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Table of Contents

Introduction.........................................................................................................................................2

Objectives............................................................................................................................................2

Literature Review................................................................................................................................2
3.1

What is a Literature Review?.......................................................................................................2

3.2

Literature Reviews as Content Analysis.......................................................................................3

3.3

Fitting the literature into your research........................................................................................3

Role of the literature review in the conduct of research.......................................................................4

Relationships between different literature sources in ICT research......................................................5


5.1

ICT enhancing teaching and learning process..............................................................................5

6 Develop skills in the use and critical evaluation of different philosophical positions utilized in ICT
research........................................................................................................................................................6
7

Bibliography........................................................................................................................................7

Introduction

One of the essential preliminary tasks when you undertake a research study is to go through
the existing literature in order to acquaint yourself with the available body of knowledge in
your area of interest. Reviewing the literature can be time consuming, daunting and
frustrating, but it is also rewarding. The literature review is an integral part of the research
process and makes a valuable contribution to almost every operational step. It has value even
before the first step; that is, when you are merely thinking about a research question that you
may want to find answers to through your research journey. In the initial stages of research it
helps to establish the theoretical roots of the study; clarify ideas and develop research
methodology. Later in the process, the literature review serves to enhance and consolidate our
own knowledge base and helps to integrate your findings with the existing body of
knowledge.
In relation to our own study, the literature review can help in four ways. It can:
a)
b)
c)
d)

bring clarity and focus to your research problem;


improve your research methodology;
broaden your knowledge base in your research area; and
Contextualize your findings.

Objectives
To increase understanding of the role of the literature review in the conduct of research;
To increase understanding of the relationships between different literature sources in ICT
research;
To develop skills in the use and critical evaluation of different philosophical positions
utilised in ICT research;

3 Literature Review
Literature reviews are an essential part of all kinds of research. Their importance is frequently
emphasized in introductory texts on research methodology as well as in methodological
papers. The methodological basis for a literature review is usually a document analysis
conducted as a content analysis. Therefore, criteria have to be chosen which allow the search
for and the categorization of relevant literature.

3.1 What is a Literature Review?


Novice researchers tend to approach the literature review as nothing more than a collection of
summaries of papers or an elaborated annotated bibliography of multiple research
manuscripts (Webster & Watson, 2002). A meaningful literature review is much more. Hart
(1998) defined the literature review as the use of ideas in the literature to justify the
particular approach to the topic, the selection of methods, and demonstration that this research
contributes something new (p. 1). He also noted that for the literature review, quality means
appropriate breadth and depth, rigor and consistency, clarity and brevity, and effective
analysis and synthesis (Hart, 1998, p. 1). J. Shaw (1995) noted that the process of the review
should explain how one piece of research builds on another (p. 326). Webster and Watson
(2002) defined an effective literature review as one that creates a firm foundation for
advancing knowledge. It facilitates theory development, closes areas where a plethora of
research exists, and uncovers areas where research is needed (p. 13). From these definitions
it is clear that an effective literature review should include the following characteristics: a)
methodologically analyze and synthesize quality literature, b) provide a firm foundation to a
research topic, c) provide a firm foundation to the selection of research methodology, and d)
demonstrate that the proposed research contributes something new to the overall body of
knowledge or advances the research fields knowledge-base.

3.2 Literature Reviews as Content Analysis


As mentioned, a literature review is a valid approach and necessary step towards structuring a
research field, and forms an integral part of any research conducted (Mentzer & Kahn, 1995;
Easterby-Smith et al. 2002). This helps to identify the conceptual content of the field
(Meredith, 1993) and can contribute to theory development. Therefore, a (qualitative) content
analysis can be used (Ryan & Bernard, 2000; Mayring 2003). Brewerton & Millward (2001:
151) distinguish qualitative, quantitative and structural content analysis, which are not
mutually exclusive. A structural content analysis involves the development of a
representation of the relationships between elements in the target material. In order to do
this, both qualitative and quantitative aspects of the data have to be considered (Brewerton &
Millward 2001: 153).
Quantitative and qualitative methods do not constitute oppositional and contradicting
methods. In fact, quantitative methods can successfully support the qualitative methods
(Brewerton & Millward, 2001: 151; Mayring, 2003: 19). For example: The classification of
text sections to (qualitative generated) categories can be quantitatively evaluated. It can be
assessed what kind of category is most encoded (Mayring, 2002: 117). It is important to
mention that quantitative results always have to be interpreted qualitatively against the
background of the original research objective. Mayring (2003: 19) characterizes such a
research process as follows: From quality to quantity and back to quality.

3.3 Fitting the literature into your research


An effective and quality literature review is one that is based upon a concept-centric approach
rather than chronological or author-centric approach (Webster & Watson 2002). (Bem 1995)
noted that authors of literature reviews are at risk for producing mind-numbing lists of
citations and findings that resemble a phone book impressive case, lots of numbers, but not
much plot (p. 172). Thus, researchers must continuously ask themselves when reviewing
literature and when writing the literature review: how is the work presented in the article I
read related to my study? Answering this question will allow researchers to tie the literature
into their own study. Moreover, during the review of the literature researchers should utilize
sources that substantiate the presence of the problem under investigation (Barnes 2005).

4 Role of the literature review in the conduct of


research
The Review of related literature involves the systematic identification, location, and analysis
of documents containing information related to the research problem. The term is also used to
describe the written component of a research plan or report that discusses the reviewed
documents. These documents can include articles, abstracts, reviews, monographs,
dissertations, other research reports, and electronic media. The literature review has several
important purposes that make it well worth the time and effort. The major purpose of
reviewing the literature is to determine what has already been done that relates to your topic,
This knowledge not only prevents you from unintentionally duplicating another persons
research, it also gives you the understanding and insight you need to place your topic within a
logical frame.
Another important purpose of reviewing the literature is to discover research strategies and
specific data collection approaches that have or have not been productive in investigations of
topics similar to yours. This information will help you avoid other researchers mistakes and
profit from their experiences. It may suggest approaches and procedures that you previously
had not considered.
A literature review is study of what has been published on a topic by accredited scholars and
researchers. It is often a part of the introduction to an essay, research report, or thesis. (Taylor
2010), mentioned that people writing the literature review try to convey to their readers
what knowledge and ideas have been established on a topic, and what their strengths and
weaknesses are (Taylor 2010).
(Taylor 2010), argued one of main roles of the literature review is to enlarge people's
knowledge about the topic. He also mentioned that conducting a literature review, an author
can also gain and demonstrate skills in following two areas:

information seeking: the ability to scan the literature efficiently, using manual or
computerized methods, to identify a set of useful articles and books
Critical appraisal: the ability to apply principles of analysis to identify unbiased and
valid studies.

5 Relationships
between
sources in ICT research

different

literature

According to Daniels (2002) ICTs have become within a very short time, one of the basic
building blocks of modern society. Many countries now regard understanding ICT and
mastering the basic skills and concepts of ICT as part of the core of education, alongside
reading, writing and numeracy. This is fortunately not the case, although computers and their
application play a significant role in modern information management, other technologies
and/or systems also comprise of the phenomenon that is commonly regarded as ICTs.Pelgrum
and Law (2003) state that near the end of the 1980s, the term computers was replaced by
IT (information technology) signifying a shift of focus from computing technology to the
capacity to store and retrieve information. This was followed by the introduction of the term
ICT (information and communication technology) around 1992, when e-mail started to
become available to the general public (Pelgrum, W.J., Law, N., 2003).
The field of education has been affected by ICTs, which have undoubtedly affected teaching,
learning, and research (Yusuf, 2005). A great deal of research has proven the benefits to the
quality of education (Al-Ansari, 2006). ICTs have the potential to innovate, accelerate, enrich,
and deepen skills, to motivate and engage students, to help relate school experience to work
practices, create economic viability for tomorrow's workers, as well as strengthening teaching
and helping schools change (Davis and Tearle, 1999; Lemke and Coughlin, 1998; cited by
Yusuf, 2005).

5.1 ICT enhancing teaching and learning process


The field of education has been affected by ICTs, which have undoubtedly affected teaching,
learning and research (Yusuf, 2005) .ICTs have the potential to accelerate, enrich, and deepen
skills, to motivate and engage students, to help relate school experience to work practices,
create economic viability for tomorrow's workers, as well as strengthening teaching and
helping schools change (Davis and Tearle, 1999; Lemke and Coughlin, 1998; cited by Yusuf,
2005). In a rapidly changing world, basic education is essential for an individual be able to
access and apply information.
The following strategies can be used:

Combining existing literature reviews and creating a framework for the evaluation.
Deciding the criteria for the selection of the literature sources (i.e. the journals chosen
and other web-based sources and official reports).
Identifying and prioritizing the range of journals to be reviewed and identifying the
relevant reviewer for each journal, matched according to expertise.
Developing a set of keywords, which would form the basis for the framework, enable
the project to achieve consistency across reviewers, and allow keyword searches for
analysis.
Identifying the gaps in current knowledge about ICT

6 Develop skills in the use and critical evaluation


of different philosophical positions utilized in ICT
research
Skills in analysis and critical evaluation enable the refinement of problems and issues into
their component parts, so that their significance and inter-relationships can be examined
before being synthesized back into a whole. Critical evaluation is about proving a point,
interpreting information and resolving problems. The ability to make informed judgments or
evaluations about the worth, validity and reliability of opinions, ideas and knowledge is
crucial in this process.
Skills in analysis and critical evaluation are fundamental to learning throughout life, enabling:

disaggregation and synthesis of parts of systems, processes, tasks, objects, texts,


artefacts, problems, ideas, concepts and arguments;
exploration of alternative ideas or solutions to problems;
predictions about likely outcomes based on evidence;
clear thinking using logic (inductive and deductive);
identification of faulty reasoning, assumptions and biases by thorough testing; and
Informed judgment about the worth of ideas and arguments.

The following checklist can be used to develop critical evaluation skills:

How relevant is this text to my research needs?


What is the authors stance in relation to the topic? Are they for it or against it, or
neutral towards it? Is there evidence of the authors personal, political or cultural bias
in the text?
Do I accept or challenge their stance?
How do I know whether the author has academic credibility?
Where does the article/text fit in the context of the broad issue? Is it dated or
current? Does it present a new perspective or possible solutions?
What is the author really saying? Can I write it down in one thesis statement? Is it
argued consistently throughout the article?
What are the main issues and the sub-issues dealt with? Can I use a concept map to
show how they all fit together?
Is this article/text convincing or persuasive?
What are its strengths and weaknesses?
What else will I need to know before I can make a judgment about this text?

7 Bibliography
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