Top 7 Proven techniques for conducting a review of literature
The following steps will guide you on how to conduct the literature review for your research study;
- Break down the research topic into related sections or keywords
- Consult the preliminary sources such as Index, abstract and catalogue for relevant journal articles and textbooks and world wide web for online materials.
Main sources of Educational Literatures include;
- Encyclopedias & dictionary: for accurate definition and for clearer understanding technical meaning of key terms/concepts in the study.
- Journals and Periodicals: They are primary source of lit. review. Contains original reports of research investigations carried out by the researchers themselves. They are indispensable in this activity.
- Books: They are secondary source of lit. Review for providing useful & detailed knowledge in the area the study intends to cover. Should not be dependent on solely.
- Conference papers, students’ projects & theses or dissertations: They are valuable source of information and mostly consulted by students. These materials should be used with caution to avoid duplicating the errors in the design of such works.
- Magazines and Newspaper: These also contain some useful information of current views and opinions of people in the particular area of interest could help you in the design and executing a better research.
- Internet/Online materials: The world wide web is a valuable resource for accessing the digital versions of the all other sources discussed above. However, it is not advisable to use opinion or posts from every type blog/website on the internet except there are from reputable website belonging to government or educational associations. Such informational or historical content may be suitable for the introductory section of the work and it should be used only when it became very necessary.
To access reliable online materials for the review, use popular search engine (ICT Tools) such as:
3. For those using the physical library, having acquired the necessary bibliographical data, then proceed to the serial section of the library to locate the materials (Journals or textbooks) while for online search, the materials are downloaded and printed out or saved in your computer hard drive or saved in a flash drive.
4. Read! Read!! Read!!! and make brief notes from the available references.
- While the intensive reading is going on, it is advisable to prepare a bibliography card for each book or journal article.
- Always start with the most relevant and recent or latest article
- Note taking should focus on the following: the problem,the Purpose of the study, Methods,Population and Samples,Results/Findings, Conclusions/Recommendations, Full Reference source and your personal remark or evaluation of the materials
- Better still a table of the Literature Review Summary sheet can be created and records of each material enter appropriately as exemplified below
5. Write your literature review chapter from the entries in the summary table or the bibliographic cards.
6. The literature review should equally contain a brief summary where you now focus the relationship of your present study to previous research studies.
7. The general guideline when carrying out the literature review are:
- Do not rely too much on secondary sources such as textbooks & newspaper
- Avoid being in a hurry to get started on the actual project. Otherwise, you might miss some studies, which contain very useful ideas that would have helped you in doing a better work.
- Do not concentrate only on journal or textbooks in education. Extend your review to newspaper and magazines.
- Exercise great care in copying out bibliographical data. Any mistake may create some difficulty in locating the reference
- Make your notes as brief as possible. Avoid putting down everything in the article.
- Pay attention not only to the findings of the work you are reviewing, but also to procedures, measures or variable e.t.c. adopted in the study.
- Define the scope of your review adequately. It should not be too broad so that the work will not be haphazard and inconclusive and not too narrow so as to ensure valuable information are not missed or excluded.