Literature Review

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What is a literature review? A literature review is an evaluative report of studies found in the literature related to your selected area. The review should describe, summarize, evaluate and clarify this literature. It should give a theoretical basis for the research and help you determine the nature of your own research. Select a limited number of works that are central to your area rather than trying to collect a large number of works that are not as closely connected to your topic area. A literature review goes beyond the search for information and includes the identification and articulation of relationships between the literature and your field of research. While the form of the literature review may vary with different types of studies, the basic purposes remain constant: • Provide a context for the research • Justify the research • Ensure the research hasn't been done before (or that it is not just a "replication study") • Show where the research fits into the existing body of knowledge • Enable the researcher to learn from previous theory on the subject • Illustrate how the subject has been studied previously • Highlight flaws in previous research • Outline gaps in previous research • Show that the work is adding to the understanding and knowledge of the field • Help refine, refocus or even change the topic A literature review is much more than an annotated bibliography or a list of separate reviews of articles and books. It is a critical, analytical summary and synthesis of the current knowledge of a topic. Thus it should compare and relate different theories, findings, etc, rather than just summarize them individually. In addition, it should have a particular focus or theme to organize the review. It does not have to be an exhaustive account of everything published on the topic, but it should discuss all the significant academic

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