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The Literature Review

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Ben Martin

on 16 September 2016

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Transcript of The Literature Review

Finding Relevant Literature



How much to look at?

How far to go back?

Where to look?

There's too much!!!!
Discuss the Following Statements:
A Literature Review is pretty much the same as an Annotated Bibliography
The Literature Review
ASP Dissertation Workshop

Structure isn't as important in the Literature Review. The main thing is to get all the relevant ideas in there.
You should include as much literature as possible in your Lit. Review to show how much you have read.
The purpose of a Literature Review is to show that you understand all the relevant research around your topic.
No. In an annotated Bibliography you simply list all the texts and give a brief review, stating their usefulness to your project. The Literature review is a more in-depth analysis of the current academic 'conversation' around your subject. You need to show that you understand this conversation and have something to contribute.
My own ideas aren't important in a Literature Review.
Wrong! Structure is extremely important in the Literature Review! In fact, a good L.R should read like an essay in itself, with its own introduction, development of arguments and conclusion.
While your Literature Review should demonstrate wide reading in your subject area you should not try and include everything you have read. Instead, your Lit. Review should be limited in its scope, with select, relevant information to your chosen question.
Yes, but in most cases you will need to go further than this. The purpose of your Literature review is to show how and why your chosen research area is important. You need to 'find the gaps' and show how your research fills these gaps.
Your own ideas should be the central focus of the Literature Review. The research question you are trying to justify should be behind everything you do. You will need to critique and even argue with other academics in your field in order to successfully convince a reader why your research question is important.
So to sum up...
A Literature Review is your chance to justify your research question. By analyzing, critiquing and synthesizing the literature you have read, you can prove that your dissertation is going to discover, prove, or investigate something that has not been done before and contribute to the wider academic conversation in your field.
Your Problems
http://scholar.google.co.uk/
Search your topic by keyword. See how many citations each scholar has. Find the 'big players' in your field.
Go back to the Library!
As you read:
Ask the following questions:

What is the main idea?
What points are used to develop this idea?
What evidence have they used?
Is there backing or support for the claims being made?
Do you agree?
What are the strengths and weaknesses of this study?
Do other authors challenge or agree?
What methods were used?
How is it relevant to my topic / research question?

It should be:
Focused

Structured

Discerning

Constructively Critical

Accurately referenced

Clear and reader friendly

Informative

Convincingly argued

Balanced
A useful tip courtesy of Google:
Create a Spreadsheet:
Putting
It
all
To
ge
ther
Synthesize
Organise your Literature Review by Issue, not by book.

Move logically through the issues like you would in any other essay.

Ways to organize could include:

Sequence
Topic
Method
Similarities/contrast in theory
Here are your notes for 3 of the texts you read about obesity in pets. How could you synthesize these into a coherent paragraph?
Most academics in the field agree that the average pet is getting fatter, though opinions as to the reason why vary greatly. A 5-year, London-based study by Brown and White (2013) put the reason down to more and more dogs living in built up areas. Francis (2012) also cited the urbanisation of the modern pet as a reason for increasing obesity levels, though he also hypothesises that diet has a large part to play. This ties in with the theories of Mitchell (2011), who noticed a dramatic difference in the diet of the average dog between now and twenty years ago.
Notes -

Starts with a general statement that ties it all together
Uses different verbs to acknowledge the sources (states, cites....as the reason, hypothesises etc.)
Moves easily between ideas by finding a common link (in this case by putting the source who agrees with both others in the middle)

But......

What's missing????
Criticize!!!
So far the writer has only summed up the findings of others' research. The next stage is to criticize the work and tie it back to your own ideas.
Areas you could focus on include:

Methods
Sample size
Location,
Writer's bias

For example....
How valid any of these studies are, however, should certainly be questioned. The study by Brown and White focused solely on dogs in London, and therefore cannot be considered an accurate reflection of the country as a whole. A 5 year period also seems like far too short a time to draw any effective conclusions. Mitchell's study was taken over a much longer, 20 year, period but it should not be forgotten that his study was funded by the UK's second largest pet food manufacturer. When one considers as well that Francis' study was focused specifically on dogs within urban England, then it appears that very little work has been done to address the issue of obesity within working, country dogs, which seems to stem from much less obvious causes.
A Guideline for Structure:

Introduction:
Statement of purpose - what is the question that you are setting out to answer?

Justify your question - why is it important and how will it contribute to the 'conversation' in your field?

Scope of your review - the range of the literature reviewed and why

Limitations of your review

Signposting - map out how you will discuss the texts
Main Body:
Introduce the texts

The main 'conversation' and claims that are relevant to your research

Evaluation of the claims, including an analysis of the methods and giving any argument/counter evidence

Conclusion
Final summary of gaps in research

Remind reader of your question and lead into your own research.
Below are some sentences taken from the Literature Review from a dissertation about second language learning.Match the sentences to the corresponding sections of the Literature Review:
"Like Jones, Nussbaum (2008) was interested in the first year of language learning, making this comparative study particularly relevant to the present research question."

"For clarity, the main texts under scrutiny are first introduced and the basic claims about noun gender learning are compared."
"All three texts just described propose that the age of learning plays a part, though Jennings (2003) identification of gender as difficult for children somewhat contradicts this."
"There is evidently still much scope for research into these questions and carefully controlled, longitudinal studies, though difficult to conduct, would be of particular benefit."
"All of these studies, it might be argued, demonstrate a vested interest in a particular methodology. "
"This review aims to shed light on why noun genders are so difficult for adult learners of German to master and to consider how noun gender teaching might be improved. "
"Like Jones, Nussbaum (2008) was interested in the first year of language learning, making this comparative study particularly relevant to the present research question."

"For clarity, the main texts under scrutiny are first introduced and the basic claims about noun gender learning are compared."
"All three texts just described propose that the age of learning plays a part, though Jennings (2003) identification of gender as difficult for children somewhat contradicts this."
"There is evidently still much scope for research into these questions and carefully controlled, longitudinal studies, though difficult to conduct, would be of particular benefit."
"All of these studies, it might be argued, demonstrate a vested interest in a particular methodology. "
"This review aims to shed light on why noun genders are so difficult for adult learners of German to master and to consider how noun gender teaching might be improved. "
Main body: Introduction to texts:
Introduction: Signposting
Main body: Main claims of the texts
Conclusion: Justifying need for study
Main body: evaluation and criticism of the claims.
Introduction: Statement of purpose
Time to write....
"There is evidently still much scope for research into these questions and carefully controlled, longitudinal studies, though difficult to conduct,
would be of particular benefit.
"
"All of these studies,
it might be argued
, demonstrate a vested interest in a particular methodology. "
"For clarity, the main texts under scrutiny
are first introduced
and the basic claims about noun gender learning
are compared.
"
"Meanwhile, Nussbaum's (1998) contribution to answering this question is to note that....
The highlighted sections of text are all examples of good writing practice for a Literature Review. Why?
Authority. The writer is confident and convincing in her argument.
Tentative language. The writer does not dismiss the opinions of others, and people cannot directly say she is wrong
Correctly formal - use of passive tense where appropriate
A range of language used to cite and acknowledge sources.
Suggested solutions:

Limit the scope of your Lit review. You won't cover all the research but having a specific question that you want to find an answer to will help you focus on the most relevant Literature.

Go as far back as is considered 'current' in your field. (Usually between 3 - 10 years for a Masters)

The following places (listed in order of usefulness) are where you should find the majority of your information:

Recent journals

Edited books

Past MA and PhD Theses

Internet Searches


Still feeling overwhelmed?





Common Errors
Review isn’t logically organized.
Review isn’t focused on most important facets of the study.
Review doesn’t relate literature to the study.
Too few references or outdated references cited.
Review isn’t written in author’s own words.
Review reads like a series of disjointed summaries.
Review doesn’t argue a point.
Recent references are omitted.

Activity
1. Read the paragraphs
2. What is the content? Descriptive or analytical?
3. What is the main idea/theme of each article?
4. How would you order the paragraphs?
5. How would you join the paragraphs up? What would you need to add to the paragraphs to make the flow more coherent?

Introductory paragraph
Conclusion



Topic of paragraphs

1 - No link between CEO duality and a firm's performance
2 - Stewardship theory - the advantages of CEO duality
3 - Agency theory - the negatives of CEO duality

LOGICAL ORDER - PROGRESSION
3 > 2 > 1

Add introductory sentences, concluding sentences , linking devices and short transition paragraphs to help the flow of ideas
Full transcript