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Review of Related Literature

Review of related literature is a process of identifying, collecting, and reviewing

articles, as well as selecting and citing passages within the articles that are relevant
to the proposed study.

Review of related literature becomes important the moment the researcher mulls
over a research problem. It helps the researcher in –

• Understanding what is already known and not yet known about the proposed
research problem, thus helping in formulating a more logical justification for
conducting the proposed study.
• Formulating a conceptual framework that shows the relationship between the
different variables central to the proposed study.
• Developing hypotheses that are based on previous research findings.
• Explicating or separating concepts that are closely related such as awareness
and knowledge, or opinion and attitude.
• Discussing the findings in a comparative fashion relative to others studies.

The proliferation of research studies in communication and other fields presents a

dilemma to the researcher. There are just too many materials to review. The
researcher, therefore, has to be highly selective in reviewing related literature. Here
are some guidelines that will make the task easy”

• Select articles that cite the practical importance of the proposed study. For
example, if the proposed study deals with political awareness, review those
articles in journals, magazines, and newspapers dealing with this topic.
Relevant passages that will strengthen the justification for conducting this
study should be cited in the section on introduction or rationale of the study.
• Select studies that deal with the causes and consequences of the selected
topic, e.g., political awareness.
• For relational studies that include both independent and dependent variables
(e.g., newspaper reading as the independent variable and political awareness
as the dependent variable), review studies that relate to these variables.
• Read the review of literature of related studies.
• Review the section on method and procedures in related studies if your
purpose is to know more about methodologies in carrying out the proposed
• Review the section on summary and conclusion in related studies if your
purpose is to know the highlights of the findings and the general conclusion
of the study. The researcher should know how to quote or annotate related
studies to the proposed study.

The theoretical framework presents the theory or theories explaining why the
problem under study exists. A framework is a set of concepts that are logically and
sequentially arranged to explain and predict the occurrence of a certain

The theoretical framework helps us see clearly the variables that we should
measure. It provides a general structure that guides us in data analysis.

Looking for a theoretical framework to which a problem may be linked or developing

a theory to provide direction to a study, is one of the most challenging tasks of a
researcher. However, some background in communication theories can be very
useful in formulating a theoretical framework.

If we are not aware of an existing theory that applies to a field problem, we need to
formulate a simple one. A starting point in developing a theory is to review related
literature. Materials that relate to the variables we want to study should be given


Logically, a study framework provides the basis for the hypotheses. Hypotheses
tentatively answer the objectives of the study. They are derived from an existing
theory or a newly formulated study framework. Hypotheses are the testable
elements of theories. Theories by themselves cannot be tested.

In essence, a hypothesis is a conjectural statement of the relationship between two

or more variables. They take the declarative form and they relate, either generally
or specifically, to one variable to another.

Hypotheses may be divided into two general types – null and alternative:

• Null hypothesis states that no relationship exists between the independent

variable and the dependent variable, or the independent variable does not
affect the dependent variable. For example: “There is no significant
relationship between mass media exposure and the level of participation in
• The alternative or experimental hypothesis states that a significant
relationship exists between the independent variable and the dependent
variable. For example: “There is a significant relationship between mass
media exposure and the level of participation in demonstration.”

The null hypothesis is the one that is always tested in a study. Perhaps this type of
hypothesis is less likely to tempt the researcher to be biased. Some researchers
prefer to state both the null and the alternative hypotheses in the research
proposal. However, other researchers argue that since it is understood that the null
hypothesis is always the one being tested, stating only the alternative hypothesis
would be sufficient.

Alternative hypotheses are of two types: directional and non-directional.

• A non-directional hypothesis does not tell us the direction of the relationship

between, say, mass media exposure and the level of participation in
demonstrations. True, there is a relationship, but it does not tell us if the
relationship is direct or inverse.
• A directional hypothesis states very explicitly whether the relationship is
direct or inverse. Here is an example of a direct relationship: “The higher the
level of exposure to mass media, the higher the level of participation in
demonstrations.” An example of an inverse relationship is: “The higher the
level of exposure to mass media, the lower the level of participation in

The type of hypothesis commonly stated in research proposals is the directional

because it is easier to detect whether the null hypothesis is accepted or rejected.

Other researchers refer to state hypotheses in operational terms because these can
be more directly tested that the conceptual words. For example, instead of saying:
“The higher the level of exposure to mass media, the greater the time spent
reading newspapers, the greater the tendency to join demonstrations.

Definition of Terms

This section includes all the main concepts that are being studied and the
operational definition of each concept. We may call this subsection of the paper
operational framework. Definition of terms provides operational definitions to all the
key independent variables, including intervening variables, to help the researcher
identify indicators for measuring each variable.