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LITERATURE REVIEW. Research Methodology Class. What is a literature review?. A description of the literature relevant to a particular field or topic.

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Research Methodology Class

What is a literature review?

  • A description of the literature relevant to a particular field or topic.

    • It focuses on a specific topic of interest to you and includes a critical analysis of the relationship among different works, and relating this research to your work.

  • It gives an overview of what has been said, who the key writers are, what are the prevailing theories and hypotheses, what questions are being asked, and what methods and methodologies are appropriate and useful.

  • According to Caulley (1992) of La Trobe University, the literature review should:

    • compare and contrast different authors' views on an issue/topic

    • group authors who draw similar conclusions

    • criticiseaspects of methodology

    • note areas in which authors are in disagreement

    • highlight exemplary studies

    • highlight gaps in research

    • show how your study relates to previous studies

    • show how your study relates to the literature in general

    • conclude by summarising what the literature says

  • Therefore, a good literature review is critical of what has been written, identifies areas of controversy, raises questions and identifies areas which need further research.

  • The purpose of a literature review is for you to take a critical look at the literatures (facts and views) that already exist in the area you are researching.

  • The contents of this chapter mostly based on published material include books, journal articles, internet (electronic journals), newspapers, magazines, theses and dissertations, conference proceedings, reports, and documentaries.

  • In the context of a research paper on a thesis, the literature review provides a background to the study being proposed.

  • The background may consider one or more of the following aspects depending on the research question being posed:

    • Theoretical background – past, present or future

    • Methodology and/or research methods

    • Previous works/findings

    • Rationale and/or relevance of the current study

Step-by-Step Guide

  • The whole process of reviewing includes:

    • Decide on the topic

    • Search for and Identify the literatures

      • You may use Google / Google Scholar

        • Start with a general descriptor

        • Refine the topic

    • Sort and prioritize the retrieved literatures

      • You may read the abstract to sort and choose the relevant articles ONLY

    • Analyze the articles

      • Read the articles

      • Group the articles into categories (chronological, or thematic)

    • Summarize the literature in table or concept map format

      • Galvan (2006) recommends building tables as a key way to help you overview, organize, and summarize your findings, and suggests that including one or more of the tables that you create may be helpful in your literature review.

      • If you do include tables as part of your review each must be accompanied by an analysis that summarizes, interprets and synthesizes the literature that you have charted in the table.

    • Synthesize the literature prior to writing your review

      • Organizing the content

    • Writing the review

Example of the summarization using Table:

Table 2.3 Differences between tools in summarization assessment

Key features of a literature review

  • The literature review needs to be relevant and focused.

    • It is impossible to cover all that have been written within the field.

    • Hence, it is important to be selective in the works that we cite.

    • Only papers that are directly relevant to our topic need to be included in the LR.

  • The literature review should be up to date.

    • Some disciplines require that you use information that is as current as possible.

  • The literature review needs to be critical.

    • When writing a literature review, keep in mind that you are reviewing the literature, not summarizing it.

    • For example, if Smith (1978) conducted a study which found that squirrels preferred pecans to acorns, you want to say something like the following:

      Smith (1978) found that squirrels preferred pecans to acorns.

    • You do not want to do this:

      Smith (1978) conducted a 3x3x3 factorial design to study squirrels. He concentrated on brown squirrels, stating “flying squirrels are just too damn unpredictable to study” (page 54). 1000 squirrels were broken into six groups and given the choice of nuts to eat. 1 group was given nothing but pecans, the other nothing but acorns, and then allowed to switch, BLAH, BLAH, BLAH, BLAH......

  • The research gap should arise from the literature review.

    • From the analysis of the literature, it should have become apparent that there are certain limitation in previous research or certain areas that have not yet been studied fully.

    • When you have finished your review, you need to state what is missing from the previous studies to explain what your study intends to do to fill the gap.

    • Besides a report through a narrative, a chart indicating the authors of the studies, the findings of the studies, and where the authors fall in all of this could be helpful as well.

Sample of a literature review

  • The following example is taken from a paper which addressed the following topic:

    LEA: A Summarization Web Environment Based on Human Instructors’ Behaviour.

2. Related Work

Thus far, there are two main approaches to assessing summaries automatically: learner summary assessment, e.g. SS, Summary Street [6] and automatic summarization evaluation, e.g. SEE, Summary Evaluation Environment [7].

Summary Street [6], is a summary assessment tool to train learners in summarisation abilities. It is focused on human evaluation and provides global scores and learner focused feedback on coherence, cohesion and reiteration. It provides measures on: spelling, summary length, overall score, section coverage, etc. The system is created to give immediate feedback on summaries and it is mainly thought for children.

SEE [7], is a summary evaluation system that provides scores in grammaticality, coherence and cohesion. The smallest unit of evaluation is the sentence. Evaluation metrics are calculated in terms of recall, coverage, retention and weighted retention and precision and pseudo precision. SEE is mainly focused on the evaluation of precision of automatically generated summaries in NLP context.

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