The Literature Review

 

GUIDE TO WRITING THE LITERATURE SURVEY PAPER

 

The Literature Search

The literature review is based on the assumption that knowledge accumulates, and that we learn from and build on what others have done.

Goals:
" To demonstrate a familiarity with a body of knowledge and establish credibility. A good review increases the reader's confidence in the researcher's professional competence, ability, and background.
" To show the path of prior research and how a current project is linked to it.
" To integrate and summarize what is known in an area. Pulls together and synthesizes different results. Provides a taxonomy and indicates directions for future research.
" To learn from others and stimulate new ideas. Suggests hypotheses for testing. Helps other and future researchers to not "reinvent the wheel."

Types of Literature Reviews:
Self-study reviews - increase reader's confidence in the researcher as well as the researcher's confidence in his/herself.
Context reviews - place the current project in the big picture
Historical reviews - trace the development of an issue over time
Theoretical reviews - compare how different theories address an issue.
Methodological reviews - point out how methodology varies by study.
Integrative reviews - summarize what is known at a pint in time.



Writing the Literature Review

The purpose of the literature review is to document the state of the art (science), with respect to a particular question or problem. [See samples]

 

The literature review is itself a research method. It takes raw data (the annotated bibliography) and converts it into information (a critical appraisal). The review should:
" be organized around and directly related to a research problem / question you are thinking of developing
" organize and Synthesize the findings of previous researchers into a summary of what is and is not known
" identify areas of controversy in the literature
" formulate questions and require further research

The review is PROSE, not a list describing or summarizing one citation after another. Organize the review into sections that represent themes or sub-topics, or identify trends.

Outline of the Research Paper:

" Title Page
" Abstract; Keywords
" Introduction
" Review of the Literature
" The Current Study
" Methodology
" Results
" Analysis
" Discussion
" Conclusion
" Directions for Future Research
" References and/or Endnotes
" Appendices



Where Do We Find the Research?


Scholarly vs. Trade Publications - discuss

Annual Conferences
ICIS; DSI; HCSS; ACM/CHI

IS Journals [find the annual index]
MIS Q; ISR; JAIS; AMJ; MS; CACM

Abstracts, Indexes
ABI; BPI; ACM Guide to Computing Lit; COMPENDEX -- Engineering Index

Follow the trail of references

Citation Index / Search

Using the Web for Research
Search engines
regular Google; scholar.google
Personal pages of researchers
Pages maintained by research groups
http://www.isworld.org/
ABI; Lexis/Nexis
ACM Digital Library
IEEE digital library


Method - Annotated Bibliography

Keeping track of sources: Index cards / database / MSWord document
Whatever you use, always make brief annotations - so that you don't have to read the whole paper again




Sample Literature Review Papers:

Alavi, M. and Leidner, D.E. (2001) Review: Knowledge Management and Knowledge Management Systems: Conceptual Foundations and Research Issues. MIS Quarterly, 25(1): 107-136

Friedman, L.W. "Systems Simulation: Design and Analysis of Multivariate Response Simulaitons: The State of the Art" Behavioral Science, vol. 32, 1987.

 


SOME RESOURCES

 

Help on how to conduce a computer science research project: http://www.virtosphere.de/schillo/research/tips.html


Last Updated February 2006