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Chapter 4

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Sociology and Anthropology
SOAN 2120
David Walters

Chapter 4: Reviewing the Scholarly Literature and Planning a Study Literature Review - reading the literature serves several important functions o first it helps you narrow down a broad topic by showing you how others conducted their studies o second, it informs you about the state of knowledge on a topic o third, the literature often stimulates your creativity and curiousity o last, a published study offers you an example of what the final report on a study looks like - you must first locate the relevant studies; next, read thoroughly to discover the major findings, central issues, and methods of the studies and take conscientious notes on what you read - you need to organize what you have learned and write clearly about the studies in a way that builds a context around a specific research question that is of interest to you - a literature review is based on the assumption that knowledge accumulate and that people learn from and build on what others have done. - Scientific research is a collective effort of many researchers who share their results with one another and who purse knowledge as a community - Goals of a literature review o To demonstrate a familiarly with a body of knowledge and establish credibility o To show the path of prior research and how a current project is linked to it o To integrate and summarize what is known in an area o To learn from others and stimulate new ideas Where to Find Research Literature - periodicals o internet contains condensed summaries for a general audience o textbook and encyclopedias also present condensed summaries o mass market publications do not provide full reports of research studies in the form needed to prepare a literature review o popularized social science magazines and professional publications – not to be an outlet for original research findings o scholarly journals  the primary type of periodical to use for a literature review is the scholarly journal filled with peer-reviewed reports of research  find them in college and university libraries  each issue is assigned a data, volume number, and issue number along with details such as author, title and page number is called an article’s citation o a few internet services provide full, exact copies of scholarly journal articles over the Internet (eg. JSTOR)  it is best to visit the library and see what a full-print version of the scholarly article looks like  99% of scholarly journals are available in print form and about 1/3 of these are also available in a full-text version over the Internet and only then if a library pays for a special online subscription o it is easier to identify quantitative studies because they usually have a methods or data section and charts, statistical formulas, and tables of numbers o qualitative research articles are more difficult to identify, and many students confuse them with the theoretical essays, literature review articles, idea-discussion essays, policy recommendations, book reviews, etc. - books o three types of books contain collections of articles or research reports  the first is designed for teaching purposes – ‘readers’  designed for scholars and may gather journal articles or contain original research or theoretical essays on a specific topic - dissertations o the dissertation is a bound and shelved in the library of the university that granted the Ph.D. o about half of all dissertations are eventually published as books or articles o because dissertations report on original research, they can be valuable sources of information - government documents - policy reports and presented papers How to Conduct a Systematic Literature Review - Define and Refine a Topic - Design a Search o How much time you will devote to it, how far back in time you will look, the minimum number of research reports you will exam, how many libraries you will visit, etc. - Locate research reports Taking Notes - What to Record o In general, record the hypotheses tested, how major concepts were measured, the main findings, the basic design of the research, the group or sample used, and ideas for future study - How to read Journal articles o Read with a clear purpose or goal in mind o Skim the article before reading it all o Consider your own orientation o Marshal external knowledge o Evaluate as you read o Summarize information as an abstract - Organize notes o It is best to organize reports around a specific research question or around core common findings of a field and the main hypotheses tested Writing the Review - keep your purposes in mind when you write, and communicate clearly and effectively - to prepare a good review, read articles and other literature critically. Recall that skepticism is a norm of science – it means that you should not accept what is written simply on the basis of the authority of its having been published What a Good Review Looks Like - the right way to write a review is to organize common findings or arguments together - a well-accepted approach is to address the most important ideas first, to logically link statements or findings, and to note discrepancies or weaknesses in the research Using the Internet for Research The Up Side - the inter
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