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The mere fact of having a system can make the literature review seem much less daunting, so I recommend this system for anyone who feels overwhelmed by the prospect of writing a literature review.
You will also use the literature review to justify the value of doing research on your topic by showing what is already known, what is not yet known, and how it is relevant.
Your literature review should not simply be descriptive but should also provide a critical analysis of the body of work, and demonstrate that you understand how it fits together as a whole and how your own research fits with previous studies.
A literature review I am currently working on, for example, explores barriers to higher education for undocumented students.
Step Two: Search for the literature: Conduct a comprehensive bibliographic search of books and articles in your area.
A key aspect of a literature review is what sources you select to include, and which you exclude.
Thanks to the internet, literature searches are now relatively easy, and can be done from the comfort of your own laptop without needing to go anywhere near a library. The ease with which anybody can access and publish to the internet means that many items published online have not been scrutinised by anybody other than the author.Step Three: Find relevant excerpts in your books and articles: Skim the contents of each book and article and look specifically for these five things: 1.Claims, conclusions, and findings about the constructs you are investigating 2. Calls for follow-up studies relevant to your project 4. Disagreement about the constructs you are investigating When you find any of these five things, type the relevant excerpt directly into a Word document. If there are excerpts that you can’t figure out where they belong, separate those and go over them again at the end to see if you need new categories.Don’t summarize, as summarizing takes longer than simply typing the excerpt. When you finish, place each stack of notes into an envelope labeled with the name of the theme.Make sure to note the name of the author and the page number following each excerpt. Step Five: Create Your Conceptual Schema: Type, in large font, the name of each of your coded themes.Step One: Decide on your areas of research: Before you begin to search for articles or books, decide beforehand what areas you are going to research.Make sure that you only get articles and books in those areas, even if you come across fascinating books in other areas.Step Six: Begin to Write Your Literature Review: Choose any section of your conceptual schema to begin with.You can begin anywhere, because you already know the order.Repeat this for each section of your literature review.Once you complete these six steps, you will have a complete draft of your literature review.