Why Is A Literature Review Important

The term ‘synthesis’ refers to the bringing together of material from different sources, and the creation of an integrated whole.In this case the ‘whole’ will be your structured review of relevant work, and your coherent argument for the study that you are doing.

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It can also establish a framework within which to present and analyse the findings.

After reading your literature review, it should be clear to the reader that you have up-to-date awareness of the relevant work of others, and that the research question you are asking is relevant. Be wary of saying that your research will solve a problem, or that it will change practice.

It is important that your literature review is more than just a list of references with a short description of each one. Merriam (1988:6) describes the literature review as: Merriam’s statement was made in 1988, since which time there has been further extension of the concept of being ‘published’ within the academic context.

The term now encompasses a wide range of web-based sources, in addition to the more traditional books and print journals.

The ability to review, and to report on relevant literature is a key academic skill.

A literature review: To some extent, particularly with postgraduate research, the literature review can become a project in itself.Your interpretation may be self-evident to you, but it may not be to everyone else.You need to critique your own interpretation of material, and to present your rationale, so that your reader can follow your thinking.You need to demonstrate to your reader that you are examining your sources with a critical approach, and not just believing them automatically.Your interpretation of each piece of evidence is just that: an interpretation.If you attend a conference or workshop with a wider group of people, perhaps from other universities, you can take the opportunity to ask other attendees for recommendations of articles or books relevant to your area of research.Each department or school has assigned to it a specialist Information Librarian.If you can find a few really useful sources, it can be a good idea to check through their reference lists to see the range of sources that they referred to.This can be particularly useful if you find a review article that evaluates other literature in the field.Increased ease of access to a wider range of published material has also increased the need for careful and clear critique of sources.Just because something is ‘published’ does not mean its quality is assured.

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