Rule 6: be critical and Consistent reviewing the literature is not stamp collecting. A good review does not just summarize the literature, but discusses it critically, identifies methodological problems, and points out research gaps. After having read a review of the literature, a reader should have a rough idea of: the major achievements in the reviewed field, the main areas of debate, and the outstanding research questions. It is challenging to achieve a successful review on all these fronts. A solution can be to involve a set of complementary coauthors: some people are excellent at mapping what has been achieved, some others are very good at identifying dark clouds on the horizon, and some have instead a knack at predicting where solutions are going. If your journal club has exactly this sort of team, then you should definitely write a review of the literature! In addition to critical thinking, a literature review needs consistency, for example in the choice of passive. Active voice and present.
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While descriptive reviews focus on the methodology, findings, and essay interpretation of each reviewed study, integrative reviews attempt to find common ideas and concepts from the reviewed material. A similar distinction exists between narrative and systematic reviews: while narrative reviews are qualitative, systematic reviews attempt to test a hypothesis based on the published evidence, which is gathered using a predefined protocol to reduce bias xml 13,. When systematic reviews analyse quantitative results in a quantitative way, they become meta-analyses. The choice between different review types will have to be made on a case-by-case basis, depending not just on the nature of the material found and the preferences of the target journal(s but also on the time available to write the review and the number. Rule 5: keep the review Focused, but make it of Broad Interest Whether your plan is to write a mini- or a full review, it is good advice to keep it focused 16,. Including material just for the sake of it can easily lead to reviews that are trying to do too many things at once. The need to keep a review focused can be problematic for interdisciplinary reviews, where the aim is to bridge the gap between fields. If you are writing a review on, for example, how epidemiological approaches are used in modelling the spread of ideas, you may be inclined to include material from both parent fields, epidemiology and the study of cultural diffusion. This may be necessary to some extent, but in this case a focused review would only deal in detail with those studies at the interface between epidemiology and the spread of ideas. While focus is an important feature of a successful review, this requirement has to be balanced with the need to make the review relevant to a broad audience. This square may be circled by discussing the wider implications of the reviewed topic for other disciplines.
It is important to be careful in noting the references report already at this stage, so as to avoid misattributions. Using referencing software from the very beginning of your endeavour will save you time. Rule 4: Choose the type of review you wish to Write After having taken notes while reading the literature, you will have a rough idea of the amount of material available for the review. This is probably a good time to decide whether to go for a mini- or a full review. Some journals are now favouring the publication of rather short reviews focusing on the last few years, with a limit on the number of words and citations. A mini-review is not necessarily a minor review: it may well attract more attention from busy readers, although it will inevitably simplify some issues and leave out some relevant material due to space limitations. A full review will have the advantage of more freedom to cover in detail the complexities of a particular scientific development, but may then be left in the pile of the very important papers to be read by readers with little time to spare for. There is probably a continuum between mini- and full reviews. The same point applies to the dichotomy of descriptive.
When searching the literature for pertinent papers and reviews, the usual rules apply: be thorough, use different keywords and database sources (e.g., dblp, google Scholar, isi proceedings, jstor search, medline, scopus, web of Science and look at who has cited past relevant papers and book. Rule 3: take notes While reading If you read the papers first, and only afterwards start writing the review, you will need a very good memory to remember who wrote what, and what your impressions and associations were while reading each single paper. My advice is, while reading, to start writing down interesting pieces of information, insights about how to organize the review, and thoughts on what to write. This way, by the time you have read the literature you selected, you will already lab have a rough draft of the review. Of course, this draft will still need much rewriting, restructuring, and rethinking to obtain a text with a coherent argument 11, but you will have avoided the danger posed by staring at a blank document. Be careful when taking notes to use"tion marks if you are provisionally copying verbatim from the literature. It is advisable then to reformulate such"s with your own words in the final draft.
After having chosen your topic and audience, start by checking the literature and downloading relevant papers. Five pieces of advice here: keep track of the search items you use (so that your search can be replicated 10 keep a list of papers whose pdfs you cannot access immediately (so as to retrieve them later with alternative strategies use a paper management. The chances are high that someone will already have published a literature review ( Figure 1 if not exactly on the issue you are planning to tackle, at least on a related topic. If there are already a few or several reviews of the literature on your issue, my advice is not to give up, but to carry on with your own literature review, download: Figure. A conceptual diagram of the need for different types of literature reviews depending on the amount of published research papers and literature reviews. The bottom-right situation (many literature reviews but few research papers) is not just a theoretical situation; it applies, for example, to the study of the impacts of climate change on plant diseases, where there appear to be more literature reviews than research studies. discussing in your review the approaches, limitations, and conclusions of past reviews, trying to find a new angle that has not been covered adequately in the previous reviews, and incorporating new material that has inevitably accumulated since their appearance.
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Reviewing the senior literature requires the ability to juggle multiple tasks, from finding and evaluating relevant material to synthesising information from various sources, from critical thinking to paraphrasing, evaluating, and citation skills. In this contribution, i share ten simple rules I learned working on about 25 literature reviews as a phD and postdoctoral student. Ideas and insights also come from discussions with coauthors and colleagues, as well as feedback from reviewers and editors. Rule 1: Define a topic and Audience. How to choose which topic to review? There are so many issues in contemporary science that you could spend a lifetime of attending conferences and reading the literature just pondering what to review.
On the one hand, if you take several years to choose, several other people may have had the same idea in the meantime. On the other hand, only a well-considered topic is likely to lead to a brilliant literature review. The topic must at least be: interesting to you (ideally, you should have come across a series of recent papers related to your line of work that call for a critical summary an important aspect of the field (so that many readers will be interested. Ideas for potential reviews may come from papers providing lists of key research questions to be answered 9, but also from serendipitous moments during desultory reading and discussions. In addition to choosing your topic, you should also select a target audience. In many cases, the topic (e.g., web services in computational biology) will automatically define an audience (e.g., computational biologists but that same topic may also be of interest to neighbouring fields (e.g., computer science, biology, etc.). Rule 2: search and re-search the literature.
Funding: This work was funded by the French foundation for Research on biodiversity (FRB) through its Centre for Synthesis and Analysis of biodiversity data (cesab as part of the netseed research project. The funders had no role in the preparation of the manuscript. Competing interests: The author has declared that no competing interests exist. Literature reviews are in great demand in most scientific fields. Their need stems from the ever-increasing output of scientific publications.
For example, compared to 1991, in 2008 three, eight, and forty times more papers were indexed in Web of Science on malaria, obesity, and biodiversity, respectively. Given such mountains of papers, scientists cannot be expected to examine in detail every single new paper relevant to their interests. Thus, it is both advantageous and necessary to rely on regular summaries of the recent literature. Although recognition for scientists mainly comes from primary research, timely literature reviews can lead to new synthetic insights and are often widely read. For such summaries to be useful, however, they need to be compiled in a professional way. When starting from scratch, reviewing the literature can require a titanic amount of work. That is why researchers who have spent their career working on a certain research issue are in a perfect position to review that literature. Some graduate schools are now offering courses in reviewing the literature, given that most research students start their project by producing an overview of what has already been done on their research issue. However, it is likely that most scientists have not thought in detail about how to approach and carry out a literature review.
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Because (most likely) you dont have many years of experience of conducing researches and producing academic papers of such a large size individually, the scope and depth of discussions in your paper is compromised in many levels compared to the works of experienced scholars. You can discuss certain points mother from your research limitations as the suggestion for further research at conclusions chapter of your dissertation. My e-book, the Ultimate guide to Writing a dissertation in Business Studies: a step by step assistance offers practical assistance to complete a dissertation with minimum or no stress. The e-book covers all stages of writing a dissertation starting from the selection to the research area to submitting the completed version of the work within the deadline. Loading metrics, open Access, editorial x, figures, citation: pautasso m (2013) Ten Simple rules for Writing a literature review. Plos comput biol 9(7 e1003149. Bourne, university of California san diego, united States of America. Published: July 18, 2013, copyright: 2013 Marco pautasso. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
could have generated more accurate results. The importance of sample size is greater in quantitative studies compared to qualitative studies. Lack of previous studies in the research area. Literature review is an important part of any research, because it helps to identify the scope of works that have been done so far in research area. Literature review findings are used as the foundation for the researcher to be built upon to achieve her research objectives. However, there may be little, if any, prior research on your topic if you have focused on the most contemporary and evolving research problem or too narrow research problem. For example, if you have chosen to explore the role of Bitcoins as the future currency, you may not be able to find tons of scholarly paper addressing the research problem, because bitcoins are only a recent phenomenon. You can include this point as a limitation of your research regardless of the choice of the research area.
For example, if conducting a meta-analysis of the secondary data has not been stated as your research objective, no need to mention it as your research limitation. Research limitations in degenerative a typical dissertation may relate to the following points:. Formulation of research aims and objectives. You might have formulated research aims and objectives too broadly. You can specify in which ways the formulation of research aims and objectives could be narrowed so that the level of focus of the study could be increased. Implementation of data collection method. Because you do not have an extensive experience in primary data collection (otherwise you would not be reading this book there is a great chance that the nature of implementation of data collection method is flawed.
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It is for with sure that your research will have some limitations and it is normal. However, it is critically important for you to be striving to minimize the range of scope of limitations throughout the research process. Also, you need to provide the acknowledgement of your research limitations in conclusions chapter honestly. It is always better to identify and acknowledge shortcomings of your work, rather than to leave them pointed out to your by your dissertation assessor. While discussing your research limitations, dont just provide the list and description of shortcomings of your work. It is also important for you to explain how these limitations have impacted your research findings. Your research may have multiple limitations, but you need to discuss only those limitations that directly relate to your research problems.