How to write a systematic literature review

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Dr.CherylStam,New Zealand,Researcher
Published Date:04-07-2017
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A literature review is a description of the literature relevant to a particular field or topic. It gives an overview of: What has been Key writers Prevailing Questions Appropriate said theories and being asked and useful hypotheses methods and methodologies It may take two forms • Purely descriptive – as in an annotated bibliography. A descriptive review should not just list and paraphrase, but should add comment and bring out themes and trends. • A critical assessment of the literature in a particular field, stating where the weaknesses and gaps are, contrasting the views of particular authors, or raising questions. It will evaluate and show relationships, so that key themes emerge. It can be • A whole paper, which annotates and/or critiques the literature in a particular subject area. • Part of a thesis or dissertation, forming an early context-setting chapter. • a useful background outlining a piece of research, or putting forward a hypothesis. Define the problem It is important to define the problem or area which you wish to address. Have a purpose for your literature review to narrow the scope of what you need to look out for when you read. Carry out a search for relevant materials Relevant materials will probably comprise: Commercial/ Books Peer reviewed Newspaper Historical government reports and journal articles articles records statistical information Theses and Other relevant dissertations information Search the university or academic library with a good collection in your subject area. Search using the Internet – but be sure to avoid the pitfalls. Use specific rather than general keywords and phrases for your search strategy. Evaluate the materials Points to consider when evaluating material: Initial appraisal from raw bibliographical data: • Author credentials – are they an expert in the field? Are they affiliated to a reputable organization? • Date of publication – is it sufficiently current or has knowledge moved on? • If a book – is it the latest edition? • If a journal – is it a peer reviewed scholarly journal? • Is the publisher reputable and scholarly? Appraisal based on content analysis: • Is it addressing a scholarly audience? • Does it review relevant literature? • Is it an objective fact-based viewpoint? Is it logically organized and clear to follow? • Does it follow a particular theoretical viewpoint, e.g. feminist? • What is the relationship of this work to other material on the same topic – does it substantiate it or add a different perspective? • If using research, is the design sound? Is it primary or secondary material? • If it is from a practice-based perspective, what are the implications for practice? Analyse the findings 4. Analyse the findings • What themes emerge and what conclusions can be drawn? • What are the major similarities and differences between the various writers? • Are there any significant questions which emerge and which could form a basis for further investigation? Introduction Define the topic and state reasons for choice. You could also point out overall trends, gaps and themes that emerge. Body Discuss your sources. You can organize your discussion chronologically, thematically or methodologically. Conclusion Summarize the major contributions, evaluating the current position, and pointing out flaws in methodology, gaps in the research, contradictions and areas for further study. These universities have good information on how to write a literature review: • Deakin University – • University of Wisconsin-Madison – • University of North Carolina – • University of California, Santa Cruz – (Follow links to "Write a Literature Review".) Brought to you by: Emerald GROUP PUBLIS H I N G

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