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The Literature Review. The Importance of the Literature Review in Research.

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the importance of the literature review in research
The Importance of the Literature Review in Research

Borg & Gall (1989) state, “Although the importance of a thorough review of the literature is obvious to everyone, this task is more frequently slighted than any other phase of research…Often the insights gained through the review will save as much time in conducting the research as the review itself required.”

why review the literature
Why Review the Literature?

to identify gaps in the literature

to avoid reinventing the wheel (at the very least this will save time and it can stop you from making the same mistakes as others)

to carry on from where others have already reached (reviewing the field allows you to build on the platform of existing knowledge and ideas)

why review the literature4
Why Review the Literature?

to identify other people working in the same fields (a researcher network is a valuable resource)

to increase your breadth of knowledge of your subject area

to identify seminal works in your area

to provide the intellectual context for your own work, enabling you to position your project relative to other work

why review the literature5
Why Review the Literature?

to identify opposing views

to put your work into perspective

to demonstrate that you can access previous work in an area

to identify information and ideas that may be relevant to your project

to identify methods that could be relevant to your project

Source: Bourner, T. (1996) 'The research process: four steps to success', in Greenfield, T. (ed), Research methods: guidance for postgraduates, Arnold, London.

era 1 in literature reviews
Era 1 in Literature Reviews

Go to the library, look in paper indexes,locate the journal and read it

era 2 in literature reviews
Era 2 in Literature Reviews

Go to the library, use a dedicated computer with an index located on CD, locate the journal and read it

era 3in literature reviews
Era 3in Literature Reviews

Use your home computer, access indexes electronically, if the journal is not on-line, go to the library, locate the journal and read it.

how to find information
How to Find Information

Go to the Library and wander around

Not the most efficient but interesting

finding information
Finding Information

Use electronic indexes

approaches to the lit review
Approaches to the Lit Review

Start with more global secondary sources



Handbooks of Research

Scholarly books

examples of secondary sources
Examples of Secondary Sources

The Encyclopedia of Educational Research – a four volume set that looks at various facets of education. Most entries have detailed bibliographies.

additional secondary sources
Additional Secondary Sources

Handbook of Research on ______


Early Childhood Education

Educational Administration

Language Development


Math Teaching and Learning

Multicultural Education

Music Teaching and Learning

Science Teaching

additional secondary sources14
Additional Secondary Sources

Review of Research in Education – Published annually, generally focuses on 2-3 areas

Review of Educational Research – published quarterly, contains latest research, has extensive bibliography

Scholarly books in the area of your interest

primary sources
Primary Sources

Original works (journal articles, research papers)

More current than secondary sources

Specialized indexes are used to find the articles.


Educational Resources Information Center (ERIC)

Established in 1966 by the U.S. Department of Education

Sixteen different clearinghouses review and summarize research

One clearinghouse focuses on just adult, career and vocational education


CIJE (Current Index to Journals in Education)

Over 900 educational journals are indexed.

This is published in hard copy and electronically.

RIE (Resources in Education)

Non-journal documents

Research conference papers

Technical reports

Curriculum projects

RIE is published in hard copy and electronically

Produces two major products:

These documents are called fugitive literature or gray literature because they are not widely disseminated or easy to obtain!

searching eric
Searching ERIC

It might be wise to spend a few minutes looking at the ERIC Thesaurus to find the terms used to catalog items before searching.

For example “teaching effectiveness” is not a term used, but “teacher effectiveness” is.

It is best to start broad and then narrow the search by using “and” in your searches.

“agricultural education” and “teacher effectiveness”

searching eric19
Searching ERIC

You can search by title, key terms, author, journal name, etc.

Most indexes allow similar searches

finding eric documents
Finding ERIC Documents

Journal articles can be found in the journals in which the were published (CIJE)

Other documents have a ED number such as ED131188. This refers to a microfiche that can be retrieved and read at the NCSU or other major university libraries using a microfiche reader.


This is the Basic Search Screen in ERIC via the NCSU library

Type in subject you are looking for here.

You can limit search to a specific journal here.

a word to the wise
A Word to the Wise


There are basic and advanced search screens in ERIC

The Search Interface for ERIC may vary some depending upon how you access ERIC

eric access points
ERIC Access Points


AGRICOLA (AGRICultural OnLine Access) is a bibliographic database of citations to the agricultural literature created by the National Agricultural Library and its cooperators. Production of these records in electronic form began in 1970, but the database covers materials in all formats, including printed works from the 15th century.


The records describe publications and resources encompassing all aspects of agriculture and allied disciplines, including animal and veterinary sciences, entomology, plant sciences, forestry, aquaculture and fisheries, farming and farming systems, agricultural economics, extension and education, food and human nutrition, and earth and environmental sciences.


Contains journal articles, extension publications, experiment station documents, and similar resources.

There is a little overlap between ERIC and AGRICOLA in agricultural and extension education.

It is better to have an overlap than a gap.

agricola access points
Agricola Access Points

dissertation abstracts international
Dissertation Abstracts International

Nearly all doctoral dissertations written in North America are indexed in DAI.

You can search by topic, author, university, topic and several other terms.

dai access points
DAI Access Points

some dissertations these are real
Some Dissertations (these are real)

Life's Little Problems...and Pleasures: Watching Soap Operas

Electrical Measurements on Cuticles of the American Cockroach

Determinants of Flossing Behavior in the College Age Population

Classification of Drinking Styles Using the Topographical Components of Beer Drinking

more dissertations
More Dissertations

Garage Sales as Practice: Ideologies of Women, Work, and Community in Daily Life

Finger Painting and Personality Diagnosis

Communication Use in the Motorcycle Gang

Ritual Drama in American Culture: The Case of Professional Wrestling

even more dissertations
Even More Dissertations

An Adaptive Surfing Apparatus

I Am You, You Are Me: A Philosophical Explanation of the Possibility That We Are All the Same Person

Jock and Jill: Aspects of Women's Sports History in America

the education index
The Education Index

If you are looking for articles published prior to 1981 you may need to go to the library and use a paper index titled “The Education Index”. Most electronic indexes have not gone back in time to index the earlier journals.

some hints
Some Hints

Once you find an article that is helpful, look at the references in that article and track some of those down.

Once you find an article, look at the various descriptors in the search window and make note of those descriptors.

documenting your references

Documenting your References

Some examples of APA


In Agricultural and Extension Education we use the APA Publication Manual.

in the body of the text
In the Body of the Text

Citations in the text of your paper list the author and date of the works you used in your research.

These references are brief but should give enough information to enable the reader to find the full citation in the references list at the end of the paper.


The most pressing issue threatening gorilla survival is the lack of support for gorilla conservation among government officials and local resident groups (Garen, 2000).

Schaller (1963) stresses that rotational agriculture, which promotes the growth of secondary forest, is strong factor in providing favorable habitat for gorillas.

Taken from

reference examples
Reference Examples

Agnew, C. & Anderson, E.W. (1992). Water

resources in the arid realm. New York:


Weil, D. (2006). The corporate blogging book:

Absolutely everything you need to know to get it

right. New York: Portfolio.

Augustine, S., & Greene, C. (2002). Discovering how

students search a library web site:  A usability

case study. College & Research Libraries, 63 (4),

354 - 365.