Literature Review

The literature review

  • Reviewing the accumulated knowledge about a question is an essential early step in the research process, no matter which approach to social science you adopt.
  • It is best to find out what is already known about a question before trying to answer it yourself.

A literature review is based on the assumption that knowledge accumulates and that people learn from and build on what others have done.

Goal of a literature Review

  • To demonstrate a familiarity with a body of knowledge and establish credibility
  • 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
  • To learn from others and stimulate new ideas

Six Types of Reviews

  • Self study review in crease the reader’s confidence
  • Context reviews place a specific project in the big picture
  • Historical reviews trace the development of an issue over time
  • Theoretical reviews compare how different theories address an issue
  • Integrative reviews summarize what is known at a point in time
  • Methodological reviews point out how methodology varies by study

Where to find Research Literature

  • Periodicals
  • Scholarly Journals
  • Citation formats
  • Books
  • Dissertations
  • Government Documents
  • Policy Reports and Presented Papers

How to conduct a systematic Literature Review

  • Define and Refine a topic
  • Design a search
  • Locate Research Reports
  • Articles in Scholarly Journals
  • Scholarly books
  • Dissertations
  • Government Documents
  • Policy reports and presented papers
  • Taking notes
  • What to record – hypotheses tested, how major concepts were measured, the main findings, the basic design of the research, the group or sample used, and ideas for future study.
  • Organize notes
  • Write the review

What does a good review look like?

  • A well accepted approach is to address the most important ideas first, to logically link statements or findings, and to note discrepancies or weaknesses in the research.
  • Using the internet for social research
  • The internet is best thought of as a supplement rather than as a replacement for traditional library research.

Ethics in social research

Ethics define what is or is not legitimate to do, or what “moral” research procedure involves.
Many ethical issues involve a balance between two values: the pursuit of scientific knowledge and the right of those being studied or others in society.

Scientific misconduct occurs when a researcher falsifies or distorts the data or the methods of data collection, or plagiarizes the work of others. It also includes significant departures form the generally accepted practices of the scientific community for doing or reporting on research.

Research fraud occurs when a researcher fakes or invents data that were not really collected or falsely report how research was conducted.

Plagiarism is fraud that occurs when a researcher steals the ideas or writings of another or uses them without citing the source.

Informed consent statements provide specific information (Box 5.1)

IRB= Institutional review board. The IRB is staffed by researchers and community members. The board oversees, monitors, and reviews the impact of all research procedures on human participants and applies ethical guidelines.

Code of ethics state proper and improper behavior and represent a consensus of professionals on ethics.

Ethics and the sponsors of research

  • Whistle-blowing
  • Arriving at particular finding
  • Limits on how to conduct studies
  • Suppressing findings
  • Concealing the true sponsor
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