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The Literature Review: 4. Analysing the Literature

This guide provides an introduction to the conduct and organization of a literature review

1. Recording the Literature

In your reading of the literature, the following processes should be followed:

1. Identify the significance of the text

  • What is the author saying about the topic?
  • What are the main findings of the research?
  • What is the quality of the evidence presented?
  • Was the piece written in response to other research?
  • Is it a new piece of research?

2. Assess the evidence

  • Are the conclusions appropriate to the research question?
  • Are all points logically developed and relevant to the findings?
  • Does the methodology support the conclusions?
  • Does the researcher account satisfactorily for results that are different to those obtained by others?
  • What are the strengths of the research?
  • What are the weaknesses of the research?
  • What assumptions do the author make?
  • Do you agree or disagree with these assumptions?

2. The Evolving Literature Review

In this video, three students discuss how they managed the "always evolving" literature reveiw and share their tips.

3. Questions to Ask

For each book or article you read, ask the following questions:

  1. What are the author's credentials?
  2. What is the problem/issue defined by the author?
  3. Has the significance of the issue been clearly established by the author?
  4. What is the author's research orientation?
  5. What is the author's theoretical framework?
  6. Has the author evaluated the literature relevant to the problem/issue?
  7. Does the author consider literature that does not support his position?
  8. How good are the basic components of the study design - population, intervention, outcome?
  9. Does the author display objectivity in reasoning or only tries to prove what he believes?
  10. Is the argument logically developed?
  11. Are the author's arguments and conclusions convincing?
  12. Does the book or article contribute to your understanding of the issue?
  13. What are the strengths and weaknesses of the article/book?
  14. How does the book/article relate to my topic?