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Written by Arief Furchan   
Sunday, 25 April 2010 23:30

  • Most research is conducted within the context of existing findings and speculations by a community of researchers in each discipline.
  • This article will discuss 2 points:
    • The purpose of the review of literature
    • A general guide to writing a review of literature

The purpose of the review of literature
  • The review of literature familiarises your reader with the what, why and how of your topic.
    • What? --> your readings, interpretation, presentation
    • Why? --> show context, your evaluation, gap
    • How? --> through a reflective cycle of searching, reading, conceptualising, organising, shaping and presenting, pinpoint the exact position within an existing body of research in which your own study can make its contribution

As a result, your reader will discover the breadth, depth and scope of your topic through the readings you present.

A general guide to writing a review of literature

  • A literature review is written and structured to:
    • show the background 
    • elucidate the theoretical frameworks
Your aim should be to explore at increasingly greater depth in order to gain knowledge and understanding which will be relevant to your specific interest.
  • Tone
The tone of a thesis aims for clarity, precise expression and academic rigour.
  • use impersonal language
  • use appropriate terminology

  • The reflective cycle: searching, organising, presenting
    • Searching
      • library and interlibrary loans 
      • reference catalogues and indexes 
      • relevant computer software, CD-ROMs, and the Internet 
      • browsing in bookshelves and journals 
      • journals 
      • discussing issues with colleagues
It is a good idea to read review articles as a preliminary step in your search.
Know what you want and how to find it.
  • Organising is a key to success in research.
Whatever you read:
  • take a photocopy or note down the location of the original
  • complete a booknotes sheet for each item without delay
  • record publication details immediately
  • note main points in a summary or diagrammatic form
  • look for meanings and implications and write down your thoughts straightaway
  • write out direct quotes accurately, with quotation marks and page numbers
Various tools to help you organise your reading:
  • computer software for referencing (for example, RefCard, Endnotes)
  • booknotes or a card file system for annotating each item - compile your own numbering system
  • a notebook for each major component of your reading
  • a manilla folder for each component of your reading (for storing 'scraps')
An ongoing reading journal is extremely helpful.
Establish some headings, or categories, for your reading as soon as possible
Build up an ongoing concept map as you go along
  • Presenting the literature is an important process of articulating what you make of what you have read.
Four major interlinking processes:
  1. Critiquing rather than merely listing each item
  2. Structuring the fragments into a coherent body
  3. Controlling the 'voice' of your citations in the text
  4. Using appropriate language
Last Updated on Sunday, 25 April 2010 23:59