WRITING A LITERATURE REVIEW Lyabwene Mtahabwa & Issa Danjun Ying 20th Nov. 2007
Discussion • What are the features of a good-quality literature review?
Features • Descriptive • Critical • Up-to-date • Comprehensive • Well-established knowledge gap
Principles • Focus • Scope • Clarity
So, a good literature review should… • Be organized around and related to the research question you are developing. • Synthesize results into a summary of what is and is not known. • Identify gaps or areas of controversy in the literature. • Formulate questions that need further research.
Example 1 • Other policy analysts have simply shown that the relationship between policy and practice is complex. Malen and Knapp (1997) describe the policy-practice interplay as tenuous. Levinson and Sutton (2001) argue that it is easy to say what a policy is than to say what it does. This line of argument seems to relate to Hyder’s (1984) conjecture that implementation as an activity is central in the policy process but as a concept it remains elusive. Levinson and Sutton (2001) argue that the best way to link policy to practice is to use the phrase policy as/in practice. That is, the two components are intricately interwoven such that as one implements a particular policy one formulates other policies suited to the local context.
Example 2 • In their early work, Lave and Wenger (1991) have raised the issues of language, discourse and identity in legitimate peripheral participation. They highlight the role of stories in apprenticeship and declare that learning is supported by conversations and stories about problematic and especially difficult cases (ibid: 108). They further distinguish the difference between talking about and talking within a practice and argue that newcomers should learn to talk rather than learn from talk as a key to legitimate peripheral participation. However, this issue hasn’t been fully addressed and explored in their work. Wenger (1998: 202) continues to hold this view of language that newcomers becomes a participant in conversations in the community of practice and acquires the language through an interplay of production and adoption of meaning, and thus newcomers will be able to appropriate the meanings of a community and develop an identity of participation. Although Wenger points out the interactional characteristic of practice, such view of language indicates that 1) newcomers is mostly in a passive position to accept the language that already exists in the community, which reveals the existence of hierarchical power relation in the community; and 2) it doesn’t hold the view of collaborative constructivism and neglects the fact that the newcomers can also contribute to the construction of language in the community. Similarly, the issue of identity is only examined as an explicit object of change and a shift from a newcomer to a master practitioner.
Discussion • What are challenges and problems that you have had while doing a literature review? • How do you deal with them?
Some problems could be … • Lacking organization and structure • Lacking focus, unity and coherence • Being repetitive and verbose • Failing to cite influential papers • Failing to keep up with recent developments • Failing to critically evaluate cited papers • Citing irrelevant or trivial references • Depending too much on secondary sources • Source:http://www.meaning.ca/archives/archive/art_how_to_write_P_Wong.htm
Some traps to avoid: • Trying to read everything! • not to provide a summary of all the published work that relates to your research, but a survey of the most relevant and significant work. • Reading but not writing! • Writing can help you to understand and find relationships between the work you’ve read, so don’t put writing off until you’ve “finished” reading. • Not keeping bibliographic information! - Source: http://www.clpd.bbk.ac.uk/students/litreview web.pdx.edu/~bertini/literature_review.pdf
Some quotations • If you speak of nothing but what you have read, no one will read you. • Do not read, think! • Arthur Schopenhauer (as quoted in Dunleavy, 2003, p. 28)
Enjoy reading,writing &thinking! Thank you!