Literature review: takes time, effort and enthusiasm


        As you can see from the puzzle above the literature review is the most extensive, significant and capacious part in the research writing process.  Moreover, the literature review is one of the most demanding tasks in the thesis writing. However, someone may supose that choosing a research topic and focus is rather difficult. But I think choosing a general thesis topic is relatively easy, but deciding on specific and realistic research questions requires considerable thought and enquiry. Appropriate and relevant research questions and the methods employed to answer them must be framed in the context of existing research. Furthermore, I would emphasize that a thorough, refined literature review is the foundation of solid research.

          The topic of my research is teacher leadership, whereas the main focus of the study is teachers` and principal’s perception and understanding of teacher leadership concept.  In this regard, the main two research questions are going to guide my paper. The first research question: How do teachers and principals of selected school of Astana perceive the concept of teacher leadership? The second – How English teachers are experiencing leadership roles and addressing leadership distribution issues in their school? According to these research questions I organize my main themes and categories and designed concept (literature) map. This schedule is greatly contributing my deeper understanding of the issue. Moreover, it helps me grouping authors, who draw similar conclusions and noting areas in which authors are in disagreement. As a result, I can see three sections that will organize and structure my literature review. Firstly, I will discuss the definition and original meaning of teacher leadership. It is very interesting because different scholars define this issue from absolutely controversial angles. Secondly, I will critically analyze and evaluate findings provided by authors on teachers` perception of leadership. Thirdly, I would like to gather a representative collection of pertinent discussions about the ways school principals define teacher leadership, as well as how they perceive the roles, characteristics and qualities of teacher leaders.

            However, determining which literature is relevant to your research is challenging. Concerning challenges in finding and processing resources I would name four main difficulties: identifying relevant key words to search appropriate sources; relying on secondary rather than primary sources; existing gaps in research from Kazakhstani context; blindly accepting other researchers’ findings rather than critically examining them. Moreover, sometimes it seems I have found solid and reputable peer-reviewed article, however it is not available as a full text version.

            In overall literature review writing process I am at the stage of searching and processing peer-reviewed, updated and credible resources from Eric, Sage Journals, Google Scholar, Taylor and Francis databases and Nazarbayev University library sources. During this month I have been working on selecting scholarly papers and reviewing them. From last thesis seminar session I have found fifteen articles and nowadays I have selected eight more articles and one book. Fortunately, I have discovered that there are numerous studies on teacher leadership conducted in the frame of Kazakhstan and Central Asia by David Frost, John Macbeath, Silova and Niyozov.


4 thoughts on “Literature review: takes time, effort and enthusiasm

  1. Dear Aigerim,
    I like your puzzle and how you showed which certain place is taken by ‘literature review’ section. And I agree with this position, on the grounds that actually literature review plays an enormous role in any research work and I was convinced in it when I started to work on my thesis last year.
    In fact, I faced the same challenges with relevant key words (in order to detect ‘needed’ and suitable resources), and a gap in Kazakhstani research. Personally, mainly NU library helped me to reveal appropriate studies of Kazakhstani researchers. We know that on the international level it’s easy to find articles and works, however, if we follow our goal, spend more time and make an effort, we search out all what is necessary. It is also about looking for Kazakhstani resources and I’m glad that finally you have discovered such kind of works related to your thesis.
    Wish you good luck and I’m looking forward to your final work!


  2. Dear Aigerim,

    it is obvious from your post that you are on a right track in your literature review process. It is great that you have already defined ideas and identified main concepts in the field of your research.
    I consider starting from identifying the definition of “teacher leadership” is a good beginning. As different scholars have their own perspective and definition, it is necessary to analyze them and probably come out with your own working definition in your research.
    I also agree that it challenging to find a credible sources that is relevant to the topic of research especially to find articles that are relevant to Kazakhstani context. In this regard, you are lucky that a number of researchers had conducted a research in Kazakhstani or Central Asian context.
    You’ve mentioned that you are reviewing a number of articles. How do you manage to organize the findings? Do you use a concept map or make an electronic table and update the information there or you have your own way? Please, share.


  3. Aigerim,

    What a nicely written blog post about your experience writing the lit review. Every sentence is clear; all the sentences are arranged logically in the paragraphs; and each paragraph flows into the next.

    Isn’t it frustrating when you cannot easily get the full text of an article. That has happened to me many times before. I found that often you can find what you need if you just look long enough on Google for the article. Otherwise, you have to pay for it, but sometimes it’s worth it.

    5 out of 5


  4. Aigerim,
    It seems that we generally use Google Scholar or other academic sources and databases, I experienced that sometimes it is useful to look for an any search engine, e.g Google. It is possible to find the required article in a not credible source.
    I believe that we will be those who fill the Kazakhstani gap in research, so I hope to see you among top cited Kazakhstani authors.



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