Monday, January 3, 2011

Doing a literature review

I not only use all the brains that I have, but all that I can borrow – Woodrow Wilson.

Embarking on a new research project is very much like getting into unknown or unfamiliar territory. Therefore, the first thing you need to do is to carry out a proper and thorough background research. This will help you to become more familiar with your topic and introduce you to any other research which will be of benefit to you when you begin your own project. To do that efficiently, you need a plan. If you plunge into any available sources on your topic, you risk losing yourself in an endless trail of books and articles!

What is “literature”? It can be defined as a collection of all the scholarly writings on a topic (Fink, 1998). To put it simply, literature is about telling a story, sort of an interconnected chain story where each writer starts with a partial story created previously by others and expand on it…the existing literature is the story so far…So, doing a literature review is basically a systematic method for identifying, evaluating and interpreting the work produced by researchers, scholars and practitioners.

There are many reasons for doing the literature review but the bottom line is it would enable the researcher to formulate new idea that would contribute to new knowledge in the field, rather than reinventing the wheel.

Here are a few slides to summarize different stages in doing a literature review.

The full presentation can be found here:


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  2. Hi Martha,

    Thank you! I'm glad you found the presentation useful. My future plan is to add narration to the slide. This is what I like about writing the blog article and uploading my presentation -- it's about sharing the knowledge and reaching out the global audience. Good luck in your research. Yes, by the way, share the link to this blog with your FB friends!
    P/S: You can find more presentation at my new video channel here: