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A literature review is an evaluative report of information found in the literature related to your selected area of study. The review should describe, summarize, evaluate and clarify this literature. It should give a theoretical base for the research and help you (the researcher) determine the nature of your research. Works, which are irrelevant, should be discarded and those, which are peripheral, should be looked at critically.
- In general, the literature review should:
- Provide a context for the research
- Justify the research
- Ensure the research hasn’t been done before (or if it is repeated, that it is marked as a “replication study”)
- Show where the research fits into the existing body of knowledge
- Enable the researcher to learn from previous theory on the subject
- Illustrate how the subject has been studied previously
- Highlight flaws in previous research
- Outline gaps in previous research
- Show that the work is adding to the understanding and knowledge of the field
- Help refine, refocus or even change the topic
This chapter is generally divided according to the specific research objectives guiding the study. Each research objective / question should be reviewed. Such review helps in identifying knowledge gaps in the previous related studies and in the discussion of the findings.