This paper describes the steps involved in writing a literature review. It incorporates theory and research and how it is linked in quantitative and qualitative studies, pertaining to a literature review. In addition, Global Emergency Medicine's journal article that examined the development of emergency medicine, as well as emergency care in resource-limited settings is incorporated. Its inclusion is to help exemplify the steps taken into conducting a literature review. Literature reviews play a critical role for researchers and non-researchers who seek to develop an evidence based practice. It can encourage global communication and further research.
Keywords: literature review, quantitative and qualitative studies, theory, research, global emergency medicine
Many aspects of healthcare depend on individual factors. For example, a literature review overlaps with an evidence based practice. "Literature reviews have been criticized as being biased and inadequate in terms of the rigor of research performed," but a good literature review includes a critical analysis of literature which can then become the basis of an evidence based practice (Kowalczyk & Truluck, 2013, p. 219). "Literature reviews can inspire new research ideas, and help lay the foundation for studies. They also provide readers with a background for understanding current knowledge on a topic and illuminates the significance of the new study" (Polit & Beck, 2010, p. 170). Thus, a literature review provides one with a solid overview of a particular subject/ research topic; providing a description, summary and critical evaluation of each work.
Purpose of a Literature Review
Literature reviews serve as different purposes for both a researcher and a non-researcher. The purpose of a literature review for researchers is to identify a research problem, orient the status of the evidence base, determine gaps or inconsistencies in the body of research, guide the design of the study and assist with the interpretation of the findings. In turn, the purpose of a literature review for a non-researcher is to acquire knowledge on a topic, evaluate current practices and develop evidence-based clinical protocols and interventions.
Formulating a Literature Review
To begin, one must understand that partaking in a literature review is in the same realm as conducting a well developed study. Formulating and refining the primary purpose or questions for conducting the research is crucial. Take in to consideration that "theories help to make research findings meaningful and interpretable" (Polit & Beck, 2010, p. 196). Theories may guide researchers as to not only the "what" but also the "why" of the occurrences one wishes to study. In addition, theories help give direction and grounding.
Primary and Secondary Sources
By devising a search strategy, primary and secondary sources can then be obtained. "Primary sources are those written by investigators who conducted the studies....