The Step-by-Step Approach: Guidelines to writing a Literature Review
Globally, students and researchers alike are presented with the task of developing a literature review. This process may seem daunting to the inexperienced writer, however, there is no need for trial and error as there are known procedures and guidelines created to simplify such an assignment. A basic literature review may be defined as “A written document that develops a case to establish a thesis. This review synthesizes current knowledge pertaining to the research question (Machi & McEvoy, 2012)”. A literature a review is an organized way to research a topic and is considered the foundation of a research study (Polit & Beck, 2013). According to Lawrence A. Machi and Brenda T. McEvoy (2012), the purpose of a literature review depends on the nature of the inquiry. Basic literature reviews summarize and evaluate topics that have been previously explored. Advanced literature reviews are slightly more demanding because they apply the knowledge gathered from a basic literature review and incorporate that knowledge as a basis for formulating a new question and original research.
Machi and McEvoy (2012), authors of The Literature Review: Six Steps to Success describe the following six steps to the literature review process— 1. Select a Topic, 2. Search the Literature, 3. Develop the Argument, 4. Survey the Literature, 5. Critique the Literature, 6. Write the Review. This paper will describe and evaluate the steps involved in writing a literature review.
The first step in conducting a literature review is selecting a topic. Selecting a topic of discussion requires at least two tasks. First, find a personal interest. Most research topics are based upon everyday concerns, however, it is necessary to select an interest suitable for research (Machi & McEvoy, 2012). After identifying a personal interest, it is imperative that it is defined. This step narrows the topic allowing for a specific subject, perspective, and vantage point (Machi & McEvoy, 2012). Specifically, this task determines which types of articles will be included or excluded based on the focus, goals, and coverage of the writer (Randolph, 2009).
The second step in the process involves a literature search. “A literature review must be broad enough to allow the researcher to become familiar with the topic, yet narrow enough to include only the most relevant sources (Burns & Grove, 2010, p. 182)”. Before the search begins, a strategy for locating relevant studies should be devised (Polit & Beck, 2013). The ancestry approach or footnote chasing, descendancy approach, and bibliographic databases are common strategies used to locate relevant information (Polit & Beck, 2013). Databases are searchable indexes designed to help locate information on a specific topic. Keywords and phrases are often used to search databases, allowing for the specific concept or topic to be searched (Burns & Grove, 2010).A key aspect of the...