What is the literature review?
- A literature review summarises, critically analyses and evaluates previous research available on the subject, presenting this in an organised way. It should address a clearly articulated question or series of questions
- It is NOT:
- A descriptive list or summaries of books/articles etc
- An exhaustive bibliography on everything ever written on the topic- you need to make a decision about what to include
- Your arguments and ideas (like an essay)
Why do we write a literature review?
- Demonstrate an in-depth understanding of your topic area including key concepts, terminology, theories and definitions
- Identify who the major thinkers are
- Identify what research has been done in that area
- Find gaps in the research or current areas of interest to help you formulate your own research question
- Identify the main research methodologies in your subject area
- Identify main areas of agreement or controversy
- convince the reader that your research questions are significant, important and interesting
- convince the reader that your thesis will make an original contribution to the area being investigated.
Steps to complete the literature review
- Find relevant literature on your topic and follow trails of references
- Identify themes/ideas/theories/approaches to the topic that have emerged from reading
- Introduce ideas by themes/theory/approach/chronologically or any other appropriate structure but do not just list different authors’ viewpoints
- Introduce and explain each theme (or theory/approach), present evidence from readings (agreements/ disagreements), critically commentate and relate to your own research
- Who is the author?
- What is the authors central point or main argument?
- What findings and conclusions are made?
- What evidence is used to support the conclusions?
- Is the evidence relevant? What methodology has the author used? What are the strengths and limitations?
- Does the author make any assumptions?
- What is not being said?
- Is there any explicit or hidden bias?
- How is the text relevant to YOUR project or assignment?
- How does this link with other texts that you have read?
(SYTHESIZING INFORMATION REFER TO; Topic 0007: Matrix Method for Literature Review – Approaches to Identify Research Gaps and Generate RQ)
Topic (broad to narrow)
Research Title: The Design and Developement of E-Portfolio for HIE’S in Social Sciences and Humanities
- 2.1 Chapter Overview
- 2.2 E-Learning in Malaysia
- 2.3 E-Portfolio in HIE’s
- 2.4 E-Portfolio Definition and Purpose
- 2.5 E-Portfolio Reflective Learning Strategies
- 2.5.1 Critical Thinking
- 2.5.2 Problem-Solving
- 2.5.3 Analytical Skills
- 2.6 Conclusion and Gaps for Further Study
Critical Writing in a Literature Review
- Comparing and contrasting different theories, concepts etc and indicating the position you are taking for your own work
- Showing how limitations in others work creates a research gap for you.
- Strategic and selective referencing to support the underpinning arguments which form the basis of your research
- Synthesising and reformulating arguments from various sources to create new/more developed point of view
- .Agreeing with/defending a point of view or finding
- Accepting current viewpoints have some strengths but qualifying your position by highlighting weaknesses
- Rejecting a point of view with reasons (e.g. Lack of evidence)
- Making connections between sources
Adapted from RIDLEY, D 2008. The literature review: a step-by- step guide for students. London: Sage