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Literature Reviews


Literature Reviews Dr. Wayne E. Wright Royal University of Phnom Penh Purpose of a Literature Reviews in a Thesis or Research Report To learn what is already known ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Literature Reviews

Literature Reviews
  • Dr. Wayne E. Wright
  • Royal University of Phnom Penh

Purpose of a Literature Reviews in a Thesis or
Research Report
  • To learn what is already known about your
    research topic
  • To identify gaps in the literature where more
    research is needed
  • To justify to your own study
  • Show that little to no research has been done on
    your particular focus (topic, geographical area,
    type of research site, type of students, etc.)
  • To show why your study is an important one.
  • To demonstrate your skills as a scholar
  • You have read and understood the research on your
  • You are able to synthesize the literature and
    identify gaps
  • You can justify your own research as important

Major Steps in Preparing a Literature Review
  • 1. Select a topic
  • Modify your topic based on the available
  • 2. Read the selected literature carefully in
    order to get a broad overview
  • Pay attention to the relationship of the
    literature to theory
  • Establish a specific purpose for your literature
  • 3. Take careful notes as you evaluate and
    interpret the literature on your topic
  • Adapted from Pan (2004, p. 3)

Major Steps in Preparing a Literature Review
  • 4. Create a synthesis by reconciling the
    similarities and differences across the different
  • Determine how the articles in your literature
    review fit together
  • Note the implications of the conclusions
  • Identifies areas in need of more research
  • 5. Write a first draft, get feedback from
    others, and revise or rewrite your review

Understanding Different Types of Literature
  • Empirical Research -- (Reports of Original
  • Empirical refers to observation
  • Empirical research systematic observation
  • Researchers plan in advance
  • What or who they will observe
  • What specific things they will focus on
  • Their purpose for focusing on these things
  • How they will observe it
  • Quantitative Research
  • Experimental and Quasiexperimental designs
  • Analysis of large data-sets
  • Survey Data
  • Qualitative Research
  • Observations in social settings, participant
    observation, interviews, focus groups, document

Understanding Different Types of Literature
  • Things to pay attention to in empirical research
  • The research questions and/or hypotheses
  • Sampling procedures or Participant selection
  • How many were selected?
  • Who was selected?
  • Why were they selected?
  • How were they selected?
  • The research site (location)
  • The methods used to answer the research questions
  • Instruments used for measurement or observation
  • Findings
  • Conclusions
  • Implications
  • Limitations
  • More research is needed

Understanding Different Types of Literature
  • Theoretical Articles
  • Evaluate existing theories
  • Support them
  • Oppose them
  • Provide new insights or propose modifications
  • Important for your theoretical/conceptual
    framework portions of your thesis or research
  • Literature review articles
  • Explain what we know about a given topic from the
    research literature
  • Provide new insights
  • Reconcile conflicts
  • Identify the gaps in need of more research
  • Can be very useful to authors of a thesis or
    research report
  • Author already identified the major studies and
    summarized the findings !

Anecdotal Reports
  • Provide accounts based on the personal
    experiences of the author
  • Lack the systematic observations of an empirical
    research article
  • Are typically found in books or magazines aimed
    at practitioners (teachers, administrators,
    counselors, etc.).
  • Can still be of value in a literature review
  • But you should note in the review that it is

Other types of literature
  • Dissertations and Theses
  • Policy Documents and Reports
  • Original official policy documents
  • Governmental agencies or non-government
    organization reports
  • Newspaper or other media reports
  • Can provide some factual (hopefully) information
    about topic
  • Opinion articles can highlight different views on
    a topic
  • May describe (briefly) the findings of research
    on a topic

Other Types of Literature
  • Reports on professional practices and standards
  • May provide information, commentary, and
    evaluations of particular educational issues,
    policies, and practices.
  • Book Reviews
  • Provides a brief overview and a critical
    evaluation of an academic book
  • Should not be used, unless you are unable to get
    a copy of the actual book
  • If you use in your literature review, you should
    indicate it comes from a book review and provide
    the full source of the review.

Quickly Scanning a New Article
  • You should quickly scan an article
  • Make sure it is relevant to your research topic
  • Figure out how it relates to the other articles
  • Get a basic idea of the research questions,
    methodology, and findings
  • Steps
  • Read the title
  • Read the Abstract
  • Read all the section headings
  • Skim the methodology section to see
  • of participants
  • Research site
  • Methods and instruments used
  • Read the conclusion
  • If article is relevant, then make time to read it
    take careful notes.

Ways to find literature
  • Reference list of an article or book related to
    your topic
  • Google
  • Google Scholar
  • Libraries
  • Databases

Identifying Type of Article from a Reference
  • Book
  • Webb, L. D., Metha, A., Jordan, K. F. (2003).
    Foundations of American education (4th ed.).
    Upper Saddle River, NJ Merrill- Prentice Hall.
  • Book Chapter (in an edited book)
  • Wright, W. E. (2003). The success and demise of a
    Khmer (Cambodian) bilingual education program A
    case study. In C. C. Park, A. L. Goodwin S. J.
    Lee (Eds.), Asian American identities, families,
    and schooling (pp. 225-252). Greenwich, CT
    Information Age Publishing.
  • Journal Article
  • Wiley, T. G., Wright, W. E. (2004). Against the
    undertow The politics of language instruction in
    the United States. Educational Policy, 18(1),

Types of Literature you canfind On-Line for Free
  • Journal Articles
  • Free on-line journals
  • Articles posted on-line for free by the authors
    or publishers
  • Research reports
  • Government
  • Non-governmental agencies and organizations
  • Policy Documents
  • News Articles
  • On-line encyclopedia articles (Wikipedia)
  • Opinion pieces, policy critiques, fact sheets,
  • Produced by a research center or think tank
  • Produced by inividuals

Types of Literature you can Find On-line that are
Not Free
  • Articles and other research available in
    subscription databases
  • Journals
  • Publishers may allow you to see the table of
    contents, or an abstract of an article, but you
    must pay to be able to download the article
  • Pay per article
  • Newspaper and Magazine Articles
  • Databases
  • Pay per Article
  • eBooks
  • Can buy and download entire books

Types of Literature you Cant Find On-line
  • Books
  • Book chapters
  • Internal policy documents and policy guidelines

  • Read Literature Review section from
  • Wright, W. E. (2004). What English-only really
    means A study of the implementation of
    California language policy with Cambodian
    American students. International Journal of
    Bilingual Education and Bilingualism, 7(1), 1-23.
  • Pay attention to
  • What type of research is reviewed
  • How the reviewed is organized
  • The different ways of talking about the
  • How the different articles are pieced together
    and synthesized
  • How the literature review sets up and justifies
    the authors study

  • The Education of Girls
  • Scan the relevant parts of the research article
  • Determine the best way to classify (group) the
  • Discuss how the findings of each article
    contribute to our understanding of girls
  • Identify some gaps in the literature
  • Discuss some research studies that could be
    conducted to address these gaps.