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PRJT 4001
Research Methods and Analysis
Literature Review

Lecturer: Dr. Tricia Alvarez

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Research What to do and Why?

Training in independent systematic thinking good ideas
come from good thinking.
Be able to study the work of others.
Make a critical review.
Find gaps in knowledge
Make independent contributions.
Develop ability to come to independent conclusions. This
is a process of attaining greater academic maturity,
discipline and scholarship.

Culture of research is important for any countrys

progress and development (Why??)
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Why Literature Review

To get ideas in the area of research
To know what others have done in the area chosen.
To critically examine others work and plan the research
activity based on what others have done.
To widen the horizon, awareness and to know whether
the area chosen has opportunity or need to change area
or topic.
To know about the research methods used in chosen
area and how to use them.
To find gaps in literature and which leads to research
To acquire knowledge, one must study; but to
acquire wisdom, one must observe.
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Literature Review
To search/select literature for review seek help of:
Supervisor, colleagues and other researchers in your area
Journal publications including e-journals, Conference
publications, Books etc
Websites examples given below, however you may have
to search for additional sites that are specific to your area
of interest
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Literature Review
There is no prescribed format for a literature review and
you have to develop your own depending on how it is
done in your field of study and in consultation with your
However the cardinal rule in a literature review is to
Prepare an outline. It should have headings chosen to
represent clearly the work being reviewed.
The outline assists in:
Organizing the review,
The continuity of thought process,
The scope of the review and,
Putting various parts together in logical order.

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Literature Review
The review should have an introduction and
subsections for the various sub-areas of your
Reviews tend to be chronological in order to
indicate the development of the topic under
review, but they need not be so, though

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Literature Review
It is very important to decide which papers to
When searching literature, one might come
across numerous sources but the more papers
you select increases the difficulty, time and
effort to read and comprehend the papers
It is therefore essential to spend time in the
beginning to decide on the most relevant
paper or papers. (How do you determine
this??) PRJT4001 7

Literature Review
Initially start with one or two papers and then
expand the number to other papers which are
relevant to your work and in this manner keep your
review work focused.
To decide the relevant papers may itself become a
difficult job for a beginner.
Normally it is done by reading Abstract, Introduction
and Conclusions of the research paper to decide its
relevance to your research question and whether to
review it or not.
Also consult your research supervisor.
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Literature Review
Compromises have to sometimes be made, if one has
to provide a review which is intelligible to both an
expert and amateur.
This fact is one of the difficulties of research which
one has to learn by practice, seeing the work of
others in terms of their of their review papers and
discussion with your research supervisor.
To understand the work of others and summarize it
so that conclusions can be drawn as to what you
wish to do for the research question at hand is in fact
one of the main challenges of research.
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Literature Review
Manuscripts containing innumerable
references are more likely a sign of insecurity
than a mark of scholarship
William C. Roberts

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Goals of Literature Survey/Review

In a literature review the ultimate goal is:
To explain,
To illuminate;
To be logical;
To be convincing;
To know of the methods used in the area of work
To draw conclusions and find gaps in literature.
Do not take criticisms personally or take
suggestions as insults Zino Oleary
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What Should Literature Review Do?

Literature review should help to:
Refine the problem, reformulate it or even lead to defining
other closely related problems,
Get proper understanding of the problem chosen,
Acquire proper theoretical and practical knowledge to
investigate the problem,
Show how the problem under study relates to the previous
research studies and,
Know whether the proposed problem had already been

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What Should Literature Review Do?

A literature review must:
Be organized around and directly related to the
thesis or research question you are developing,
Synthesize (combine or bring together) results into
a summary of what is and is not known,
Identify area of controversy in the literature,
Formulate questions that need further research.

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How to Conduct Literature Review?

Ask yourself the following questions.
What is the specific problem, or research question that the literature
helps to answer?
What are you reviewing? Is it theory or methodology or new procedure or
policy or qualitative aspects etc.?
What is the scope of the literature review? What disciplines are you
looking at (e.g., education, psychology, sociology, process engineering
Is the search wide enough to include the relevant material? Is it narrow
enough to exclude the irrelevant material?
Have you critically analyzed the literature? Do you follow through a set of
concepts and questions, comparing items to each other in the ways they
deal with them? Instead of just listing and summarizing items, do you
assess them, discuss strengths and weaknesses?
Have you cited and discussed studies contrary to your perspective
Will the literature review be relevant, appropriate, and useful?
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How to Conduct a Literature Review?

Ask questions about each article.
Has the author formulated a problem/issue?
Is it clearly defined? Is its significance (scope, severity, relevance) clearly
Could the problem have been approached more effectively from another
What is the authors research orientation (e.g., interpretive, critical,
scientific, combination)?
What is the authors theoretical framework?
What is the relationship between the theoretical and research
Has the author evaluated the literature relevant to the problem/issue?
Does the author include literature taking positions she/he does not agree
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How to Conduct a Literature Review?

Ask Questions
In a research study, how good are the basic
components of the study design (e.g., population,
intervention, outcome)?
How accurate and valid are the measurements?
Is the analysis of the data accurate and relevant to
the research question?
Are the conclusions validly based upon the data
and analysis?

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How to Conduct Literature Review?

Ask questions
In material written for a popular readership, does
the author use appeals to emotion, one-sided
examples, or rhetorically-charged language and
Is there an objective basis to the reasoning, or is
the author merely proving what he or she
already believes?

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How to Conduct a Literature Review

Ask questions.
How does the author structure the argument?
Can you deconstruct the flow of the argument
to see whether or where it breaks down logically
(e.g., in establishing cause-effect relationships)?
In what ways does this book or article contribute
to our understanding of the problem under study,
and in what ways is it useful for practice? What
are the strengths and limitations?
How does this article relate to the specific thesis
or question you are developing?
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Information from Literature Review

Adapted from Hart, 1998

Theories, Major issues

Key Sources
concepts about topic
and ideas

Literature Survey Main questions

Key standpoints
and Review and problems
considered so far

Information on how Further research Background of

knowledge on the areas the topic
topic is structured and
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Research Concerns
How do I come up with my research topic or question?
What kind of literature review is appropriate for my research
topic or question?
How much literature should I use when writing my literature
How can I make certain that I've found all the literature on my
How can I be sure that I have found the most authoritative

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Structuring A Literature Review

Chronological Organization
Discussion of the research/articles is ordered according to an
historical or developmental context
Classic Studies Organization
Discussion or outline of classic or major articles which are considered
significant in your subject of interest. Benchmark studies in the
subject of study should be referenced
Topical or thematic Organization
Research and discussion is organized into sections that represent
categories or sub-topics in the topic of interest.
Inverted Pyramid Organization
Literature review begins with a broad discussion of the subject area
and then narrows to more specific or focused studies on the specific
research question
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Critical Examination of Literature

Link the literature to your research question
How does each article support or extend existing knowledge of your
subject of interest
Highlight Strengths of each article
Highlight Weaknesses of each article
Highlight Omissions
This may be omissions from a given article
An aspect of your research subject that has not been addressed in
the literature (a void in data/knowledge/information)
Your Voice should be clear in your review
What is your perspective, position or standpoint on the subject?
What is your perspective, and studied opinion of the articles you
have reviewed and their findings?
Clearly state your position
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Presenting Previous Work

Introduce quotes and paraphrases
When you want to use an author as an authoritative
To introduce an authors position you may wish to discuss
To provide evidence for your own perspective
To make a clear distinction between the views of different
To make a clear distinction between a given authors
views and your own

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Presenting Previous Work

Introductory Phrases: are used to tell the reader or summarize what the
author thinks, does or expresses in their text.
X states that
X claims that . . .
X asserts that . . .
X agrees that . . .
X strongly argues . . .
X comments that . . .
X suggests that . . .
X comments that . . .
X says that . . .
X observes that . . .
X takes the view that . . .
X contends that . . .
X believes that . . .
X proposes that . . .
X concludes that . . .
X maintains that . . .
X concedes that . . .
X notes that . . .
According to X . . . PRJT4001 25
As X states . .