Why do we review literature?

literature1The Literature review is a vital part of the research process.  You will gain important insights by reviewing assortment of literature available on your topic of research. By reviewing literature you will gain an approach, knowledge, and more awareness on your chosen topic for research. An in-depth literature evaluation will help you in setting the stage for a better-designed study and will help improve your chances in obtaining significant results.  Therefore, it is worth the time and effort to analyze it in right fashion.

Reviewing the literature involves finding the sources, analyzing, amalgamating, and interpreting. You might find incompatible and contrasting views expressed by different authors on your topic. These conflicting points of view might be the indicators of swerving theories within the same topic. To shape up a genuine research, you need to be aware of these conflicting theories as well. Remember, verity of arguments and your views add flavor to your thesis. Being aware of those theories will help you later in your life; you will be able to talk and apply your knowledge in your work from different perspectives.

The literature review is science as well as art. You can have it as chapter at the beginning of your thesis or it can even be involved as veiled literature review throughout the thesis. The literature review should be balanced with your thought process on the topic, your ideas are most important. Some researchers stuff half of their thesis with literature review. Keep in mind that the literature (secondary data) is somebody else’s idea and not yours. It is not new information either. Therefore, try to give something new by taking support of existing literature.

literature2One common way to approach literature review is to start out broad and then become more specific by narrowing down the focus. This style of writing is calledAn Inverted Triangle’. Usually, when researchers get a hang of their topic, they recognize that the readers/referees will skim the thesis to find points of relevance. The inverted pyramid style of writing presents the essential facts in the first paragraph, with a hope of drawing the reader into the narrative. This style is used in the majority of thesis/research papers.

This type of writing fashion enhances your writing: all the facts are presented in order of importance, with the most important information leading the narrative. This style of writing is quite creative and functional. The first paragraph usually answers who, what, when, where and why. The rest of the narration provides detailed descriptions, quotations from witnesses or experts, and background information that relates to the opening paragraph.

You will find literature from variety of sources such as previous research thesis, newspapers, periodicals, books, journals, abstracts, Internet, Wikipedia, news bulletins, television, radio etc.

A careful and exhaustive review of the literature helps you in following manner:

  • Enables you to focus on the purpose of your study more precisely.
  • It develops a conceptual or theoretical framework that might be useful to touch upon your research objectives.
  • It also helps to identify key variables for easing your methodology.
  • You can find inter relationships among the chosen variables to quantify the study.
  • If you find a previous research on similar topic of yours, you can meaningfully extend it.
  • A literature review helps you conclude relationship on current and past scenario.
  • And, most importantly it helps you prepare validated questionnaires for collecting primary data.

Four of the most common formats of literature review are:

Historical Format: Here the review is organized chronologically.  This is preferred when focus is on the progression of research methods or theories, or a change in practice over time.

Conceptual Format: Review is organized according to relevant concepts and theories.

Methodological Format:  Where literature review organizes and shapes the format that of an empirical paper. This is used most often used in meta-analytic reports.

Hypothetical Format: The role of this form is to examine the quantity of theory that has accumulated in regard to an issue. The hypothetical literature review helps to establish rationale based upon what theories already exist, the relationships between them, to what extent the existing theories have been examined, and to develop new hypotheses to be tested.

Lastly, this might sound a bit obscure but you will find that by reviewing other’s thesis, you will learn about the ways other people have constructed their own research work. Seeing what others have done, type of approach adopted by them, logic in organizing chapters might help you understand your own assignment. You might be able to see the methods that other, more experienced researchers have used and it might give you a fair idea to follow your own research methodology. As a researcher, you are required to write the literature review to summarize and discuss the major documents published in that topic in the past and present. The narration will take into account the methods and the results or findings of the most relevant tips. Your referees will assess whether the methodology is appropriate and whether the results seem valid. Don’t merely list books, documents, periodical, journals, and websites do read relevant points and discuss them. If your merely list unread references, your examiner might search for those references in your thesis and might raise objections.

In the words of Lawrence Clark Powell – “To achieve lasting literature, fictional or factual, a writer needs perceptive vision, absorptive capacity, and creative strength”



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  1. Madam beautifully explained the fine nuances of writing. Literature review. Literature review is of significant value and cannot be taken for granted ..it gives a very clear picture of the study done by the research scholar. Thank u for enlightening.

  2. Timely needed and very informative article madam , really resourceful article and boon for a research scholar. how to do literature review ithn detail explained . thank you madam , I just pray to Almighty Allah for give you a long healthy and a prosperous life madam , we are really proud of your dedication and service towards the nation and society development. thank you madam for writing timely need of the article. I liked it

  3. Ma’am a very useful article for all those interested in research. Indeed a first and very important step in research. The funnel down approach gives us more clarity about the research gap which leads us to the right direction of research. I pray god to give you strengh to guide many more and be the reason of their success.