picture credit: http://dissertationhelponline.blogspot.com/2011/07/importance-of-literature-review.html
During my university years, I submitted various written assignments, however, to my regret, I had not been familiar with a structure of writing academic papers. As all students, I did my diploma work which consisted of theoretical and practical parts, but now looking at it, I can definitely say it does not contain a good literature review. So what literature review is?
Last year while writing research proposal, I thought that literature review was about finding resources on a certain topic and reading and reviewing them. Now, reflecting on my experience, I realize it was not successful. Writing a literature review became a challenge for me. Firstly, I struggled to find credible sources; and what sources are considered credible? As our instructor advised us to do, I used only key words while searching for scholarly articles, however, not all of them were appropriate to my research topic. The other clue our professor gave us was to look at the reference list of some of the articles. Secondly, it is important to know where to look for credible sources, thus I used NU library, ERIC, EBSCO databases. Thirdly, peer-reviewed articles are considered more reputable.
Now, reading various scholarly papers and comparing them with my research proposal, I admit that I lack the focus on one thing and can easily get lost among all those articles. It should be noted, that literature review is not a simple summary of artcicles, but it is about analysis, too. Thus, it is vital first and foremost, to come up with research question(s) and then search for credible sources to address it. As I mentioned, I have problems with alignment and once I start writing on one aspect, I can jump into another which is not relevant to my research question.
As for my thesis, I am going to explore Professional learning communities at the site of one Kazakhstani school. The research questions are “What are teachers’ perception of participation in PLCs?” and “How it affects their teaching?”. Since I have two aspects to explore, I found various sources addressing these issues; thus I am going to divide literaure review into two major themes. But first, I am going to write about professional learning communities in general, their role and significance. Moreover, I think whithin these two subthemes of literature review, there will be other aspects such as hindrances to partcipate in PLCs or issues that PLCs address and others. In addition, as I am to do a qualitative research, I took it into consideration while searching for sources and my focus was on qualitative study which addressed the same issues.
To conclude, now I am at the stage of reading and reviewing the literature I found and highlighting the main points. I am going to create a table consisting of the title, author and date, research design and findings. I believe it will be helpful in organizing the literature review and staying focused on my research questions.
Regarding mini literature review on online learning, I chose several articles from my list and included some of the sources that my peers found. Now I am going to read the rest and divide the literature review into chunks.
What about you? Do you find writing literature review challenging?