The Literature Review: Six Steps to Success

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A six-step model offers invaluable assistance for selecting a topic, searching the literature, developing arguments, surveying the literature, critiquing the literature, and writing the literature review.
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Editorial Reviews

Leonard O. Pellicer
"Machi and McEvoy have crafted a guide to writing a literature review that is absolutely elegant in its simplicity. The writers take the reader from the simple to the complex in an extremely well-written, logical sequence of bite-sized steps. This is the most useful guide to writing a literature review available anywhere."
Eugene J. Muscat
"The authors have compiled one of the most authoritative yet practical guides to the literature review process.Novices will rapidly develop needed skills by completing the many exercises and reviewing the excellent end-of-chapter summaries, and any researcher can benefitfrom the six-step model that acts as a road map for both the academic and the professional writer."
Diane Benson
"This book presents the frame for the research thought process. The literature review model used throughout the text emphasizes how the literature review is integral to the entire research process, not just the beginning."
Jim Cox
"Perhaps the only challenge greater than conducting an effective review of the literature is teaching the novice researcher how to do so. This text meets the need of both student and teacher! Even the experienced researcher will undoubtedly gain some insight within these pages."
Kenneth R. Stevenson
"The literature review is such a critical component of conducting and presenting good research. Whether the reader is a student preparing to write a thesis or dissertation, or a major advisor overseeing such work, this book provides an array of insights about what an effective literature review looks like and offers specifics about what it addresses in terms of content and structural framework."
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781412961349
  • Publisher: SAGE Publications
  • Publication date: 7/10/2008
  • Pages: 184
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Lawrence A. Machi is a professor in the Department of Organizational Leadership at the University of La Verne. He teaches research methods and design and chairs doctoral dissertation research in addition to teaching classes in organizational development. Machi has extensive experience in higher education, having taught in schools of education at the University of San Francisco, St. Mary's College of California, and Sonoma State University prior to his tenure at theUniversity ofLa Verne. Machi has also been a K-12 educator, having worked as a secondary teacher and served as a school administrator in both secondary and elementary school districts in Northern California. He has held the roles of vice principal, principal, assistant superintendent, and superintendent.

Machi has consulted with many California school districts and nonprofit organizations over the years. His specialties have been in the areas of finance, negotiations, and organizational development. He holds an MA in curriculum development and an EdD in organizational leadership.

Brenda McEvoy began her fascination with research and writing at age 15 when she became the “interested amateur” reader for her father’s books on topics including Pueblo ethnology and natural history. Those five years of early experience taught her the importance of careful research that produces logical arguments and that is expressed in clear, understandable language. She has taught high school English and history, including research skills, for the past 30 years. For eight years, she worked for the California State Department of Education leading groups of educators in improving their ability to edit and assess student writing. Also for the state, she was a mentor for beginning English and history teachers. Participation in the California Writing Project extended her knowledge of writing and the difficulties that students at all levels face when producing a major assignment. She has worked as an editor and a proofreader for the books of several associates. Currently, she is doing research on health insurance coverage for two teachers’ associations. Her depth of experience as a practitioner teaching writing and researching at many levels has shown her the many pitfalls that can bedevil student researchers. Her major interest has always been to help writers create work that is clear and logical, guiding student researchers toward producing well-argued and well-written literature reviews.

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Table of Contents

About the Authors
1. The Literature Review Process: Getting Started
The Purpose of a Literature Review
The Literature Review Definition
The Literature Review Process
Inquiry: The Necessary Precondition
Pack Wisely Before You Begin
2. Selecting the Topic: Everyday Interest to Research Interest
Introduction: Selecting a Research Topic
Step 1: Choosing a Research Interest
Researcher Bias
Step 2: Specifying a Research Interest
Focusing the Interest
Selecting a Vantage Point
Reflection: The Key to Interest Selection
Step 3: From Research Interest to Research Topic
Accessing the Research Conversation: Formalizing the Research Topic
3. Searching the Literature: Tasks and Tools
Introduction: Searching the Literature
Discovering the Literature to Review
Conducting a Literature Search
Previewing the Data: Scanning the Literature
Using the Internet
Managing Your Data
Selecting the Data: Skimming the Literature
Mapping: An Overview
Mapping by Core Concept
Mapping by Author Contribution
Refining the Topic
Expanding the Topic
4. Developing the Argument: Making the Case for the Literature Review
Introduction: Arguments and the Literature Review
Building the Case for the Literature Review
Evaluating the Basic Parts of an Argument
Types of Claims
Acceptability of Claims
Data Versus Evidence
Data Quality
Data Relevance
Qualifying the Claim
Warranting: Building the Rationale for the Argument
Multiple Claims Arguments
5. Doing the Literature Survey: Building the Argument of Discovery
Introduction: The Next Steps
The Survey of the Literature
Stage 1: Assembly
Assembling the Data
Recording the Data
Stage 2: Synthesis
Synthesizing the Information, Building Evidence
Integrating the Data, Building Claims
Reasoning Patterns
Stage 3: Analyzing, Building the Argument of Discovery
Complex Reasoning
Divergent Reasoning
Comparative Reasoning
Building the Discovery Argument: An Example
Mapping the Argument of Discovery
Analyzing the Argument
6. The Literature Critique: Interpreting the Research
The Literature Critique
Implicative Reasoning: The Literature Critique
The Two Arguments
Argument Patterns
The Case Is Everything
7. Writing the Review: Write, Audit, Edit
The Writing Process: An Overview
Writing to Understand: An Overview
Exploratory Writing: Creating Writing Readiness
Exploratory Writing: The Literature Review
Outlining: An Overview
Some Common Outlining Mistakes
Outlining the Literature Review
The Introduction to the Literature Review
The Body of the Literature Review
The Background of the Study
The Thesis Argument
The Summation of the Literature Review
Auditing and Editing the Outline
Tips on Writing
The Preliminary Draft: An Overview
The Preliminary Draft: The Write
Tips on Writing the Early Drafts
Style Manuals and Author’s Guides
Preliminary Draft: The Audit
Preliminary Draft: The Edit
Writing to Be Understood
The First Draft
The First Draft Audit: The Outside Review
The Second and Third Drafts: Polishing the Work
The Second Draft and Beyond: Writing the Polished Work
The Polished Draft Audit: The Referred Review
The Final Tip
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