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1. Tasks Involved in a Literature Review
There are two major tasks involved in a literature review:
- Identifying and selecting literature
- Writing about the literature
2. Skills Required for Conducting a Literature Search
- Information seeking skills
- Ability to use manual and electronic methods to identify useful resources
- Ability to conduct extensive bibliographic searches
- Critical appraisal skills
- Ability to describe, critique, and relate each source to the topic
- Ability to identify areas of controversy in the literature
- Organizational skills
- Ability to organize the literature collected around your topic
- Ability to present the review logically
3. Searching Techniques
Scan the literature for various types of content, including:
- theoretical foundations and definitions
- discussion and debate
- current issues
Skim potential works to select materials for inclusion
- decide whether to include or exclude a work from the review
4. Sorting the Literature
For each article identified for possible inclusion in the literature review, you need to:
1. read the abstract
- decide whether to read the entire article
2. read the introduction
- explains why the study is important
- provides a review and evalution of relevant literature
3. read Methods section critically
- focus on participants and methodology
4. evaluate results
- are the conclusions logical?
- is there evidence of bias?
- Take notes as you read through each paper that you will include in the review
- Extract key points by comparing and contrasting across studies:
- Purpose of study - research aims or hypotheses
- Research design and methodology
- Data analysis
- Summary of findings
Part of the task in taking notes is to begin the process of sifting and arranging ideas
6. Questions to Keep in Mind
- What are the key sources of information on this topic?
- What are the major issues and debates on this topic?
- What are the key theories, concepts, and ideas on this topic?
- What are the main questions and problems that have been addressed so far?
- What are the strengths and weaknesses of the various arguments on the topic?
- Who are the significant research personalities in this area?