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Literature Review: The What, Why and How-to Guide   Tags: literature review  

This guide will help you understand what is a Literature Review, why it is important and how it is done.
Last Updated: Nov 22, 2016 URL: http://classguides.lib.uconn.edu/LiteratureReview Print Guide RSS UpdatesEmail Alerts

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What is a Literature Review?

What is a Literature Review?

"A literature review is an account of what has been published on a topic by accredited scholars and researchers. Occasionally you will be asked to write one as a separate assignment, ..., but more often it is part of the introduction to an essay, research report, or thesis. In writing the literature review, your purpose is to convey to your reader what knowledge and ideas have been established on a topic, and what their strengths and weaknesses are. As a piece of writing, the literature review must be defined by a guiding concept (e.g., your research objective, the problem or issue you are discussing, or your argumentative thesis). It is not just a descriptive list of the material available, or a set of summaries."

- Taylor, D. (n.d). The literature review: A few tips on conducting it.

What are the goals of creating a Literature Review?

  • To develop a theory or evaluate an existing theory
  • To summarize the historical or existing state of a research topic
  • Identify a problem in a field of research 

- Baumeister, R.F. & Leary, M.R. (1997). Writing narrative literature reviews. Review of General Psychology, 1(3), 311-320.

What kinds of literature reviews are written?

  • Systematic review: "The authors of a systematic review use a specific procedure to search the research literature, select the studies to include in their review, and critically evaluate the studies they find." (p. 139). Nelson, L.K. (2013). Research in Communication Sciences and Disorders. San Diego, CA: Plural Publishing.
  • Meta-analysis- "Meta-analysis is a method of reviewing resarch findings in a quantitative fashion by transforming the data from individual studies into what is called an effect size and then pooling and analyzing this information. The basic goal in meta-analysis is to explain why different outcomes have occured in different studies." (p. 197). Roberts, M.C. & Ilardi, S.S. (2003). Handbook of Research Methods in Clinical Psychology. Malden, MA: Blackwell Pub.
  • Meta-synthesis- "Qualitative meta-synthesis is a type of qualitative study that uses as data the findings from other qualitative studies linked by the same or related topic." (p.312). Zimmer, L. (2006). "Qualitative meta-synthesis: A question of dialoguing with texts," Journal of Advanced Nursing, 53(3), 311-318. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2648.2006.03721.x
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