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Doing Your Literature Review

Doing Your Literature Review
Traditional and Systematic Techniques

First Edition

March 2011 | 192 pages | SAGE Publications Ltd

The literature review is a compulsory part of research and, increasingly, may form the whole of a student research project. This highly accessible book guides students through the production of either a traditional or a systematic literature review, clearly explaining the difference between the two types of review, the advantages and disadvantages of both, and the skills needed. It gives practical advice on reading and organizing relevant literature and critically assessing the reviewed field. Contents include:

  • Using libraries and the internet
  • Note making
  • Presentation
  • Critical analysis
  • Referencing, plagiarism and copyright

This book will be relevant to students from any discipline. It includes contributions from both a professor and a librarian, each offering expert advice on either the creation and assessment of literature reviews or the process of searching for information. It is also highlights the increasing importance of the systematic review for many disciplines and presents the specific challenges which it brings.


Who is this book for?

How is this book different?

The rationale and history behind the contributions from a researcher and from an information specialist

Features of the book

Layout of the book

What is a literature review?

Terminology used in this book

Different styles of review

Two styles or approaches

A critical approach

Knowledge and literature

Why and when will you need to review the literature?

The research question and the literature review

What is appropriate literature?

Choosing which style of review: a traditional narrative review or a systematic review

Project management

Searching for Information

Develop online searches by identifying key words and creating a search record

The range of information sources available for complex searches.

What do you need from a resource to make it appropriate for locating journal articles for your review?

Reading Skills

Be analytical in your reading

Where to start

Reading techniques - scan, skim and understand

Reading different types of material

Grey literature: non academic sources and policy reports

Recording and note making

From Making Notes to Writing


From notes to writing

Writing - critical writing and types of argument

Making a value judgment and bias

The Traditional Review
Overview of the debate

Types of review: critical, conceptual state of the art, expert and scoping

Draw up an analytical framework - how to sort the material

Moving to analysis and synthesis

The presentation of your review

Summarizing the gap - dare to have an opinion.

Writing up Your Review

A short summary

A self-standing review

Abstract, executive summary and annotated bibliography

Writing the review

Key words or phrases to help you move from stage 1 to stage 2

The 'so what' question, originality and making a value judgment

The Systematic Review


Development of the review protocol

Formulating the review question

Documenting your progress

Locating studies and sources of information

Selecting studies: inclusion and exclusion criteria

Appraisal - assessing the quality of research

Data extraction

Synthesis, drawing conclusions, what the review shows

Evolving formats of systematic review

Meta- Analysis

What is meta-analysis?

Can I use meta-analysis to summarise the results of my systematic review?

Undertaking your meta-analysis

Displaying the results of a meta-analysis

Is your meta-analysis free from bias?

Performing a sensitivity analysis

Referencing and Plagiarism

Why is referencing important?

What do you need to reference?

How many references should I provide?

When and how to reference

Referencing systems

Where to find citation information you need





Appendix 1: Further reading

Appendix 2: Critical review checklist

Appendix 3: Systematic review online resources

Appendix 4: Resources for meta-analysis


A very good book that breaks down this important academic skill into manageable pieces

Mr Joel Harris
Sports Therapy, University of Hertfordshire
October 30, 2014

Well written, concise and highly informative text. From straightforward definitions through to contemporary methods.

Mr Bob Milward
Economics, Business & International Business, University of Central Lancashire
October 1, 2014

This is a practical guide for both beginners and those with some experience in research. It helps in doing literature review in a more systematic way. Chapter two especially exposed the students to the wide range of resources from which they can obtain literature for review. The step by-step guide in chapter 5 and 6 were very good in sharpening their skills in reviewing literature. The systematic review bit was more introductory and it brought in meta-analysis. I would have loved to see some introduction to thematic and narrative analysis along meta-analysis. I do recommend this book for use by undergraduate and graduate students and course tutors.

Ms Lucy Dora Akello
Faculty of Education, Uganda Martyrs University
October 14, 2015

A clear text which could be a useful addition to reading for all levels of students undertaking research.

Ms Deb Hearle
Department of Occupational Therapy, Cardiff Univ.
July 22, 2014

A very good book with some very useful examples of literature review content. Possibly more suited to postgraduate study than undergraduate.

Mr Peter Wisener
Hospitality Tourism and Sport, North West Institute
July 1, 2014

A good level of detail for those students new to the literature review.

Mr Ian Watson
School of Computing, Engineering & IS, Northumbria University
June 11, 2014

An excellent text. This is a must read for students undertaking research methods modules across the full range of business management programmes, Lee & Lings provide an interactive text which brings research methods to life, covering the key aspects methodology and methods.

Mr Alan Johnston
York St John Business School, York St John University
February 8, 2014

This is a very useful book that is written in a user-friendly manner helpful for transition into post-graduate studies.

Mr Sarah Poore
School of Education, Brighton University
January 25, 2014

This is a real guide to carrying out literature reviews and differentiates between and tradition and systematic reviews

Mrs Jacqueline White
school of health, nursing & Midwifery -paisley Campus, University of the West of Scotland
January 19, 2014

Dissertation study support module benefits from this text.

Dr Natalia Vershinina
Department of Strategic Management and Marketing, De Montfort University
November 21, 2013

Sample Materials & Chapters

Chapter 1

Sage College Publishing

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