Literature Review Why conduct a literature Review? Where do I find the research literature? Importance of citations. How do I conduct a systematic review? Goals of a Literature Review • • • • To demonstrate familiarity with a body of knowledge and to establish credibility. To show the path of prior research and how a current project is linked to it. To integrate and summarize what is known in an area. To learn from others and stimulate new ideas. What does a literature review do? 1. 2. 3. 4. A review tells the reader that the researcher knows the research in the area. A good review increases a reader’s confidence in the researcher’s professional competence, ability and background. A good review places a research project in a context and demonstrates its relevance by making connections to a body of knowledge. A good review points out areas where prior studies agree, where they disagree and where major questions remain. It collects what is known up to a point in time and indicates the direction for future research. A good review identifies blind alleys and suggests hypotheses for replication. It divulges procedures, techniques and research designs worth copying so that a researcher can better focus hypotheses and gain new insights. Types of Reviews Self-study reviews. Increases reader’s confidence in an area that is rarely published. Context reviews. Places project in the big picture. Historical reviews. Traces the development of an issue over time. Theoretical reviews. Compares how different theories address an issue. Methodological reviews. Points out how methodologies vary by study. Integrative reviews. Summarises what is known at a particular point in time. Systematic Versus Narrative Review Systematic Review: The purpose of this type of review is to evaluate and interpret all available research evidence relevant to a particular question. It differs from the narrative review in that previous work is not only described but is systematically identified, assessed for quality and synthesized. Usually involves meta-analyses. Usually used in evidence based health/medicine but is now being used in social work. Narrative Review: This is the more usual route of literature reviews and is tailored or moulded by its relevance to your research question and theories. Where do I get my literature? Scholarly journals, books, dissertations, government documents, policy reports, presented papers. Remember the tools of research from last week? Use the library and your computer to help you do the literature review. Library catalogues and shelves. Online catalogues of libraries (not just Bodelian but others like British National Library). Internet – use search engines like google and some databases like PubMed are available online. Media. Government bodies – e.g. National Office of Statistics, Department of Health. Electronic resources such as databases like Sociofile (see handout), Medline, PsycINFO, CINAHL etc. [http://www.bodley.ox.ac.uk/oxlip/Library] Catalogues and Library Information OLIS - Union Catalogue of Oxford Libraries Catalogues of Oxford Libraries World-Wide Library Catalogues Oxford University Library Information Latest Database Acquisitions and Trials All Subjects Area Studies Dictionaries, Encyclopædias and Reference Works Electronic Journals and E-books General Bibliographic Tools and Publishing Aids Newspapers Official Papers OXAM - Oxford Examination Papers Online World Wide Web and the Internet Sciences Biological Sciences Earth & Environmental Sciences History of Science Medical Sciences Physical & Mathematical Sciences Arts & Humanities Art & Music Classics English History Modern Languages Philosophy Theology Social Sciences Archaeology Anthropology Business & Management Studies Economics Education Law Politics Psychology Sociology Tips on Literature Searches When using the search engines in Sociofile, Medline etc, be specific with your search terms and remember that some terms have different names – e.g.: motor neurone disease is also called motor neuron disease and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Use AND, OR between terms – helps gather larger amounts of relevant literature. Save your results as text files (see handout) and download them into Reference Manager, Procite or Endnote. These programmes make the handling of lots of literature a lot easier! Do use hand searches and ‘snow balling’. Use the help of a librarian! Tips on Recording Literature Be systematic about collection of literature. Record all literature. Use a card index (bibliography card) Computer packages like Reference Manager, Procite or Endnote. Keep a filing system of all articles obtained – file by subject matter/theme. Buy a small filing cabinet if necessary! You may even want to keep a file of ‘not included/not relevant’ articles as sometimes, these articles may become useful later on. Avoid duplicates – I recommend carrying a journal with you and record every relevant title and cross it off once obtained or dismissed. It prevents you from wasting time reading literature that you have already read. Tips on Literature Reviews Set aside time for reading. • • Read to inform your research proposal (background reading). Read to inform your research question and theories. Most projects involve the literature review earlier on as it is involved in the development of a survey instrument or field research. You will need to keep up to date with the field as your project progresses however, know when to stop reading. Importance of Citations Make sure that you reference everything, including full authors’ names, year of publication, publisher, titles, chapter titles and page numbers. Do this every time you read an article, book chapter or book or when you photocopy. This really saves time in your project. Don’t leave the bibliography until the end of the report. Write it up as you go along. Be aware from the onset what style of referencing your college/institution or publisher uses – Chicago, Harvard, APA etc. These can usually be downloaded from the web. How to Read a Journal Article Read with a clear purpose or goal in mind. Skim the article – what can you learn from the title, headings, abstract, summary and conclusions? Consider your own view – beware of bias! What do you already know about the topic and the methods used – is the publication source credible? Evaluate as you read – any errors? Do findings follow data? Summarize information as an abstract with the topic – methods used, findings and cite your questions on the article. Practical Advice Review the literature don’t reproduce it! Look for circular patterns in the material you are accessing and reading. Identify two articles that really impressed you and use these as models. Plan the literature review: Outline what you plan to argue. Structure the evidence around your main argument(s). Emphasise the relatedness of the literature to the problem you are discussing. Interpret, don’t just give summaries.