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How to Write a Literature Review | Guide, Examples, & Templates

Published on January 2, 2023 by Shona McCombes . Revised on September 11, 2023.

What is a literature review? A literature review is a survey of scholarly sources on a specific topic. It provides an overview of current knowledge, allowing you to identify relevant theories, methods, and gaps in the existing research that you can later apply to your paper, thesis, or dissertation topic .

There are five key steps to writing a literature review:

  • Search for relevant literature
  • Evaluate sources
  • Identify themes, debates, and gaps
  • Outline the structure
  • Write your literature review

A good literature review doesn’t just summarize sources—it analyzes, synthesizes , and critically evaluates to give a clear picture of the state of knowledge on the subject.

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Table of contents

What is the purpose of a literature review, examples of literature reviews, step 1 – search for relevant literature, step 2 – evaluate and select sources, step 3 – identify themes, debates, and gaps, step 4 – outline your literature review’s structure, step 5 – write your literature review, free lecture slides, other interesting articles, frequently asked questions, introduction.

  • Quick Run-through
  • Step 1 & 2

When you write a thesis , dissertation , or research paper , you will likely have to conduct a literature review to situate your research within existing knowledge. The literature review gives you a chance to:

  • Demonstrate your familiarity with the topic and its scholarly context
  • Develop a theoretical framework and methodology for your research
  • Position your work in relation to other researchers and theorists
  • Show how your research addresses a gap or contributes to a debate
  • Evaluate the current state of research and demonstrate your knowledge of the scholarly debates around your topic.

Writing literature reviews is a particularly important skill if you want to apply for graduate school or pursue a career in research. We’ve written a step-by-step guide that you can follow below.

Literature review guide

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Writing literature reviews can be quite challenging! A good starting point could be to look at some examples, depending on what kind of literature review you’d like to write.

  • Example literature review #1: “Why Do People Migrate? A Review of the Theoretical Literature” ( Theoretical literature review about the development of economic migration theory from the 1950s to today.)
  • Example literature review #2: “Literature review as a research methodology: An overview and guidelines” ( Methodological literature review about interdisciplinary knowledge acquisition and production.)
  • Example literature review #3: “The Use of Technology in English Language Learning: A Literature Review” ( Thematic literature review about the effects of technology on language acquisition.)
  • Example literature review #4: “Learners’ Listening Comprehension Difficulties in English Language Learning: A Literature Review” ( Chronological literature review about how the concept of listening skills has changed over time.)

You can also check out our templates with literature review examples and sample outlines at the links below.

Download Word doc Download Google doc

Before you begin searching for literature, you need a clearly defined topic .

If you are writing the literature review section of a dissertation or research paper, you will search for literature related to your research problem and questions .

Make a list of keywords

Start by creating a list of keywords related to your research question. Include each of the key concepts or variables you’re interested in, and list any synonyms and related terms. You can add to this list as you discover new keywords in the process of your literature search.

  • Social media, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, TikTok
  • Body image, self-perception, self-esteem, mental health
  • Generation Z, teenagers, adolescents, youth

Search for relevant sources

Use your keywords to begin searching for sources. Some useful databases to search for journals and articles include:

  • Your university’s library catalogue
  • Google Scholar
  • Project Muse (humanities and social sciences)
  • Medline (life sciences and biomedicine)
  • EconLit (economics)
  • Inspec (physics, engineering and computer science)

You can also use boolean operators to help narrow down your search.

Make sure to read the abstract to find out whether an article is relevant to your question. When you find a useful book or article, you can check the bibliography to find other relevant sources.

You likely won’t be able to read absolutely everything that has been written on your topic, so it will be necessary to evaluate which sources are most relevant to your research question.

For each publication, ask yourself:

  • What question or problem is the author addressing?
  • What are the key concepts and how are they defined?
  • What are the key theories, models, and methods?
  • Does the research use established frameworks or take an innovative approach?
  • What are the results and conclusions of the study?
  • How does the publication relate to other literature in the field? Does it confirm, add to, or challenge established knowledge?
  • What are the strengths and weaknesses of the research?

Make sure the sources you use are credible , and make sure you read any landmark studies and major theories in your field of research.

You can use our template to summarize and evaluate sources you’re thinking about using. Click on either button below to download.

Take notes and cite your sources

As you read, you should also begin the writing process. Take notes that you can later incorporate into the text of your literature review.

It is important to keep track of your sources with citations to avoid plagiarism . It can be helpful to make an annotated bibliography , where you compile full citation information and write a paragraph of summary and analysis for each source. This helps you remember what you read and saves time later in the process.

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To begin organizing your literature review’s argument and structure, be sure you understand the connections and relationships between the sources you’ve read. Based on your reading and notes, you can look for:

  • Trends and patterns (in theory, method or results): do certain approaches become more or less popular over time?
  • Themes: what questions or concepts recur across the literature?
  • Debates, conflicts and contradictions: where do sources disagree?
  • Pivotal publications: are there any influential theories or studies that changed the direction of the field?
  • Gaps: what is missing from the literature? Are there weaknesses that need to be addressed?

This step will help you work out the structure of your literature review and (if applicable) show how your own research will contribute to existing knowledge.

  • Most research has focused on young women.
  • There is an increasing interest in the visual aspects of social media.
  • But there is still a lack of robust research on highly visual platforms like Instagram and Snapchat—this is a gap that you could address in your own research.

There are various approaches to organizing the body of a literature review. Depending on the length of your literature review, you can combine several of these strategies (for example, your overall structure might be thematic, but each theme is discussed chronologically).


The simplest approach is to trace the development of the topic over time. However, if you choose this strategy, be careful to avoid simply listing and summarizing sources in order.

Try to analyze patterns, turning points and key debates that have shaped the direction of the field. Give your interpretation of how and why certain developments occurred.

If you have found some recurring central themes, you can organize your literature review into subsections that address different aspects of the topic.

For example, if you are reviewing literature about inequalities in migrant health outcomes, key themes might include healthcare policy, language barriers, cultural attitudes, legal status, and economic access.


If you draw your sources from different disciplines or fields that use a variety of research methods , you might want to compare the results and conclusions that emerge from different approaches. For example:

  • Look at what results have emerged in qualitative versus quantitative research
  • Discuss how the topic has been approached by empirical versus theoretical scholarship
  • Divide the literature into sociological, historical, and cultural sources


A literature review is often the foundation for a theoretical framework . You can use it to discuss various theories, models, and definitions of key concepts.

You might argue for the relevance of a specific theoretical approach, or combine various theoretical concepts to create a framework for your research.

Like any other academic text , your literature review should have an introduction , a main body, and a conclusion . What you include in each depends on the objective of your literature review.

The introduction should clearly establish the focus and purpose of the literature review.

Depending on the length of your literature review, you might want to divide the body into subsections. You can use a subheading for each theme, time period, or methodological approach.

As you write, you can follow these tips:

  • Summarize and synthesize: give an overview of the main points of each source and combine them into a coherent whole
  • Analyze and interpret: don’t just paraphrase other researchers — add your own interpretations where possible, discussing the significance of findings in relation to the literature as a whole
  • Critically evaluate: mention the strengths and weaknesses of your sources
  • Write in well-structured paragraphs: use transition words and topic sentences to draw connections, comparisons and contrasts

In the conclusion, you should summarize the key findings you have taken from the literature and emphasize their significance.

When you’ve finished writing and revising your literature review, don’t forget to proofread thoroughly before submitting. Not a language expert? Check out Scribbr’s professional proofreading services !

This article has been adapted into lecture slides that you can use to teach your students about writing a literature review.

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If you want to know more about the research process , methodology , research bias , or statistics , make sure to check out some of our other articles with explanations and examples.

  • Sampling methods
  • Simple random sampling
  • Stratified sampling
  • Cluster sampling
  • Likert scales
  • Reproducibility


  • Null hypothesis
  • Statistical power
  • Probability distribution
  • Effect size
  • Poisson distribution

Research bias

  • Optimism bias
  • Cognitive bias
  • Implicit bias
  • Hawthorne effect
  • Anchoring bias
  • Explicit bias

A literature review is a survey of scholarly sources (such as books, journal articles, and theses) related to a specific topic or research question .

It is often written as part of a thesis, dissertation , or research paper , in order to situate your work in relation to existing knowledge.

There are several reasons to conduct a literature review at the beginning of a research project:

  • To familiarize yourself with the current state of knowledge on your topic
  • To ensure that you’re not just repeating what others have already done
  • To identify gaps in knowledge and unresolved problems that your research can address
  • To develop your theoretical framework and methodology
  • To provide an overview of the key findings and debates on the topic

Writing the literature review shows your reader how your work relates to existing research and what new insights it will contribute.

The literature review usually comes near the beginning of your thesis or dissertation . After the introduction , it grounds your research in a scholarly field and leads directly to your theoretical framework or methodology .

A literature review is a survey of credible sources on a topic, often used in dissertations , theses, and research papers . Literature reviews give an overview of knowledge on a subject, helping you identify relevant theories and methods, as well as gaps in existing research. Literature reviews are set up similarly to other  academic texts , with an introduction , a main body, and a conclusion .

An  annotated bibliography is a list of  source references that has a short description (called an annotation ) for each of the sources. It is often assigned as part of the research process for a  paper .  

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The ABC of systematic literature review: the basic methodological guidance for beginners

  • Published: 23 October 2020
  • Volume 55 , pages 1319–1346, ( 2021 )

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  • Hayrol Azril Mohamed Shaffril 1 ,
  • Samsul Farid Samsuddin 2 &
  • Asnarulkhadi Abu Samah 1 , 3  

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There is a need for more methodological-based articles on systematic literature review (SLR) for non-health researchers to address issues related to the lack of methodological references in SLR and less suitability of existing methodological guidance. With that, this study presented a beginner's guide to basic methodological guides and key points to perform SLR, especially for those from non-health related background. For that, a total of 75 articles that passed the minimum quality were retrieved using systematic searching strategies. Seven main points of SLR were discussed, namely (1) the development and validation of the review protocol/publication standard/reporting standard/guidelines, (2) the formulation of research questions, (3) systematic searching strategies, (4) quality appraisal, (5) data extraction, (6) data synthesis, and (7) data demonstration.

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Mohamed Shaffril, H.A., Samsuddin, S.F. & Abu Samah, A. The ABC of systematic literature review: the basic methodological guidance for beginners. Qual Quant 55 , 1319–1346 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11135-020-01059-6

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How-to conduct a systematic literature review: A quick guide for computer science research

Angela carrera-rivera.

a Faculty of Engineering, Mondragon University

William Ochoa

Felix larrinaga.

b Design Innovation Center(DBZ), Mondragon University

Associated Data

  • No data was used for the research described in the article.

Performing a literature review is a critical first step in research to understanding the state-of-the-art and identifying gaps and challenges in the field. A systematic literature review is a method which sets out a series of steps to methodically organize the review. In this paper, we present a guide designed for researchers and in particular early-stage researchers in the computer-science field. The contribution of the article is the following:

  • • Clearly defined strategies to follow for a systematic literature review in computer science research, and
  • • Algorithmic method to tackle a systematic literature review.

Graphical abstract

Image, graphical abstract

Specifications table

Method details

A Systematic Literature Review (SLR) is a research methodology to collect, identify, and critically analyze the available research studies (e.g., articles, conference proceedings, books, dissertations) through a systematic procedure [12] . An SLR updates the reader with current literature about a subject [6] . The goal is to review critical points of current knowledge on a topic about research questions to suggest areas for further examination [5] . Defining an “Initial Idea” or interest in a subject to be studied is the first step before starting the SLR. An early search of the relevant literature can help determine whether the topic is too broad to adequately cover in the time frame and whether it is necessary to narrow the focus. Reading some articles can assist in setting the direction for a formal review., and formulating a potential research question (e.g., how is semantics involved in Industry 4.0?) can further facilitate this process. Once the focus has been established, an SLR can be undertaken to find more specific studies related to the variables in this question. Although there are multiple approaches for performing an SLR ( [5] , [26] , [27] ), this work aims to provide a step-by-step and practical guide while citing useful examples for computer-science research. The methodology presented in this paper comprises two main phases: “Planning” described in section 2, and “Conducting” described in section 3, following the depiction of the graphical abstract.

Defining the protocol is the first step of an SLR since it describes the procedures involved in the review and acts as a log of the activities to be performed. Obtaining opinions from peers while developing the protocol, is encouraged to ensure the review's consistency and validity, and helps identify when modifications are necessary [20] . One final goal of the protocol is to ensure the replicability of the review.

Define PICOC and synonyms

The PICOC (Population, Intervention, Comparison, Outcome, and Context) criteria break down the SLR's objectives into searchable keywords and help formulate research questions [ 27 ]. PICOC is widely used in the medical and social sciences fields to encourage researchers to consider the components of the research questions [14] . Kitchenham & Charters [6] compiled the list of PICOC elements and their corresponding terms in computer science, as presented in Table 1 , which includes keywords derived from the PICOC elements. From that point on, it is essential to think of synonyms or “alike” terms that later can be used for building queries in the selected digital libraries. For instance, the keyword “context awareness” can also be linked to “context-aware”.

Planning Step 1 “Defining PICOC keywords and synonyms”.

Formulate research questions

Clearly defined research question(s) are the key elements which set the focus for study identification and data extraction [21] . These questions are formulated based on the PICOC criteria as presented in the example in Table 2 (PICOC keywords are underlined).

Research questions examples.

Select digital library sources

The validity of a study will depend on the proper selection of a database since it must adequately cover the area under investigation [19] . The Web of Science (WoS) is an international and multidisciplinary tool for accessing literature in science, technology, biomedicine, and other disciplines. Scopus is a database that today indexes 40,562 peer-reviewed journals, compared to 24,831 for WoS. Thus, Scopus is currently the largest existing multidisciplinary database. However, it may also be necessary to include sources relevant to computer science, such as EI Compendex, IEEE Xplore, and ACM. Table 3 compares the area of expertise of a selection of databases.

Planning Step 3 “Select digital libraries”. Description of digital libraries in computer science and software engineering.

Define inclusion and exclusion criteria

Authors should define the inclusion and exclusion criteria before conducting the review to prevent bias, although these can be adjusted later, if necessary. The selection of primary studies will depend on these criteria. Articles are included or excluded in this first selection based on abstract and primary bibliographic data. When unsure, the article is skimmed to further decide the relevance for the review. Table 4 sets out some criteria types with descriptions and examples.

Planning Step 4 “Define inclusion and exclusion criteria”. Examples of criteria type.

Define the Quality Assessment (QA) checklist

Assessing the quality of an article requires an artifact which describes how to perform a detailed assessment. A typical quality assessment is a checklist that contains multiple factors to evaluate. A numerical scale is used to assess the criteria and quantify the QA [22] . Zhou et al. [25] presented a detailed description of assessment criteria in software engineering, classified into four main aspects of study quality: Reporting, Rigor, Credibility, and Relevance. Each of these criteria can be evaluated using, for instance, a Likert-type scale [17] , as shown in Table 5 . It is essential to select the same scale for all criteria established on the quality assessment.

Planning Step 5 “Define QA assessment checklist”. Examples of QA scales and questions.

Define the “Data Extraction” form

The data extraction form represents the information necessary to answer the research questions established for the review. Synthesizing the articles is a crucial step when conducting research. Ramesh et al. [15] presented a classification scheme for computer science research, based on topics, research methods, and levels of analysis that can be used to categorize the articles selected. Classification methods and fields to consider when conducting a review are presented in Table 6 .

Planning Step 6 “Define data extraction form”. Examples of fields.

The data extraction must be relevant to the research questions, and the relationship to each of the questions should be included in the form. Kitchenham & Charters [6] presented more pertinent data that can be captured, such as conclusions, recommendations, strengths, and weaknesses. Although the data extraction form can be updated if more information is needed, this should be treated with caution since it can be time-consuming. It can therefore be helpful to first have a general background in the research topic to determine better data extraction criteria.

After defining the protocol, conducting the review requires following each of the steps previously described. Using tools can help simplify the performance of this task. Standard tools such as Excel or Google sheets allow multiple researchers to work collaboratively. Another online tool specifically designed for performing SLRs is Parsif.al 1 . This tool allows researchers, especially in the context of software engineering, to define goals and objectives, import articles using BibTeX files, eliminate duplicates, define selection criteria, and generate reports.

Build digital library search strings

Search strings are built considering the PICOC elements and synonyms to execute the search in each database library. A search string should separate the synonyms with the boolean operator OR. In comparison, the PICOC elements are separated with parentheses and the boolean operator AND. An example is presented next:

(“Smart Manufacturing” OR “Digital Manufacturing” OR “Smart Factory”) AND (“Business Process Management” OR “BPEL” OR “BPM” OR “BPMN”) AND (“Semantic Web” OR “Ontology” OR “Semantic” OR “Semantic Web Service”) AND (“Framework” OR “Extension” OR “Plugin” OR “Tool”

Gather studies

Databases that feature advanced searches enable researchers to perform search queries based on titles, abstracts, and keywords, as well as for years or areas of research. Fig. 1 presents the example of an advanced search in Scopus, using titles, abstracts, and keywords (TITLE-ABS-KEY). Most of the databases allow the use of logical operators (i.e., AND, OR). In the example, the search is for “BIG DATA” and “USER EXPERIENCE” or “UX” as a synonym.

Fig 1

Example of Advanced search on Scopus.

In general, bibliometric data of articles can be exported from the databases as a comma-separated-value file (CSV) or BibTeX file, which is helpful for data extraction and quantitative and qualitative analysis. In addition, researchers should take advantage of reference-management software such as Zotero, Mendeley, Endnote, or Jabref, which import bibliographic information onto the software easily.

Study Selection and Refinement

The first step in this stage is to identify any duplicates that appear in the different searches in the selected databases. Some automatic procedures, tools like Excel formulas, or programming languages (i.e., Python) can be convenient here.

In the second step, articles are included or excluded according to the selection criteria, mainly by reading titles and abstracts. Finally, the quality is assessed using the predefined scale. Fig. 2 shows an example of an article QA evaluation in Parsif.al, using a simple scale. In this scenario, the scoring procedure is the following YES= 1, PARTIALLY= 0.5, and NO or UNKNOWN = 0 . A cut-off score should be defined to filter those articles that do not pass the QA. The QA will require a light review of the full text of the article.

Fig 2

Performing quality assessment (QA) in Parsif.al.

Data extraction

Those articles that pass the study selection are then thoroughly and critically read. Next, the researcher completes the information required using the “data extraction” form, as illustrated in Fig. 3 , in this scenario using Parsif.al tool.

Fig 3

Example of data extraction form using Parsif.al.

The information required (study characteristics and findings) from each included study must be acquired and documented through careful reading. Data extraction is valuable, especially if the data requires manipulation or assumptions and inferences. Thus, information can be synthesized from the extracted data for qualitative or quantitative analysis [16] . This documentation supports clarity, precise reporting, and the ability to scrutinize and replicate the examination.

Analysis and Report

The analysis phase examines the synthesized data and extracts meaningful information from the selected articles [10] . There are two main goals in this phase.

The first goal is to analyze the literature in terms of leading authors, journals, countries, and organizations. Furthermore, it helps identify correlations among topic s . Even when not mandatory, this activity can be constructive for researchers to position their work, find trends, and find collaboration opportunities. Next, data from the selected articles can be analyzed using bibliometric analysis (BA). BA summarizes large amounts of bibliometric data to present the state of intellectual structure and emerging trends in a topic or field of research [4] . Table 7 sets out some of the most common bibliometric analysis representations.

Techniques for bibliometric analysis and examples.

Several tools can perform this type of analysis, such as Excel and Google Sheets for statistical graphs or using programming languages such as Python that has available multiple  data visualization libraries (i.e. Matplotlib, Seaborn). Cluster maps based on bibliographic data(i.e keywords, authors) can be developed in VosViewer which makes it easy to identify clusters of related items [18] . In Fig. 4 , node size is representative of the number of papers related to the keyword, and lines represent the links among keyword terms.

Fig 4

[1] Keyword co-relationship analysis using clusterization in vos viewer.

This second and most important goal is to answer the formulated research questions, which should include a quantitative and qualitative analysis. The quantitative analysis can make use of data categorized, labelled, or coded in the extraction form (see Section 1.6). This data can be transformed into numerical values to perform statistical analysis. One of the most widely employed method is frequency analysis, which shows the recurrence of an event, and can also represent the percental distribution of the population (i.e., percentage by technology type, frequency of use of different frameworks, etc.). Q ualitative analysis includes the narration of the results, the discussion indicating the way forward in future research work, and inferring a conclusion.

Finally, the literature review report should state the protocol to ensure others researchers can replicate the process and understand how the analysis was performed. In the protocol, it is essential to present the inclusion and exclusion criteria, quality assessment, and rationality beyond these aspects.

The presentation and reporting of results will depend on the structure of the review given by the researchers conducting the SLR, there is no one answer. This structure should tie the studies together into key themes, characteristics, or subgroups [ 28 ].

SLR can be an extensive and demanding task, however the results are beneficial in providing a comprehensive overview of the available evidence on a given topic. For this reason, researchers should keep in mind that the entire process of the SLR is tailored to answer the research question(s). This article has detailed a practical guide with the essential steps to conducting an SLR in the context of computer science and software engineering while citing multiple helpful examples and tools. It is envisaged that this method will assist researchers, and particularly early-stage researchers, in following an algorithmic approach to fulfill this task. Finally, a quick checklist is presented in Appendix A as a companion of this article.

CRediT author statement

Angela Carrera-Rivera: Conceptualization, Methodology, Writing-Original. William Ochoa-Agurto : Methodology, Writing-Original. Felix Larrinaga : Reviewing and Supervision Ganix Lasa: Reviewing and Supervision.

Declaration of Competing Interest

The authors declare that they have no known competing financial interests or personal relationships that could have appeared to influence the work reported in this paper.


Funding : This project has received funding from the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Sklodowska-Curie Grant No. 814078.

Carrera-Rivera, A., Larrinaga, F., & Lasa, G. (2022). Context-awareness for the design of Smart-product service systems: Literature review. Computers in Industry, 142, 103730.

1 https://parsif.al/

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Summary Research Methodology, A step-by-step guide for beginners

RESEARCH METHODOLOGY a step-by-step guide for beginners

SAGE has been part of the global academic community since 1965, supporting high quality research and learning that transforms society and our understanding of individuals, groups, and cultures. SAGE is the independent, innovative, natural home for authors, editors and societies who share our commitment and passion for the social sciences. Find out more at: www.sagepublications.com

rd 3 edition

RESEARCH METHODOLOGY a step-by-step guide for beginners Ranjit Kumar

© Ranjit Kumar 1999, 2005, 2011 First edition published 1999 Second edition published 2005. Reprinted 2007, 2008 (twice), 2009 (twice) This third edition published 2011 Apart from any fair dealing for the purposes of research or private study, or criticism or review, as permitted under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, 1988, this publication may be reproduced, stored or transmitted in any form, or by any means, only with the prior permission in writing of the publishers, or in the case of reprographic reproduction, in accordance with the terms of licences issued by the Copyright Licensing Agency. Enquiries concerning reproduction outside those terms should be sent to the publishers. SAGE Publications Ltd 1 Oliver’s Yard 55 City Road London EC1Y 1SP SAGE Publications Inc. 2455 Teller Road Thousand Oaks, California 91320 SAGE Publications India Pvt Ltd B 1/I 1 Mohan Cooperative Industrial Area Mathura Road New Delhi 110 044 SAGE Publications Asia-Pacific Pte Ltd 33 Pekin Street #02-01 Far East Square Singapore 048763 Library of Congress Control Number available British Library Cataloguing in Publication data A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library ISBN 978-1-84920-300-5 ISBN 978-1-84920-301-2 (pbk) Typeset by C&M Digitals (P) Ltd, Chennai, India Printed and bound in Great Britain by TJ International Ltd, Padstow, Cornwall Printed on paper from sustainable resources

To my daughter, Parul

Contents List of figures List of tables Preface 1 Research: a way of thinking Research: an integral part of your practice Research: a way to gather evidence for your practice Applications of research Research: what does it mean? The research process: characteristics and requirements Types of research Types of research: application perspective Types of research: objectives perspective Types of research: mode of enquiry perspective Paradigms of research Summary 2 The research process: a quick glance The research process: an eight-step model Phase I: deciding what to research Step I: formulating a research problem Phase II: planning a research study Step II: conceptualising a research design Step III: constructing an instrument for data collection Step IV: selecting a sample Step V: writing a research proposal Phase III: conducting a research study Step VI: collecting data Step VII: processing and displaying data Step VIII: writing a research report Summary STEP I FORMULATING A RESEARCH PROBLEM 3 Reviewing the literature The place of the literature review in research Bringing clarity and focus to your research problem Improving your research methodology Broadening your knowledge base in your research area Enabling you to contextualise your findings

How to review the literature Searching for the existing literature Reviewing the selected literature Developing a theoretical framework Developing a conceptual framework Writing about the literature reviewed Summary 4 Formulating a research problem The research problem The importance of formulating a research problem Sources of research problems Considerations in selecting a research problem Steps in formulating a research problem The formulation of research objectives The study population Establishing operational definitions Formulating a research problem in qualitative research Summary 5 Identifying variables What is a variable? The difference between a concept and a variable Converting concepts into variables Types of variable From the viewpoint of causal relationship From the viewpoint of the study design From the viewpoint of the unit of measurement Types of measurement scale The nominal or classificatory scale The ordinal or ranking scale The interval scale The ratio scale Summary 6 Constructing hypotheses The definition of a hypothesis The functions of a hypothesis The testing of a hypothesis The characteristics of a hypothesis Types of hypothesis Errors in testing a hypothesis Hypotheses in qualitative research Summary STEP II CONCEPTUALISING A RESEARCH DESIGN

7 The research design What is a research design? The functions of a research design The theory of causality and the research design Summary 8 Selecting a study design Differences between quantitative and qualitative study designs Study designs in quantitative research Study designs based on the number of contacts Study designs based on the reference period Study designs based on the nature of the investigation Other designs commonly used in quantitative research The cross-over comparative experimental design The replicated cross-sectional design Trend studies Cohort studies Panel studies Blind studies Double-blind studies Study designs in qualitative research Case study Oral history Focus groups/group interviews Participant observation Holistic research Community discussion forums Reflective journal log Other commonly used philosophy-guided designs Action research Feminist research Participatory and collaborative research enquiry Summary STEP III CONSTRUCTING AN INSTRUMENT FOR DATA COLLECTION 9 Selecting a method of data collection Differences in the methods of data collection in quantitative and qualitative research Major approaches to information gathering Collecting data using primary sources Observation The interview The questionnaire Constructing a research instrument in quantitative research Asking personal and sensitive questions The order of questions Pre-testing a research instrument


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