Literature Review Definition

The definition of a literature review can vary, but it generally means an overview of what has been written about a particular academic research topic.

Literature reviews are often used to provide context for future research or as summaries for those who have not been able to access the original sources. They may also be compiled into books on specific topics, such as feminist theories in psychology.

It’s important to note that while this type of writing offers insight into related topics and possible ideas for new research, it does not present new data. When writing a literature review, it’s important to remember the difference between original research and secondary sources.

Original research involves developing your own theory or hypothesis and testing it with empirical evidence.

Secondary sources include articles, books, journals, etc., which give insight into other researchers’ perspectives.

For example, if you’re researching marriage and divorce rates in America over the last 30 years, you might start by reading relevant studies from leading journals to get a better understanding of their findings before attempting your own study.

In doing so, you’ll likely find common themes, gaps in existing research, and unanswered questions – all of which could help inform your own work.

Why do I need a literature review ?

A literature review surveys scholarly articles, books, and other sources relevant to a particular issue, area of research, or theory, and by so doing, it provides a description, summary, and critical evaluation of these works in relation to the research problem being investigated.

Literature reviews are designed to provide an overview of sources you have explored while researching a particular topic and to demonstrate to your readers how your research fits within a larger field of study. It can be used as evidence for the methodology employed for a research project.

It also helps establish what you know about the subject at hand and what areas need more exploration. While a standard paper should present new knowledge and analysis, the purpose of a literature review is to show that there has been previous work done on this subject.

Your literature review should not only summarize the sources you have read but evaluate them critically.

Reviewing recent scholarship shows the reader that they are up-to-date on current thinking and challenges them to question whether their arguments or conclusions differ significantly from others in the field.

What is the purpose/goals of a literature review?

A literature review serves the following purposes:

1) It allows you to engage in critical thinking and provide a detailed summary of what has been written about your topic, as well as why and how it was written.

2) A literature review familiarizes you with your topic, providing you with an overview of your chosen field.

3) It demonstrates that you are knowledgeable on a topic and allows others to assess your work later in your career.

4) A review of the literature allows you to choose which sources to reference in your research paper or thesis based on their relevance, impact, and authority.

5) Reviewing the literature ideas for future research topics if there is something missing from the current body of knowledge within your discipline or field

What is literature review in research methodology ?

A literature review is a valuable exercise because it assists the researcher in identifying limitations of past research, methodological flaws, and unexplored avenues worth pursuing. Literature reviews are often published independently as standalone documents, or they may be compiled into books devoted to specific topics.

They serve as a way for other scholars to quickly become familiar with emerging trends and ongoing debates within an academic discipline. In research methodology, a literature review is a key element in establishing one’s credentials as an expert on a particular topic.

It demonstrates that you have engaged with the most influential sources available and that you are familiar with what others think about the material you are studying.

You want to show that you are qualified to speak authoritatively on a subject. You also want to show that you’ve spent time exploring different viewpoints and considered different points of view.

That’s why it’s always good to explore a variety of opinions, including those you disagree with. This will allow you to clearly explain why some interpretations are better than others and where the conflict exists among experts.

Types of literature reviews

There are 4 types of literature review; narrative, systematic, meta-analysis, and meta-synthesis.

A meta-analysis uses quantitative methods (statistics) to analyze data gathered from primary studies. This approach uses statistical techniques such as regression, meta-regression, and path analysis (for assessing causal relationships). Meta-analyses examine patterns across many studies instead of just focusing on individual studies.

Quantitative researchers use this technique when they believe the results of their own single study are representative enough to predict broader findings. The goal is to determine a consensus across multiple studies—something more definitive than any single study could offer alone.

A narrative literature review focuses on documenting and analyzing how the question at hand has been addressed by previous researchers.

Systematic literature reviews combine various features of both narrative and meta-synthesis approaches to systematically identify relevant studies, collect data, synthesize information, and draw conclusions.

Meta-synthesis is a process of combining the findings of similar studies to summarize a body of literature. This is typically done using qualitative techniques, such as coding and thematic analysis. Meta-synthesis is best used when you are not sure whether the differences between your results and those found in other studies are due to variability in participants, differences in methodologies, or actual differences between populations.

Sample of literature review outline

The standard literature outline should include a background, the problem, the research question, research design, and discussion. Here is a sample of the literature review outline :
Topic – What is the role of disruptive technologies in business?

Background- This is the rationale of the research.

Problem – One of the most significant risks that businesses face is a potential disruption in their competitive position caused by an innovator with disruptive technology.

Research Question- Does the introduction of new and more sophisticated technologies for processing and storing information reduce the potential for disruptive innovation?

Research Design- A longitudinal research study is required to test for the effects of IT investments on disruption. Such a research project should measure three variables – (1) investment in IT, (2) rate of innovation, and (3) degree of uncertainty.

Discussion- Here discuss the impact of the research.

Conclusion- This study concludes that higher levels of IT investments lead to a lower risk of disruptions, while low levels of IT investments are associated with high risk.

Sample of literature review pdf

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