To write an effective literature review, you need to understand the why/importance of a literature review. Knowing the importance of a literature review would enable write it the proper way. When you understand the ‘why’ of a literature review, the ‘how’ becomes a lot easier. Below are some of the reasons why literature reviews are such an important aspect of a research project.
Importance of a literature review
1. To demonstrate a solid understanding of your research field
Academic writing is about standing on the shoulders of giants. You need to show what the giants in your field of research have done. You need to demonstrate that you know what has been done in your field. For example, in a (computer science research project,) that deals with machine learning, you should source for expert authors in the field of artificial intelligence.
2. To show the gap/need for the research
You shouldn’t just repeat research for the sake of conducting research. You should establish a different, original and unique angle/idea/need for your research. You can get unique ideas and (project topics,https://www.classgist.com) from journal websites, research periodicals and trending reports.
3. To build a foundation of the methodology
When you review academic articles relevant to your research questions/aims, you will be exposed to the various studies done and methodologies used. The various methodologies used will give insight, tools, inspiration and template to what should be used in your research.
Now you know the ‘why’ of a literature review, let’s take a look at the ‘how’. Below are the steps for writing a literature review.
Steps to writing an effective literature review
1. Get relevant research materials/journal articles.
2. Log and Catalogue the source materials /journal articles.
3. Outline and write your literature review.
Step 1: Get relevant research materials
Use Online journal websites like Google Scholar to find quality academic resources
These are search engines for academic materials. Examples of these academic journal websites are jstor, ajol, doac, google scholar, classgist e.t.c. These search engines show citations data. These citations data would help you determine the authority and credibility of the article. Most of the articles gotten from these websites are free. While some are behind paywalls (not free).
Step 2: Log and Catalogue the source materials
Here you put the articles gathered in a reference management software like Mendeley or Zotero. This will enable you to retrieve and cite the articles used in your research easily. After documenting your articles, catalogue your sources.
To build a catalogue, you can use an Excel sheet where you specify a column for every article used in your research.
The columns in the excel sheet would include headers such as Summary of the Article, Author, Date, Year, Title, Document Type, Methodology, Knowledge Type e.t.c
Step 3: Outline and write your literature
Here you first outline/structure your literature before you start writing. To outline your literature, put in bullet points the main ideas of your literature
in any of the following way:
a. Chronological (time/date) Order
c: Conceptually, Theoretically, Empirically
After outlining your review, use the summarized versions of your sources/journals to write along the lines of the structure of your review. When you are done with the first draft of your review, go through it, give your friends and supervisors to access and give you feedback.
In conclusion, writing a literature review can be a stress-free process if you know what to do and follow the techniques outlined above. You should also make sure you follow your school’s format and your supervisor’s guidelines.
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