A literature review can be made on any topic, for example, on “What is Business Excellence, providing a comparison with the EFQM Fundamental Concepts of Excellence.”
Conducting a Full Literature Review
This assignment requires you to conduct a full literature review.
A literature review typically outlines all the previous studies that have discussed aspects of the subject you are investigating. It places particular attention on those accounts that are the most significant and/or relevant to your chosen topic.
When readers come to your dissertation they will not just assume that your research or analysis is a good idea; they will want to be persuaded that it is relevant and that it was worth doing. They will ask questions such as:
- What research question(s) are you asking?
- Why are you asking it/them?
- Has anyone else done anything similar?
- Is your research relevant to research/practice/theory in your field?
- What is already known or understood about this topic?
- How might your research add to this understanding, or challenge existing theories and beliefs?
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Your Literature Review Structure:
Just like most academic papers, literature reviews also must contain at least three basic elements: (i) an introduction or background information section (ii) the body of the review containing the discussion of sources (iii) a conclusion and/or recommendations section to end the paper.
The following provides a brief description of the content of each:
Introduction: Gives a quick idea of the topic of the literature review, such as the central theme or organizational pattern.
Body: Contains your discussion of sources and is organized either chronologically, thematically, or methodologically (see below for more information on each).
Conclusions/Recommendations: Discuss what you have drawn from reviewing literature so far. Where might the discussion proceed?
In order to develop a sound argument and discussion of the proposed topic / issue, you should use relevant academic literature.
As with any piece of extended writing, structure is crucial. There is usually not one “right” way to do this, but examples of ways you might structure your literature review are:
- chronologically; although be careful not just to list items; you need to write critically, not just descriptively;
- by theme; this is useful if there are several strands within your topic that can logically be considered separately before being brought together;
- by sector e.g.: political background, practice background, methodological background, geographical background, literary background;
- by development of ideas; this could be useful if there are identifiable stages of idea development that can be looked at in turn;
- by some combination of the above, or by another structure you create.
There are many possible structures, and you need to establish one that will best fit the ‘story’ you are telling of the reason for your study. Once you have established your structure you need to outline it for your reader.
The ‘Critical’ Review
The use of the term critical is not usually meant to suggest that you should focus on criticising the work of established researchers. It is primarily meant to indicate that:
- the review should not be merely a descriptive list of a number of research projects related to the topic;
- you are capable of thinking critically and with insight about the issues raised by previous research.
What is a Literature Review for?
The review can serve many functions, some of which are as follows:
- to indicate what researchers in the field already know about the topic;
- to indicate what those in the field do not yet know about the topic – the ‘gaps’;
- to indicate major questions in the topic area;
- to provide background information for the non-specialist reader seeking to gain an overview of the field;
- to demonstrate your grasp of the topic.
Remember to have a critical reflection of the findings of the review set against the aim and objectives. This will conclude the review and will show that you are gathering the correct data.
- Your final report should be approx. 3,000 words. Put the word count on the cover page.
- The report should be typed and clearly laid out, preferably 12-point font, 1 1/2 line spacing.
- Spell/grammar checked.
- The key to success is analysis: Why? So what? Specific recommendations, resulting from use of the theory. Not simple description of what you have seen without thinking about it.
- It is essential that you conduct your analysis making explicit and acknowledged use of the theory.
- There must be a bibliography and all references must be correctly cited. Harvard Style.
Literature Review Assignment: Useful Hints
This is a practical assignment, you have to go and research the subject area.
You need to be balanced, give a critique, good and bad aspects, ensure you conduct a thorough analysis and derive valuable recommendations.
This is also an academic assignment, so it should have the relevant academic underpinning. You need to use academic references. There is no absolute number, but NOT counting the lecture notes and recommended textbooks, it should be straightforward to collect a minimum of 10-15 good academic journal papers to which you can refer and compare and contrast your results.
This assignment requires you to ensure the appropriate balance between description and analysis. Some of the former is necessary, but it is the latter that is vital. This demonstrates your understanding and particularly your ability to apply the theory and derive useful practical results, understanding and recommendations. It is these analytical aspects which represent the higher levels of learning that can be used transferable skills valued by both academia and employers.
Source: AEssay Team