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Advanced Research Methods (ARM)

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The Literature Review

Lecture - 3
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Recap Company Logo

Is it a good research question?

 What causes job turnover? Company Logo


 What is relationship between job satisfaction

and job turnover among administrative staff and
The Research Relationships


credibility impressiveness
novelty novelty

(hill of happiness)


speed pay-off = f(+impressiveness, -credibility)

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What is Literature
Review? Company Logo

What is a Literature Review?
• According to Creswell (2005), a review of the
literature “is a written summary of journal
articles, books and other documents that
describes the past and current state of
information, organizes the literature into topics
and documents a need for a proposed study.”
(pp. 79)

Creswell, J.W. (2005) Educational Research: Planning, Conducting, and Evaluating

Quantitative and Qualitative Research
Definitions of a Literature Review

• A literature review
 surveys scholarly articles, books and other sources

(e.g. dissertations, conference proceedings) relevant

to a particular issue, area of research, or theory.
 provides a short description and critical evaluation
of work critical to the topic.
 offers an overview of significant literature
published on a topic.

(Lyons, 2005)
 Well-written analytical narrative that brings a
reader up-to-date on what is known on a given
topic, but also provide fresh insights that
advance knowledge
 Resolve conflicts between studies
 Identify new ways to interpret research results
 Creating a path for future research
How many articles?

• The LR should be exhaustive and as current as

• How many articles?
• There is no set number. As long as the
search is exhaustive and focused on the
research topic, the review will be
How far back should one search?

• A reasonable and widely accepted timeframe

includes research conducted during the past
10 years.
• Important studies (i.e., studies that had a
significant impact on the field of study) should
also be mentioned even if these go beyond the
mentioned timeframe.
What is not LR

• The LR is a summary of research: BUT it is not a

“list” of found research
• The LR should be organized:
• A coherent and articulate account of past and current
research findings
• The reviewer is a guide and should be able to provide
readers with an in-depth and current status of
research in a given area.
• Suggestion: read 2 or 3 LRs in order to become
familiar with summary styles

What should LR do?

• The LR should document the need for a

proposed study:
• Studies should not duplicate research that has been
already done.
• Even in cases when research is duplicated (replicated
is the appropriate term), one is responsible for
documenting the need for replication, e.g., need to
explore the same methodology with a different group
or population, or need to change methodology with
the same group.
What is Preliminary Literature
 This succinct review of current literature should:
 Provide further contextual background
 Reveal issues related to your study
 Describe similar problems in other organizations
 Provide significance to your approach to the study
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Reasons for Conducting

Literature Review
Harlen and Schlapp’s (1998) say

 a review of literature provides the context

within which to interpret and report findings of
the new study when it is undertaken, allowing
their relationship to previous knowledge to be
explored and possible future directions for the
study to be suggested. (p. 1)
 …the literature review is often expected to lead
to an establishment of a theoretical framework
for the study (Schumacher and McMillan, 1993).
Reasons for Conducting Literature Reviews

1. For a review paper

2. For the introduction (and discussion) of a

research paper, masters thesis or dissertation

3. To embark on a new area of research

4. For a research proposal

(Burge, 2005)
Conducting a literature review
will help you:

• Determine if proposed research is actually needed.

 Even if similar research published, researchers might
suggest a need for similar studies or replication.
• Narrow down a problem.
 It can be overwhelming getting into the literature of a
field of study. A literature review can help you
understand where you need to focus your efforts.
• Generate hypotheses or questions for further studies.

(Mauch & Birch, 2003)

Conducting a literature review
will give you:
• Background knowledge of the field of inquiry
 Facts
 Eminent scholars
 Parameters of the field

 The most important ideas, theories, questions

and hypotheses.

• Knowledge of the methodologies common to the

field and a feeling for their usefulness and
appropriateness in various settings.

(Mauch & Birch, 2003)

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Taxonomy of Literature
Classification # 1

 Everyday knowledge: Newspapers, weekly

magazines, …
 Professional Knowledge
 Scientific Knowledge
Classification # 2

 Primary publications: Scientific journals,

books, theses/dissertations and internal reports
 Secondary publications: handbooks,
bibliographies, review articles
 Tertiary Publications: Summaries of
handbooks, bibliographies and reviews
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How to Conduct
Literature Review?
Important questions
 What should I research?
 What should I read?
 Where can I find more on …?
 What have others done?
 Is there anything left for me to research?
 How do I know this hasn’t been done before?
 When should I start to write?
 What should I write about?
 How do I do a literature review?
How To Write A Literature Review
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• Research Tips
• RefWorks/EndNote
Meta Analysis

 a meta-analysis combines the results of several

studies that address a set of related research
 The first meta-analysis was performed by Karl
Pearson in 1904, in an attempt to overcome the
problem of reduced statistical power in studies
with small sample sizes Company Logo
Creswell’s 5 steps to Conduct a
Literature Review
• Step 1: Identify Key Terms or “Descriptors”
• Extract key words from your title (remember,
you may decide to change the title later)
• Use some of the words other authors reported in
the literature

Creswell, J.W. (2005) Educational Research: Planning, Conducting, and Evaluating Quantitative and
Qualitative Research
• Use the “Thesaurus of ERIC Descriptors to
look for terms that match your topic: go to and in “Search” select
“Descriptors (from Thesaurus)”
• Scan both electronic and library journals from
the past 10 years and look for key terms in the

Creswell, J.W. (2005) Educational Research: Planning, Conducting, and Evaluating Quantitative and
Qualitative Research
• Step 2: Locate Literature
• Use academic libraries, do not limit your
search to an electronic search of articles
• Use all sources: primary, and secondary
sources. A “primary source” is research
reported by the researcher that conducted the
study. A “secondary source” is research that
summarizes or reports findings that come
from primary sources

Creswell, J.W. (2005) Educational Research: Planning, Conducting, and Evaluating Quantitative and
Qualitative Research
• It is “best to report mostly primary sources”
(p. 82)
• Search different types of literature:
summaries, encyclopedias, dictionaries and
glossaries of terms, handbooks, statistical
indexes, reviews and syntheses, books,
journals, indexed publications, electronic
sources, abstract series, and databases
• PsychINFO, Emerald

Creswell, J.W. (2005) Educational Research: Planning, Conducting, and Evaluating Quantitative and
Qualitative Research
• Step 3: Critically Evaluate and Select
• Rely on journal articles published in national
• Prioritize your search: first look for refereed
journal articles, then, non-refereed articles, then
books, then conference papers, dissertations and
theses and then papers posted to websites

Creswell, J.W. (2005) Educational Research: Planning, Conducting, and Evaluating Quantitative and
Qualitative Research
• Look for research articles and avoid as much
as possible “opinion” pieces
• Blend qualitative and quantitative research in
your review

Creswell, J.W. (2005) Educational Research: Planning, Conducting, and Evaluating Quantitative and
Qualitative Research
• Step 4: Organize the Literature
• Create a “file” or “abstract” system to keep track of
what you read. Each article you read should be
summarized in one page containing
Title (use APA to type the title so that you can later
copy-paste this into the References section of your
Source: journal article, book, glossary, etc.

Creswell, J.W. (2005) Educational Research: Planning, Conducting, and Evaluating Quantitative and
Qualitative Research
Research problem: one or two lines will suffice
Research Questions or Hypotheses
Data collection procedure (a description of sample
characteristics can be very handy as well)
Results or findings of the study
• Sort these abstracts into groups of related topics or
areas which can then become the different sections of
your review

Creswell, J.W. (2005) Educational Research: Planning, Conducting, and Evaluating Quantitative and
Qualitative Research
• Step 5: Write a Literature Review
• Types of Reviews:
Thematic Review: a theme is identified and studies
found under this theme are described. Major ideas
and findings are reported rather than details.

Creswell, J.W. (2005) Educational Research: Planning, Conducting, and Evaluating Quantitative and
Qualitative Research
Study-by-study Review: a detailed summary of
each study under a broad theme is provided. Link
summaries (or abstracts) using transitional
sentences. Must be organized and flow coherently
under various subheadings. Avoid string
quotations (i.e., lengthy chunks of text directly
quoted from a source)

Creswell, J.W. (2005) Educational Research: Planning, Conducting, and Evaluating Quantitative and
Qualitative Research
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How to Carryout Literature

McMillan (1993) presents the idea by asking the
following questions: ‘Has the problem been studied
Literature Search
 Perform a preliminary search of the literature.
 Search lit to see what other work in the area of interest

has already been published.

− Gives a preview of the number of articles available on the topic.
− If your topic is already written about, select a slightly different topic
or modify the focus of the objective.
 Recent journal issues in areas central to the topic may
provide leads to content that should be in the review.
 Develop a list of subject headings that relate to themes
of interest
 Search across multiple databases and information

 Read the literature throughout the search process.

− What you read will guide your subsequent searches and refine
your topic.

 Your search should help refine the topic and objective of

the overview being written.
Think ahead
 The more one learns about a subject, the more questions
come to mind.
 Keep a list of questions and hypotheses that come to your
mind or that are mentioned in what you read.
 These questions will help guide you when you are
constructing your review
 The questions will also guide you in discussing the
implications of your own findings and the additional
research directions your work supports or suggests.
(Mauch & Birch, 2003)
Construct The Literature Review

•Summarize individual studies or articles

 Use as much or as little detail as each merits
according to its comparative importance in the
 Length denotes significance.
 Don’t need to provide a lot of detail about the
procedures used in other studies.
 Most literature reviews only describe the main
findings, relevant methodological issues, and/or
major conclusions of other research.
(University of Wisconsin, 2006)
• Discuss major areas of agreement or
• Tie the study into the current body of lit, make
logical interpretations from the lit reviewed.
 If there is no discussion of the relevance of
the overview to other work in the field, or if
there is no interpretation of the literature, it
may signal the author has not thoroughly
investigated the topic. Company Logo

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Guidelines on Style,
Mechanics, and Language
Guidelines on Style, Mechanics, and
Language Usage

 Does your draft follow the logic or idea that is

presented in your intro and title?
 Avoid overusing direct quotations, especially
long ones
 Check style manual for correct use of citations
 (Doe, 2005); Doe (2005); (Doe & Smith, 2005); Doe
and Smith (2005); (Black, 2005; Brown, 2006;
Yellow, 2007)
 Avoid using synonyms for recurring words
 This is not creative writing and stay consistent with
 Spell out all acronyms when first using them
 Traditional - American Psychological Association
 Non-traditional - Collective Efficacy (CE)
 Coined terms should be set off by quotes e.g.
seth culture
 Avoid the following:
 Slang – “cool”
 Colloquialisms (col·lo·qui·al·ism) – “thing” >>
"gonna" or "wanna
 Idioms – “rise to the pinnacle” >> “to become
 Use great care to avoid Plagiarism
 Please Read an Research Paper. Then answer
the following questions.
A. Have the reviewers clearly identified the topic of
review? Have they indicated its delimitations?
Does it deal only with certain aspects of the
B. Have the reviewers writing a cohesive essay that
guides you thorough the literature from subtopics
to subtopic? Explain.
C. Have the reviewers interpreted and critique the
literature, or have they merely summarized it?
D. Overall, do you think the reviewers make an
important contribution to knowledge through
their synthesis of the literature? Explain.
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Processing of Literature
Review Company Logo

Processing the Literature

 Briefly and accurately summarize the essence of

the findings
 Provide an overview of various authors’
standpoints and the results of empirical research
 Discuss findings critically and compare them in
terms of their agreements and disagreements
 Indicate to what extent the literature summary is
Organization of the Review

Introduction to the lit review

 Content - what is covered
 Structure - how it is organized
 Boundaries - what is outside of its scope
Body of the Lit Review The next most important  Follow the same pattern
SECTION 1 topic or a key concept
The most important topic or a key concept  discussed and evaluated
 discussed and evaluated  summarized and related to
 summarized and related to your research your research project

From each of the section summaries,
 highlight the most relevant points
 relate these back to the need for research
 reiterate what these mean for the research

(Golden-Biddle & Locke, 1997)

Outline of Review Process

• Formulate a problem - which topic or field is being

examined and what are its component issues?

• Search the literature for materials relevant to the

subject being explored.
 searching the literature involves reading and
refining your problem

• Evaluate the data - determine which literature makes a

significant contribution to the understanding of the topic

• Analyze and interpret - discuss the findings and

conclusions of pertinent literature

• Format and create bibliography

(Lyons, 2005)
What needs to be included in the
Literature review.
 Provides contextual background
 Reveals related issues
 Reviews similar problems elsewhere
 Provides significance to your approach to the
 Includes major/seminar research articles
pertaining to study
 Written in an integrated manner
 Uses peer-reviewed research
 Includes a Reference section
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Tips for Conducting LR


 Structural corroboration/validation (Eisner,

 trustworthiness (Glesne and Peshkin, 1992)
 Adequacy (Connelly and Clandinin, 1990) and
 credibility (Guba and Lincoln, 1989; Kincheloe,
1991) Company Logo

Two sins

 Twosins authors may commit when citing

published sources are those of
 (a) overloading their review of the literature
 (b) failing to keep complete, accurate
bibliographic information, and then
attempting to fill in missing information by
perhaps many - hate to leave out any item that
they unearthed during their search. feel it a
shame to omit any reference that took them
hours to locate and digest.
How To Read the Material
• Reading for the big picture
Read the easier works first

Skim the document and identify major concepts

After you have a broad understanding of the

10 to 15 papers, you can start to see
− Groups of scientists argue or disagree with other groups. For
example, Some researchers think x causes y, others that x is only a
moderating variable

(Carroll, 2006)
Narrow your focus
 Start from new material to old, general to specific
 starting with general topic will provide leads to specific areas of interest and help develop
understanding for the interrelationships of research

 Note quality of journal, output of author

 As you read and become more informed on the topic, you will probably need to
go back and do more focused searches

 Think, analyze, and weed out

 Arrange to spend some review time with an experienced researcher in the field
of study to get feedback and to talk through any problems encountered
(Mauch & Birch, 1993)
Read the Material Closer
 Step 1: read the abstract
 Decide whether to read the article in detail
 Step 2: read introduction
 It explains why the study is important
 It provides review and evaluation of relevant literature
 Step 3: read Method with a close, critical eye
 Focus on participants, measures, procedures
 Step 4: Evaluate results
 Do the conclusions seem logical
 Can you detect any bias on the part of the researcher?
 Step 5: Take discussion with a grain of salt (suspicious)
 Edges are smoothed out
 Pay attention to limitations

(Carroll, 2006)
Questions To Consider In Your Review

•What do we already know in the immediate area concerned?

•What are the characteristics of the key concepts or the main factors or
•What are the relationships between these key concepts, factors or
•What are the existing theories?
•Where are the inconsistencies or other shortcomings in our knowledge
and understanding?
•What views need to be (further) tested?
•What evidence is lacking, inconclusive, contradictory or too limited?
•Why study (further) the research problem?
•What contribution can the present study be expected to make?
•What research designs or methods seem unsatisfactory?

(Asian Institute of Technology)

Be accurate and thorough

• Your review acts as a guide of your topic for others.

• Take care to make your review:
 Accurate: e.g., Citations correct, findings
attributed to authors correct.
− Make sure someone can track down
the article and that you have provided
a reliable representation
 Complete: i.e., include all important papers
(not every paper written on the topic).
Other suggestions

 Begin with tertiary and secondary literature in order

to acquire a broad overview of the research field and
to ascertain important authors and historical
controversies in this field
 Then start searching for primary publications
 Map out terminology concerning the topic
 Search for the abstracts
 Snowball method
 Maintain a complete reference list. Use softwares
like Perrla, Endnote, Squarenote Company Logo
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Common mistakes
Common mistakes

 Literature reviewed lacks focus

 Presentation of only summaries of the literature
 Literature loosely integrated with design of the
An Effective Literature Review

• Places each work in the context of its contribution to the

understanding of the subject under review
• Describes the relationship of each work to the others under
• Identifies new ways to interpret, and shed light on any gaps
in, previous research
• Resolves conflicts amongst seemingly contradictory previous
• Identifies areas of prior scholarship to prevent duplication of
• Points the way forward for further research
• Places one's original work (in the case of theses or
dissertations) in the context of existing literature
(Lyons, 2005)
 Asian Institute of Technology. Writing up research: Using the literature. Retrieved 1/22/2009,
2009, from
 Burge, C., 7.16 Experimental Molecular Biology: Biotechnology II, Spring 2005. (Massachusetts
Institute of Technology: MIT OpenCouseWare), Retrieved 12/15/2008, from
License: Creative Commons BY-NC-SA
 Carrol, J., 15.301 Managerial Psychology, Fall 2006. (Massachusetts Institute of Technology: MIT
OpenCouseWare). Retrieved 12/15/2008, from License: Creative Commons BY-
 Golden-Biddle, K, & Locke, K (1997). Composing Qualitative Research. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
 Green, B. N., Johnson, C. D., & Adams, A. (2006). Writing narrative literature reviews for peer-
reviewed journals: Secrets of the trade. Journal of Chiropractic Medicine, 5(3), 101-117.
 Lyons, K. (2005). UCSC library - how to write a literature review. Retrieved 1/22/2009, 2009,
 Mauch, J. E., & Birch, J. W. (1993). Guide to the successful thesis and dissertation : A handbook for
students and faculty (3rd , rev. and expand ed.). New York: Marcel Dekker.
 University of Wisconsin. (2006). UW-madison writing center writer's handbook. Retrieved
1/22/2009, 2009, from
Suggested Reading

 Fink, A. (1998). Conducting Research Literature

Reviews. London: Sage Publications.
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Thank you for your

kind attention
Go forth and research….
….but be careful out there.