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Research Support: Doing a literature review

Outlines services for postrgaduate researchers

Literature review

A literature review is usually a major part of most subject’s assignments it can either be an assignment in itself or be part of a full research project.

What is a literature review

A literature review is when the student or researcher studies in depth the previous studies that have been done in their field of study or relating to the topic they have chosen. It usually involves linking previous studies together to form concepts and be able to comment on the state of research around the field. The purpose behind doing this is that by fully showcasing the field the researcher can show where there research fits in and what new finding they will contribute to the field and knowledge in order to improve the state of knowledge. (Bryman, 2016, Rocco and Plakhotnik, 2009) A way to sum this up is to state that it is about finding the gap where your research fits in.

Bryman, A. (2016).  Social research methods. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

 Rocco, T. S. and Plakhotnik, M. S. (2009). Literature reviews, conceptual frameworks, and theoretical frameworks: Terms, functions, and distinctions. Human Resource Development Review, 8(1).

Types of literature reviews

Integrated means that the literature review is not standalone but is embedded in another assignment, the most obvious being a thesis or a research project. It is similar to the standalone in most ways but the main difference is, rather than stating possible avenues for future research, you link the review to your original project and showcase how your work improves the knowledge base and where it fills the gaps. 

A systematic review is a literature review is undertaken in a systematic, scientific way. This usually involves creating a research methodology of how searching is to be done in a systematic and repeatable way. The main idea behind it is to find as many relevant research articles as possible within the chosen selection criteria. The articles are then critically analysed and the results as a whole are analysed showcasing the effect of a variable overall, this is for quantitative reviews. In qualitative reviews, themes and results around a topic are showcased. This thorough analysis is then used to state overall in what ways the field can be improved and what are the next steps. Systematic reviews usually take a long time to conduct and are generally a project in themselves so unlikely to be part of a bigger project. Systematic reviews can be used both for qualitative and quantitative subjects  For a more in depth guide check out the links below.

Integrative literature reviews are much like systematic reviews, the main difference being that while systematic makes conclusions about the literature itself, integrative on the other hand take conclusions from the reviewed literature in order to create new knowledge such as a new training program.  

To learn more please click the links below. 

How to do a literature review.

Some books to help

How to do a Literature Review

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