Purpose of a Literature Review
The purpose of a literature review is to provide readers with an overview of the state of the research on your chosen topic in your field of study. It provides you with the opportunity to use the present literature on your topic to demonstrate how your research fits into the larger field of study.
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Steps to Creating a Literature Review
To create a literature review, you must do the following:
1) Choose a variety of articles that address all aspects of your area of interest, including opposing viewpoints. When selecting your articles, you should make sure they come from a variety of sources (i.e. an array of different books and journals). During your examination of the literature, it is important to indentify key pieces of historical literature that play a key role in your topic area. This can be done by identifying authors or articles that multiple authors cite in their work.
2) Once you have chosen your articles, it is important to critically examine the articles for methodological flaws. In order to do this you must pay attention to the sample size, statistics used to explain the results, the author’s theoretical framework, the author’s purpose in conducting the research, and the author’s professional affiliations (this last point may skew the way the results are presented in the paper if the author has something to gain from presenting the findings in a specific way).
3) In order to make it easy for your reader to follow your argument, you should organize the information in your paper in a way that makes sense. For example, you may find it helpful to group the literature together by topic or subject area.
4) In a separate section, identify any methodological problems you found with the present researcher and explain how you believe this is impacting your results.
5) Conclude your literature review by offering questions for future research and why these questions are important to advancing the work in the field.
Example Structure for Literature Review
Example of how to structure your literature review
I. Introduce your topic to the reader by providing a brief overview of the issue
II. Identify the problem/need for research in your chosen area
III. Literature Review (start with historical work then build on that with more recent work)
IV. Identify flaws in the research, the impact this has on the results of present literature, and proposed ways to fix this problem.
V. Develop questions for future researcher
VI. Briefly summarize what you have said so far and wrap it up with a concluding comment.