a long reading note-taking paraphrasing of arguments summarizing of the key findings and extracting the most critical quotes what you come up with at the end of all this should read much more like a short essay than simply a jumble of disordered notes as you would do for the essay the literature review should be well structured and we will get to this in a while it is best to ask your supervisor for the required format as this varies across disciplines synthesize the information in digital a cohesive whole by cohesive we mean that the ideas fit together clearly in a way that readers can easily follow in other words the ideas are arranged in a logical manner let's first look at the basic components in a literature review these are general background information theory review of the literature on the instruments and summary let's look at general background information initially introduce or discuss the topic key concepts and terms relevant to your study despite the scope and organization of your literature review then review past and present literature in relation to your research purpose and finally clarify the purpose study then outline relevant theories that impact your study even in groundbreaking research or new fields of research there must be some foundation about which your work rests you may find that not all literature relates directly to your topic but integrate key points from related studies and make the appropriate inferences whatever topics you include it must bear some relationship to your topic your literature review should also include a review of literature on the instruments as the phrase indicates review the literature of the instruments or measures you will use as part of your study you must present evidence that supports your choice of instrument over those not chosen include reliability and validity estimates and a description of samples that have received the instruments at the end of your literature review include a summary the summary is a clear and concise account of the current state of knowledge on your topic and the instruments use it should provide a sense that you have thoroughly examined the background to your study and thereby endorses a decision to research on your topic now that we know the basic components in the literature review let's look at how to organize the information first arrange your review by key themes or findings and use headings and subheadings let's look at this example broader communication issues likely causes of obesity proposed public policy changes to reduce obesity the literature review ends with a summary and then outlines the research aims under each heading there may be further subheadings let's look at the example further as we can see from the outline information from your sources are grouped in a logical order this will allow you to structure a coherent argument about the research done thus far in the process showing the gap or gaps in the literature and this in turn leads to your research question and provides justification for what your study should take place once you have organized your information into a logical order the next step is summarizing the information you have and synthesizing them let's look at how we summarize here is an example of a summarized work a study by Smith 1998 showed that gender differences exist online now this is too short a summary it does not give an indication of how or why the study was conducted a better summary is as follows Smith 1998 investigated the existence of gender differences in chatroom participation by measuring the proportion of responses made by male and female participants taking into account the amount of time spent accessing the chatroom findings showed that males were more likely than females to post messages 67% and 33% respectively this evidence supports the view and so on this example shows us how the researcher summarized existing work in summarizing we answer the following general questions how has a topic been studied what has been found which issues have the different authors highlighted as a result of their work how have the key terms or concepts been defined or used in summarizing other's works it is good to include some of the following features the participants characteristics and the criteria for their inclusion the sample size location of any type of study whether it was an experiment interview or survey the nature of the task what was done and details of tests used findings whether numerical and/or descriptive and how the findings relate to your research question however when summarizing the information make sure you also synthesize things but what does it mean to synthesize and how do we do this synthesizing means not just listing what the different researchers did and what their findings were rather identify the issues highlighted in the research and organize your literature review around these in line with the aims of your research you might also highlight differences in similarities in findings across the research and identify areas of consensus among researchers it is imperative that your voice guides the discussion summarizing existing research does not involve simply writing a separate summary paragraph on each word for instance if you read three separate research is done by three different authors for example Browne Smith and Aikens do not write a separate summary for each rather gather discussion by using your voice so showing how the studies relate to each other then showing how the research is linked to your own research project so for the research by Brown where is your voice here what is the point you are making about the topic in this paragraph which issue does the research highlight then where is your voice here in the research by Smith what is the relationship between Brown's research and Smith's research then again when you summarize the research of Eakins where is your voice here what is a relationship between Aikens research and that of brown and of Smith how are all these linked to your research question in this way your review is organized as an argument that flows in other words the information you have gathered from various sources is synthesized to form a coherent argument because your voice has guided the discussion here is an example of a literature review that synthesizes information from various sources the cause for concern lies in the fact that advertising targeting children is a high growth area as his children's buying power Eagle and the brain 2001 marketers target this youth market hoping to establish early trends of brand loyalty and influence parents buying decisions dubrow 2002 furthermore wilds children may influence their parents spending habits advertisers recognize that children also have their own money to spend Strassburger 2001 let's look at another example from the literature review and note how the writer synthesized and critiqued the existing information on the chosen target television advertising may influence children's nutrition practices particularly in regard to food requests purchases and sumption see for example Hutchings and Moynihan 1998 caught sand story 1994 Bor zekowski and Robinson 2001 story and Faulkner 1990 State the television exposure may impact on actual eating behavior similarly Coxon's story 1994 note that television is such a ubiquitous medium that it is difficult to measure its behavioural effects their report concluded that it was not possible to prove that food advertisements aimed at children cause poor eating habits whilst these and other such studies report a positive correlation between television viewing and food requests purchases and consumption there is limited conclusive evidence to support a direct cause-and-effect relationship between the messages portrayed and the actual eating patterns of children note how the first part of the paragraph summarized and synthesized the studies previously done then in the final sentence the writers voice came through as the works were redeemed in synthesizing information from sources you may use the following points as guide compare and contrast different authors views on an issue group authors who draw similar conclusions criticize aspects of methodology note areas in which authors are in disagreement highlight exemplary studies highlight gaps in research show how your study relates to previous studies show how your study relates to the literature in general conclude by summarizing what the literature says earlier I mentioned that it is essential that you also do a critical evaluation of the Meishan this in effect is critiquing the information you have it is the ability to point out strengths and weaknesses in previous research in relation to your research topic it is moving beyond a mere description of the research towards analysis and evaluation aside from your own critique you may also use other writers critiques in your discussion so how do we critically evaluate existing knowledge first move beyond description towards analysis and critique as I mentioned previously have a look at this example Smith and Jones 2004 analyzed the content of advertisements on music and television during a one week period between the hours of 3:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. with the intention of examining the nutritional quality of food in television food advertisements targeted at children they found that the majority of the food advertisements analyzed were for foods that were high in fat sugars and sodium this is a description only of the study conducted by Smith and Jones you should be able to show the strengths and or weaknesses of this study in relation to your research and what gap or gaps in current knowledge such a study has not filled so you would follow the description with the following statements the study provides a basis for comparing advertising patterns over time however it does not include any discussion of eating situations or eating behavior as shown in the advertisements this critical analysis checklist may help with your evaluation what is the main idea the writer is putting forward use abstracts and introductions to help you what are the main points made to develop the idea pick out the main elements of the argument in the text what kind of evidence is provided to support the points what is the quality of this evidence do you agree with the writers conclusion or conclusions was it text written in response to another text what is the underlying theory does it develop a previous model further does it provide an entirely new model what are the strengths and weaknesses of the model in relation to your research what are the strengths and limitations of the study in relation to your research other factors to consider our sample size research design measures used biases extraneous or confounding variables designing a checklist will help you in evaluating written material and ensure consistency in your discussion it also reduces your own biases another way to evaluate previous work is to do a methodological critique look at the methodology used and consider for instance sample size randomized trials reliability of the control group and validity for instance you may ask if there is a lack of alternative methodologies used to understand the issue at hand we are now ready to write one organize your literature around topics or themes you can write about to choose headings to define each topic category and subcategories three at this stage do not be concerned with the overall picture of how topics will link for be concerned about covering all issues ideas boundaries relevant areas or dimensions in presenting information and analysis a range of formats can be used the most common is route text however you may also use tables charts and diagrams also examine other literature reviews to give you a better idea create templates according to the requirements of your course when it comes to the presentation and referencing of text tables and diagrams and in-text references to text tables and diagrams in closing here are just a few reminders for finding and storing your notes make sure you have easy access to your documents establish clear filing system and maintain that system keep detailed records of the source of the information store your details in APA format note which are your exact words and which are your summaries also note H numbers we are necessary don't forget to save your work frequently print multiple copies and save multiple copies so what have we covered in this lecture first we have defined what a literature review is second we look at how to organize in the tritscher review and finally we look at some tips in writing the literature review I hope this lecture has helped you gain a better understanding of what a literature review is all about you you

40 thoughts on “The Literature Review

  1. wonderful presentation…I was wondering if you could visit us at KENYATTA UNIVERSITY, NAIROBI, KENYA. AT ANY COST.

  2. excellent presentation, thank you so much. it helped me a lot

  3. Thanks! Very clear and well structured presentation. It helps me a lot.

  4. Thank you very much. This was very informative and educative. I'm very new to academic writing, I'm wrking and hoping for the best. Thank you.

  5. While writing a literature review we can easily to fall into the trap of using clichés. When you're preparing theoretical and methodological contributions to a chosen area of study there are a phrases/ idioms/ metaphors that are repeated over and over very often. In order to create a top-quality review, you need not only follow the proper structure and format within your writing but also make sure to avoid commonly used clichés. You can get some useful advice on cliché free writing through this article – https://bit.ly/2wrNu2n."

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  7. thank you Dr Lilia … if you make a more favour and send me the presentation … i will be very thankful to you.

  8. Very nice and clear lecture about literature review: Thank you mam

  9. Thank you very much. You have made incredible presentation that put all necessary details in the logical order that is easy to understand and follow. Thanks once again.

  10. In a nutshell, unarguably the BEST LECTURE on Literature Review on Youtube. Clear,concise,detailed, narrators pace ok. l award 5 stars to you.

  11. I don't think there is a more comprehensive video on YouTube about the lit. review as this video! But if you are looking for more help with the research paper sections, specifically the title, check out this step-by-step video we made recently: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fl1q-I3bE0c

  12. Awesome!!!!!
    You sure deserve my Thumbs Up!!!!
    Have a nice day!!!

  13. Fantastic. Still apt 7/10 years after. Kudos to Massey University for the loaded package and to Dr. Lilia for a smooth presentation.

  14. I this lady is one of the best presenters… have watched a couple of her videos, but I must admit that I find them quite useful. Thank you Dr Lilia!

  15. is this literature review done for the purpose of continuing to do more research?

  16. Very Informative Dr Lilia. Thanks for unmasking what literature review is and painting a vivid picture of how to write it. Thanks a million times

  17. Related to masters dissertation writing. excellent presentation.

  18. Informative, specific and practical guidance. Excellent video. Thank you.

  19. It has been wonderful watching this lecture and found it very useful.thank you very much Massey University.

  20. thank you so much and after 7 years i need this knowledge for my 16 class

  21. literture reviw write from other articles literture reviews??????

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