Step Four: Code the literature: Get out a pair of scissors and cut each excerpt out. Now, sort the pieces of paper into similar topics. Figure out what the main themes are. Place each excerpt into a themed pile. Make sure each note goes into a pile.
When you finish, place each stack of notes into an envelope labeled with the name of the theme. Print this out, and cut the titles into individual slips of paper. Take the slips of paper to a table or large workspace and figure out the best way to organize them. Are there ideas that go together or that are in dialogue with each other? Are there ideas that contradict each other? Move around the slips of paper until you come up with a way of organizing the codes that makes sense.
Take notes: Decide on the format in which you will take notes as you read the articles as mentioned above, you can do this in RefWorks. You can also do this using a Word Processor, or a concept mapping program like Inspiration free 30 trial download , a data base program e. Access or File Maker Pro , in an Excel spreadsheet, or the "old-fashioned" way of using note cards. Be consistent in how you record notes. Define key terms: look for differences in the way keys terms are defined note these differences.
Note key statistics that you may want to use in the introduction to your review. Select useful quotes that you may want to include in your review. Important: If you copy the exact words from an article, be sure to cite the page number as you will need this should you decide to use the quote when you write your review as direct quotes must always be accompanied by page references.
Note: although you may collect a large number of quotes during the note taking phase of your review, when you write the review, use quotes very sparingly. The rule I follow is to quote only when some key meaning would be lost in translation if I were to paraphrase the original author's words, or if using the original words adds special emphasis to a point that I am making.
Your role as a reviewer is to evaluate what you read, so that your review is not a mere description of different articles, but rather a critical analysis that makes sense of the collection of articles that you are reviewing.
Critique the research methodologies used in the studies, and distinguish between assertions the author's opinion and actual research findings derived from empirical evidence. Identify major trends or patterns: As you read a range of articles on your topic, you should make note of trends and patterns over time as reported in the literature. This step requires you to synthesize and make sense of what you read, since these patterns and trends may not be spelled out in the literature, but rather become apparent to you as you review the big picture that has emerged over time.
Your analysis can make generalizations across a majority of studies, but should also note inconsistencies across studies and over time. Identify gaps in the literature, and reflect on why these might exist based on the understandings that you have gained by reading literature in this field of study.
These gaps will be important for you to address as you plan and write your review. Use Evidence A literature review section is, in this sense, just like any other academic research paper.
Your interpretation of the available sources must be backed up with evidence [citations] that demonstrates that what you are saying is valid. Be Selective Select only the most important points in each source to highlight in the review. The type of information you choose to mention should relate directly to the research problem, whether it is thematic, methodological, or chronological.
Related items that provide additional information but that are not key to understanding the research problem can be included in a list of further readings. Use Quotes Sparingly Some short quotes are okay if you want to emphasize a point, or if what an author stated cannot be easily paraphrased. Sometimes you may need to quote certain terminology that was coined by the author, not common knowledge, or taken directly from the study. Do not use extensive quotes as a substitute for your own summary and interpretation of the literature.
Summarize and Synthesize Remember to summarize and synthesize your sources within each thematic paragraph as well as throughout the review. Recapitulate important features of a research study, but then synthesize it by rephrasing the study's significance and relating it to your own work. Keep Your Own Voice While the literature review presents others' ideas, your voice [the writer's] should remain front and center.
For example, weave references to other sources into what you are writing but maintain your own voice by starting and ending the paragraph with your own ideas and wording. Use Caution When Paraphrasing When paraphrasing a source that is not your own, be sure to represent the author's information or opinions accurately and in your own words.
Common Mistakes to Avoid These are the most common mistakes made in reviewing social science research literature. Sources in your literature review do not clearly relate to the research problem; You do not take sufficient time to define and identify the most relevent sources to use in the literature review related to the research problem; Relies exclusively on secondary analytical sources rather than including relevant primary research studies or data; Uncritically accepts another researcher's findings and interpretations as valid, rather than examining critically all aspects of the research design and analysis; Does not describe the search procedures that were used in identifying the literature to review; Reports isolated statistical results rather than synthesizing them in chi-squared or meta-analytic methods; and, Only includes research that validates assumptions and does not consider contrary findings and alternative interpretations found in the literature.
Cook, Kathleen E. Online Writing Center. Liberty University; Literature Reviews. The Writing Center. University College Writing Centre. University of Toronto; Writing a Literature Review. Academic Skills Centre. University of Canberra. Thinking interdisciplinarily about a research problem can be a rewarding exercise in applying new ideas, theories, or concepts to an old problem. For example, what might cultural anthropologists say about the continuing conflict in the Middle East?
In what ways might geographers view the need for better distribution of social service agencies in large cities than how social workers might study the issue? However, particularly in the social sciences, thinking about research problems from multiple vectors is a key strategy for finding new solutions to a problem or gaining a new perspective. Consult with a librarian about identifying research databases in other disciplines; almost every field of study has at least one comprehensive database devoted to indexing its research literature.
Frodeman, Robert. The Oxford Handbook of Interdisciplinarity. New York: Oxford University Press, While conducting a review of the literature, maximize the time you devote to writing this part of your paper by thinking broadly about what you should be looking for and evaluating.
Review not just what scholars are saying, but how are they saying it. Some questions to ask: How are they organizing their ideas? What methods have they used to study the problem? What theories have been used to explain, predict, or understand their research problem?
What sources have they cited to support their conclusions? How have they used non-textual elements [e. When you begin to write your literature review section, you'll be glad you dug deeper into how the research was designed and constructed because it establishes a means for developing more substantial analysis and interpretation of the research problem.
Read and evaluate the sources and to determine their suitability to the understanding of topic at hand see the Evaluating sources section. Analyse, interpret and discuss the findings and conclusions of the sources you selected. Evaluating sources In assessing each source, consideration should be given to: What is the author's expertise in this particular field of study credentials? Are the author's arguments supported by empirical evidence e.
Is the author's perspective too biased in one direction or are opposing studies and viewpoints also considered?Reveal any gaps that exist in the literature. At undergraduate level literature reviews can be a separate stand alone assessment. Should you summarize, synthesize, or critique your sources by discussing a common theme or issue? This approach should only be followed if a clear path of research building on previous research can be identified and that these trends follow a clear chronological order of development. You can find the contact details for the Information Librarian for your own area via the Library web pages. Typically a Pldt business plan 3mbps will cover the last five years, but should also refer to any landmark studies prior to this time if they have significance in writing the direction of the field. Like essays, a literature review must have an project, on this, rather than drifting into one or the. It is a good idea to decide your strategy a body and a review. However, progression of time may still be an important literature in a thematic review.
But how is a literature review different from an academic research paper?
Discussion of both the distinctiveness of each source and its similarities with the others. At undergraduate level literature reviews can be a separate stand alone assessment. In what ways might geographers view the need for better distribution of social service agencies in large cities than how social workers might study the issue? If you include studies prior to the past five years that are not landmark studies, you should defend why you have chosen these rather than more current ones. You may reproduce it for non-commercial use if you use the entire handout and attribute the source: The Writing Center, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Given this, while literature reviews are designed to provide an overview and synthesis of pertinent sources you have explored, there are a number of approaches you could adopt depending upon the type of analysis underpinning your study. They will ask questions such as: What research question s are you asking?
These details will save you time later. You may also want to make a clear decision about whether to start with a very narrow focus and work outwards, or to start wide before focussing in. Your department will have its own guidance. Step 5: Summarize the literature in table or concept map format Galvan recommends building tables as a key way to help you overview, organize, and summarize your findings, and suggests that including one or more of the tables that you create may be helpful in your literature review. Look at sources the authors cite to in their work. Or the review might focus on the fundraising impact of the Internet on a particular political party.
Literature reviews are a basis for research in nearly every academic field.
Are there any gaps in the literature that require further study?
Ways of finding relevant material Electronic sources Searching electronic databases is probably the quickest way to access a lot of material.