A literature review is a form of analysis with regard to articles and journals related to an area of study, or a theory in particular, and thereby conducting a critical evaluation of the works in question. The sole purpose of the review is to provide an insight into literature that has been published on the subject in question. There are three different types of reviews. A stand-alone review is the analysis and comprehension of research conducted on a specific subject. A research proposal is an explication concerning the current issues and theories in relation to a topic. It also demonstrates the potential of your proposal and how significant it may prove to further the field. A research report, on the other hand is the analysis of the subject or the issue in question to which your research serves to be a contribution. The aim of drafting a review of literature is to understand the core ideas of the subject, and develop the understanding required to convey the grasp to your readers. For an affirmative reader response, your evaluations must gravitate toward a principle -- one that acts the torchbearer to the complete conduction of the study.
A literature review, besides enhancing your knowledge about the subject in question, insinuates in you an ability to strategize and slot the information into source compartments. Proficient scanning and sifting of the material to identify the useful from the not-so-useful sources, is one skill you develop through the review process. Analyzing the study to magnify the topic and critically siphon the principles on which the entire study is based, helps you build the much-needed credibility for your composition.
Establishing a Literature Review
Regarded as the primary stage of drafting a review, you must chart a chronological account of the stages involved in framing the review. There are four stages that qualify as cornerstones of the review process: (1) Identification; (2) Research; (3) Evaluation; and (4) Interpretation.
☛ Identifying the Field of Research: Acknowledging issues that must be tapped and examined, and grasping concepts that demand analytical treatment.
☛ Smart and Efficient Research: Profiling the subject through smart-cum-selective research, such as bibliographies and literary database comprising the author's works, helps you crop important material to further the study.
☛ Evaluation Based on Potency: The data narrowed to conduct the review must be evaluated furthermore on the degree of its contribution forwarded to understanding of the concepts.
☛ Careful Interpretation: Analyzing the body of work and drawing significant conclusions on the subject matter.
Formatting the Review
A literature review, bearing the most vivid perception in mind, consists of three sections: (1) Introduction; (2) Body; and (3) Conclusion. However, what matters is the lucidity of thought translated to a well-endowed line of evidence to support your analysis. Citing credible works from unabridged sources is most reliable. However, with the advent of the Internet, exhuming data from its depths is no far cry. The only cause of worry is judging the degree of reliability of the information obtained. If you have mastered the art, you ought to ensure your work is free of erroneous conclusions.
To introduce the concept you are to review, the research you conduct must be thorough. Define the topic you are to discuss, and present the area of study you would consider to critique. Focus on the past and present records of the subject in hand. Establish statements with regard to the works published, centripetal to the subject.❒
Elaborate on the theories, charting them on the grounds of compatibility and conflict. Evidences in the form of critical essays, thesis, and articles prove nerve centers to proceed with the literature review.❒
Plow out the voids in the works you are referring to. Besides, there is ample room inviting fresh perspective. Channel yourself to think differently.❒
Explain why the writer chooses to review a particular topic. The criteria and scale of credibility exercised, while broaching and analyzing the topic, must be considered. There may be the instance, where you do not cite a noted author or researcher. Perhaps, the author's work had no scope for expansion through the reviewal. Thus, a detailed comparative review based on the work was not a requirement.
The body encompasses your understanding on research papers, articles, author-backed perspectives, superlative approaches, objectives of noted works, and case studies.❒
If you choose to review a topic from the physical and the social sciences, components, such as measurements, methodologies, correlation studies, and data related to the experiments conducted must be considered. Besides, a comparative study must also be conducted to understand, where scholars share an opinion and where they strike a difference.❒
As for the Humanities section, you, as a reviewer may follow a freestyle reviewal method. The works being reviewed, are mentioned in paragraphs followed by the author's opinions and his thesis statements. It is more of a critical analysis of the topic at hand, rather than it being termed a literature review.❒
Devote importance to studies you consider in your review. Detailing depends on the level of importance the work holds in your review. Highlight the signposts of each study with a crisp evaluation of the matter.❒
While elaborating certain points, provide a unity sentence to begin with the passage. These sentences serve as guideposts, leading the reader through the review. Bear in mind that the first statement of the paragraph is the most important one; it is one capsule of information that encompasses all that the reviewer would mention in the paragraph.❒
Launch a few difference-between sentences to aid in understanding the analysis of the subject.
Summarizing is the word to go by. It is expected that by the time you approach this section of the review, you would have elaborated on all the perspectives deemed pivotal to the rounding of the subject. It is easy to lose sight of the focal point. Sidetracking the points that need attention is bound to hit the feature of completeness of your review. Focus is all you need.❒
If you find that the theories and methodologies in the article and dissertations you refer, have their ambiguities, evaluate them in brief, and highlight the matter that may prove vital for further study and elaborations.❒
The topic you cover is a unit of a larger bailiwick. Considering this, one ought to connect the subject with the concerned discipline.
Assessing the Reviewer in You
When you are done preparing your review, ask the following questions in order to evaluate your workmanship.
✔ Have I been able to address certain issues and specific thesis statements in my review, sustaining the highest degree of focus?
✔ Am I clear about the genre, or the type of literature I am currently working on? What exactly am I looking at? Is it qualitative study, or methodological conventions that need attention?
✔ Am I exploring the available resources to a level of exhaustion? Am I tapping the right resources to begin with?
✔ What are the resources I have zeroed on? Am I being judicial, when referring to the resources? Am I looking at dissertations and articles from scholarly journals, books, file-worthy documents, or the Internet?
✔ Through the process, have I improved my sifting skills and reaped credible information? Have I been selective to ensure only relevant matter is included in the review?
✔ Have I cited enough sources in the bibliography for my review to be deemed justifiable and reliable?
✔ Do I follow a paradigm to proceed with the discussion in the review, or is it freestyle I adopt? If I have adopted the latter, how far have I justified the said style? Is my style appropriate to hold the framework of the review together?
✔ Have I been successful in figuring the comparative strengths and negatives of the theories and studies in question? Have I been able to bring them to the fore through careful analysis?
✔ If I hood myself with the 'outside-reader perspective', would I find my literature review relevant and appropriate to the subject?
Assessing the Material Considered
Pose the following questions to yourself, when assessing the reference material you would use to construct your review.
✔ Has the author addressed any significant issues? Does the author consciously toil to surface the issue at specific intervals through the passage, or does he impressively flash the problem once at the beginning of the article?
✔ Has the author clearly developed the significance of the problem? Has the problem, or issue been approached effectively? Is there room for another perspective to boost the practicality and sustainability of the approach?
✔ Evaluate the style of research of the author. Is it interpretive, evaluative, descriptive-qualitative, correlation-regression analysis, experimental, or quasi-experimental?
✔ Has the author been able to include evidential matter that, essentially he does not agree with? Is it an even-handed approach adopted by the author, or has he intentionally subtracted a viewpoint only to notch his argument on a stronger stead?
✔ If there are quantitative measurements involved, how accurate are they? Are bottom lines drawn only after careful consideration of the data?
✔ What instruments and figures of writing does the author employ? Is it an emotionally charged account, is it refined yet rhetoric, or does it appeal to persuasiveness in tone?
✔ Is the perspective of the author driven by logical reasoning, or is it the prove-your-belief method he adopts?
✔ Has the author been successful at structuring his work? If his work is supported by well-beaded arguments, how would you decode the principle element that binds them all together?
✔ Are there any spots in the article that cripple the pulp of the argument? Which arguments are most and the least convincing?
The Finer Grains of Writing
☛ Your review must be drafted with the academic dimension in mind. Formalized and structured ought to be the presentational characters of the document.
☛ Concentrate on being precise and concise. Long-winded narrations, dual-drumming words, and laundry-list arguments may saturate the reader.
☛ Reflect an objective tone in your writing. This space is not meant to settle personal scores, or degrade a fellow contemporary's opinion.
☛ Avoid chauvinistic language. Your tone and language, indeed, display your respect toward the subject in question.
☛ If you believe the author has not maintained uniformity in writing, outright aspersions is not the answer. Subtle phrases, such as 'I beg to differ ...', 'I am afraid I am not on the same page as the author ...', or 'I view the matter through a different lens ...' work better than vile blatancy. Remember: There is something called Peaceful Disagreement.
☛ While quoting the author, avoid inserting the verb 'says'. We mean professional writing; colloquialism of such ilk is not appreciated. Verbs, like 'claim', 'states', 'opines', or 'pronounces' are far appealing and stately.
☛ Exercise caution while paraphrasing the author's work. Know that there is a difference between paraphrasing and plagiarizing.
☛ It is important to quote relevant authors to support your hypothesis; however, don't let your voice remain backstage. State and maintain your view, and make it clear throughout your paper. Use phrases, like 'similarly', 'in addition', 'holding a similar view', 'on the same page', 'agreeing to the opinion ...' to show agreement between works.
☛ Consult a style guide, such as the Chicago Manual of Style (CMOS/CMS), or American Psychological Association (APA), or Modern Language Association (MLA) while writing your paper. For instance, pay attention to details, like Doctor of Philosophy is abbreviated as 'Ph.D.', and not 'Ph. D' or 'PH D'. Titles -- such as this one -- do not demand space between letters. If you are to write a note of some form at the foot of a paragraph, follow the right style. 'Note.-' it is, and not 'Note:', 'Note-', and certainly not 'Note-:'.
☛ Once you are done with your draft, revise it over and over again. Proofing your material is vital. If you have potent material at hand; however, it is peppered with grammatical, factual, and stylistic errors, the material loses more than half its original impact.
☛ If you find your writing has gone wimpy somewhere through its length, correct it. Make it as engaging as possible.
Checking and rechecking the document to ensure it satiates all parameters, is an essential step for your literature review to gain a foothold in your discipline. As you have authored a literature review, read in between the lines. Read it with an objective to find errors. After all, looking out for errors is but, striving for accuracy in disguise!