Why undertake a literature review?

A literature review related to the topic chosen by researchers occupies an entire section of a thesis. Why undertake a thorough literature review? This article explains why.

The conduct of research requires a literature review. The review enables you, as a researcher, to get a good grasp of the topic at hand. Hence, to make the review useful in building up the conceptual framework of the thesis,  visiting libraries would be a good idea. Read the latest scientific journals relevant to the academic discipline where you belong. You may also surf the internet to read full scientific articles for free, especially with the preponderance of open access journals. You may also find Google Scholar very useful in finding related literature. Further, useful sources of information include government websites, particularly those that offer statistical data.

Reinventing the Wheel

Reviewing the literature prevents the duplication of previous work done on the topic identified.  Thus, literature review saves money, time and effort. It prevents the “reinvention of the wheel.” This idiomatic expression means that doing something that others have already done is a waste of time.

Landmark Papers: Most Cited

Researchers consider some research publications with high regard. These publications are referred to as landmark papers. Landmark, must-read, papers have become popular among researchers as sensible sources of information. Usually well-known authority figures in the field author these publications.

However, the popularity of a paper does not necessarily mean that the arguments, hypothesis or theories presented by that author eludes correction. Contemporary researchers, armed with new insights from evidences gathered through meticulous research or experimentation, can debunk the philosophies advanced by an authority figure and render them as myth.

literature-review
Aristotle says it so.

Theories from well-known personalities can always be challenged as new information comes in. For example, Aristotle, one of the greatest intellectual figures of western history, proclaimed that women have fewer teeth than men. Of course, he missed counting the teeth to verify his statement.  Until… somebody challenged the idea by just suggesting “Let’s count.” A simple experiment ended the idea from a well-known figure.

Point of Saturation of the Literature Review

Familiarity with the research or investigation made by other researchers enables you to understand the issue at hand better. Upon reading a substantial number of research studies, there comes a point where no further new information could be gained. If you have experienced this, you have reached the point of saturation. Thus, you can confidently say that you have read enough scientific papers related to the topic.

In conclusion, the literature review sheds light on what has been done so far about the research topic. It reveals “gaps” that warrant further investigation. Good research practice presents this “gap” in knowledge in the introduction of the study. Statement of objectives or statements of the problem to address that gap follow. Hence, a follow-up study produces new information.

© 2018 August 19 P. A. Regoniel

Cite this article as: Regoniel, Patrick A. (August 22, 2018). Why undertake a literature review?. In SimplyEducate.Me. Retrieved from https://simplyeducate.me/2018/08/22/why-undertake-a-literature-review/

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