The Literature Review - Tilak Maharashtra Vidyapeeth

Dr. Neelima Mehta
Principal and Dean
Department of Education
Tilak Maharashtra Vidyapeeth
What is a Literature Review ?
• According to Creswell (2005) , a review of the
literature “is a written summary of journal articles,
books and other documents that describes the past
and current state of information, organizes the
literature into topics and documents a need for a
proposed study.” (pp.79)
• Literature review is the presentation, classification
and evaluation of what other researchers have
written on particular subject.
The Literature Review
The review of the literature is defined as a broad,
comprehensive, in - depth, systematic , and critical review
of scholarly publications, unpublished scholarly print
‘an interpretation and synthesis of published work’
How Literature Review will help you
in your proposed research ?
• It will clarify the conceptual issues of your research
related area.
• It will help you to learn about research design for your
• It is an opportunity to persuade your examiner that
your research is relevant worth doing.
• It will give you insight to contribute something new in
your subject area.
Three stages at which a review of the
literature is needed
1. An early review
2. Review during the period of your research.
3. Review at the stage of preparing your final report
Creswell’s 5 steps to conduct a
Literature Review
Step 1 : Identify Key Terms
• Extract key words from your title (remember,
you may decide to change the title later)
•To identify key terms use Thesaurus of ERIC.
• The site address is
Step 1 : Identify Key Terms ( cont’d)
• Familiarize yourself with online databases
• Using relevant database.
1. Start with a general terms from the database
2. Redefine your topic if needed.
3. Identify landmark or classic studies and theorists.
Step 2 : Locate Literature
 Use academic libraries, do not limit your search to
an electronic search of articles.
 Use primary and secondary sources. A “primary
source” is research reported by the researcher that
conducted the study.
A “secondary source” is research that summarizes or
reports findings that come from primary sources.
Step 2 : Locate Literature (cont’d)
• It is “best to report mostly primary sources” (p.82).
 Search different types of literature:
summaries, encyclopedias, dictionaries and glossaries
of terms, handbooks, statistical indexes, reviews and
syntheses, books, journals, indexed publications,
electronic sources, abstract series, and databases.
Step 3: Critically Evaluate Selected
• Rely on research Journal articles published in national
• Prioritize your search : first look for refereed journal
articles, then, non-refereed articles, then books, then
conference papers, dissertations and theses and then
papers posted to websites.
• Look for research articles and avoid as much possible
“opinion” pieces
• Blend qualitative and quantitative research in your
How to read research article critically
(An appreciation of Strength,
Weakness and Limitations)
• Identify research aim / questions ?
• Identify nature / type of study.
• Identify ontological position, epistemological and
methodological assumptions.
• Is researcher’s value position explicit ?
• Identify location, date sample method used.
• Examine use of theory, deductive ? Inductive ?
• Are analysis, method clearly explained ?
• Are conclusions appropriately supported by
evidence ?
• What are the implication for policy and practice?
Step 4: Organize the Literature
1. Create a “file” or “abstract” system to keep track of
what you read. Each article you read should be
summarized in one page containing • Title (use APA to type the title so that you can later
copy-paste this into the References section of your
• Source: journal article, book, glossary, etc.
• Research problem: one or two lines will suffice.
• Research Questions or Hypotheses
• Data collection procedure ( a description of
sample, characteristics can be very handy as well)
• Results or findings of the study
2. Sort the abstracts into groups of related topics or areas
which can then become the different sections of your
3. Take notes:
1. Decide on the format in which you will take
notes as you read the articles.
2. Define key terms
3. Note key statistics that you may want to use in
the introduction to your review.
4. Note emphases, strengths & weakness.
5. Identify major trends or patterns.
6. Identify gaps in the literature
7. Identify relationships among studies
8.Keep your review focused on your topic.
9.Evaluate your references for currency and
Step 5: Summarize the Literature in table
or concept map format
• Galvan (2006) recommends building tables as a key way
to help you overview, organize, and summarize your
1. You can create the table using the table feature within
Microsoft Word
2. You can create it initially in Excel.
3. The advantages of using Excel is that it enables you to
sort your findings according to a variety of factors
(e.g. sort by date, and then by author; sort by
methodology and then date, summary of research
Structure of the Literature Review :
• There is not one ‘ideal’ structure for your literature
review so talk to your guide about this .
• Consider whether you wish to organize your literature
review chronologically, thematically, by development
of ideas (or a combination of these)
• Make sure that you always explain your structure for
your structure for your reader and have a clear
Synthesize the literature prior to
writing your review
• Using the notes that you have taken and summary
tables, develop an outline of your final review.
• The following are the key steps as outlined by Galvan
1. Consider your purpose before beginning to write.
2. Consider how you reassemble your notes
3. Create a topic outline that traces your argument.
4. Reorganize your notes according to the path of
your argument
5. Within each topic heading, note differences among
6. Within each topic heading, look for obvious gaps or
areas needing more research.
7. Plan to describe relevant theories.
8. Plan to discuss how individual studies relate to and
advance theory.
9. Plan to summarize periodically.
10. Plan to present conclusions and implications.
11. Plan to suggest specific directions for future
Writing the review
1. Importance of the topic.
2. Distinguish between research finding and other
sources of information.
3. Indicate why certain studies are important.
4. If you are commenting on the timeliness of a topic, be
specific in describing the time frame.
5. If a landmark study was replicated, mention that and
indicate the results of the replication.
6. Discuss other literature review on your topic.
7. Justify comments such as, “no studies were found”.
8. Avoid long lists of nonspecific references.
9. If the results of previous studies are inconsistent or
widely varying, cite them separately.
10. Near the beginning of a review, state explicitly what
will and will not be covered
11. Specify your point of view early in the review: this
serves as the thesis statement of the review.
12. If your topic teaches across disciplines, consider
reviewing studies from each discipline separately.
13. Write a conclusion for the end of the review.
• Provide full details of all sources cited in the dissertation
• Should include published book or articles, book
chapters, technical reports, web sources, etc.
• List alphabetically by author name (name of first author
in the case of work with co-authors)
• Make sure you understand the university regulations on
• Consult your department guidelines for more on
referencing style
5 minute self test
Read the following statements and identify if they are true (T) or false (F).
1. T / F
A literature review should refer to all key literature in your
field of study.
2. T / F
A literature review should always identify a need for
further research.
3. T / F
A thesis statement is important to guide research for a
literature review.
4. T / F
A research question is important to guide research for a
literature review.
5. T / F
Literature which is not related to your research objective
should be discarded.
6. T / F
There is one widely–recognized, standard structure for a
literature review.
Answer key
1 ---- F
2 ---- T
3 ---- T
4 ---- T
5 ---- T
6 ---- F
1) Creswell, J.W. (2005)Educational Research : Planning,
Conducting and Evaluation Quantitative and
Qualitative Research.
2) Toylor, D. (2001) writing a Literature Review
3) “ APA Documentation ” VW-Madison Writing Center
Writer’s Handbook. /Review of
4) ‘How to prepare literature review’
5) ‘Guideline for writing literature review’
6) Thinking about Research and Research Quality in you
academic work Oxbridge.
Thank you !

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