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A review of literature is conducted to generate a picture of what is known and not
known about a particular situation. Relevant literature refers to those sources that
are important in providing in depth knowledge needed to make changes in
practice or to study a selected problem. Thus a literature review is conducted to
ascertain whether research findings are ready for use in practice or weather
additional study is needed.
In creating research, the literature review facilitates selecting a
problem and purpose, developing a framework and formulating a research plan
the literature is reviewed before, during and after the conduct of the study, so the
study build on and is compaired with previous research.
Since the no. of nursing journals has increased by more than
!" from #$!#, the literature review process has become more challenging but
also more enlightening.
a) The review of literature is designed as a broad, comprehensive in-depth,
systematic and critical review of scholarly publications, unpublished
scholarly print materials, audiovisual materials, and personal
b) Critical review of literature refers to the process in which the investigator
or reader examine the strength and weakness of the appropriate scholarly
publication or literature.
c) Conceptual literature can be reported of theories some of which underline
reported research as well as non research materials.
%iterature of review can serve a number of important functions for nurses
seeking develop an evidence based practice.
Identification of a research problem and development of refinement of
research &uestion or hypothesis.
'rientation to what is known and not known about an area of en&uiry.
(etermination of any gap of inconsistencies in a body of research.
Identification or development of new or refined clinical interventions to test
through empirical research.
Identification of relevant theoretical or conceptual framework for a
research problem.
Identification of suitable design and data collection method for a study.
)ore those developing research proposal for finding identification of
e*perts in the field who could be used as consultants.
Assistance in interpreting study findings and in developing implications
and recommendations.
The major goal of the review of literature is to develop a strong knowledge
base to carry out research and other non research scholarly activities inn
educational and clinical practice settings, in educational arena, such knowledge
enliances the writing of scholarly papers by students and faculty in the clinical
practice arena, the knowledge from critical literature review contributes to the
implementation of research based practice interventions, protocols and
evaluation programmes that improve the &uality of patient care.
The main objectives of review of literature are as follows+
a, (etermine what is known and not known about a subject, concepts or
b, (etermine gaps, consistencies, and inconsistencies in the literature about
a subject, concept or problem.
c, (iscover the unanswered &uestions about a subject, concepts or problem.
d, (escribe the strength and weakness of designs-methods of in&uiry and
instruments used in earlier works.
e, (iscover conceptual traditions used to e*amine problems.
f, .enerate useful research &uestions or projects-activities for the discipline.
g, (etermine the appropriate research design-method /instruments, data
collection and analysis methods0 for answering research &uestion.
h, (etermine the need for replication of well+designed study or refinements
of a study.
i, 1romotes development of protocols and policies related to nursing
practice. /service, administration, education and research,
The literature reviewed can be utili2ed for both research and non research
I. RESEARCH 3 The major research focus of the literature review for
&ualitative approaches and its used in the steps of research process for
&uantitative designs are as follow+
i. Qualitative proe!! 3 the use of the literature review depends on the
selected designs types and phases, usually an e*tensive data base is
not available.
a, Phenomenological 3 compare findings with information from the
review of literature.
b, Grounded theory 3 constantly compare literature with data being
c, Ethnography 3 more conceptual than data+based, provide
framework for study.
d, Historical 3 review of literature is source of data.
ii. Qua"titative 3 the review of literature is used for all designed- levels. It
is usually a step of the research process and used in developing all the
steps of the research process.
a, problem
b, need significance
c, &uestion-hypothesis
d, theoretical-conceptual framework
e, designs-methodology
+ Specific instrument /validity and reliability,
+ (ata collection method.
+ Type of analysis.
f, )indings /interpretation,
g, Simplication of findings.
h, Recommendations based on findings.
II. NON RESEARCH 3 the major non+research focus of the literature
reviewed is on uncovering knowledge for use in educational and clinical
practice settings.
i. Educational settings 3 in educational setting the literature review is
used by students to develop academic scholarly papers and prepare
oral presentation or debates of a topic, problem or issue.
ii. Clinical settings 3 the literature review is used by nurses in clinical
setting to+
a, Implement research based implementation.
b, (evelop hospital specific nursing protocols or policies related to patient
c, (evelop and substantiate hospital-specific &uality assurance, continuous
&uality improvement, or protocols and the literature review is used by
professional nursing organi2ation to develop major documents and
standard for clinical practice and also to develop practice guidelines.
1redominately two types of sources are cited in the preview literature for
research both theoretical and empirical.
#. THEORETICAL + Theoretical literature includes concept analysis, models,
theories and conceptual frameworks that support a selected research
problem and purpose. Theoretical sources can be found in periodical and
a. Periodical 3 Are published over time, such as journals and are numbered
se&uentially for the year published.
b. Monographs 3 are usually written on such as books, booklet of
conference proceedings or pamphlets and may be updated with a new
4. E#PIRICAL LITERATURE 3 includes relevant studies that are published
studies such as master5s thesis and doctoral dissertation.
a. T$e!i! 3 is a research project completed by a master5s student as a part
of re&uirement for a master5s degree.
b. Di!!ertatio" 3 is an e*tensive usually original research project that is
completed by a doctoral student as part of re&uirement for a doctoral
6. PRI#AR% SOURCES 3 is written by the person who originated and or is
responsible for generating the ideas published in research publication, a
primary source is written by the person who conducted the research e.g.
nursing research articles.
7. SECONDAR% SOURCES 3 a secondary source is written by a person
other than the individual who develop the theory or conducted research
studies prepared by same one other than the original researcher,
secondary sources represent the response to or a summary and criti&ue
of a theorist or researchers work.
As stated earlier, investigations, literature reviews for several purpose. The first
stage of review of literature is a general, preliminary search that attempts to
locate all pertinent publications for a &uick perusal. The second stage is more
critical review of the works to identify merits, strengths, weakness and short
coming of each.
8ritical thinking is the rational e*amination of ideas, inferences, assumptions,
principles, arguments, conclusion issues, statements, beliefs and actions. In
critical thinking process, the investigator will engage in following arts9
i. The art of thinking about his-her thinking so make it more clear,
precise, accurate, relevant, consistent and fair.
ii. The art of constructive skepticism.
iii. The art of identifying and removing bias, prejudice and one+sidedness
of thought.
iv. The art of clarifying what is to understand and what does the person
does not know.
8ritical reading is a process that involves various levels or stage of
i' Preli*i"ar+ u",er!ta",i"-'
ii' Co*pre$e"!ive u",er!ta",i"-'
iii' A"al+!i! u",er!ta",i"-'
iv' S+"t$e!i! u",er!ta",i"-'
i' Preli*i"ar+ u",er!ta",i"- 3 it is gained by &uickly and lightly
reading an article to familiari2e with its content or to get a general
sense of material. The preliminary reading includes the use of the
following strategies.
:ighlighting or understanding the main step of the research
;aking notes on the photocopied article.
<riting key variable at the top of the photocopied article.
:ighlighting or underlining on the photocopy new and unfamiliar
terms and significant sentences.
%ooking up the definition s of new terms and writing them in the
margins of the photocopy.
=eeping a research te*t and dictionary by your.
ii' o*pre$e"!ive u",er!ta",i"- )
It is skilled reading designed to increase understanding of the studies in
relation to the whole article. It is facilitated by the following 3
Reviewing all unfamiliar terms before reducing for the second time.
8larifying any additional under terms.
Reading additional sources as necessary.
;aking another copy of your annotated attitude and re&uesting that
your faculty members read it.
Stating the main idea or theme of the article in your own words, in
one two sentences in an inde* card or on the photocopy.
iii' a"al+!i! u",er!ta",i"- 3
The reader must ask &uestions about whether each e*planation of a step of
the process meets or does not meet these criteria. An understanding gained
by reading for analysis is facilitated by the following strategies.
>eing familiar with criti&uing strategies.
Researching the comprehensive reading.
Applying the criti&uing criteria to each step of the research process
in the article.
Asking whether the content meets the criteria for each stop of the
research process.
<riting notes or the copy about how each step or the process
measures up against established criteria.
iv' S+"t$e!i! u",er!ta",i"- + is combination of parts into whole. The
goal of synthesis understanding is to combine the parts of research
study into a whole. Reading for synthesis is facilitated by the following
8omponent of the study.
The studies5 over all strength and weaknesses.
The accuracy and completeness of the literature of review depends on the
researcher knowledge and organi2ation in conducting this review process. The
process of reviewing the literature in &uantitative and &ualitative research
I' USIN( THE LIBRAR% 3 using library facilities re&uires current
knowledge of the available libraries and their resources. The three
major categories of libraries are 3
a' 3 public library serve the need of the communities where they are
located and fre&uently do not contain the sources re&uired for nursing
.' Aa,e*i li.rar+ 3 academic library are located with in institutions of
higher learning and contain numerous resources for researchers.
' T$e !peial li.rar+ 3 the special library contains a collection of materials
on a selected topic or for a specialty area, such as nursing or medicine.
The common sources or interest to nurse researcher in the
library include, dictionaries, encyclopedias, books, journals, monographs,
conference proceedings, bibliographies, directories, government documents,
audiovisual materials, theses and doctoral dissertations.
II' TO IDENTIF% SOURCES + you must first clarify your research topic,
conduct a brief manual literature search and than conduct a computer
Clari/+i"- a re!ear$ topi 3 a researcher selects a topic for study and
than proceeds to clarify and narrow that topic by identifying synonymous
terms can be found in thesauruses, such as ?international nursing inde*5s
nursing thesaurus.
Catalog ) the catalog identifies what is available in the library. These
listings are usually available on an online computer. The catalog listing
includes books, monographs, conference proceedings, audiovisuals
professional organi2ations5 publications, theses and dissertations.
Index ) an inde* provides assistance in identifying journal articles and
other publications relevant to a topic of interest. Inde*es are organi2ed
into two major section, subject and author.
- Subject 3 the research topic, synonymous terms and subheadings
identified by the researcher are used to guide the search through the
subject section includes headings and subheadings, and under these
headings several publications are listed.
- Author 3 if you are familiar with the names of key researchers for a
specific topic, you can search the author section of the inde*. Some of
the key inde*es used by the nursing researchers are 3
8umulative inde* to nursing and allied health literature.
Inde* medicus.
International nursing inde*.
:ospital literature inde*.
Abstracts 3 abstracts include the same bibliography data as inde*, with
an additional brief, objective summary /abstract, of the content covered in
the publication. Abstracts are helpful in determining whether sources are
relevant to the research problem identified. Some of the most commonly
used abstracts in nursing research includes.
- @ursing abstracts.
- 1sychological abstracts.
- (issertation abstracts.
- ;asters abstracts.
Co",ut a o*puter !ear$ ) after a brief manual search of the
literature you have clear direction for conducting a computer search.
8omputer search are comprehensive, readily available and affordable.
The rapid e*pansion of published materials has made computer searchers
invaluable. A computer search will generate a list of references with
complete bibliography information for many of the references abstract are
also available on re&uest.
The most common databases used by the nurse
researcher are following+
- !ursing "nd "llied #ealth /@A:%,
- $edical %iterature "nalysis and &etrieval 'ystem (nline /;A(%I@A,
- Combine #ealth )nformation *ata-+ase /8:I(,
- #ealth planning and administration.
- Catalog (nline /8AT%I@A,
- #ealth "nd ,sychological )nstruments (nline /:A1I0
- "udiovisual Catalog (nline /AB%I@A,
- C"!C-&%)T /8A@R,
III' LOCATIN( SOURCES 3 you are now ready to locating sources
involves the following steps+
i' Or-a"i0i"- t$e li!t o/ !oure!+ the list of identified sources con be
organi2ed in several ways to facilitates locating them within the library.
Cournal source might be organi2ed by journal name and year, which
can greatly reduce the time spend wandering from journal to journal.
Sources include in the library catalog can be organi2ed by author or
subject this organi2ation will not only make it easier to find these
sources in the library but will also assist you in eliminating any
duplicated references.
ii' Sear$i"- t$e li.rar+ /or !oure! 3 searching for sources in the
library can be facilitated by talking with library personal to determine
the classification systemD the availability of the resources and
publications, and the location of journals, books, dictionaries, inde*es
and abstracts.
iii' Deter*i"i"- a,,itio"al 1a+ to loate !oure! + need to identify the
sources that were located in the available library, i.e. the source that
are available in the library but were not found and those sources that
are unavailable. It should locate them through the interlibrary loan
department. Cournal articles can also be obtained by computer search
if is published or interned.
iv' S+!te*atiall+ reor,i"- re/ere"e! 3 the bibliographical
information on a source should be recorded in a systematic manner,
according to the format that will be used in developing the review of the
literature section and the reference list. A systematic recording process
increases the accuracy of the reference in your research proposal and
IV' READIN( AND CRITIQUIN( SOURCE 3 reading and criti&uing
sources promotes understanding of the current knowledge of a
research problem and involve skimming, comprehending, analy2ing
and synthesi2ing content from sources. An e*pertise in reading and
criti&uing sources is essential in developing a &uality literature review.
i' S2i**i"- !oure 3 skimming is a &uick review of a source to gain a
broad overview of the contentD you would probably read the title,
author5s name, and an abstract or introduction for the source. Than
you would read the major headings and sometimes one or two
sentences under each heading. %astly, the concluding or summary in
ii' Co*pre$e",i"- !oure 3 comprehending a source re&uires that the
entire source be read carefully. Eou focus on understanding major
concepts and the logical flow of ideas within the source. The content
that is considered significant is highlighted and sometimes ideas are
recorded in the margins. @otes might be recorded on photocopies, of
articles, indicating where the information will be used in developing a
research proposal. The information highlighted on theoretical sources
might include relevant concepts, definitions of those concepts, and
relationship ideas about content that develop while reading a source.
iii' A"al+0i"- !oure! 3 the content of the sour e is divided into parts,
and the parts are e*amined in depth for accuracy, completeness,
uni&ueness if information, organi2ation and relevance of each part of
the source for the study to be conducted. The criti&uing process instep
of comprehension, comparison, analysis, evaluation and conceptual
iv' S+"t$e!i! o/ !oure o"te"t 3 through synthesis, one can cluster
and interrelate ideas from a gestalt, and synthesis involves clarifying
the meaning obtained from the source as a whole. This meaning
should than be paraphrased. 1araphrasing involves e*pressing clearly
and concisely the ideas of an author in your own words. The meanings
of these sources are then connected to the proposed study. %astly the
meaning obtained from all sources are combined, or clustered to
determine the current knowledge of the research problem.
v' I"te-rative revie1 o/ "ur!i"- re!ear$ 3 integrative review are
conducted to identify, analy2e and synthesi2e the results from the
independent studies to determine the current knowledge /what is
known and not known, in a particular area. /.anong #$FGD Smith and
Stullenbarger #$$#, These reviews include comprehensive list of
references and summari2ing empirical literature for selected topics.
/8ooperD #$F7,.
A thorough, organi2ed literature review will facilitate developing a research
proposal. <riting the review of literature involves the selection of relevant
sources, organi2ation of those sources, and mechanics of writing the review.
Seletio"! o/ releva"t !oure! 3 sources are selected for inclusion in
the literature review based on their &uality and relationship to the problem
and the purpose of the proposed study. Analysis of each source
determines its &uality and usefulness in developing the research proposal
or report.
Or-a"i0i"- o/ !oure! 3 the literature of review for a research proposal
includes the following headings and essential content+
a. I"tro,utio" 3 introduction indicates the focus or the purpose of the
literature reviewD describe the organi2ation of sourcesD it should be from
least to most important of from least to most current. It should be brief and
catch the interest of the reader.
b. T$eoretial literature 3 it should be organi2ed by concepts appropriate to
the study. These concepts are usually identified when searching for
relevant theoretical and empirical sources and criti&uing studies.
c. E*pirial literature 3 this section is often organi2ed by concepts or
variables that are the focus of the study.
d. Su**ar+ 3 summary includes a concise presentation of the current
knowledge base for the research problem. The gaps in the knowledge
base are identified with a discussion of how the proposed study will
generate essential information.
<riting the review of literature the development of a detailed outline that
will be used as a guide.
In writing the main section of the literature review the empirical and
theorical sources must be prevented in a concise, accurate manner.
Athical issues must be considered in presenting sources. /.anter, #$F#,

@ancy >urns, Susan =. .rove, The 1ractice of @ursing Research, HSA,
<.>. sounders company, third edition, #$$G pg. no. ##G+#64.
(enis ).1olit, @ursing Research 1rinciples and ;ethods, @ew Eork,
%ippincott <illiams, 4II7, seventh edition, pg. no. FF+###.
Sharon 8onnon, Introduction to @ursing Research, >oston, Cones and
>artlett publications, 4IIG, first edition, pg. no. $G+#4I.
>.T. >aswanthappa, @ursing Research, @ew (elhi, Caypee >rother
publications, first edition, 4II6, pg. no. 7$+!.
8athrine :.8. Seaman, Research ;ethod, HSA, Appleton and %ange,
third edition, #$FG, pg. no. #7#.
(ennis ). 1olit, Assential of @ursing Research, HSA, %ippincott <illiams
publication, second edition, pg. no. !7.
#r!' S'L' Pillai #R' BADRI PRASAD
P' (' Colle-e o/ Nur!i"- #'S 4N5 6