1) DEFINITION OF LITERATURE AND LITERATURE SURVEY
Definition of Literature
Learning; acquaintance with letters or books.
The collective body of literary productions, embracing the entire results of knowledge
and fancy preserved in writing; also, the whole body of literary productions or writings
upon a given subject, or in reference to a particular science or branch of knowledge, or of
a given country or period; as, the literature of Biblical criticism; the literature of
The class of writings distinguished for beauty of style or expression, as poetry, essays,
or history, in distinction from scientific treatises and works which contain positive
The occupation, profession, or business of doing literary work
Objectives of literature survey
• Gaining an understanding on the fundamentals and state-of-the art of the area
• Learning the definitions of the concepts
• Access to latest approaches, methods and theories
• Discovering research topics based on the existing research
• Refereed article in a journal or a conference
• Book published in scientific series
• Articles referred to in other articles are excellent sources
• At some stage you will learn to evaluate the coherence
And concept definitions
• TKK library has courses and material on searching for scientific information
Example of the content of a literature survey
• Title and author
– Name, student id and other information as usual
• Abstract (summary)
– Brief presentation of the content
– Give a list of names of essential concepts, approaches and
Methods that you have covered in your work
– Do not just collect some words that just sound nice
– What is the topic and why it is important
– To what larger wholeness the survey topic belongs
– What you plan to accomplish in your literature survey
– Remember to briefly explain the content
• Definitions of concepts
– Description of the meaning of the concept
– Possible competing definitions
– Concepts that might cause misunderstandings and confusion
– Possible methods and approaches
• The actual content with appropriate titles
– E.g. description and comparison of approaches, methods and models and examples.
– Most important discoveries and conclusions
– Proposals for further research
– Separate your own argumentation clearly from the work of others
– A good list of references is important
– Has to follow some known referencing practice (E.g. Harvard referencing)
2) NEED OF LITERATURE
The literature review is important because:
It describes how the proposed research is related to prior research in statistics.
It shows the originality and relevance of your research problem. Specifically, your
research is different from other statisticians.
It justifies your proposed methodology.
It demonstrates your preparedness to complete the research.
In your literature search you will:
discover what statistical knowledge exists related to you research topic
increase your statistical knowledge in your research area
find gaps (and possibly errors) in published research
generate new original ideas
avoid duplicating results of other statisticians
justify the relevance of your proposed research
3) SOURCES OF LITERATURE
A primary source is an original object or document -- the raw material or first-hand
information. Primary sources include historical and legal documents, eyewitness
accounts, results of experiments, statistical data, pieces of creative writing, and art
objects. In the natural and social sciences, primary sources are often empirical studies --
research where an experiment was done or a direct observation was made. The results of
empirical studies are typically found in scholarly articles or papers delivered at
conferences, so those articles and papers that present the original results are considered
A secondary source is something written about a primary source. Secondary sources
include comments on, interpretations of, or discussions about the original material. You
can think of secondary sources as second-hand information. If I tell you something, I am
the primary source. If you tell someone else what I told you, you are the secondary
source. Secondary source materials can be articles in newspapers or popular magazines,
book or movie reviews, or articles found in scholarly journals that discuss or evaluate
someone else's original research.
EXAMPLES OF PRIMARY AND SECONDARY SOURCES
Primary Source Secondary Source
Studies or Surveys
Criticism and Interpretation
Guide to Literature
Law and Legislation
Moral and Ethical Aspects
4) ELEMENTS AND OBJECTIVES OF LITERATURE SURVEY
The Literature Review has four essential elements.
What is this section about?
2. Reference to
What has been done before in this area?
Once you've identified the references you want to cite in your report
you need to decide on 3 things:
1. Choose whether you want to emphasize the
information OR the author(s)
2. Choose the order of the citations:
a. Grouped by approach.
b. Ordered from distant (more general) to close
c. Ordered chronologically
3. Choose the method of writing:
3. Gap in research: What is missing from the previous research?
This section leads to the reason why you have
carried out the research project presented in this
4. Reference to
What does the study in this report plan to
(Re-stating the objective)
Define your topic: you must define your topic and components of your topic
Search for materials: use search tools (such as the library catalogue, databases,
bibliographies) to find materials about your topic
Evaluate what you have found: read and evaluate what you have found in order to
determine which material makes a significant contribution to the understanding of
Analysis and interpretation: provide a discussion of the findings and conclusions
of the pertinent literature -
The purpose of a literature review is to:
establish a theoretical framework for your topic / subject area
define key terms, definitions and terminology
identify studies, models, case studies etc. supporting your topic
Define / establish your area of study, i.e. your research topic.
The three key points of a literature review
Tell me what the research says (theory).
Tell me how the research was carried out (methodology).
Tell me what is missing, i.e. the gap that your research intends to fill
5) STYLE OF LITERATURE SURVEY
A literature review is a summary of research that has been published about a particular
subject. It provides the reader with an idea about the current situation in terms of what
has been done, and what we know. Sometimes it includes suggestions about what needs
to be done to increase the knowledge and understanding of a particular problem.
The articles used must be from professional journals, which means we can trust that the
authors are trained professionals, and others have examined their work. Some studies are
more easily read and summarized than others. Be sure you feel comfortable with your
choices, since it is difficult to summarize ideas you don't understand.
Once you have found the articles, read them and take notes. Write the literature review
from your notes.
Writing the paper:
A literature review usually has three sections although they will not be identified as such
in the paper.
1) Introduction: Introduce your topic and briefly explain why this is a significant or
important area for study. Define terms if necessary.
2) Summary of articles: In a paragraph or two for each study, briefly explain the purpose,
how it was conducted (how information was gathered), and the major findings. When
referring to an article, use the last name of author or authors and date of publication in the
text. Example: Calvin and Brommel (1996) believe family communication . . .
Communication serves two primary functions in families--cohesion and adaptability
(Galvin and Brommel, 1996).
3) Conclusion: Briefly summarize the major findings of the studies chosen. Comments
about what questions need to still be answered may be included.
4) References: List the studies used on a separate page according to APA style format.
HOW TO WRITE A LITERATURE REVIEW
BACKGROUND in this first section of the summary, get the reader's
interest with a sentence or two explaining the need for the review.
LITERATURE. List the documents you included in the review. For
example: 31 original investigations, one monograph, five reviews, four
popular articles, one manuscript
. FINDINGS. Write several sentences here to outline the main findings of
the documents you reviewed. Give data and interpret magnitudes of
effects. Use plain language and no abbreviations
. CONCLUSIONS. This section of the Summary should need only a
sentence or two. Try to include a conclusion of practical significance.
FURTHER RESEARCH. Indicate what you think now needs to be done.
The summary must consist of less than 300 words. Be as economical with
words as possible, but do not compromise grammar.
6) STRATEGIES OF LITERATURE SURVEY
For advanced research, the goal of your search strategy will be to locate the major
resources on the topic, and additional scholarly and professional resources on closely
related topics. Your initial efforts will need to be broad. You need to be willing to seek
out thousands of potential resources, knowing that only a few will be relevant. More than
one search tool will likely be necessary. For example, for a topic in psychology,
PsycINFO should be the primary database to use, but it shouldn't be the only database
you use. In Education, ERIC is the most important database, but it shouldn't be the only
research tool you use to find research.
Steps in the Process
Before you can start your own research efficiently, you will need to outline and follow a
search strategy. This strategy will include doing some background reading, searching the
literature of the field, finding specific a resources that you can use in your research, and
staying focused on the topic even as you broaden, narrow, or modify it, based on your
Before you dive into the unknown depths of a research project, test the water. That's what
background reading helps you do. Background reading can include books, newspaper
articles; academic journals, popular magazines, web sites, and (what is often overlooked)
Background reading will help you get up to speed if you don't already know something
about the topic. At the beginning stage of the process, all you need be looking for at this
point is a cursory description of the subject that will better acquaint you to a topic and
learn about people and their contributions to the field. You may wish to begin with
overviews and resources that can give you a preliminary understanding of a subject.
You can concern yourself with the details later.
You can use background reading as a means to discover how to go about further research.
You can see what direction or focus other people have taken and what recent trends are.
From this you might be decide what approach you might wish to take with a topic.
Since most academic fields rely on jargon, but it can make the reading of academic
journals and some magazine articles almost incomprehensible to the uninitiated. Some
reference sources will provide definitions to initiate you to the terms of special subject
In many ways, background reading will tell you where to go. Find out what sources other
people have been using. When the same sources and authors are cited often, the repetition
should be a clue that these persons or works are important to this field of study. Locating
authoritative sources on the topic is a major goal of background reading
Refining Your Topic
You will begin to refine your topic as soon as you select it. As you start your research,
your topic may be a vague idea, but as you learn more, your understanding will change
and so will your topic. Since it will be an ongoing effort, keep in mind a few things about
refining a topic. Be open minded and don't limit yourself. Don't look for evidence that
will prove your point; be willing to make a conclusion based on the evidence.
Keep focused. Through the library, you may find thousands of sources to sort through,
and online there may be millions. Knowing what questions you want to address will help
determine which sources are the most relevant for you to use. Keeping a clear focus in
mind will help you sort through and evaluate sources. Based on what you learn, you will
change and refine your topic, but try not to be distracted or led away from the main
thesis. Your focus should guide you as you make these changes. Research is not
compiling little piles of unconnected facts. A clear focus will help tie your ideas together
and allow you build a cohesive unit.
Choosing a Database
Since there are so many search tools available for starting a literature review, it is
important to keep in mind three different types of online databases. There are two basic
types of periodical databases. Some are general and multidisciplinary. They index both
popular and scholarly articles. To access the scholarly literature of a particular discipline
there are subject specific databases. Some examples are ERIC for education, SOC Index
for Sociology, Psyc INFO for psychology, Biology Abstracts for biology and life
sciences, and ABI/Inform for business and management. For lists of the best databases to
use in your area of study, go to the main library webpage and look for a subject research
guide. There will be one for every major at Ithaca College, and there are many for
Specific courses and special topics.