001 Literature Review in Research Methodology – What is a Literature Review


Hey, it’s Dr. Liu here with better life
research tips. I work with both graduate and undergraduate students, help them doing research and getting published. As a lifelong learner, I enjoy teaching. I
believe teaching is a great way of learning, because it always forced me
to learn more, and forced me to clarify my thoughts further and further. Writing literature review is the must-have and a transferable skill for every researcher. Literature review
is often a part of the introduction to a research paper or a thesis. But in fact
no matter whether or not there is a section called literature view in your
paper, it is always one of the most important part of your research. Today I
want to talk about what is literature review, why we do it and how do I start in order to conduct an effective literature review. I will start from a quote by Confucius. Confucius may be the greatest philosopher and educator in ancient China. He lived in more than 2,000 years ago. He said “learning without thinking leads to confusion, while thinking without learning ends in danger.”
in Chinese “******” If you are too ready to believe in anything you’ve learned. That may be called credulous. In fact, for each topic
in your research or each problem you try to solve they may be tons of information
available in literature. Without our own thinking, it is very easy to be mislead or get drowning in a sea of information. On the contrary, thinking but without learning from others will make a person uninformed or even ignorant. Even if you are a genius, you still do not want to waste your time to reinvent a wheel. This quote of Confucius is a perfect summary of why we do literature review, what we
should include in our review. He pointed out the two key elements: learning and
thinking. When we write our review, we want to demonstrate to our readerswe have learned, and we also have used our own thinking. In the learning part, it
is very important that we include all the major works in literature that are relevant to the specific topic. If we missed a relevant and well-known major
work in our review, our review is not professional. We should try our best to
keep our reference up to date, including recent published works. Also it is important to be objective. That means we should include not only the studies that agree with us, but also the studies that do not agree with us. Including a
view from a different side will give us more credibility in our review. In the thinking part first we need to apply our critical thinking. When we select the information from literature to put into our review. It is important to keep a attitude of skepticism, because all scientific finding are tentative, and can be incorrect. We should treat all the results we get from literature as potential evidences for our argument. Therefore before using them, we should check the validity and reliability of these results. Also, there are no perfect studies. Each study has its own limitations. We may need to
evaluate their strengths and weaknesses. And finally we need to decide their significance and relevance. How significant the study is, and how
relevant it is to our research will determine how we should use them in our
review. After we collect all the evidences we want. We often need to further analyze them by comparing and contrasting. By comparing, we focus on looking for
similarities. We may be able to identify patterns, rules or trends in studies. We
may use inductive reasoning here. By contrasting, we focus on looking for
differences. We may be able to identify the essence of a subject, or the factors that make the difference. We may use deductive reasoning here. Also by putting
different studies together, we may be able to identify research gaps, or generate more insights through abductive reasoning. A lot of thinking and reasoning can be done here. Another quote I want to use is from a
Chinese scholar who lived in about 1,000 years ago. He said “there are two ways of
studying”. The first way is “I explain the six classics”, the second way is “I use
the six classics as my footnote.” In Chinese “******” The
six classics are the existing knowledge widely accepted by the community at that
time. In the first way of study, we try hard to develop better understanding of
the existing knowledge. But we are still just a consumer of the existing knowledge. In the second way, we start to use the existing knowledge to present our own opinion. We become a producer of new knowledge. Research is about producing new knowledge which is a more advanced way of studying. This quote actually
defined the principle of literature review. Literature review is not just a summary of
other people’s opinion. It’s not a summary of the existing knowledge. It is
actually a mechanism we use to connect the existing knowledge to the current problem we have, and then further connect to our specific solution, which is a new
knowledge. Your target reader usually are more interested in the current problem you try to solve, rather than the existing knowledge itself. In your review,
you need to engage your reader’s interest by guiding the discussion of the existing knowledge to the current problem. You should move from general to specific, and then you need to further direct their interest from a broad problem to the specific solution you propose, again, from general to specific.
And that is the logic and an effective structure of literature review. After you
have done research, you may want to put the new knowledge you produced into
the pool of the existing knowledge. That is a reverse process, as it will move
from specific back to general. But that is the task of the discussion or
conclusion section of your paper. Thanks for watching. I’m Dr. Liu with research tips for the underdogs. In the next video, I will explain the cycles of the review process, and what I mean by reading from thick to thin, and then from
thin to thick. Until next time, keep studying for a better life!

5 Replies to “001 Literature Review in Research Methodology – What is a Literature Review

  1. English Captions can be turned on at the Settings. Please excuse my accent, and feel free to leave comments. I would appreciate your feedback!

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