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Research Methods Workshop:

Reviewing the Literature

Literature review in retrospective

The selection of available documents (both published and unpublished) on the topic, which contain information, ideas, data and evidence written from a particular standpoint to fulfill certain aims or express certain views on the nature of the topic and how it is to be investigated, and the effective evaluation of these documents in relation to the research being proposed.

Aims of the literature review

To demonstrate skills in library searching, to show command of the subject area and understanding of the problem; to justify the research topic, design and methodology.

Checklist for establishing relevancy

Do not assume that a source must be 100 percent relevant to be of use to you. Once you find potentially useful material, read it with your problem statement / research question in mind:
Does the abstract include key words related to your research? Does the abstract of a journal article contain information on your topic? Are any of the articles topic sentences relevant to your research question (problem statement)? Does the section heads of the source include information connected to your topic?

Purposes of the Literature Review

The prime purpose of the literature review are to: Frame the problem under scrutiny Identify relevant concepts, methods/techniques and facts; and Position the study (any study should add something new) A useful strategy at the initial stage of the project is to expose one self to variety of sources dealing with the topic. Start with recent state-of-the-art reviews which are available in most disciplines

the role of the literature review

Search out existing knowledge on a topic Analyse arguments and ideas Map ideas, arguments and perspectives Produce a literature review Construct a case for investing a topic.

Sample Criteria for Evaluating Research

Contribution of the research in the field
What further questions does the research raise ?Has the work been of value? Informative?

Clarity of presentation
What was the audience intended for the research and was the work accessible to that audience?

Validity and Reliability

Is the research valid? Generalisable? Trustworthy? Credible?

Personal opinion
Are there points with which you strongly disagree? Had difficulty in understanding? are particularly important?

key questions when doing a literature review

What are the key sources? What are the key theories, concepts and ideas?

What are the major issues and debate about the topic?

Literature search and review on your topic

What are the main questions and problems that have been addressed to date?

What are the origins and definitions of the topic?

How is knowledge on the topic structured and organised?

your literature review should

focus on a specific problem, issue or debate relate to that problem, issue or debate in terms that
Show a balance between theoretical, methodological and practical aspects of the topic

include a clearly stated research methodologies or theories based on the existing literature provide an analytical and critically evaluative stance to the existing literature on the topic.

Structure and vocabulary when Reviewing the Literature

As Williams (2004) observes has observed observed had observed points out remarks says states . . . . .

Structure and vocabulary when Reviewing the Literature

Williams (2004) affirms argues assumes believes claims concludes explains that . that . that . that . that . that . that .


that .

the literature to new solutions/answers!

Background literature (min 20 Journal papers)

Underpinning theories

Problems/ shortcomings

Tools, methods, techniques

New frameworks proposed

Previous works

Specific Problem statement/ research question(s)

Research Proposal (Implementation / Research design)

Define a Research Proposal

An overview of the intended research which demonstrates that the would be research candidate has thought about all the key issues related to the subject to be researched. It is used to demonstrate that the would be research candidate is aware of the magnitude of the task ahead as well as to see if he or she is capable to produce i.e researching and writing a challenging document

Issues addressed by the Proposal

A research proposal should address the following issues:
Why is this research (project) important? What have others thought about this research (project) topic? What is the research question OR problem statement? In what way will the answering of the research question OR solving the problem improve computing practices? What research methodology will be used? Some details of the proposed research work plan An outline of each chapter of the dissertation

A Quality Research Question

Is the question or problem statement unambiguous? Is their likely to be an answer or solution? What are the likely findings going to be? Who is going to benefit from having an answer or a solution?

Comprehensiveness of the Research

The research question or problem statement needs to be comprehensive
It needs to be spelt out in detail

The research question or problem statement may be grounded in the literature or from experience What literature is there?
Books, journals, professional magazines, etc

Are there likely to be any theoretical underpinning for the question or problem statement?

1. 2.

Blaxter, L et al (1998), How to Research, Open University Galliers, R. (1991), Information Systems Research: Practical Guidelines, Blackwell 3. Oliver, P (2004) Writing Your Thesis, Sage Study Skills, sage 4. Phillips, E. M and D.S. Pugh (2000) How to get a PhD: A handbook for students and Supervisors Third Edition Open University Press 5. Glenn, C, Millier,R.K,Webb, S.S and L.Gray (2003) The Writers Harbrace Handbook, Second Edition, Thompson-Heinle Press. 6. Easterby-Smith, M; Richard Thorpe and Andy Lowe (1991) Introduction to Management Research Sage Publications. 7. Leedy P.D., with Newby T.J., & Ertmer P.A., Practical Research: Planning and Design, (1997) 6th ed, Merrill -Prentice Hall. 8. Gill, J and Phil Johnson (1991) Research Methods for Managers, Paul Chapman Publishing. 9. Sekaran, Uma (1992) Research Methods for Business: A Skill Building Approach. 2nd ed. John Wiley & Sons. 10. Robson, C. (1993) Real World Research : A Resource for Social Scientist and Practitioner - Researchers, Blackwell: Oxford.

Key References