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WRITING THE LITERATURE REVIEW I Presented by Clare Pitkethly Incorporating material from Clare Pitkethly, Jan Pinder, Colleen Cridland and Tomas Zahora

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Title: WRITING THE LITERATURE REVIEW I Presented by Clare Pitkethly Incorporating material from Clare Pitkethly, Jan Pinder, Colleen Cridland and Tomas Zahora


1
WRITING THE LITERATURE REVIEW IPresented by
Clare PitkethlyIncorporating material from
Clare Pitkethly, Jan Pinder, Colleen Cridland and
Tomas Zahora

2
Writing the literature review I
  • The workshop will cover the following
  • The purpose of a literature review
  • Giving your discussion of the literature
    direction
  • Developing an argument
  • The initial stages of preparation
  • Focusing your literature search
  • Finding and organising relevant literature
  • Structuring your literature review

3
Writing the literature review II
5th June, 2012
  • The next workshop in the series will cover the
    following
  • Synthesising and incorporating sources
  • Surveying the literature
  • Charting trends and mapping patterns
  • Citing and referencing
  • Approaches to writing
  • Giving your writing clear direction
  • Ordering your thoughts

4
Postgraduate research
  • Postgraduate research, ideally, should further
    knowledge, by building upon the body of current
    knowledge and providing new research findings
  • A review of the literature is the first stage in
    this process, as it gives you a chance to build
    up (and demonstrate) your knowledge of current
    research regarding your topic

5
The purpose of a literature review
  • The literature review in a postgraduate thesis
    serves several different purposes
  • It should position your own research project
    within the context of current knowledge on the
    topic
  • It should argue the case for the validity of your
    research statement by providing supporting
    evidence from the literature

6
The purpose of a literature review
  • Your literature review should demonstrate the
    contribution that your research will make
  • Articulate how your research will add to the
    current body of knowledge broadly summarise the
    current state of knowledge that relates to your
    topic, and demonstrate the original contribution
    that your research will make
  • If there is a gap in the body of knowledge that
    your research will fill, this point is an
    important one to articulate!

7
The purpose of a literature review
  • A literature review is research about research
  • In writing your literature review, you should
    refer to the literature in support of all
    premises or claims that you make

8
The purpose of a literature review
  • To sum up
  • A literature review should demonstrate the
    current state of knowledge with regards to your
    particular research topic, as well the specific
    gap that your research will fill
  • It should take the form an argument that supports
    your research statement, and it should build up a
    case for the validity of your research

9
Before you start your literature review
  • It is important that you narrow down your
    research topic, and create a well defined and
    answerable question
  • Refining the specific focus of your research will
    give you greater direction
  • If you have a well defined topic, it will be
    easier to judge what literature to include and
    exclude, and you can avoid getting bogged down in
    details that have no bearing on your research

10
Before you start your literature review
  • The more unfocussed your research topic is, the
    more difficult it will be to write your
    literature review
  • In order to synthesise (or bring together) the
    literature you will need a well defined framework
    for comparison
  • What specific aspects of the topic are directly
    relevant to your own research? How can you reduce
    the literature to the most relevant key points?

11
Building upon a foundation of previous research
  • In a literature review you should demonstrate the
    current state of knowledge with regards to your
    topic
  • Bring together the various studies and identify
    patterns
  • Relate the current state of knowledge to your own
    particular research
  • For example, have previous research studies
    provided any answers to the questions that your
    research will address?

12
Building upon a foundation of previous research
  • A literature review serves several different
    purposes
  • Demonstrate that you have a comprehensive grasp
    of the current state of knowledge concerning your
    topic
  • Demonstrate that you are capable of meticulous
    scholarship
  • Demonstrate that you are an expert in your field,
    and can understand the necessary theories and
    concepts
  • Demonstrate an ability to engage with the
    research of others, and if necessary, to
    critically judge research

13
Building upon a foundation of previous research
  • Critically discussing the literature vs.
    summarising
  • You should avoid simply summarising the relevant
    literature instead, read the literature
    critically and assess the validity of the
    aims/methods/results/conclusions
  • Any criticism made in your literature review
    should be substantiated and well argued

14
Building upon a foundation of previous research
  • Synthesising literature vs. writing an annotated
    bibliography
  • Try to bring together different research studies
    (look for patterns, connections, similarities or
    differences), rather than featuring a string of
    summaries that are not directly related to each
    other
  • Draw attention to any relevant discrepancies in
    the knowledge (disagreements)
  • Demonstrate the changing state of knowledge with
    respect to your topic

15
Building upon a foundation of previous research
  • How is your research statement or argument backed
    up by the scientific literature?

16
Justifying your research within the context of
existing literature
  • Justify you research topic
  • With reference to the literature, demonstrate the
    significance of the problem that your research
    will ultimately address
  • Demonstrate the need for further research with
    respect to your topic

17
Justifying your research within the context of
existing literature
  • Justify your research design or framework
  • Any assumptions upon which your research is based
    should be rationalised for example, the value of
    what you are trying to find, or any criteria of
    judgement that you will use

18
Justifying your research within the context of
existing literature
  • Justify your choice of methods
  • If your research methods have not previously been
    used as a means of researching your particular
    topic, you may need to argue the case for the
    effectiveness of their use

19
Creating an argument for your literature review
  • The overall argument in your literature review
    should be your research statement, and throughout
    the course of your literature review you will
    need to build up a case for its validity
  • The data that you present in your literature
    review should ultimately back up this research
    statement, and conflicting evidence in the
    literature should be able to be accounted for or
    rationalized

20
Creating an argument for your literature review
  • You can break down your research statement into
    its various contributing components, and build a
    case for each claim one at a time
  • You should back up any claims with evidence from
    the literature (for example, the results of
    scientific studies), and can bring together
    different research studies in support of each
    claim

21
Narrowing down your research topic and focusing
your literature search
  • Search the literature with a clear focus in mind
  • As your literature review should be an argument
    that supports your research statement, consider
    the types of research studies that would be
    necessary in order to demonstrate its validity
  • This does not mean that you should ignore studies
    that conflict with your research statement
    however, you will need to be able to argue
    convincingly that your research is valid and
    beneficial

22
Narrowing down your research topic and focusing
your literature search
  • A literature review should accurately reflect the
    literature at the same time as it validates your
    own research a balance of the two should be
    achieved

23
Narrowing down your research topic and focusing
your literature search
  • If there are research studies that disprove the
    validity of your research statement, this may be
    a sign that the claim is too broad
  • If this is the case, you may need to narrow down
    aspects of your topic, or limit the conditions of
    your research statement

24
Identifying significant literature
  • Initially scan and skim the literature to select
    research studies that are relevant to your own
    research topic
  • Your review should include literature that
    contributes to the body of academic knowledge on
    your specific research topic
  • Assess the relevance of the document before you
    download it, in order to avoid wasting time on
    irrelevant literature

25
Reading Ladder strategic reading steps
  • Before you start note taking
  • Read the title (usually descriptive)
  • Read a) the subheading to the title if there is
    one and b) the sub-headings within the article
  • Look at captions, titles of tables or figures.
    Consider the relevance of the graphic data
  • Read the abstract (or summary) at the top. This
    should say why, how, what was done
  • Read the conclusion
  • Read the introduction
  • Ask yourself a) How does this article address my
    research statement? b) Will I likely find useful
    information in this article?
  • When you have decided that a source is relevant,
    read it in detail and take effective notes

26
Identifying significant literature
  • In addition to featuring literature that provides
    a background to your topic, you may need to
    include literature related to aspects of the
    following
  • Methods
  • Theoretical frameworks
  • Concepts or terms

27
Organising your literature by theme
  • Divide the literature into comparable groups, and
    assess the relationship between the studies
  • for example correlations or inconsistencies
    (in methods, results or conclusions)
  •  

28
Organising your literature by theme
  • How to read the literature
  • If you read the literature for just for the
    methods/results/conclusions, you may be missing
    out on wider inferences additionally, try to
    consider the framework of the research
  • Does the research depend upon fundamental
    criteria that have not been rationalised?
  • Are there any presuppositions that can be called
    into question?
  •  

29
Structuring your Literature Review
  • How to structure your literature review
  • Your literature review should be given a logical
    structure, and it should be ordered in way that
    strengthens the argument for your research
    statement
  • Create a structure that gives your discussion of
    the literature a clear direction

30
Structuring your Literature Review
  • Before you start writing your literature review,
    plan out the structure it will take consider all
    necessary aspects of your topic, and order them
    in a logical way

31
Structuring your Literature Review
  • Common ways to organise literature reviews
  • General to specific
  • Topical or thematic categories or concepts
  • Chronological historical or developmental
    context
  • Classical approach key literature
  • Combined approach

32
Structuring your Literature Review
  • 1. General to specific structure
  • This approach begins from a wide perspective
    (global significance) and progressively focuses
    on the specific topic of your research
  • Imagine this structure as a funnel

33
Structuring your Literature Review
  • 2. Topical or thematic structure
  • Sections are devoted to various concepts or
    categories that are relevant to your research
    study
  • Order the sections logically
  • The various sections can be integrated throughout
    your thesis thematically (if need be)

34
Structuring your Literature Review
  • 3. Chronological structure
  • The research is discussed in chronological order
    this may be useful in order to demonstrate the
    historical or developmental context of your
    research, or to demonstrate progressive changes
    in the area of study

35
Structuring your Literature Review
  • 4. Classical approach
  • The research is presented in consideration of the
    most significant aspects of your research area,
    and primarily focuses on the key literature

36
Structuring your Literature Review
  • 5. Combined approach
  • A combination of the above approaches, targeted
    to your specific needs

37
Structuring your Literature Review
  • The structure of your literature review should be
    one that allows you to argue the case for your
    research statement, as well as one that
    demonstrates the current state of knowledge with
    regard to your particular topic
  • Try to break your research statement down into
    its various components (or premises), and order
    these different aspects in a logical or
    progressive way

38
Structuring your Literature Review
  • Literature reviews are sometimes structured
    differently in different fields of study
  • In order to find out the conventions that are
    used in your particularly area of study, have a
    look through some recently completed theses on
    topics that are similar to your own

39
Finding theses online
  • Australasian Digital Theses Program
  • http//adt.caul.edu.au/

40
Summarising the stages
  • The process of developing a literature review is
    not sequential, and you may circle backwards and
    forwards
  • Develop the focus of the literature review
  • Clarify your research question/research statement
  • Identify relevant literature (database searching)
  • Who has worked on your topic before? How did they
    approach the problem?
  • Manage the literature
  • Record details and annotate key points
  • Keep the literature organised and easily
    retrievable!
  • Ensure its relevance to your research statement
  • Order the literature
  • Create a structure for your literature review,
    and group comparable literature
  • Draft the literature review
  • Get feedback
  • Rewrite and revise

41
An overview of the key points
  • A literature review should provide a relevant
    context for your research project, and it should
    demonstrate the foundation of previous research
    upon which your own research will build
  • It should demonstrate the validity of your
    research statement, and it should build up a case
    for the validity of your research

42
Writing the literature review II
5th June, 2012
  • The second workshop will cover the following
  • Synthesising and incorporating sources
  • Surveying the literature
  • Charting trends and mapping patterns
  • Citing and referencing
  • Approaches to writing
  • Giving your writing clear direction
  • Ordering your thoughts

43
Subject librarians
  • http//www.lib.monash.edu.au/hal/librarians.html
  • Biological Science Katrina Tepper
  • Chemistry Nhan Le
  • Geosciences Jennifer Kain
  • Mathematics Nhan Le
  • Physics Robert Thomas

44
Learning skills homepage
  • http//www.lib.monash.edu.au/learning-skills/
  • Class and workshop timetable
  • Drop-in schedule
  • Links to online resources
  • Learning skills adviser contact details

45
http//www.monash.edu.au/lls/llonline/
http//www.monash.edu.au/lls/llonline/
46
References
  • Machi, Lawrence McEvoy, Brenda (2009). The
    Literature Review. London SAGE Ltd.
  • Ridley, Diana (2008). The Literature Review A
    step-by-step guide for students. London SAGE
    Publications.
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