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Literature Review

MS Management Science
What is Literature Review
• “A literature review is a body of text and its main goal is to
bring the reader up to date with current literature on a
topic and forms the basis for another goal, such as the
justification for future research in the area. It seeks to
describe, summarize, evaluate, clarify and/or integrate the
content of previous researches".
A View of Research
• It is sufficient for our purposes to see research as an organized, systematic and logical
process of inquiry by using empirical information to answer question (or testing

• In other words, how we find things out in everyday life in a

systematic and logical way.
• In a better way to explain this view of research please see a diagram in next

• This diagram stresses the central role of research questions,

and of systematically using empirical data to answer research
questions. It has four main features:

1. Framing the research in terms of research questions;

2. Determining what data are necessary to answer those questions;
3. Designing research to collect and analyze those data
4. Using the data to answer the questions.
Ways of Knowing
(contd:) Source: Kervin, et al. (2006)
Simplified Model of Research
Source: Adopted from Punch, 2011
Literature Review
• Literature review can be described as “recognizing, evaluating and critically
reading” what has been published in the area of research interest. More simply,
an interpretation and synthesis of published research.

• To establish the current state/position of findings in the chosen area of


• Generally, at a higher level research must generate new knowledge in the

field of enquiry. For this purpose:

• your research and theorizing or hypothesizing step significantly

beyond the boundaries of existing knowledge (theoretical, research,
and practice).
Literature Review Process
Source: adopted from Machi & McEvoy (2009)
Literature Review Process

• Figure 1.3 in previous slide shows the critical steps of literature review process
identified by Machi & McEvoy (2009). For example:

• Step – 1. Select a Topic (deciding what you are going to research)

• The majority of research begin with a topic or research

question and it is most important single decision you have to
make in doing research.

• In relation to business and management, a topic can be

defined as “business and management related idea or issue”.
• A topic can be broken down into broad topic and specific topic.

• A well defined topic in specific academic discipline help you to formulate a

researchable question or problem.
Moving From Interest to Topic
Source: Machi & McEvoy, (2009)
Literature Review Process
• Step – 1. Select a Topic (contd:)
• Hart (2009) suggests a number of issues need to be considered when selecting topic for
your research study. For example:

• Define the topic – start with some general reading to familiarize yourself with the
topic. Begin to think about the shape of the topic so that you can map it out at a
later stage.

• Think about the scope of topic – think what subject areas might be relevant and
make a list of terms and phrases you will use to search.

• Think about the outcomes – think therefore about what it is you want to get out
of this search.

• Plan the sources to be searched – prepare a list of likely relevant sources of

information (journals, books, etc.).

• Search the sources listed – work through the list of source you have made.
Literature Review Process

• Step – 1. Select a Topic (contd:)

• The following is the suggested criteria that you may need to consider when choosing
the research topic. This prescribed criteria could apply to any academic discipline.

• In general the characteristics of a good research topic includes:

• Your topic must be researchable

• Your topic must be specific
• Your topic is relevant to you discipline
• Your topic satisfies thesis guidelines
• Your topic is of interest to you.

• Your topic start at a broader level. However, eventually you end-up with something that is
specific for you to achieve and provides the direction for step -2 or

• Than you are ready to proceed to the next step of specifying and framing - the literature
Turning Research Topic into Research Question

Examples: Research ideas and their derived focus research question

Research Idea General Focus Research Question

Job recruitment via Internet How effective is recruiting for new staff via the Internet
in comparison with traditional methods?

Advertising and share prices How the does the running of a TV advertising campaign
designed to boost the image of a company affect its
share price?

The future of trade unions What are the strategies that trade unions should adopt to
ensure their future viability?
Literature Review Process
Source: adopted from Machi & McEvoy (2009)
Literature Review Process

• Step – 2. Search the Literature

• A literature search determines what information will be in the review. When searching
the literature , you must preview, select, and organize data for study by using the skills
of skimming, scanning, and mapping the information (Machi & McEvoy, 2009).

• A key part to conducting your search is identifying possible sources of literature.

At this point, catalog and document the relevant data.

• In your case, the main thing to do at the beginning of your search is to

identify the leading journals in your discipline.

• Only search those articles, books, paper etc., which are relevant to your research
(e.g., in terms of subject matter, methodology, research instrument, theoretical

• After exploring and cataloging the relevant information, you are ready to proceed
to the next step “develop the argument”.
Literature Search Tasks and Tools
• Machi & McEvoy, (2009), recommended the following tasks and tools of literature search.

Literature Search Tools and Tasks

Search Task Search Tools

Literature Preview Scan

(first course/starter)

Content Selection Skim


Data Organization Map

Literature Search Tools
• The following tools will help you to successfully complete the literature search tasks. These
tools are your abilities to (Machi & McEvoy, 2009):

1. Scan (identify potential useful work) - the relevant literature or scan the library (soft and
hard) materials, collecting the relevant pieces and catalog/list them to make available for
the next stage of the literature search –

2. Skim (quickly identifies the important ideas contained in the text) – select the best of all
potential contents or information's. Here, you decide what to include and what to omit.

The following questions guide you in conducting the literature skim:

a) Will this work be included or excluded from the study.. ? (only possible if you
have defined the topic)

b) If included, what in this work is useful..? (only possible if you have a strong
understanding of the subject of investigation)
Literature Search Tools

• Skimming (contd:)

• Two techniques may be helpful, when you are skimming:

1. Examine and review the table of contents or index to locate specific

material applicable to your topic statement.

2. Do a quick read of those sections, chapters to decide whether (and if

so, where) that information fits with the topic statement.

• Skimming - identifies, organizes, and catalogs the specific material for

your review.
Literature Search Tools
3. Map (make a chart or diagram) – after the scanning and skimming, you have to decide what
material you use.

• Here you are ready to begin using mapping to form data patterns from which further
analysis can emerge.

• Mapping is a technique for organizing the works that will be included in your literature
review. Map the literature as follows (Machi & McEvoy, 2009):

• Use your literature search key descriptors as a central themes to create core idea
maps. Map your data by each theme. For example:- see next slide.

• Compare your topic statement to your core maps to ensure the completeness of the
information gathered by your scan and skim of the literature again.

• If you find gaps, scan and skim the literature again.

Example of Map
Literature Review Process
Source: adopted from Machi & McEvoy (2009)
Literature Review Process

• Step – 3. Develop the Argument

• To argue your thesis successfully, you need to form and then present your

• To form your case, you need to arrange your claims logically which need
to organize the relevant information into a body of evidence that explain
what is known about the topic (Machi & McEvoy, 2009).

• The underpinning/foundation principle to this process is that you put

together an argument and draw on your source texts to provide support for
your assertions.

• By developing your own argument, you show that you are using the
literature for your own purpose rather than being controlled by the
authors whose work you have read and are citing in your own writing.
What We Mean by Argument…?
• An argument involves putting forward (presents) reasons to influence someone’s belief that what
your are proposing is the case (Hinderer, 1992).

• Someone makes an argument mean - is attempting to convince others of the validity (or logic)
of how he/she see the universe and convince others that they should see it the way he/she do
(Hart, 2009).

• An argument has therefore at least two components a point/tilt and a reason:

• Making a point (statement/inclination/or declaration)

• Providing sufficient reasons (or evidence) for the point to be accepted by


• These two elements are related and the movement can go either way to form the

• A movement from either a point to reason. Or

• From reason/evidence to conclusion (point) (Hart, 2009).

What We Mean by Argument in our Context…?

• All arguments are open to question and can be challenged, regardless how
complex or simple it may be.

• In our context an argument consists of a conclusion (one
or more claims that something is, or should be, the case)
and a warrant (the justification for why the claim (s)
should be accepted).

• A warrant is likely to consist of evidence from your own research or

experience, or else it will draw on others’ evidence, as reported in the

• More specifically -:

• “a robust (healthy) conclusion, then, is one that is sufficiently warranted

by some form of evidence” (should be convinced to others’ for the
validity of conclusion’s).
What We Mean by Argument in our Context…? (contd:)

• For example:

• Opinion = Unwarranted Conclusion

• Argument = Conclusion + Warrant (Wallace & Wray, 2009)

• The judgment reached by reasoning (conclusion) is only half of an argument.

• For example:

• You can legitimately ask of any set of claims: “why should I believe this?

• The other half of the argument is the warrant and it is the reason for
accepting the conclusion.
What We Mean by Argument in our Context…? (contd:)

• The rules of the persuasive/believable argument are simple.

• For example:

• If valid reasons are presented that logically justify the conclusion, the argument is sound.

• If the reasons are not convincing or if the logic applied fails to support the conclusion, the
conclusion is unsound. The simple formula is:

• An argument = reason + reason + reason + conclusion (Machi & McEvoy, 2009).

• For example:

• Apply above formula – clouds are gathering (reason); the barometer/gauge is falling (reason); and rain is
forecast (reason).
Incomplete Argument
• There are some common flaws, when your reading and own writing look out incomplete

• The following example suggest, when you adopt the role of critical reader you are, in a
sense, interrogating the author, to answer the questions that your have raised in your
Identifying Flaws in Argument

Flaw Questions that indicate the flaw

Conclusion without a warrant. Why? How do you know?

Warrant without a conclusion. So what? Why are you telling me this? What does it

Conclusion with an inadequate warrant Does the evidence really mean as much as you claim?
Is this evidence robust enough?

Warrant leading to an illogical conclusion Does this reasoning add up? Aren’t there other more
plausible conclusions.

Conclusion that is not explicitly linked to the What are you trying to claim? What is the causal
warrant. relationship between the factors
Analyzing and Evaluating
Arguments (contd:)
SOURCE: Adopted from Hart (2010).
Analyzing and Evaluating Arguments (contd:)

• Therefore, we have claim, evidence, warrants and backing and these are the essential parts of
an argument.

• For example -:

Claim An arguable statement

Evidence Data used to support the claim

Warrant (or permit) An expectation that provides the link between the evidence and claim.
(permission to perform duties under the authority).

Context and assumptions used to support the validity of the warrant and
Backing evidence

• Basically, warrant employs a line of logic that justifies accepting the claim. Usually it is
Analyzing and Evaluating
Arguments (contd:)

• For example:

• You should not cross the street. (Claim)

• The signal light is red. (Evidence)

• The unstated rule (line of logic) implies that a red signal

light means stop. (Warrant)

• These are the main elements that are used to form an argument for
making a research case (Machi & McEvoy, 2009).
Analyzing and Evaluating Arguments
Example: Structure of An Argument. SOURCE: Adopted from Hart (2010).
Simple Argument
Source: Adopted from Toulmin, (1999)
Simple Argument (contd:)
Source: Adopted from Machi & McEvoy (2009)
The Complex Argument
Source: Machi & McEvoy, (2009).
Literature Review Process
Source: adopted from Machi & McEvoy (2009)
Literature Review Process

Step – 4. Survey the Literature

• The literature survey assembles, synthesizes, and analyzes the information to form the argument about the current
knowledge on the topic (Machi & McEvoy, 2009).

• In other words, your focus should turn to summarizing and evaluating the theme (s) of the material:

• What is the author saying?

• What reasoning, logic or arguments does he/she use to say it?
• On what is the author’s reasoning and logic based?
• Can you see the strengths and weaknesses in the author’s arguments?

• The answer of each question creates a logical and defensible set of conclusions or claims. It also provide the basis for
addressing the research question (documents and discover the argument).
Literature Review Process
Source: adopted from Machi & McEvoy (2009)
Literature Review Process
• Step – 5. Critique the Literature

• The literature critique interprets the current understanding of the topic or area of research.
It analyzes how previous knowledge answers the research question (Machi & McEvoy,

• For example: assess the methodologies and methods that have been employed previously to study the topic and
evaluate the relative strengths and weaknesses of the literature.

• The literature critique helps you to think how far the literature goes to advocate and define
your stance or argument.

• Within your critical review, you will need to contrast different author’s ideas and form your
own opinions and conclusions (advocates and define the argument) based on these.

• Your critical review must form a coherent and cohesive argument, which set in context and justify your research study.
Develop an Argument of Advocacy
• As we have discussed earlier, at doctoral level the literature critique must go further than supporting what
is known about the subject (Machi & McEvoy, 2009).

• In other words, the argument of discovery serves as the foundation for the second argument, called
the argument of advocacy (Machi & McEvoy, 2009).

• The argument of advocacy analyze and critiques the knowledge gained from the synthesis of
the data produced by the discovery argument to answer the research question (thesis statement).

• Whether it is a thesis that interprets what is known about the study topic or a thesis that surfaces a
new problem for research.

• To analyze and critique the literature (knowledge gained) can be seen as the activity of looking at the
possible meaning and significance of claims (look at far more significant things to advocate the case
for further investigation).

• For example:

• When somebody says “such and such is the case” then they are making a claim:
• The weather is much less good than was predicted. (see next slide)
The Logic of the Overall Argument
Source: Adopted from Wallace & Wray, (2010)
Literature Review Process
Source: adopted from Machi & McEvoy (2009)
Literature Review Process
• Step – 6. Write the Review

• Thesis writing transform the research study into document to inform others.

• Through composing, modeling, and refining, the written literature review

becomes a work that accurately conveys the research and that can be
understood by the intended audience (Machi & McEvoy, 2009).

• When you are ready to write-up your work, you have one major task to address:

• How do you adequately, appropriately and interestingly describe, explain and

justify what you have done and found out?

• To write the review, you must have to addresses these questions:

• How can the literature review be used to justify the topic?

• What formats are useful for arranging the review of the literature?
• What is meant by criticism and how can you be fair in your critical analysis?
• How do you start to write a literature review?