The Literature Review - Purpose
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The Literature Review: A Few Tips On Conducting It
With small-scale writing projects, the literature review is likely to be done just once; probably before the writing begins. With longer projects such as a dissertation for a Masters degree, and certainly with a PhD, the literature review process will be more extended.
3. “The current thesis examines the third way that postevent misinformation may be encountered: through other witnesses. , as the majority of the literature on eyewitness testimony has focussed on the effect of questions and media reports containing misleading information.”
Don't expect to write the book in order. One of my committee members told me that a dissertation is like sausage. You really don't want to know how it's made. SO TRUE. Post-prospectus (intro/rationale/methods), I wrote findings chapters 4-5-6, outlined the discussion (chapter 7), then revised the findings, then re-wrote the literature review (chapter 2), then outlined the conclusion/implications (chapter 8), then revised chapter 7, then updated chapter 2, then updated the findings, then wrote the introduction, then cut chapter 7, then revised chapter 8 (three times!), then updated the methods... See what I mean? Sausage.The introduction to a research report accomplishes two goals:
• the reader by providinginformation from the research literature necessary to understanding theproject;
• the reader that the researchquestion is valid by providing the gap in the literature.The length of the literature review is generally in direct proportion to the complexityof the research question and outcomes as they are represented in thepublished literature. How do you gauge this? Let the title be yourguide!A literature review is an account of what has been published on a topic by accredited scholars and researchers. Occasionally you will be asked to write one as a separate assignment (sometimes in the form of an annotated bibliography—see the bottom of the next page), but more often it is part of the introduction to an essay, research report, or thesis. In writing the literature review, your purpose is to convey to your reader what knowledge and ideas have been established on a topic, and what their strengths and weaknesses are. As a piece of writing, the literature review must be defined by a guiding concept (e.g., your research objective, the problem or issue you are discussing, or your argumentative thesis). It is not just a descriptive list of the material available, or a set of summariesHow are these goals accomplished? The writer provides a briefreviewof the literature in the correct order (given below!). The content ofthe introduction informs; the organization of the introductionpersuades.
You might have noticed while reading in the research literature thatresearch reports tend to start immediately – there’s very little “warmup” material involved. However, we are so used to writing this way thatit may not be possible to just start at the beginning. If this is thecase, go back and cross out the first couple of lines.A literature review is a piece of discursive prose, not a list describing or summarizing one piece of literature after another. It's usually a bad sign to see every paragraph beginning with the name of a researcher. Instead, organize the literature review into sections that present themes or identify trends, including relevant theory. You are not trying to list all the material published, but to synthesize and evaluate it according to the guiding concept of your thesis or research questionThis is not as complicated as it sounds. You’ve got theannotatedbibliography to help organize the literature you’ve read. You’ve gotthe research question. The task is to join the two pieces. Beforeworrying about theorder of the paper, get the literature organized. Theoutline below is called a “topical outline” – its purpose is to helpwriters get organized rather than dictate order or hierarchicalrelationships. Using this outline, group together some of the articlesthat logically go together.
The second step to the introduction is to offer the first bit ofpersuasion to the reader: show the importance of the topic by offeringsomething of practical or research significance. However, it is veryimportant for the writer to understand that “significance” does notmean an opinion about why the topic is important. Rather, thesignificance comes from the research literature, too, and is usuallyestablished in terms of practical, clinical or research significance.The main focus of an academic research paper is to develop a new argument, and a research paper is likely to contain a literature review as one of its parts. In a research paper, you use the literature as a foundation and as support for a new insight that you contribute. The focus of a literature review, however, is to summarize and synthesize the arguments and ideas of others without adding new contributions.