Writing a literature review: getting it together

Ngày đăng: 08/05/2015

Writing a literature  review: getting it together

A literature  review makes  statements   about the areas and problems already studied by other researchers  in your proposed  area of study.

What is a literaturereview?.

A literature  review answers  these  questions: What  research  did this researcher  carry out? What was the outcome  of this research?.

A literature  review  evaluates  books and journal articles  already  published  on the topic that you propose  to study further.

It is often part of your introduction.   It sets out the main points, findings  and evaluations researchers  have already  made in your proposed  area of study.

The  review  examines  literature  previously  written on your topic –  usually  in chronological   order.   It is a historical  record of previous  research  anddetails  when the research was carried  out, what the research  found and evaluates  the findings. The  review also comments  on the journal article’s  strengths  and weaknesses.

To save time and energy,  it is important  to focus on articles  published  in your particular  area of study.

What does a literaturereview do?

•           It provides  a time-line  of events  and allows  readers  to find out what has already  been written  on your topic of interest.

•           It provides  a ‘starting  point’ for your own research.

•           It supplies  you,  and your reader, with a summary  of previous  research,  directly related to your own proposed  work, complete  with its strengths  and weaknesses.

•           It operates  as a guide and/or  a mind map for your own work.

•           It provides  an overall  picture  of what research  has been previously  undertaken and where  the future  may lie.

•           It allows  you to research,  examine, analyse  and evaluate  the research undertaken  by experts  in your field in order to fill in the gaps or discrepancies found  in their work.

Above  all, a literature  review gives the writer direction.

Quick  tips  on reviewing  literature:

•     Scan the journal article abstract to see if it is relevant to your work.  Make a note of the findings and conclusions.

•     If the article is relevant, critically analyse, evaluate and document the findings in a few short sentences.

Begin writing:

Write in date order with the oldest research first: For example:

•     In 1990, Smith (1992) found that…

•     In 1996, Williams discovered …

•     Since 2003, Roberts (2003) and Mazza (2004) have found that … and agreed that the situation impacts on…

When you reach the most up-to-date research, and the closest to beginning your own research, you will need a lead-in  sentence to connect the old with the new.

It is imperative that a lead-in sentence connects past findings with your own proposed line of research.

This lead-in connecting sentence is followed by a specific proposition or thesis statement. The lead-in sentence acts as a separation point between the old research and the new. The proposition focuses the reader on the future.

Possible lead-in sentences:

•       Therefore, it can be seen that this study

•       It can be argued/seen that research in the area of does not consider issues such as …..

•       Consequently, further research is needed in the areas of. ….

Propositionor thesisstatement:

This statement must be very clear as it sets out the direction your thesis will take.  Specify your topic argument, what you propose to do,  and why, so you and your reader will know exactly what will be argued.

Think of your work as two inverted triangles with a lead-in sentence connecting the two.

  lead in sentence

The first triangle illustrates others’ researched work and findings – a lead-in sentence ties their work with yours – and the second triangle demonstrates your further research and analytical work on the topic.

The review is then complete: past,  present and future come together as a seamless whole.

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