Writing Literature Reviews Ridley Notes
Ridley, D. (2008). The literature review: A step-by-step guide for students. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE.
Chapter 1: Introduction
- Purpose: Literature review aids the identification of research problems and gaps.
- What is a Literature Review?
- The Literature Review at Different Degree Levels?
Why is It Important to Undertake a Literature Review as Part of Your Research?
- "It is dependent on what others have done before and you will contribute to an ongoing story or debate (p. 5)."
- "In a literature review, you are contextualizing your work; you are describing the bigger picture that provides the background and creates the space or gap for your research (p. 5)."
Where Do We Find the Literature Review in a Dissertation or Thesis?
- Dedicated = beginning/clearly marked: "In the first approach the literature review is included in a chapter or series of chapters, frequently with topic-related titles, near the beginning of the thesis (p. 7)."
- Recursive = throughout/integrated: "It begins in the introduction and then continues at the start of each chapter which presents a different study or group of studies (p. 7)."
Structuring Your Literature Review
Positions of all of the literature review:
- "The literature review is a distinct chapter or chapters near the beginning of the thesis or dissertation.
- The literature review is introduced in general terms in the introduction and revisited in more detail at the beginning of different research studies in the dissertation or thesis.
- Reference to the related literature is interspersed throughout the whole thesis or dissertation and there is no specific literature review chapter (p. 14)."
- Positions of all of the literature review:
Chapter 2: The Multiple Purposes of a Literature Review
The Multiple Purposes
"When considering the content to include in your literature review it is important to reflect on the purposes which you wish to address when including references to the work of others (p. 16)."
- Historical background
- Overall context of your research
- A discussion of relevant theories
- Relevant terminology
- How your research extends or fills a gap current research
- Provides the foundational significance of your research
- "By demonstrating ownership of the argument you show that not only are you knowledgeable about the field but also that you are entering into a dialogue with other researchers in your field, that is, you are joining a community of researchers in your area (p. 17)."
- Need for connections: "An essential feature of a successful argument in a literature review is that you make connections between one reference and another, and also explicit links between these sources and your own work (p. 17)."
- "When considering the content to include in your literature review it is important to reflect on the purposes which you wish to address when including references to the work of others (p. 16)."
- Historical Background
- Contemporary Context
- "However, generally speaking a theory can be described as a framework which offers an explanatory device often in the form of categories and relationships (pp. 20-21)."
- "A concept is a word or expression that represents a general or abstract idea which is derived from more specific instances; for example, 'democracy', 'social class' or 'stress'."
- Definitions and Discussion of Terminology Used in the Research
- Signaling a gap in Previous Research and Using This to Justify Your Own
- The Significance of a Problem for Research
Chapters 3: Source of Information and Conducting Searches
- What is a Literature Search?
- What are the Purposes of a Literature Search?
Sources of Information
- Journal Articles
- Published Literature Reviews of a Field
- Theses and Dissertations
- Conference Literature
- Popular Media
- Monographs/Work-in-Progress Papers
- Specialist Literature and Primary Data Sources
- Different Types of Research
Tools for Finding Relevant Sources
- Bibliographical Databases
- Internet Subject Gateways
- Internet Search Engines
- Open Access Databases: The Open Archive Initiative
The Process of Conducting a Literature Review
- Get to Know the Library
- Consult Colleagues and Your Supervisor
The Snowball Technique
- "The snowball technique, when you follow up references from the bibliographic of the texts you read, is well used.
- The Use of Key Words and Boolean Logic
Chapter 4: Reading and Note Taking Strategies
Techniques for Reading Efficiently
- "After each manageable chunk, recall and review your reading by writing a sentence summarizing what you have just read (p. 47)."
Great questions to ask. Framework for notes?:
- "What is the author's central argument or main point, i.e. what does the author want you, the reader, to accept?
- What conclusions does the author reach?
- What evidence does the author put forward in support of his or her arguments and conclusions?
- Do you think the evidence is strong enough to support the arguments and conclusions i.e. is the evidence relevant and wide reaching enough?
- Does the author make any unstated assumptions about shared beliefs with the readers?
- Can these assumptions be challenged?
- What is the background context in which the text was written? Does the cultural and historical context have an effect on the author's assumptions, the content and the way it has been presented (p. 48)."
- Great questions to ask. Framework for notes?:
- Increasing Your Reading Speed
Reasons for Note Taking
- "Although it may be suitable, on occasions, to use direct quotations when the exact words of a source text are used, their excessive use suggests that you are hiding behind the ideas of the quoted authors and that you do not fully understand their work (p. 50)."
Techniques for Not Taking
- "It is beneficial to write both a summary of a text and then a short critical review (based on responses to the questions in the section on critical reading above)."
- Making Connections Between Different Texts: Using Key Words
Techniques for Writing a Summary
A Global Summary
- "Global summaries of the key texts you identify for your research are a good idea and provide a useful step between note taking and the selection and integration of sources material into your writing (p. 54)."
- A Selective Summary
- A Global Summary
Chapter 5: Reference Management: Keeping Records and Organizing Information
Managing the Process
- A Record of Key Word Searches
A Record of Bibliographical Details
- "A bibliography is the list at the end of your dissertation or thesis of books, journal articles, electronic references, and other source texts, which you have referred to in your work (p. 61)."
- A Personal Library
- Bibliographical Software Packages
Chapter 6: Structuring the Literature Review
- The Processes Involved in the Creation of a Literature Review
Beginning to Write
- "Indeed, starting to write about the literature before the overall organizational structure of your review is clear in your mind is a means of helping you to understand the literature, and discover and clarify how you want to use it (see the sections on note taking and summarizing in Chapter 4) (p. 81)."
The Structure of the Literature Review
- "If the review is long, as is likely for a PhD thesis, summaries interspersed throughout the chapter are helpful which explain what you have argued so far and how this connects with what follows (p. 82)."
Developing the Structure of Your Review
- "By developing your own argument, you show that you are using the literature for your own purposes rather than being controlled by the authors whose work you have read and are citing in your own writing (p. 84).
- The Relationship Between the Introduction and the Literature Review
Chapter 7: In-text Citations
- "This important academic convention demonstrates the interactive nature of research writing; by referencing authors in your field you are entering into a written dialogue with others and therefore beginning to participate in a research community (p. 96)."
- Why Do We Reference?
- What is Plagiarism?
- What Type of Information Requires a Reference?
- Referencing Systems
Integral and Non-integral References
- "Integral references are often more suitable if you wish to emphasize the cited author's ownership of the ideas being cited (p. 102)."
- "The use of a non-integral reference is a way of emphasizing the idea, theory or finding rather than the person who is being attributed with saying it (p. 104)."
- Disciplinary Difference
- Types of Citation
Choice of Reporting Verb
- " 'Doing' activities refer to procedures and research findings, for example: observe, discover, show, illustrate, analyse, conduct, study, examine.
- 'Thinking' activities refer to an author's beliefs and thoughts, for example: believe, view, speculate.
- 'Discussion' activities refer to what a cited author has said, for example: argue, discuss, suggest, state, propose, claim, describe (p. 109)."
Tense of Reporting Verb
- "Some would argue that it gives the impression that your research is up-to-date and in the domain of current debates in your field (p. 112)."
Choice of Tense in the Clause or Sentence Where the Information is Reported
- "If the information reported refers to the results of a single study the past simple is used, as shown in Example 7.18 (p. 112)."
- "If the information reported reflects current knowledge or beliefs, or it is information which can be generalized, the present tense is more likely to be used (p. 112)."
- Effective and Unacceptable Citations
Chapter 8: Being Critical
The Difference Between Critical Reading and Critical Writing
- "Present logical arguments which lead into your conclusions.
- Provide sound evidence and reasons to support your argument.
- In a dissertation or thesis literature review, you should evaluate, select, organize and categorize theories and findings to provide a coherent framework which forms the basis of your research (p. 118)."
- Writing critically:
- Being Critic In Writing
- How Different Researchers Adopt a Critical Approach In Their Writing
Chapter 9: Foregrounding Writer Voice
- What is Writer Voice?
The Organization of the Text
- Unattributed Assertions Followed By Support From Citations
- Making Explicit Connections Between Citations
- Summary and Evaluation of Source Material
Overall Summary at End of Section or Chapter
- A further way to incorporate writer voice into the text is to write a summary at the end of a section or chapter in which you recap or reiterate the main points of relevance from the sources cited in the section (p. 135)."
- The Use of Personal Pronouns
- Using Personal Pronouns to Take Explicit Responsibility for a Point of View
- Using Personal Pronouns to Show the Structure of the Literature Review
The Choice of Citation Pattern
- "If you are over dependent on sources, you may run the risk of being challenged on the grounds of lack of original thought. On the other hand, if you don't include enough references you may be criticized for making too many unsubstantiated claims (p. 140)."
The Evaluative Potential of Different Reporting Verbs
- "When a writer indicates a neutral view using one of the reporting verbs from the latter groups, it creates an expectation among the readers that he or she will go on to either give his or her vie w in a later sentence or present an alternative or supporting point from another source (p. 143)."
- Neutral Reporting Verbs
- Reporting Verbs Which Show Writer Agreement
Evaluative Adjectives, Adverbs, and Phrases
- "The linguistic devices that you can draw on to do this include adjectives (e.g. strong; weak) and adverbs (e.g. undoubtedly; forcefully), the comparative and superlative forms of adjectives and adverbs (e.g. better; best; weaker; weakest; more smoothly; most smoothly; leas smoothly), phrases (e.g. it is clear that...; it is doubtful whether...), and tentative verbs (e.g. suggest; hypothesize; propose) (p. 145)."
- A Mixture of Evaluative Strategies