What are the steps in undertaking a research project?
i. Selecting a research topic (Week 1
) ii. Framing research questions and objectives(Week 2)
iii. Writing a literature review (Week 3)
iv. Understanding research philosophy (Week 4)
v. Deciding the research methodology (Week 5)
vi. Deciding research strategies and methods for data collection (Week 6)
vii. Collecting and presenting data (Week 7)
viii. Writing a research paper (Week 8)
ix. Preparing a research proposal (Weeks 9 to 12)
x. Collecting and analysing data (not in this unit)
xi. Writing up findings of the research (not in this unit)
xii. Producing a research paper (not in this unit)
A comprehensive review of published work from primary & secondary sources of data in the area of specific interest to the researcher.
b) Why is it important?
‒ It is an integral part of the entire research process.
‒ It makes a valuable contribution to almost every operational step.
‒ It provides a summary of the existing research and/or previous work on a specific topic.
‒ It helps to identify genuine research gaps that warrant research.
Original research (scholarly papers) published in peer reviewed journals or books
Any source that is not primary (e.g. text books, review papers, trade journals, magazines, Wikipedia, Industry articles)
You must be vigilant about credibility when you identify a source from the internet
Make the following checks:
• journal has genuine peer review
• journal index in scientific data bases
• international ranking of the journal
• journal does not require a payment from authors
• reputation of editorial board of the journal
There are two main approaches to reviewing previous research:
‒ Annotated bibliography
‒ Full literature review
Annotated Annotated bibliography
_ Identifies and records literature relevant to your topic
‒ Creates a brief record of each document for future investigation
‒ Usually 100 - 200 words per citation
‒ Useful prior to literature review because it:
• demonstrates the quality and depth of your reading
• quickly show what has been written about your topic
• records references for future in-depth analysis
‒ It does NOT summarise or synthesise the views of various authors, merely separately records detail of each author’s paper
i. Explains and supports choice of current research topic (…ensures you read widely around the subject area in which you intend to conduct your research study)
ii. Identifies previous research and researchers who have been interested in this topic current study)
iii. Synthesises and summarises previous research studies and findings (…provides a history, context, framework and reasoning for undertaking the current research)
‒ Identifies previous methodologies used to research the topic, what worked, what didn’t …helps in deciding the appropriate methodologies for the current study
‒ Compares and contrasts current study findings with those from previous studies ...what other researchers have found in regard to the same or similar questions, …what theories have been put forward and what gap exists in the relevant body of knowledge
‒ Helps identifying what contribution the current study makes beyond previous studies
i. Search for existing literature
ii. Analyse the literature
iii. Write up the literature
‒ It is assumed that by now, you should have chosen your research topic in order to set parameters for your search
‒ Next compile the previous scholarly sources relevant to this topic using keywords & synonyms stemmed from your research topic
‒ There are three primary sources that you can use to prepare a bibliography:
‒ Scholarly books
‒ Scholarly journals
‒ Scholarly papers in conference proceedings
_Be aware that sometimes a title does not provide enough information to decide if the paper is going to be of use
‒ Your search should be limited to publications within the last 5 years unless you identify an old landmark study
‒ Start by reading the abstract, introduction then conclusion. If you find it relevant & useful then download and read
‒ Now that you have identified several articles as useful, you need to analyze and organize them
‒ Skim the articles and group them into categories. (e.g. topics and sub-topics) emphasing strengths and weaknesses
‒ Identify major trends or patterns
‒ Identify areas in which little or nothing is known. This implies a gap in the body of knowledge and you should reflect on why these might exist
‒ Identify relationships among papers and spot landmark studies
• Can store and retrieve:
- content of journal articles
- inputted data from interviews
- personal notes
• Used to find themes in the stored content…
i. Create your own themes
ii. Read and highlight text
iii. Copy highlighted extract into themes
iv.Analyse theme content
v. Use analytical tools in NVivo to identify links between themes, etc.
‒ There is no specific structure to use.
‒ As a general guide, the literature review should follow this layout
‒ Use the generated table or matrix to develop a logical outline of your literature review
‒ Arrange the review to show the differences, similarities, trends or patterns between studies under each specific sub-topic
‒ List the main ones, converting them into subheadings. These subheadings should be precise, descriptive of the theme in question, and follow a logical progression
‒ Where there are significant differences of opinion among researchers, give your opinion about the validity of these differences
‒ With each sub-topic, look for obvious gaps or areas needing more research
‒ You will have to “synthesise” the various themes and arguments into a cohesive discussion that addresses all relevant aspects of the chosen topic and do it in a coherent and meaningful structure
‒ This is hard!! It is NOT just writing one idea and then the next
‒ You have to look at the information you have for each theme, who discussed them and then summarise (in your own words) what these authors were saying about each of them (whilst remembering appropriate referencing!)
‒ In developing the structure, each subheading should record the main findings from literature with respect to the theme in question, highlighting the reasons for and against an argument if they exist and identifying any issues.
‒ Add opening and closing sentences to each paragraph.
‒ Cite all relevant references using Harvard style.
• Categorise your downloaded resources, organise and save them for easy access when needed
• "Endnote” software can help you with storage, management and referencing of your resources. CTRL+click the following link to go to the Library Endnote page: Endnote software.
• You will be given opportunity to undertaken EndNote Training in this unit
• You can also CTRL+click the following link to see a quick introduction to Endnote:
• Booth, W. C., Colomb, G. G. and Williams, J. M. (2008). The Craft of Research. 3rd ed. Chicago, The University of Chicago Press.
• Hart, C. (1998). Doing a Literature Review. London. SAGE Publications Ltd.
• Galvan, J. (2006). Writing literature reviews: A guide for students of the behavioral sciences (3rd ed.) Glendale, CA: Pyrczak Publishing
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