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Business Research
Methods
Lecture 3
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Accessing and reviewing literature as part of
research
Lecture Outline:
•Why is it so important in research?
What is a literature review?
Identifying research questions/ objectives
How to put a lit. review together
–Writing critically, building argument
Reading
Saunders, M., Lewis, P. and Thornhill, A. (2007) Research
Methods for Business students
Bryman, A. and Bell, E. (2003) Business Research Methods
Hart, C. (1998) Doing a Literature Review
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Why do you need a literature review ? (part 1)
• You need to know what has been done before (by other writers
and researchers)
•Linked to what you are researching and why
•Position the study
•Using relevant theoretical concepts
•Apply theory to practice
•Demonstrate knowledge in subject(s)
•Demonstrate (library)research skills
Why (part 2)
•Learn from others mistakes
•May help with your (practical) research
•How can you add to what’s already there
•Or what’s missing
•It is expected
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What is a literature review?
A critical discussion of existing knowledge – drawn from:
•Books
•Articles
•Journals
•Research publications
Chance to demonstrate your understanding!
•You need to demonstrate that you know what others have said
•You need to go beyond description
•Make an argument for your research
’reviewing’ the literature
•The first attempt at looking to see what is ‘out there’
and - The literature review
•A more detailed (thoughtful) and crafted - review
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What is a literature review?
It is not!
•A
•A
•A
•A
descriptive account
list
summary
book review / or library report
OR
•Thinly disguised paraphrasing
•Information ‘re’moval
And!
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You need to read!
…. Start early and
continue throughout
the whole of the
work ….
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Research Questions
•There is little point in carrying out a research project – if there
is no aim / no problem / no issue to research
•RQ’s are ‘Those that originate, shape and are to some extent
answered by the study’ Clough and Nutbrown (2002:32)
•Framing a research problem – the questions
•Using what is already there and building on it
•
•Finding out new ideas !
Not
•The questions you ask respondents
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Reading
Research questions develop out of your reading….
….. Some reading has more ‘value’ than others!
•Oldest appears in text –books
•Cutting edge – in conference papers and then Journals
•Internet and popular sources – be selective
You are looking to make an argument for your research –
to do this look at what others have said on the same
subject.
•What is the writer trying to say?
•What evidence does the writer have to substantiate the claim?
•Do you accept this?
•Does it ‘fit’ with what you know?
•Why? who says? So what?
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Strategies for literature searching
Trawling vs. Fishing (Easterby-Smith et al 1991)..
Exploratory RQ’S = trawl
Finding directly = fish
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How to put a lit. review together -Writing
critically, building an argument
Organising and expressing ideas…..
analysis
knowledge
synthesis
comprehension
Analysis the job of systematically breaking down something
into its constituent parts and describing how they relate to each
other.
–needs to by systematic
–the data for analysis is information - the interpretations
understandings and arguments that others have proposed
•need to extract key ideas, theories, concepts and
07/07/2015 methodological assumptions from the literature
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How to put a lit. review together -Writing
critically, building argument
Synthesis - the act of making connections between the parts
identified in the analysis
–not simply a matter of reassembling the parts into the
original order but looking for a new order
•new or different connections and patterns
–need to have a comprehensive knowledge of subject and
think in broad terms
Comprehension -need to be able to describe discuss and
explain the substance of an idea
Knowledge - the foundation for analysis is thinking in various
ways about what you are reading
–to enable you to dig beneath the surface of an argument
and to be able to see the origins of research
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–to understand the typology of origins and assumptions
The critical literature
review - structure
No single structure but!..
Start at a more general level
Before narrowing down to RQ’s
•Provide a brief overview of ideas
•Summarise, compare and contrast
•Naroww down to highlight most relevant
•Provide a detailed account of the findings
of this!
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The critical literature review - structure
Demonstrate competence by referring to prominent writings in
the field
These are linked to authority
•Eg Red Hot Chilli Peppers on Global Warming
•BP on own oil reserves
•Develop your version of literature to lead up to your research
problem
Don’t
•Put everything you have read into the review
•Stop doing it
Do
•Review several times
And!
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Thinking time is important
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An alternative way of thinking about the
literature
Physical analogies
Visual analogies
Personifications
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