REVIEW OF LITERATURE
Prepare a REVIEW OF LITERATURE for your thesis. Your first draft is due Nov.
The paper should follow the University of Missouri
guidelines for Theses and dissertations.
- left margin 1.5 inches:
- top, right and bottom margins, 1 inch
- chapter headings and subheads: use consistent style and spacing (Based on
- typeface used throughout research paper is consistent
- double space all text (exceptions: quotations of four lines or longer and
- page numbers at least one inch from the edge of the paper.
- no form of correction fluid is to be used.
One of the most important early steps in a research project is the conducting
of the literature review. This is also one of the most humbling experiences
you're likely to have. Why? Because you're likely to find out that just about
any worthwhile idea you will have has been thought of before, at least to
some degree. I frequently have students who come to me complaining that they
couldn't find anything in the literature that was related to their topic.
And virtually every time they have said that, I was able to show them that
was only true because they only looked for articles that were exactly the
same as their research topic. A literature review is designed to identify
related research, to set the current research project within a conceptual
and theoretical context. When looked at that way, almost no topic is so new
or unique that you can't locate relevant and informative related research.
Here are some tips about conducting the literature review. First, concentrate
your efforts on the scientific literature. Try to determine what the most
credible research journals are in your topical area and start with those.
Put the greatest emphasis on research journals that use a blind or juried
review system. In a blind or juried review, authors submit potential articles
to a journal editor who solicits several reviewers who agree to give a critical
review of the paper. The paper is sent to these reviewers with no identification
of the author so that there will be no personal bias (either for or against
the author). Based on the reviewers' recommendations, the editor can accept
the article, reject it, or recommend that the author revise and resubmit it.
Articles in journals with blind review processes are likely to have a fairly
high level of credibility. Second, do the review early in the research process.
You are likely to learn a lot in the literature review that will help you
determine what the necessary tradeoffs are. After all, previous researchers
also had to face tradeoff decisions. What should you look for in the literature
review? First, you might be able to find a study that is quite similar to
the one you are thinking of doing. Since all credible research studies have
to review the literature themselves, you can check their literature review
to get a quick start on your own. Second, prior research will help ensure
that you include all of the major relevant constructs in your study. You may
find that other similar studies routinely look at an outcome that you might
not have included. Your study would not be judged credible if it ignored a
major construct. Third, the literature review will help you to find and select
appropriate measurement instruments. You will readily see what measurement
instruments researchers used themselves in contexts similar to yours. Finally,
the literature review will help you to anticipate common problems in your
research context. You can use the prior experiences of others to avoid common
traps and pitfalls.
HOW CAN I WRITE A GOOD LITERATURE REVIEW?
You should use the literature to explain your research - after all,
you are not writing a literature review just to show what other researchers
have done. You aim should be to:
- Show why your research needs to be carried out,
- How you came to choose certain methodologies or theories to work with,
- How your work adds to the research already carried out, etc.
Read with a purpose: you need to summarize the work you read but you must
also decide which ideas or information are important to your research (so
you can emphasize them), and which are less important and can be covered briefly
or left out of your review.
You should also look for the major concepts, conclusions, theories, arguments
etc. that underlie the work, and look for similarities and differences with
closely related work. This is difficult when you first start reading, but
should become easier the more you read in your area.
Write with a purpose: your aim should be to evaluate and show relationships
between the work already done (Is Researcher Y's theory more convincing
than Researcher X's? Did Researcher X build on the work of Researcher Y?)
and between this work and your own. In order to do this effectively you
should carefully plan how you are going to organize your work.
A lot of people like to organize their work chronologically (using time
as their organizing system). Unless developments over time are crucial to
explain the context of your research problem, using a chronological system
will not be an effective way to organize your work. Some people choose to
organize their work alphabetically by author name: this system will not
allow you to show the relationships between the work of different researchers,
and your work, and should be avoided!
These links should help you!
Writing An Introduction
Writing Your Review