T.S. Eliot says, “The purpose of literature is to turn blood into ink”. Logically, it is possible when something comprehensive, contextual and collaborative is presented at a single platform, and so is the ‘literature review’ in any dissertation. To have a clearer concept about the term, let’s go through Harts’ definition, “A literature review is an objective, thorough summary and critical analysis of the relevant available research and non-research material on the topic being studied.” The definition could be elaborated into further annexations that give an in-depth learning to the literature review-
Focused: The topic should be narrow and clear.
Concise: The idea presented should be brief.
Logical: The flow within and among paragraphs should be smooth and reflect logical progression from one step to another.
Integrative: It should reflect that all ideas are linked with each other.
The functional reliance of these ‘should be’ points go into the crux of the research that includes–
It helps in establishing theoretical roots of the research study.
It enhances and consolidates the knowledge base in the subject area.
It brings clarity and focus to your research problem.
It enables you to improve your research methodology.
It helps in identifying important variables to the research topic.
All the purpose of literature review can only be solved only when it is worked upon thoroughly. Therefore, one has to be quick and effective reader, notes taker, have the ability to summarize, reference keeper and has ability to make use of subject index and using databases. Once the scholar is well versed with all these qualities and awareness of literature review, the steps to follow the same should be read-
I. Searching for the existing literature in the area of your study- Books: Textbooks, specialized books and reference books, journal articles, published research, reports and reviews, grey literature, popular media, and specialized literature.
II. Reviewing the selected literature – Read critically to pull together themes and issues relevant to the study, use separate sheets for each theme, you may need more themes as you go along, go on noting the theories put forward.
III. Developing a theoretical framework- Problem which you wish to study, try locating its roots, highlight agreement/ Disagreement of various authors and identify gaps, use these aspects in developing your theoretical framework, literature pertinent to your study may be universal or general or more specific to your study- go from generic to specific.
IV. Developing a conceptual framework – It is the basis of your research problem. It stems from your theoretical framework and focuses on sections which become the basis of your study, the conceptual framework relates only and specifically to your research problem.
Literature review serves as the foundation of your research study.