A literature review surveys books, scholarly articles, and any other sources relevant to a particular issue, area of research, or theory, and by so doing, provides a description, summary, and critical evaluation of these works in relation to the research problem being investigated. Literature reviews are designed to provide an overview of sources you have explored while researching a particular topic and to demonstrate to your readers how your research fits within a larger field of study. Fink, Arlene. Fourth edition. A literature review may consist of simply a summary of key sources, but in the social sciences, a literature review usually has an organizational pattern and combines both summary and synthesis, often within specific conceptual categories. A summary is a recap of the important information of the source, but a synthesis is a re-organization, or a reshuffling, of that information in a way that informs how you are planning to investigate a research problem.
Organizing Your Social Sciences Research Paper
The Literature Review | A Complete Step-by-Step Guide
As part of their research program, many students are instructed to perform a literature review, without always understanding what a literature review is. Most are aware that it is a process of gathering information from other sources and documenting it, but few have any idea of how to evaluate the information, or how to present it. A literature review can be a precursor to the introduction of a research paper , or it can be an entire paper in itself, acting as the first stage of large research projects and allowing the supervisor to ascertain that the student is on the correct path. A literature review is a critical and in depth evaluation of previous research. It is a summary and synopsis of a particular area of research, allowing anybody reading the paper to establish why you are pursuing this particular research. A good literature review expands on the reasons behind selecting a particular research question.
How to write a literature review
Published on February 22, by Shona McCombes. Revised on March 9, A literature review is a survey of scholarly sources on a specific topic.
Writing a dissertation or a research article for publication in a scholarly journal as a doctoral scholar requires a specific writing technique known as synthesis. When offering background research on which our argument is based, a literature review is offered to the reader to provide background, context, and relevancy to the current field of study to which the doctoral scholar is adding to the greater body of knowledge. The challenge is that often this idea of synthesis is not quite understood. The best example of synthesis is to use the idea of a literature as part of a dissertation or a doctoral study.