How To Write An Effective Literature Review

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Given the value-laden nature of some social science research [e.g., educational reform; immigration control], argumentative approaches to analyzing the literature can be a legitimate and important form of discourse.

However, note that they can also introduce problems of bias when they are used to make summary claims of the sort found in systematic reviews [see below].

For example, a book surveying the history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict may include a chapter on the role Egypt has played in mediating the conflict, or look in the index for the pages where Egypt is mentioned in the text.

Some disciplines require that you use information that is as current as possible.

Second are the reviews of those studies that summarize and offer new interpretations built from and often extending beyond the primary studies.

Third, there are the perceptions, conclusions, opinion, and interpretations that are shared informally that become part of the lore of field.Reviewing methods of analysis provides a framework of understanding at different levels [i.e.those of theory, substantive fields, research approaches, and data collection and analysis techniques], how researchers draw upon a wide variety of knowledge ranging from the conceptual level to practical documents for use in fieldwork in the areas of ontological and epistemological consideration, quantitative and qualitative integration, sampling, interviewing, data collection, and data analysis.This approach helps highlight ethical issues which you should be aware of and consider as you go through your own study.Systematic Review This form consists of an overview of existing evidence pertinent to a clearly formulated research question, which uses pre-specified and standardized methods to identify and critically appraise relevant research, and to collect, report, and analyze data from the studies that are included in the review.The analytical features of a literature review might: It is important to think of knowledge in a given field as consisting of three layers.First, there are the primary studies that researchers conduct and publish.Argumentative Review This form examines literature selectively in order to support or refute an argument, deeply imbedded assumption, or philosophical problem already established in the literature.The purpose is to develop a body of literature that establishes a contrarian viewpoint.In composing a literature review, it is important to note that it is often this third layer of knowledge that is cited as "true" even though it often has only a loose relationship to the primary studies and secondary literature reviews.Given this, while literature reviews are designed to provide an overview and synthesis of pertinent sources you have explored, there are a number of approaches you could adopt depending upon the type of analysis underpinning your study.

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