Literature Review

The most basic and fundamental research method is a literature review. This entails the searching out of relevant articles, books, publications, resources and other material, reviewing or reading them, and then summarising or reporting on your findings.

This is an on-going part of any research project and is very important. It ensures firstly, that the researcher is familiar with the area and information relevant to your research. Secondly, it enables any gaps in the current literature to be identified, and is also useful in ensuring that there is no duplication or overlap of research. Thirdly, it provides an opportunity to review and learn from other research projects about what worked and what did not.

The information that should be included in your literature review is anything relevant to your research. There is no limit on how many books or articles should be reviewed, and often one source or book will lead on to a number of other relevant sources.

In any literature review it is important that you review theory related to your research topic.

"Whatever informal theory you may hold about your research idea, it will be related to at least one formal theory, and formal theories are the best way to start your literature review. Determining which formal theory, or theories is related to your idea may require in-depth thought about your idea, and such thinking often helps to clarify your interests. Of course, if your research interest is derived directly from a formal theory, you're already on your way in your literature review"(Dane,1990, p. 62).

It is also useful when looking through material related to your research that you consider methods used by other researchers in studying the same phenomenon. You may find key learnings related to various methods that worked well, or not and hence apply them to your own research.