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Lit review - Conducting a Literature Review by Dr Jennifer...

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Conducting a Literature Review by Dr Jennifer Rowley and Dr Frances Slack Abstract This article offers support and guidance for students undertaking a literature review as part of their dissertation during an undergraduate or Masters course. A literature review is a summary of a subject field that supports the identification of specific research questions. A literature review needs to draw on and evaluate a range of different types of sources including aca- demic and professional journal articles, books, and web-based resources. The literature search helps in the identification and location of relevant documents and other sources. Search engines can be used to search web re- sources and bibliographic databases. Conceptual frameworks can be a use- ful tool in developing an understanding of a subject area. Creating the literature review involves the stages of: scanning, making notes, structuring the literature review, writing the literature review, and building a bibliogra- phy. Introduction All research needs to be informed by existing knowledge in a subject area. The literature review identifies and organizes the concepts in relevant litera- ture. When students embark on a dissertation they are typically expected to undertake a literature review at an early stage in the development of their re- search. Often this may be their first significant encounter with the journal and other literature on their subject. They may have successfully completed much of their undergraduate studies by relying on textbooks and lectures. One of the most intimidating aspects of a literature review is encountering the messy nature of knowledge. Concepts transcend disciplinary bounda- ries, and literature can be found in a wide range of different kinds of sources. This article draws on the extensive experience of the authors. Both have pro- fessional roots in library and information management, but also have exten- sive experience in the delivery of research methods courses, and dissertation supervision at undergraduate, Masters and Doctoral level. The article aims to distill key aspects of the process associated with the development of lit- erature reviews for the benefit of both students and their supervisors. It first identifies the nature and purpose of a literature review. Subsequent sections briefly explore the following aspects of the process associated with the pro- duction of a literature review: evaluating information sources searching and locating information resources developing conceptual frameworks and mind mapping writing the literature review. Volume 27 Number 6 2004 31 Biographical Notes Dr Jennifer Rowley can be contacted at, School for Business and Regional Development, University of Wales, Bangor, Gwynedd, LL57 2DG.
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