The Literature Review: A Step-by-Step Guide for Students

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The Literature Review is a concise step-by-step guide to conducting a literature search and writing up the literature review chapter. The author describes how to carry out a literature review in a systematic, methodical way, providing useful strategies for efficient reading, conducting searches, organizing information and writing the review itself. Examples of best and worst practice drawn from real literature reviews are included throughout to demonstrate how the guidance can be put into practice.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
'The Literature Review is a clearly written and easily accessible self-guided introduction packed with detailed examples. It's especially useful for budding researchers unfamiliar with crafting literature reviews that support strong theory development and empirical testing. I recommend it to every first-year doctoral student' -
Michael R. Hyman
Distinguished Achievement Professor, New Mexico State University
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781412934268
  • Publisher: SAGE Publications
  • Publication date: 3/3/2008
  • Series: SAGE Study Skills Series
  • Edition description: Older Edition
  • Pages: 184
  • Product dimensions: 6.50 (w) x 9.40 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Diana Ridley is a Senior Lecturer at the TESOL Centre, Sheffield Hallam University, UK where she supervises research students in the fields of English language teaching and academic literacies.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgements     viii
List of tables and figures     ix
Introduction     1
What is a literature review?     2
The literature review at different degree levels     4
Why is it important to undertake a literature review as part of your research?     4
Where do we find the literature review in a dissertation or thesis?     7
Structuring your literature review     14
Choosing a literature review approach     14
Summary     15
Overview     15
The multiple purposes of a literature review     16
The multiple purposes     16
Historical background     18
Contemporary context     19
Theoretical underpinnings     20
Definitions and discussion of terminology used in the research     22
Signalling a gap in previous research and using this to justify your own     24
The significance of a problem for research     25
Reflecting on your own research     27
Summary     28
Sources of information and conducting searches     29
What is a literature search?     29
What are the purposes of a literature search?     30
Sources of information     31
Different types of research     33
Tools for finding relevant sources     34
The process of conducting a literature search     38
The use of key words and Boolean logic     40
Tracking and recording your search     42
Summary     43
Reading and note taking strategies     44
Techniques for reading efficiently     45
Increasing your reading speed     48
Reasons for note taking     49
Techniques for note taking     50
Making connections between different texts: using key words     52
Techniques for writing a summary     53
Applying the principles to your field     58
Summary     59
Reference management: keeping records and organizing information     60
Managing the process     60
Bibliographical software packages     64
Record keeping for your own research     78
Summary     78
Structuring the literature review     80
The processes involved in the creation of a literature review     80
Beginning to write     81
The structure of the literature review     82
Developing the structure of your review      84
Structuring your own literature review     87
The relationship between the introduction and the literature review     87
Reflecting on your own research field     95
Summary     95
In-text citations     96
Why do we reference?     96
What is plagiarism?     97
What type of information requires a reference?     98
Referencing systems     99
Integral and non-integral references     101
Types of citation     105
Choice of reporting verb     108
Tense of reporting verb     109
Choice of tense in the clause or sentence where the information is reported     112
Effective and unacceptable citations     113
Analysing reference techniques in your own research field     115
Summary     116
Being critical     117
The difference between critical reading and critical writing     117
Being critical in writing     118
How different researchers adopt a critical approach in their writing     120
Critical writing in your own research field     129
Summary     130
Foregrounding writer voice     131
What is writer voice?      131
The organization of the text     132
The use of personal pronouns     136
The choice of citation pattern     140
The evaluative potential of different reporting verbs     142
Evaluative adjectives, adverbs and phrases     145
A mixture of evaluative strategies     146
Reflecting on the writer's voice in your own research     147
Summary     148
The continuing process     149
The literature review process     149
Referring to the literature in your discussion chapter     151
Reflecting on making the connections in your own research     158
Summary     159
Conclusion     160
Electronic guides     161
References     162
Index     164

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