Review of the Literature

Chapter 2

Introduction

• Topic – subject or subject matter of a study

– e.g., “faculty teaching,” “organizational creativity,” “psychological stress”

• Conduct literature review about the topic

– Worth studying?

– Scope?

– Can be studied

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The Research Topic

• Gain insight into the topic by

– Drafting a working title

• “My study is about…”

– Posing a brief question

• What needs to be answered?

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• First step is to examine research on the topic

• How does this project contribute to the literature?

• New topic, new elements, replication with new participants?

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The Research Topic

• The topic can be researched if

– You have access to participants

– You have resources to collect and analyze information

• The topic should be researched if

– The research will add to the literature about the topic

– Scholars will be interested in the topic

– A study of it will advance your personal goals

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The Research Topic

The Literature Review

• Shares the results of other studies

• Relates the study to the larger dialogue in the literature

• Provides a framework for establishing the importance of the study

• Provides a benchmark for comparing the results to other findings

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The use of the literature:

• Seek opinion of adviser or faculty members

• Tell the reader you are aware of literature

• Literature reviews take several forms:

– Integrate what others have done and said

– Criticize previous scholarly works

– Bridge between related topics

– Identify the central issues in the field

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The Literature Review

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The Literature Review

The use of the literature:

• In quantitative studies, researchers use literature to:

– Provide direction to the research questions and hypotheses

– Introduce a problem

– Introduce and describe the theory that will be used

– Examine the usefulness of the theory

– Compare results with existing literature or predictions

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The Literature Review

The use of the literature:

• In mixed methods studies, researchers use the literature:

– In either a quantitative or qualitative approach

– In each phase, consistent with either the quantitative or qualitative approach

– Relative to the intended audience

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The Literature Review

Steps in conducting a literature review:

• Identify key words

• Search databases

• Identify about 50 research reports in articles or books

• Collect those that are central to your topic

• Design a literature map

• Draft summaries of relevant articles

• Write a literature review, organizing it by important

concepts

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The Literature Review

Searching computerized databases:

• Computerized databases of the literature are available the Internet

• Databases provide access to journal articles, conference papers and dissertations on a wealth of topics

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The Literature Review

Searching computerized databases:

• Some of these online databases include:

– ERIC – ProQuest – EBSCO

– Sociological Abstracts – PsycINFO – PubMed

– Science Direct – Google scholar – SSCI

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The Literature Review

Searching computerized databases:

• Use both free databases and those available in your academic library

• Search several databases, even those outside your field

• Use guides to terms to locate articles

• Locate articles close to your topic and use their terms in your search

• Use databases that provide access to full text

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The Literature Review

A priority for selecting literature material:

• Start with broad syntheses (such as encyclopedias) if you are new to the topic

• Turn to journal articles in national journals

– Best source for research reports

• Next, consider books

• Then examine conference papers

• Scan for dissertations

• Lastly, consider reports on the web

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The Literature Review

A literature map of the research

• A literature map is a visual summary of existing research on a topic

• The structure of the literature map may be:

– Hierarchical pattern

– Flowchart layout

– Series of circles

• Write a narrative description

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The Literature Review

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The Literature Review

Abstracting studies:

• Abstracts summarize major elements of the article

• For research studies:

– Mention the problem

– State the central purpose

– State information about the population and sample

– Review key results

– Point out methodological flaws (if a critique or methods review)

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The Literature Review

Abstracting studies:

• For nonempirical studies (essays, opinions, etc.)

– Mention the problem

– Identify the central theme

– State the major conclusions

– Mention flaws in reasoning or logic (if a methodological review)

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The Literature Review

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The Literature Review

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The Literature Review

Style manuals:

• Style manuals provide guidelines for producing scholarly work and include directions on:

– Citing references in-text

– End-of-text references

– Creating headings

– Footnotes (not used in all style manuals)

– Presenting tables and figures

• Reminder: Consistently use the chosen style manual

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The Literature Review

Definition of terms

• Identify and define terms that readers need to understand a

proposal

• Define terms introduced in all sections of the research plan:

– Title of the study

– Problem statement

– Purpose statement

– Research questions, hypotheses, or objectives

– Literature review

– Theory base of the study

– Methods section24

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The Literature Review

Definition of terms

• Qualitative studies

– Inductive and evolutionary in nature

– The definition of terms may appear later in the written report, perhaps in the data analysis

• Quantitative studies

– Deductive with a fixed set of objectives

– All relevant terms are comprehensively defined earlier in the study

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The Literature Review

Definition of terms

• Mixed methods studies

– Follows the use of quantitative or qualitative approach

– Clarify terms related to mixed methods

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The Literature Review

Definition of terms

• Define terms when they first appear in the manuscript

• Use specific operational definitions

• Do not define terms using everyday language, be guided by the literature

• Define terms so that they accomplish different goals

• One may use a definition of terms section in the manuscript

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The Literature Review

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The Literature Review

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The Literature Review

A quantitative or mixed methods literature review:

• Introduce the review with a statement about the organization of the sections

• Review literature about the independent variables

• Review literature about the dependent variables

• Review literature that relates the independent variables to the dependent variables

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The Literature Review

A quantitative or mixed methods literature review:

• Provide a summary

– Highlight important studies

– Capture major themes

– Suggest why more research is needed

– Advance how the proposed study will fill this need

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The Literature Review

Summary

• Identify your topic through a brief title or central research question

• Use the literature to

– Present similar studies

– Relate the study to the literature

– Provide a framework for comparison

• Different purpose depending on approach

• Search databases using key terms

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