How I work on Literature review part

Literature review is a very important part of any research as it establishes the context of any research, connects it to the existing knowledge, and therefore shows the depth of a research paper. In this post, I would like to talk about my personal process of working on literature review part.

Let me start with reminding the topic of my thesis project which is “Examining inclusive education policies and infrastructure in schools of Astana”. The scope of my study will include mainstream schools as well as inclusive schools where I will investigate inclusive education policies, their nature, content and common patterns. Another goal of my research project would be to reveal how well schools in Astana are equipped to maintain inclusive education.

Overall, I feel confident about the content of my literature review, that is to say, what subtopics to include and how to organize them. Now, the draft of my literature review is on the stage of general editing process where I work on connecting ideas and sentences to make them more cohesive, and on improving an overall structure of the draft.

Following the targets of my research work, I considered to divide the literature review part into two major sections. First section touches upon the issues of inclusive policies, specifically, I talk about the importance of inclusive policies, how policy relates to practice and creating inclusive schools, and research done about inclusive school policies in other parts of the world. Second section is more brief, and includes the role of infrastructure and how effective inclusive schools look like in terms of physical resources.

The process of finding relevant resources might seem the most challenging when writing literature review. At least for me, it was difficult to find exactly what I needed when I finally reached the point when I was confident I would never find anything. However, it appeared to be so only in the beginning, and as the process went on, I could not stop from saving one more “useful” article. So, how did I manage to do that? Firstly, I changed usual searching systems to our library’s electronic resources. Secondly, I always start from broader topics. Considering my topic, I might start from searching just an “inclusive policy” or “inclusive infrastructure”. Thirdly, I narrowed my key words eliminating articles and prepositions. For example, instead of searching “the importance of inclusive school policies” it is better just to write “inclusive policies importance”. Finally, I tried to use various combinations of word phrases meaning the same thing. Sometimes new relevant articles appeared when I searched “role inclusive policy” instead of “importance inclusive policy” or “inclusion school building” instead of “inclusive school infrastructure”.

Next step after I had enough materials was to read, summarize, analyze, evaluate and synthesize all the sources to come to certain conclusions and make your own suggestions. Here, I usually create a simple table where I briefly write all the information about each article: name, author/s, date, aim of research paper, methodology, results in bullet points. This kind of summary of each article in a table is more convenient for me to structure my ideas, to analyze, look through the information and compare between sources rather than making a summary as a text.

To conclude, I would like to share few examples of research works which highly influenced my own research project. This is the work of Garrick Duhaney where he makes a deep analysis of the content of inclusive policies of 50 state educational agencies in the USA. Apart from this, the paper talks about a policy itself as a tool in changing a system, its importance and drawbacks. I also appreciate the work of Mcallister and Hadjri who highlighted the role of a school infrastructure when placing children with special educational needs into mainstream settings. I also liked that the authors indicated four-stage approach for an adequate evaluation of an environment for better inclusion.

References

Garrick Duhaney, L. M. (1999). A content analysis of state education agencies’ policies/position statements on inclusion. Remedial and Special Education20(6), 367-378.

McAllister, K., & Hadjri, K. (2013). Inclusion and the special educational needs (SEN) resource base in mainstream schools: physical factors to maximise effectiveness. Support for Learning28(2), 57-65.

 

 

4 thoughts on “How I work on Literature review part

  1. Strong post, Ainur.

    You have given an in-depth account of your progress and the main steps you are taking to make a coherent and effective LR. As you keep writing, and writing, and writing… keep in mind these sentence errors. Let’s keep revising and proofreading!

    …my personal process of working on __ literature review part. (article)
    Let me start with reminding ___ the topic… (whom? remind needs an object)
    The scope of my study will include mainstream schools as well as inclusive schools__ where I will investigate inclusive education policies, their nature, content and common patterns… (commas needed to set off relative clauses)
    At least for me, it was difficult to find exactly what I needed when I finally reached the point when I was confident I would never find anything. (wordy “what…when…when..” Try to rephrase by combining some of these elements)
    ___Next step after I had enough materials was to read, summarize, analyze, evaluate and synthesize all the sources to come to certain conclusions and make ((your)) own suggestions. (Article, pronoun)
    To conclude, I would like to share few examples of research… (few vs. a few. One means “very little”, while the other means “some”)
    4.5/5

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  2. Ainur, thank you for a remarkable post. The strong points of your post is that you very accurately described the process of your Literature review: how you were choosing the main topics, sub-topics, the way you were storing, sorting,highlighting the key points and so on of the data. You aslo provided some useful references which can be of a great interest for all of us!

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  3. Dear Ainur, I really liked your post due to a critical reflective analysis of every step of writing a literature review section that you shared with us. I especially appreciate that you discussed a range of common challenges one can face in writing this section and gave recommendations based on your experience. The table for structuring ideas from different sources I will definitely use in my future writing!
    The only thing that remains a bit unclear from this post is how you develop your main themes, for instance, whether you use subsections or not. It would be beneficial if you explained it in more detail.

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  4. Wow! I think you are doing a great job! I am impressed with your progress and especially like that you are confident with your literature review chapter. I see your hard work that possibly works for you now, while most of us have not completed literature review part yet whereas should pay more attention on the next chapter Methodology. Thanks for sharing ideas about how you searched the needed sources. I hope it will be helpful not only for our group but for the students who are starting their thesis this year. I appreciate you insistence in looking for the sources, finding other ways of searching and being even full of them. I want to wish you good luck in editing the draft of this chapter and thank you for this very informative and very well-constructed post!

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