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Literature reviews: functions, types and methods

Related media.

When we think of a literature review, we often forget to consider the different types of reviews and the different roles or functions that literature reviews can have.

In this short presentation I will first discuss some functions of literature reviews, and then make some points about how the function or purpose of your review should inform the type that you choose to do, and the methods that you employ.

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  • v.35(2); Jul-Dec 2014

Reviewing literature for research: Doing it the right way

Shital amin poojary.

Department of Dermatology, K J Somaiya Medical College, Mumbai, Maharashtra, India

Jimish Deepak Bagadia

In an era of information overload, it is important to know how to obtain the required information and also to ensure that it is reliable information. Hence, it is essential to understand how to perform a systematic literature search. This article focuses on reliable literature sources and how to make optimum use of these in dermatology and venereology.

INTRODUCTION

A thorough review of literature is not only essential for selecting research topics, but also enables the right applicability of a research project. Most importantly, a good literature search is the cornerstone of practice of evidence based medicine. Today, everything is available at the click of a mouse or at the tip of the fingertips (or the stylus). Google is often the Go-To search website, the supposed answer to all questions in the universe. However, the deluge of information available comes with its own set of problems; how much of it is actually reliable information? How much are the search results that the search string threw up actually relevant? Did we actually find what we were looking for? Lack of a systematic approach can lead to a literature review ending up as a time-consuming and at times frustrating process. Hence, whether it is for research projects, theses/dissertations, case studies/reports or mere wish to obtain information; knowing where to look, and more importantly, how to look, is of prime importance today.

Literature search

Fink has defined research literature review as a “systematic, explicit and reproducible method for identifying, evaluating, and synthesizing the existing body of completed and recorded work produced by researchers, scholars and practitioners.”[ 1 ]

Review of research literature can be summarized into a seven step process: (i) Selecting research questions/purpose of the literature review (ii) Selecting your sources (iii) Choosing search terms (iv) Running your search (v) Applying practical screening criteria (vi) Applying methodological screening criteria/quality appraisal (vii) Synthesizing the results.[ 1 ]

This article will primarily concentrate on refining techniques of literature search.

Sources for literature search are enumerated in Table 1 .

Sources for literature search

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PubMed is currently the most widely used among these as it contains over 23 million citations for biomedical literature and has been made available free by National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), U.S. National Library of Medicine. However, the availability of free full text articles depends on the sources. Use of options such as advanced search, medical subject headings (MeSH) terms, free full text, PubMed tutorials, and single citation matcher makes the database extremely user-friendly [ Figure 1 ]. It can also be accessed on the go through mobiles using “PubMed Mobile.” One can also create own account in NCBI to save searches and to use certain PubMed tools.

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PubMed home page showing location of different tools which can be used for an efficient literature search

Tips for efficient use of PubMed search:[ 2 , 3 , 4 ]

Use of field and Boolean operators

When one searches using key words, all articles containing the words show up, many of which may not be related to the topic. Hence, the use of operators while searching makes the search more specific and less cumbersome. Operators are of two types: Field operators and Boolean operators, the latter enabling us to combine more than one concept, thereby making the search highly accurate. A few key operators that can be used in PubMed are shown in Tables ​ Tables2 2 and ​ and3 3 and illustrated in Figures ​ Figures2 2 and ​ and3 3 .

Field operators used in PubMed search

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Boolean operators used in PubMed search

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PubMed search results page showing articles on donovanosis using the field operator [TIAB]; it shows all articles which have the keyword “donovanosis” in either title or abstract of the article

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PubMed search using Boolean operators ‘AND’, ‘NOT’; To search for articles on treatment of lepra reaction other than steroids, after clicking the option ‘Advanced search’ on the home page, one can build the search using ‘AND’ option for treatment and ‘NOT’ option for steroids to omit articles on steroid treatment in lepra reaction

Use of medical subject headings terms

These are very specific and standardized terms used by indexers to describe every article in PubMed and are added to the record of every article. A search using MeSH will show all articles about the topic (or keywords), but will not show articles only containing these keywords (these articles may be about an entirely different topic, but still may contain your keywords in another context in any part of the article). This will make your search more specific. Within the topic, specific subheadings can be added to the search builder to refine your search [ Figure 4 ]. For example, MeSH terms for treatment are therapy and therapeutics.

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PubMed search using medical subject headings (MeSH) terms for management of gonorrhea. Click on MeSH database ( Figure 1 ) →In the MeSH search box type gonorrhea and click search. Under the MeSH term gonorrhea, there will be a list of subheadings; therapy, prevention and control, click the relevant check boxes and add to search builder →Click on search →All articles on therapy, prevention and control of gonorrhea will be displayed. Below the subheadings, there are two options: (1) Restrict to medical subject headings (MeSH) major topic and (2) do not include MeSH terms found below this term in the MeSH hierarchy. These can be used to further refine the search results so that only articles which are majorly about treatment of gonorrhea will be displayed

Two additional options can be used to further refine MeSH searches. These are located below the subheadings for a MeSH term: (1) Restrict to MeSH major topic; checking this box will retrieve articles which are majorly about the search term and are therefore, more focused and (2) Do not include MeSH terms found below this term in the MeSH hierarchy. This option will again give you more focused articles as it excludes the lower specific terms [ Figure 4 ].

Similar feature is available with Cochrane library (also called MeSH), EMBASE (known as EMTREE) and PsycINFO (Thesaurus of Psychological Index Terms).

Saving your searches

Any search that one has performed can be saved by using the ‘Send to’ option and can be saved as a simple word file [ Figure 5 ]. Alternatively, the ‘Save Search’ button (just below the search box) can be used. However, it is essential to set up an NCBI account and log in to NCBI for this. One can even choose to have E-mail updates of new articles in the topic of interest.

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Saving PubMed searches. A simple option is to click on the dropdown box next to ‘Send to’ option and then choose among the options. It can be saved as a text or word file by choosing ‘File’ option. Another option is the “Save search” option below the search box but this will require logging into your National Center for Biotechnology Information account. This however allows you to set up alerts for E-mail updates for new articles

Single citation matcher

This is another important tool that helps to find the genuine original source of a particular research work (when few details are known about the title/author/publication date/place/journal) and cite the reference in the most correct manner [ Figure 6 ].

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Single citation matcher: Click on “Single citation matcher” on PubMed Home page. Type available details of the required reference in the boxes to get the required citation

Full text articles

In any search clicking on the link “free full text” (if present) gives you free access to the article. In some instances, though the published article may not be available free, the author manuscript may be available free of charge. Furthermore, PubMed Central articles are available free of charge.

Managing filters

Filters can be used to refine a search according to type of article required or subjects of research. One can specify the type of article required such as clinical trial, reviews, free full text; these options are available on a typical search results page. Further specialized filters are available under “manage filters:” e.g., articles confined to certain age groups (properties option), “Links” to other databases, article specific to particular journals, etc. However, one needs to have an NCBI account and log in to access this option [ Figure 7 ].

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Managing filters. Simple filters are available on the ‘search results’ page. One can choose type of article, e.g., clinical trial, reviews etc. Further options are available in the “Manage filters” option, but this requires logging into National Center for Biotechnology Information account

The Cochrane library

Although reviews are available in PubMed, for systematic reviews and meta-analysis, Cochrane library is a much better resource. The Cochrane library is a collection of full length systematic reviews, which can be accessed for free in India, thanks to Indian Council of Medical Research renewing the license up to 2016, benefitting users all over India. It is immensely helpful in finding detailed high quality research work done in a particular field/topic [ Figure 8 ].

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Cochrane library is a useful resource for reliable, systematic reviews. One can choose the type of reviews required, including trials

An important tool that must be used while searching for research work is screening. Screening helps to improve the accuracy of search results. It is of two types: (1) Practical: To identify a broad range of potentially useful studies. Examples: Date of publication (last 5 years only; gives you most recent updates), participants or subjects (humans above 18 years), publication language (English only) (2) methodological: To identify best available studies (for example, excluding studies not involving control group or studies with only randomized control trials).

Selecting the right quality of literature is the key to successful research literature review. The quality can be estimated by what is known as “The Evidence Pyramid.” The level of evidence of references obtained from the aforementioned search tools are depicted in Figure 9 . Systematic reviews obtained from Cochrane library constitute level 1 evidence.

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Evidence pyramid: Depicting the level of evidence of references obtained from the aforementioned search tools

Thus, a systematic literature review can help not only in setting up the basis of a good research with optimal use of available information, but also in practice of evidence-based medicine.

Source of Support: Nil.

Conflict of Interest: None declared.

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Methodology

  • How to Write a Literature Review | Guide, Examples, & Templates

How to Write a Literature Review | Guide, Examples, & Templates

Published on January 2, 2023 by Shona McCombes . Revised on September 11, 2023.

What is a literature review? A literature review is a survey of scholarly sources on a specific topic. It provides an overview of current knowledge, allowing you to identify relevant theories, methods, and gaps in the existing research that you can later apply to your paper, thesis, or dissertation topic .

There are five key steps to writing a literature review:

  • Search for relevant literature
  • Evaluate sources
  • Identify themes, debates, and gaps
  • Outline the structure
  • Write your literature review

A good literature review doesn’t just summarize sources—it analyzes, synthesizes , and critically evaluates to give a clear picture of the state of knowledge on the subject.

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Table of contents

What is the purpose of a literature review, examples of literature reviews, step 1 – search for relevant literature, step 2 – evaluate and select sources, step 3 – identify themes, debates, and gaps, step 4 – outline your literature review’s structure, step 5 – write your literature review, free lecture slides, other interesting articles, frequently asked questions, introduction.

  • Quick Run-through
  • Step 1 & 2

When you write a thesis , dissertation , or research paper , you will likely have to conduct a literature review to situate your research within existing knowledge. The literature review gives you a chance to:

  • Demonstrate your familiarity with the topic and its scholarly context
  • Develop a theoretical framework and methodology for your research
  • Position your work in relation to other researchers and theorists
  • Show how your research addresses a gap or contributes to a debate
  • Evaluate the current state of research and demonstrate your knowledge of the scholarly debates around your topic.

Writing literature reviews is a particularly important skill if you want to apply for graduate school or pursue a career in research. We’ve written a step-by-step guide that you can follow below.

Literature review guide

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Writing literature reviews can be quite challenging! A good starting point could be to look at some examples, depending on what kind of literature review you’d like to write.

  • Example literature review #1: “Why Do People Migrate? A Review of the Theoretical Literature” ( Theoretical literature review about the development of economic migration theory from the 1950s to today.)
  • Example literature review #2: “Literature review as a research methodology: An overview and guidelines” ( Methodological literature review about interdisciplinary knowledge acquisition and production.)
  • Example literature review #3: “The Use of Technology in English Language Learning: A Literature Review” ( Thematic literature review about the effects of technology on language acquisition.)
  • Example literature review #4: “Learners’ Listening Comprehension Difficulties in English Language Learning: A Literature Review” ( Chronological literature review about how the concept of listening skills has changed over time.)

You can also check out our templates with literature review examples and sample outlines at the links below.

Download Word doc Download Google doc

Before you begin searching for literature, you need a clearly defined topic .

If you are writing the literature review section of a dissertation or research paper, you will search for literature related to your research problem and questions .

Make a list of keywords

Start by creating a list of keywords related to your research question. Include each of the key concepts or variables you’re interested in, and list any synonyms and related terms. You can add to this list as you discover new keywords in the process of your literature search.

  • Social media, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, TikTok
  • Body image, self-perception, self-esteem, mental health
  • Generation Z, teenagers, adolescents, youth

Search for relevant sources

Use your keywords to begin searching for sources. Some useful databases to search for journals and articles include:

  • Your university’s library catalogue
  • Google Scholar
  • Project Muse (humanities and social sciences)
  • Medline (life sciences and biomedicine)
  • EconLit (economics)
  • Inspec (physics, engineering and computer science)

You can also use boolean operators to help narrow down your search.

Make sure to read the abstract to find out whether an article is relevant to your question. When you find a useful book or article, you can check the bibliography to find other relevant sources.

You likely won’t be able to read absolutely everything that has been written on your topic, so it will be necessary to evaluate which sources are most relevant to your research question.

For each publication, ask yourself:

  • What question or problem is the author addressing?
  • What are the key concepts and how are they defined?
  • What are the key theories, models, and methods?
  • Does the research use established frameworks or take an innovative approach?
  • What are the results and conclusions of the study?
  • How does the publication relate to other literature in the field? Does it confirm, add to, or challenge established knowledge?
  • What are the strengths and weaknesses of the research?

Make sure the sources you use are credible , and make sure you read any landmark studies and major theories in your field of research.

You can use our template to summarize and evaluate sources you’re thinking about using. Click on either button below to download.

Take notes and cite your sources

As you read, you should also begin the writing process. Take notes that you can later incorporate into the text of your literature review.

It is important to keep track of your sources with citations to avoid plagiarism . It can be helpful to make an annotated bibliography , where you compile full citation information and write a paragraph of summary and analysis for each source. This helps you remember what you read and saves time later in the process.

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To begin organizing your literature review’s argument and structure, be sure you understand the connections and relationships between the sources you’ve read. Based on your reading and notes, you can look for:

  • Trends and patterns (in theory, method or results): do certain approaches become more or less popular over time?
  • Themes: what questions or concepts recur across the literature?
  • Debates, conflicts and contradictions: where do sources disagree?
  • Pivotal publications: are there any influential theories or studies that changed the direction of the field?
  • Gaps: what is missing from the literature? Are there weaknesses that need to be addressed?

This step will help you work out the structure of your literature review and (if applicable) show how your own research will contribute to existing knowledge.

  • Most research has focused on young women.
  • There is an increasing interest in the visual aspects of social media.
  • But there is still a lack of robust research on highly visual platforms like Instagram and Snapchat—this is a gap that you could address in your own research.

There are various approaches to organizing the body of a literature review. Depending on the length of your literature review, you can combine several of these strategies (for example, your overall structure might be thematic, but each theme is discussed chronologically).

Chronological

The simplest approach is to trace the development of the topic over time. However, if you choose this strategy, be careful to avoid simply listing and summarizing sources in order.

Try to analyze patterns, turning points and key debates that have shaped the direction of the field. Give your interpretation of how and why certain developments occurred.

If you have found some recurring central themes, you can organize your literature review into subsections that address different aspects of the topic.

For example, if you are reviewing literature about inequalities in migrant health outcomes, key themes might include healthcare policy, language barriers, cultural attitudes, legal status, and economic access.

Methodological

If you draw your sources from different disciplines or fields that use a variety of research methods , you might want to compare the results and conclusions that emerge from different approaches. For example:

  • Look at what results have emerged in qualitative versus quantitative research
  • Discuss how the topic has been approached by empirical versus theoretical scholarship
  • Divide the literature into sociological, historical, and cultural sources

Theoretical

A literature review is often the foundation for a theoretical framework . You can use it to discuss various theories, models, and definitions of key concepts.

You might argue for the relevance of a specific theoretical approach, or combine various theoretical concepts to create a framework for your research.

Like any other academic text , your literature review should have an introduction , a main body, and a conclusion . What you include in each depends on the objective of your literature review.

The introduction should clearly establish the focus and purpose of the literature review.

Depending on the length of your literature review, you might want to divide the body into subsections. You can use a subheading for each theme, time period, or methodological approach.

As you write, you can follow these tips:

  • Summarize and synthesize: give an overview of the main points of each source and combine them into a coherent whole
  • Analyze and interpret: don’t just paraphrase other researchers — add your own interpretations where possible, discussing the significance of findings in relation to the literature as a whole
  • Critically evaluate: mention the strengths and weaknesses of your sources
  • Write in well-structured paragraphs: use transition words and topic sentences to draw connections, comparisons and contrasts

In the conclusion, you should summarize the key findings you have taken from the literature and emphasize their significance.

When you’ve finished writing and revising your literature review, don’t forget to proofread thoroughly before submitting. Not a language expert? Check out Scribbr’s professional proofreading services !

This article has been adapted into lecture slides that you can use to teach your students about writing a literature review.

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If you want to know more about the research process , methodology , research bias , or statistics , make sure to check out some of our other articles with explanations and examples.

  • Sampling methods
  • Simple random sampling
  • Stratified sampling
  • Cluster sampling
  • Likert scales
  • Reproducibility

 Statistics

  • Null hypothesis
  • Statistical power
  • Probability distribution
  • Effect size
  • Poisson distribution

Research bias

  • Optimism bias
  • Cognitive bias
  • Implicit bias
  • Hawthorne effect
  • Anchoring bias
  • Explicit bias

A literature review is a survey of scholarly sources (such as books, journal articles, and theses) related to a specific topic or research question .

It is often written as part of a thesis, dissertation , or research paper , in order to situate your work in relation to existing knowledge.

There are several reasons to conduct a literature review at the beginning of a research project:

  • To familiarize yourself with the current state of knowledge on your topic
  • To ensure that you’re not just repeating what others have already done
  • To identify gaps in knowledge and unresolved problems that your research can address
  • To develop your theoretical framework and methodology
  • To provide an overview of the key findings and debates on the topic

Writing the literature review shows your reader how your work relates to existing research and what new insights it will contribute.

The literature review usually comes near the beginning of your thesis or dissertation . After the introduction , it grounds your research in a scholarly field and leads directly to your theoretical framework or methodology .

A literature review is a survey of credible sources on a topic, often used in dissertations , theses, and research papers . Literature reviews give an overview of knowledge on a subject, helping you identify relevant theories and methods, as well as gaps in existing research. Literature reviews are set up similarly to other  academic texts , with an introduction , a main body, and a conclusion .

An  annotated bibliography is a list of  source references that has a short description (called an annotation ) for each of the sources. It is often assigned as part of the research process for a  paper .  

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Research-Methodology

Literature review sources

Sources for literature review can be divided into three categories as illustrated in table below. In your dissertation you will need to use all three categories of literature review sources:

Sources for literature review and examples

Generally, your literature review should integrate a wide range of sources such as:

  • Books . Textbooks remain as the most important source to find models and theories related to the research area. Research the most respected authorities in your selected research area and find the latest editions of books authored by them. For example, in the area of marketing the most notable authors include Philip Kotler, Seth Godin, Malcolm Gladwell, Emanuel Rosen and others.
  • Magazines . Industry-specific magazines are usually rich in scholarly articles and they can be effective source to learn about the latest trends and developments in the research area. Reading industry magazines can be the most enjoyable part of the literature review, assuming that your selected research area represents an area of your personal and professional interests, which should be the case anyways.
  • Newspapers can be referred to as the main source of up-to-date news about the latest events related to the research area. However, the proportion of the use of newspapers in literature review is recommended to be less compared to alternative sources of secondary data such as books and magazines. This is due to the fact that newspaper articles mainly lack depth of analyses and discussions.
  • Online articles . You can find online versions of all of the above sources. However, note that the levels of reliability of online articles can be highly compromised depending on the source due to the high levels of ease with which articles can be published online. Opinions offered in a wide range of online discussion blogs cannot be usually used in literature review. Similarly, dissertation assessors are not keen to appreciate references to a wide range of blogs, unless articles in these blogs are authored by respected authorities in the research area.

Your secondary data sources may comprise certain amount of grey literature as well. The term grey literature refers to type of literature produced by government, academics, business and industry in print and electronic formats, which is not controlled by commercial publishers. It is called ‘grey’ because the status of the information in grey literature is not certain. In other words, any publication that has not been peer reviewed for publication is grey literature.

The necessity to use grey literature arises when there is no enough peer reviewed publications are available for the subject of your study.

Literature review sources

John Dudovskiy

Research Methods

  • Getting Started
  • Literature Review Research
  • Research Design
  • Research Design By Discipline
  • SAGE Research Methods
  • Teaching with SAGE Research Methods

Literature Review

  • What is a Literature Review?
  • What is NOT a Literature Review?
  • Purposes of a Literature Review
  • Types of Literature Reviews
  • Literature Reviews vs. Systematic Reviews
  • Systematic vs. Meta-Analysis

Literature Review  is a comprehensive survey of the works published in a particular field of study or line of research, usually over a specific period of time, in the form of an in-depth, critical bibliographic essay or annotated list in which attention is drawn to the most significant works.

Also, we can define a literature review as the collected body of scholarly works related to a topic:

  • Summarizes and analyzes previous research relevant to a topic
  • Includes scholarly books and articles published in academic journals
  • Can be an specific scholarly paper or a section in a research paper

The objective of a Literature Review is to find previous published scholarly works relevant to an specific topic

  • Help gather ideas or information
  • Keep up to date in current trends and findings
  • Help develop new questions

A literature review is important because it:

  • Explains the background of research on a topic.
  • Demonstrates why a topic is significant to a subject area.
  • Helps focus your own research questions or problems
  • Discovers relationships between research studies/ideas.
  • Suggests unexplored ideas or populations
  • Identifies major themes, concepts, and researchers on a topic.
  • Tests assumptions; may help counter preconceived ideas and remove unconscious bias.
  • Identifies critical gaps, points of disagreement, or potentially flawed methodology or theoretical approaches.
  • Indicates potential directions for future research.

All content in this section is from Literature Review Research from Old Dominion University 

Keep in mind the following, a literature review is NOT:

Not an essay 

Not an annotated bibliography  in which you summarize each article that you have reviewed.  A literature review goes beyond basic summarizing to focus on the critical analysis of the reviewed works and their relationship to your research question.

Not a research paper   where you select resources to support one side of an issue versus another.  A lit review should explain and consider all sides of an argument in order to avoid bias, and areas of agreement and disagreement should be highlighted.

A literature review serves several purposes. For example, it

  • provides thorough knowledge of previous studies; introduces seminal works.
  • helps focus one’s own research topic.
  • identifies a conceptual framework for one’s own research questions or problems; indicates potential directions for future research.
  • suggests previously unused or underused methodologies, designs, quantitative and qualitative strategies.
  • identifies gaps in previous studies; identifies flawed methodologies and/or theoretical approaches; avoids replication of mistakes.
  • helps the researcher avoid repetition of earlier research.
  • suggests unexplored populations.
  • determines whether past studies agree or disagree; identifies controversy in the literature.
  • tests assumptions; may help counter preconceived ideas and remove unconscious bias.

As Kennedy (2007) notes*, it is important to think of knowledge in a given field as consisting of three layers. First, there are the primary studies that researchers conduct and publish. Second are the reviews of those studies that summarize and offer new interpretations built from and often extending beyond the original studies. Third, there are the perceptions, conclusions, opinion, and interpretations that are shared informally that become part of the lore of field. In composing a literature review, it is important to note that it is often this third layer of knowledge that is cited as "true" even though it often has only a loose relationship to the primary studies and secondary literature reviews.

Given this, while literature reviews are designed to provide an overview and synthesis of pertinent sources you have explored, there are several approaches to how they can be done, depending upon the type of analysis underpinning your study. Listed below are definitions of types of literature reviews:

Argumentative Review      This form examines literature selectively in order to support or refute an argument, deeply imbedded assumption, or philosophical problem already established in the literature. The purpose is to develop a body of literature that establishes a contrarian viewpoint. Given the value-laden nature of some social science research [e.g., educational reform; immigration control], argumentative approaches to analyzing the literature can be a legitimate and important form of discourse. However, note that they can also introduce problems of bias when they are used to to make summary claims of the sort found in systematic reviews.

Integrative Review      Considered a form of research that reviews, critiques, and synthesizes representative literature on a topic in an integrated way such that new frameworks and perspectives on the topic are generated. The body of literature includes all studies that address related or identical hypotheses. A well-done integrative review meets the same standards as primary research in regard to clarity, rigor, and replication.

Historical Review      Few things rest in isolation from historical precedent. Historical reviews are focused on examining research throughout a period of time, often starting with the first time an issue, concept, theory, phenomena emerged in the literature, then tracing its evolution within the scholarship of a discipline. The purpose is to place research in a historical context to show familiarity with state-of-the-art developments and to identify the likely directions for future research.

Methodological Review      A review does not always focus on what someone said [content], but how they said it [method of analysis]. This approach provides a framework of understanding at different levels (i.e. those of theory, substantive fields, research approaches and data collection and analysis techniques), enables researchers to draw on a wide variety of knowledge ranging from the conceptual level to practical documents for use in fieldwork in the areas of ontological and epistemological consideration, quantitative and qualitative integration, sampling, interviewing, data collection and data analysis, and helps highlight many ethical issues which we should be aware of and consider as we go through our study.

Systematic Review      This form consists of an overview of existing evidence pertinent to a clearly formulated research question, which uses pre-specified and standardized methods to identify and critically appraise relevant research, and to collect, report, and analyse data from the studies that are included in the review. Typically it focuses on a very specific empirical question, often posed in a cause-and-effect form, such as "To what extent does A contribute to B?"

Theoretical Review      The purpose of this form is to concretely examine the corpus of theory that has accumulated in regard to an issue, concept, theory, phenomena. The theoretical literature review help establish what theories already exist, the relationships between them, to what degree the existing theories have been investigated, and to develop new hypotheses to be tested. Often this form is used to help establish a lack of appropriate theories or reveal that current theories are inadequate for explaining new or emerging research problems. The unit of analysis can focus on a theoretical concept or a whole theory or framework.

* Kennedy, Mary M. "Defining a Literature."  Educational Researcher  36 (April 2007): 139-147.

All content in this section is from The Literature Review created by Dr. Robert Larabee USC

Robinson, P. and Lowe, J. (2015),  Literature reviews vs systematic reviews.  Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health, 39: 103-103. doi: 10.1111/1753-6405.12393

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What's in the name? The difference between a Systematic Review and a Literature Review, and why it matters . By Lynn Kysh from University of Southern California

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Systematic review or meta-analysis?

A  systematic review  answers a defined research question by collecting and summarizing all empirical evidence that fits pre-specified eligibility criteria.

A  meta-analysis  is the use of statistical methods to summarize the results of these studies.

Systematic reviews, just like other research articles, can be of varying quality. They are a significant piece of work (the Centre for Reviews and Dissemination at York estimates that a team will take 9-24 months), and to be useful to other researchers and practitioners they should have:

  • clearly stated objectives with pre-defined eligibility criteria for studies
  • explicit, reproducible methodology
  • a systematic search that attempts to identify all studies
  • assessment of the validity of the findings of the included studies (e.g. risk of bias)
  • systematic presentation, and synthesis, of the characteristics and findings of the included studies

Not all systematic reviews contain meta-analysis. 

Meta-analysis is the use of statistical methods to summarize the results of independent studies. By combining information from all relevant studies, meta-analysis can provide more precise estimates of the effects of health care than those derived from the individual studies included within a review.  More information on meta-analyses can be found in  Cochrane Handbook, Chapter 9 .

A meta-analysis goes beyond critique and integration and conducts secondary statistical analysis on the outcomes of similar studies.  It is a systematic review that uses quantitative methods to synthesize and summarize the results.

An advantage of a meta-analysis is the ability to be completely objective in evaluating research findings.  Not all topics, however, have sufficient research evidence to allow a meta-analysis to be conducted.  In that case, an integrative review is an appropriate strategy. 

Some of the content in this section is from Systematic reviews and meta-analyses: step by step guide created by Kate McAllister.

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Literature Review: Lit Review Sources

  • Lit Review Types
  • GRADE System
  • Do a Lit Review
  • Citation Justice
  • Lit Review Sources

Where do I find information for a literature review?

Research is done by...

...by way of...

...communicated through...

...and organized in...

Types of sources for a review...

  • Primary source: Usually a report by the original researchers of a study (unfiltered sources)
  • Secondary source: Description or summary by somebody other than the original researcher, e.g. a review article (filtered sources)
  • Conceptual/theoretical: Papers concerned with description or analysis of theories or concepts associated with the topic
  • Anecdotal/opinion/clinical: Views or opinions about the subject that are not research, review or theoretical (case studies or reports from clinical settings)

A Heirarchy of research information:

Source: SUNY Downstate Medical Center. Medical Research Library of Brooklyn. Evidence Based Medicine Course. A Guide to Research Methods: The Evidence Pyramid: http://library.downstate.edu/EBM2/2100.htm

Life Cycle of Publication

Click image to enlarge

Publication Cycle of Scientific Literature

Scientific information has a ‘life cycle’ of its own… it is born as an idea, and then matures and becomes more available to the public. First it appears within the so-called ‘invisible college’ of experts in the field, discussed at conferences and symposia or posted as pre-prints for comments and corrections. Then it appears in the published literature (the primary literature), often as a journal article in a peer-reviewed journal.

Researchers can use the indexing and alerting services of the secondary literature to find out what has been published in a field. Depending on how much information is added by the indexer or abstracter, this may take a few months (though electronic publication has sped up this process). Finally, the information may appear in more popular or reference sources, sometimes called the tertiary literature.

The person beginning a literature search may take this process in reverse: using tertiary sources for general background, then going to the secondary literature to survey what has been published, following up by finding the original (primary) sources, and generating their own research Idea.

(Original content by Wade Lee-Smith)

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Literature Review Research Presentation

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Related Papers

Gavin Mount

A literature review is ‘integral to the success of academic research’ and an indispensable component of a doctoral thesis. Brief versions are particularly important for the Confirmation phase of your candidature. Often this work will form a significant component of the introduction or early chapters of your thesis.

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tecnico emergencias

Learning how to effectively write a literature review is a critical tool for success for an academic, and perhaps even professional career. Being able to summarize and synthesize prior research pertaining to a certain topic not only demonstrates having a good grasp on available information for a topic, but it also assists in the learning process. Although literature reviews are important for one's academic career, they are often misunderstood and underdeveloped. This article is intended to provide both undergraduate and graduate students in the criminal justice field specifically, and social sciences more generally, skills and perspectives on how to develop and/or strengthen their skills in writing a literature review. Included in this discussion are foci on the structure , process, and art of writing a literature review. What is a Literature Review? In essence, a literature review is a comprehensive overview of prior research regarding a specific topic. The overview both shows the reader what is known about a topic, and what is not yet known, thereby setting up the rationale or need for a new investigation, which is what the actual study to which the literature review is attached seeks to do. Stated a bit differently (Creswell 1994, pp. 20, 21) explains: The literature in a research study accomplishes several purposes: (a) It shares with the reader the results of other studies that are closely related to the study being reported (Fraenkel & Wallen, 1990. (b) It relates a study to the larger, ongoing dialog in the literature about a topic, filling in gaps and extending prior studies (Marshall & Rossman, 1989). (c) It provides a framework for establishing the importance of the study. As an overview, a well done literature review includes all of the main themes and subthemes found within the general topic chosen for the study. These themes and subthemes are usually interwoven with the methods or findings of the prior research. Also, a literature review sets the stage for and JOURNAL

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This Study Guide explains why literature reviews are needed, and how they can be conducted and reported. Related Study Guides are: Referencing and bibliographies, Avoiding plagiarism, Writing a dissertation, What is critical reading? What is critical writing? The focus of the Study Guide is the literature review within a dissertation or a thesis, but many of the ideas are transferable to other kinds of writing, such as an extended essay, or a report.

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10 Best Literature Review Templates for Scholars and Researchers [Free PDF Attached]

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Imagine being in a new country and taking a road trip without GPS. You would be so lost. Right? Similarly, think about delving into a topic without having a clue or proper understanding of the reason behind studying it. 

That’s when a well-written literature review comes to the rescue. It provides a proper direction to the topic being studied. 

The literature review furnishes a descriptive overview of the existing knowledge relevant to the research statement. It is a crucial step in the research process as it enables you to establish the theoretical roots of your field of interest, elucidate your ideas, and develop a suitable methodology. A literature review can include information from various sources, such as journals, books, documents, and other academic materials. This promotes in-depth understanding and analytical thinking, thereby helping in critical evaluation.

Regardless of the type of literature review — evaluative, exploratory, instrumental, systematic, and meta-analysis, a well-written article consists of three basic elements: introduction, body, and conclusion. Also its essence blooms in creating new knowledge through the process of review, critique, and synthesis.

But writing a literature review can be difficult. Right?

Relax, our collection of professionally designed templates will leave no room for mistakes or anxious feelings as they will help you present background information concisely. 

10 Designs to Rethink Your Literature Reviews

These designs are fully customizable to help you establish links between your proposition and already existing literature. Our PowerPoint infographics are of the highest quality and contain relevant content. Whether you want to write a short summary or review consisting of several pages, these exclusive layouts will serve the purpose. 

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Template 1: Literature Review PPT Template

This literature review design is a perfect tool for any student looking to present a summary and critique of knowledge on their research statement. Using this layout, you can discuss theoretical and methodological contributions in the related field. You can also talk about past works, books, study materials, etc. The given PPT design is concise, easy to use, and will help develop a strong framework for problem-solving. Download it today.

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Literature Review

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Writing a literature review can be overwhelming and time-consuming, but our project proposal PPT slides make the process much easier. This exclusive graphic will help you gather all the information you need by depicting strengths and weaknesses. It will also assist you in identifying and analyzing the most important aspects of your knowledge sources. With our helpful design, writing a literature review is easy and done. Download it now.

Literature Review for Research Project Proposal PPT

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Literature Review for Research Project Proposal

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With this exclusive graphic, you'll have everything you need to create a well-structured and convincing literature review. The given design is well-suited for students and researchers who wish to mention reliable information sources, such as books and journals, and draw inferences from them. You can even focus on the strong points of your study, thereby making an impactful research statement. Therefore, grab this PPT slide today.

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literature review

LITERATURE REVIEW

Jul 22, 2014

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LITERATURE REVIEW. 2.1What is a “Literature Review”?. A literature review is an overview of research on a given topic and answers to related research questions Literature reviews are an important part of research and should be treated as such A well-written literature review:

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  • distinguish
  • related research questions
  • relevant journal articles
  • selective use
  • low priority
  • bibliographic data

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2.1What is a “Literature Review”? • A literature review is an overview of research on a given topic and answers to related research questions • Literature reviews are an important part of research and should be treated as such • A well-written literature review: • Organizes literature • Evaluates literature • Identifies patterns and trends in literature • Synthesizes literature

‘the literature’ means the works you consulted in order to understand and investigate your research problem. • A literature review involves providing a rationale for your selection of literature related to the subject studied.

The literature review familiarizes the reader with the subject and the scope of the research topic. • It helps the reader to define key concepts • Finally it establishes the body of knowledge which will be able to contribute towards the research.

2.2 Writing the Literature Review • Firstly decide what you need to read from a broad spectrum of literature available • Refer to books, periodicals, journals, and websites which will be relevant to your study.

Determine what exactly are your objectives • Provide a current and complete overview of your related topic. • Show that you have read extensively and formed a body of knowledge on the subject of field of study

Purpose of writing a literature Review Your review should be in a form of • critical decision, • showing awareness of differing arguments, theories, approaches and methodologies. It should be a synthesis and analysis of the relevant published work, linked at all times to your objective and rationale of your study.

There are several purposes on why we write a literature review: • it reviews knowledge of previous studies on the subject of research • it identifies a conceptual framework for own research • it provides directions for future research • it provides resources previously unknown to the reader • it identifies gaps in past studies

To sum up, a good literature review is: • critical of what has been written, • identifies areas of controversy, • raises questions and identifies areas which need further research.

2.3 Process of Writing a Literature Review • There are several stages in developing a literature review(Biddlek, 1997). The stages are : • Identify • Record • Relevance • Retrieve • Review • Write

Stage 1 – Identify • Compile a list of references. • Use a kind of index system either a hard copy or a software referencing system. • i)work through key catalogues, databases, indexes, bibliographies and websites for relevant resources • ii)check the references and in the articles you have read • iii)locate and use research reviews

Stage 2-Record • Make a record of any literature that relates to your topic. • You should have citation details, where it is located, and should also write a few sentences that help you remember what the article is about

Stage 3 –Relevance • i)Prioritize the literature, after having read the abstract, rank them if it should be high, medium or low priority • ii)On the website scan through the literature for relevance before you decide to download or print it out • iii) You need to focus on the literature and sources you have identified and ranked as most important, the most recent development from the periodicals. • iv) Distinguish between textbooks and research articles from journals and books. They contain different kinds of information that will be more or less relevant to your research

Stage 4 -Retrieve • i) Make hard copies of the most important literature. Print relevant journal articles from databases and photocopy articles from journals

Stage 5 –Review • Use the reading log which allows you to record different kinds of information: the bibliographic details, a description, and relationship to other readings. • Also record where the literature is located so that you can easily refer to the quotes or ideas paraphrased when you are editing. • As you are taking notes, ensure you are clear about what you are quoting and paraphrasing. You cannot risk unintentionally plagiarizing ideas.

Stage 6 -Write • Start with an introductory paragraph • Discuss the literature on the subject in a logical and coherent way • Conclude with a paragraph that is relevant to the literature of the research

2.4 Five Phases of Writing a Literature Review • Phase 1 – Specify the scope of your review • i)Ensure you have a precise topic • you must be precise about having a topic. It should not be too broad or unspecific. Look at the following topic which is too broad • Example: ‘Life and Times of Sigmund Freud” • The title below seems to be limited, but still considered too broad • Example: “Psychological Theories of Sigmund Freud • However, a more manageable and appropriate topic would be • ‘Freud’s Theory of Personality Applied to Mental Health” • If your research question is too broad or defined vaguely or abstractly, you may end up reading and compiling too much information for your literature review. However if your research question is specified too narrowly or defined concisely, you may miss out more general information

ii)Scope of the Literature Review You have to determine the precise scope of the literature review. Questions which need to be answered are as follows :- • What will I cover in my review? • How comprehensive will it be? • How current are my materials? • What type of materials/documents will be needed?

Phase 2: Locating and Accessing Information • Obtain all the necessary materials for your literature review by searching relevant bibliographies, print indexes and online databases i)Using Existing Literature Reviews • Many journals on different subject areas publish review articles. In these journals you may find commentaries on research articles. You may find these reviews relevant to your literature review.

Phase 3 Recording the Information • You can develop a systematic way of recording information through: note cards with citations • Photocopied articles with points highlighted or underlined with notes in the margins • Traditional taking down notes or in laptops

i)Tips on Recording Information • A quick skimming and scanning through the introduction and the conclusion of an article, would give you an idea of the article and general points. • a)Start with the most recent studies and work backwards. Refer to the list of references on a recent article;   • b)Read, first the report or article’s abstract - this will give you some clues about the article • c)When taking down notes, remember to write out the complete bibliographic citation for each work. It is essential you note down the page numbers as these will be necessary later for footnotes and bibliography. For internet citations note the URL • d)Write all direct quotations precisely when taking down notes. You should use quotations marks, so it can recognize as a directly quoted text and not a paraphrase. If you fail to put a direct text in quotation marks or to credit the authors, it amounts to plagiarism.

Phase 4 Evaluating the Information • After having read all the articles, you must now decide and evaluate what should be included in the review. • Be selective - you have to consider issues and themes that link different articles.

Phase 5 Organizing and Writing the Literature Review • After accessing, reading and evaluating the material, these materials need to be organized. • You may organize the selected readings by theoretical approaches, by specific concepts or issues, and by methodologies

Some tips on writing After you have located, read, analyzed and evaluated the literature, the next stage is actual writing. Here are some tips: • Keep your paragraphs short • Subheadings are essential, as it clarifies the structure. They break up the materials into more readable units • Avoid too many long direct quotations from the studies. Paraphrase other writers’ works rather than quote lengthy passages • Don’t cite references that you haven’t read

Some traps to avoid • Trying to read everything! • not to provide a summary of all the published work that relates to your research, but a survey of the most relevant and significant work. • Reading but not writing! • Writing can help you understand and find relationships between the work you’ve read, so don’t put writing off until you’ve “finished” reading. • Not keeping bibliographic information! - Source: http://www.clpd.bbk.ac.uk/students/litreview web.pdx.edu/~bertini/literature_review.pdf

Final Checklist Here is a checklist from University of Melbourne: (http://www.lib.unimelb.eduau/postgrad/litreview/finalchecklist.html) • Have you indicated the purpose of the review? • Have you ascertained the parameters of the review and are they reasonable? • Have you emphasized on recent development of the research? • Have you focused on primary sources with only selective use of secondary sources? • Is the literature selected relevant to your study? • Is your bibliographic data complete?

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Literature Review

Literature Review. Xingwei Wang. What is a literature review. What is a literature review. Have thesis statement?. What is a literature review. 3 basic elements?. What is a literature review. summary of the sources a recap of the important information of the source synthesis

731 views • 22 slides

Literature Review

Literature Review. Xingwei Wang. What is a literature review. What is a literature review. summary of the sources a recap of the important information of the source. What is a literature review. synthesis a re-organization , or a reshuffling, of that information.

453 views • 35 slides

Literature Review

Literature Review. A Nondestructive Self-Reference Scheme for Spin-Transfer Torque Random Access Memory (STT-RAM) —— Yiran Chen, et al. Fengbo Ren. 09/03/2010. Background. STT-RAM: Spin Transfer Torque Random Access Memory Key memory device: magnetic tunnel junctions (MTJ)

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IMAGES

  1. steps of literature review slideshare

    sources of review of literature in research slideshare

  2. How To Write A Literature Review

    sources of review of literature in research slideshare

  3. Qualities of an effective literature review in a proposal

    sources of review of literature in research slideshare

  4. How To Write A Literature Review

    sources of review of literature in research slideshare

  5. what is literature review and why we use in research

    sources of review of literature in research slideshare

  6. The Importance of Literature Review in Scientific Research Writing

    sources of review of literature in research slideshare

VIDEO

  1. LITERATURE REVIEW: Step by step guide for performing a literature research

  2. How to Format Literature Review: A Practical Example with Tools to facilitate Research Literature

  3. How to Write a LITERATURE Review

  4. The Research Process: The Literature Review

  5. Purpose of Literature Review

  6. Chapter-2 (Literature Review) of a Research Thesis: Structure and Contents

COMMENTS

  1. Literature review in research

    2. INTRODUCTION Review of literature is one of the most important steps in the research process. It is an account of what is already known about a particular phenomenon. The main purpose of literature review is to convey to the readers about the work already done & the knowledge & ideas that have been already established on a particular topic ...

  2. Review of Literature

    Dec 12, 2018 • 437 likes • 233,969 views Enoch Snowden Associate Professor Follow Healthcare Review of Literature - Nursing - Nursing Research - BSc Nursing Read more 1 of 46 Download Now Recommended Literature review DEVA PON PUSHPAM I Literature review in research Nursing Path Research problem Nursing Path Research hypothesis....ppt Rahul Dhaker

  3. Sources of Literature Review.pptx

    Sources of Literature Review.pptx Apr 10, 2023 • 1 like • 2,244 views S salman khan TEACHER Follow Health & Medicine @nursing_research 1 of 31 Download Now Recommended 4. scientific methods of research Chanda Jabeen Approaches to nursing research Jijo G John Research approaches and designs sumi r Introduction to Nursing Research Enoch Snowden

  4. Review of literature in research

    Jan 23, 2020 • 17 likes • 3,139 views RAVI RAI DANGI Assistant Professor at Self employed Follow Education Review of literature is one of the most important steps in the research process. It is an account of what is already known about a particular phenomenon.

  5. Review Of Literature.ppt

    Download Now Recommended Review of literature Grace James Unit2-Literature Survey.pptx Praveen Kumar Unit2-Literature Survey.pptx Praveen Kumar Unit2-Literature Survey.pptx Praveen Kumar 4. review of literature Chanda Jabeen Importance & Sources of Review of Literature.pptx salman khan More Related Content Similar to Review Of Literature.ppt (20)

  6. Review of Literature

    A literature review is a search and evaluation of the available literature in your given subject or chosen topic area. It documents the state of the art with respect to the subject or topic you are writing about. It surveys the literature in your chosen area of study. 1 of 67 Recommended Review of Literature Enoch Snowden

  7. REVIEW OF LITERATURE

    Sources of Literature Review.pptx Steps of Writing a Research Proposal BIBLIOGRAPHY AND REFRENCE Types of literature review Review of literature The Literature Review Process Ppt. developing a research proposal The literature review WRITING RESEARCH REFERENCE STYLE Research Report Writing Review of literature Literature review

  8. Literature reviews: functions, types and methods

    A literature review section as part of a longer report should provide context and support a rationale for the new study. In a health sciences journal article, this section can sometimes be very short; in a dissertation, there is usually a whole chapter as a literature review, but prior literature should also be used throughout - for example to support methods and discussion sections.

  9. Reviewing literature for research: Doing it the right way

    Literature search. Fink has defined research literature review as a "systematic, explicit and reproducible method for identifying, evaluating, and synthesizing the existing body of completed and recorded work produced by researchers, scholars and practitioners."[]Review of research literature can be summarized into a seven step process: (i) Selecting research questions/purpose of the ...

  10. PPTX Scribbr

    Do you need to write a literature review for your thesis, dissertation, or research paper? Learn how to do it with this free lecture slides from Scribbr, a leading academic writing service. The slides cover the definition, purpose, structure, and process of a literature review, with examples and tips to help you succeed.

  11. How to Write a Literature Review

    Examples of literature reviews. Step 1 - Search for relevant literature. Step 2 - Evaluate and select sources. Step 3 - Identify themes, debates, and gaps. Step 4 - Outline your literature review's structure. Step 5 - Write your literature review.

  12. Literature review sources

    In your dissertation you will need to use all three categories of literature review sources: Sources for literature review and examples Generally, your literature review should integrate a wide range of sources such as: Books. Textbooks remain as the most important source to find models and theories related to the research area.

  13. Literature Review Research

    The objective of a Literature Review is to find previous published scholarly works relevant to an specific topic. Explains the background of research on a topic. Demonstrates why a topic is significant to a subject area. Discovers relationships between research studies/ideas. Identifies major themes, concepts, and researchers on a topic.

  14. Literature Review: Lit Review Sources

    Primary source: Usually a report by the original researchers of a study (unfiltered sources) Secondary source: Description or summary by somebody other than the original researcher, e.g. a review article (filtered sources) Conceptual/theoretical: Papers concerned with description or analysis of theories or concepts associated with the topic.

  15. (PPT) Review of Related Literature

    Review of Related Literature Discussant: R o s e m a r i e Fe r n a n d e z N i c ol y n G au r a n M i c h e l l e A n n e R ob i s o A researcher needs to review write-ups, readings and studies related to his present study to determine the similarities and differences of the findings between the past and present studies. It aims to gain insight into the aspects of the problems that are ...

  16. PDF UNIT 2 REVIEW OF LITERATURE

    2.3 Sources of Review of Literature 2.3.1 Journals and Books 2.3.2 Reviews 2.3.3 Abstracts 2.3.4 Indexes 2.3.5 Internet 2.3.6 Doctoral Dissertations 2.3.7 Supervisors / Research Professors 2.4 Types of Literature 2.4.1 Subject Specific Books 2.4.2 Grey Literature 2.4.3 Official Publications 2.4.4 Writing Aids 2.4.5 Journal Articles

  17. PPT Boston University Medical Campus

    ÐÏ à¡± á> þÿ ñ þÿÿÿþÿÿÿí î ï ð ...

  18. (PPT) Literature Review Research Presentation

    Stated a bit differently (Creswell 1994, pp. 20, 21) explains: The literature in a research study accomplishes several purposes: (a) It shares with the reader the results of other studies that are closely related to the study being reported (Fraenkel & Wallen, 1990.

  19. PPT PowerPoint Presentation

    The Literature Review Dr Areefa Albahri * * The Literature Review The review of the literature is defined as a broad, comprehensive, in-depth, systematic, and critical review of scholarly publications, unpublished scholarly print materials, audiovisual materials, and personal communications * The Literature Review The review of the literature is traditionally considered a systematic and ...

  20. 10 Best Literature Review Templates for Scholars and Researchers [Free

    Template 1: Literature Review PPT Template. This literature review design is a perfect tool for any student looking to present a summary and critique of knowledge on their research statement. Using this layout, you can discuss theoretical and methodological contributions in the related field.

  21. Importance of the Literature Review

    Sources Used • Primary sources: original research • Secondary sources: clinical articles • Do not use textbooks & web sites in a literature review Primary Source: Quantitative Primary Source: Qualitative Secondary Source Example

  22. PPT

    Literature Review. Literature Review • "look again" (re + view) at what others have done • describes theoretical per­spectives and previous research findings regarding the problem. Purpose of Literature Review • offer new ideas, perspectives, and approaches • Help to know researchers who worked in your research area for advice or contact • Inform methodological and design issues ...

  23. PPT

    • A literature review is an overview of research on a given topic and answers to related research questions • Literature reviews are an important part of research and should be treated as such • A well-written literature review: • Organizes literature • Evaluates literature • Identifies patterns and trends in literature • Synthesizes literature

  24. Affordances of Multilingual and Multimodal Literacy Engagements of

    As illustrated in Table 1, one of the inclusion criteria involved was regarding the characteristics of research participants included in the evidence sources. The scoping review encompassed evidence sources that focused on non-White, racialized high school students from immigrant and refugee background families, who could be newly arrived or ...