Reviewing The Literature In Research

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Sonja Foss and William Walters* describe an efficient and effective way of writing a literature review.

Their system provides an excellent guide for getting through the massive amounts of literature for any purpose: in a dissertation, an M. thesis, or an article or book in any field of study.

In the introduction, you should: Define or identify the general topic, issue, or area of concern, thus providing an appropriate context for reviewing the literature.

Point out overall trends in what has been published about the topic; or conflicts in theory, methodology, evidence, and conclusions; or gaps in research and scholarship; or a single problem or new perspective of immediate interest.

It could be from five sources at first year undergraduate level to more than fifty for a thesis. Keep a note of the publication title, date, authors’ names, page numbers and publishers. Each body paragraph should deal with a different theme that is relevant to your topic.

You will need to synthesise several of your reviewed readings into each paragraph, so that there is a clear connection between the various sources.

You will need to critically analyse each source for how they contribute to the themes you are researching.

The literature review is an important part of every research project.

What are you being asked to do in your literature review? Check your assignment question and your criteria sheet to know what to focus on. Select appropriate source material: Use a variety of academic or scholarly sources that are relevant, current and authoritative.

An extensive review of relevant material will include — books, journal articles, reports, government documents, conference proceedings and web resources.

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