From Teaching to Research: Evolving perspective

My interactions with review of related literature

By Atul Thakur (Ph.D.) (22/10/2014)

Indeed, the first and foremost task of a researcher is to systematically collect related literature for research. This is also the step where most of the scholars face challenges during the research process. Collection of articles when undertaken without any well planned strategy is similar to ‘finding a needle in hay stack’- filled with wastage of efforts without any substantial outcome. As student for “review of literature,” I collected materials  without any particular strategy, often with lots of repetitions.

During the project I am involved with, I learnt to work strategically for collection of papers for review of related literature. In this project I learnt to develop a strategy to work in team to search for different databases and journals; looked into different aspects of the work, and prepared Excel sheet records for ease of later use. A set of keywords related to the primary constructs of the research were framed and written down. The keywords were used with Boolean logic to further refine the search results having more proximity to the research objectives. These confined search results, reduced duplication of efforts resulting in unique articles rather than repetition of articles in the database.

Various articles were first hyperlinked in MS Excel in one column and four constructs of the research in the next columns. The issues, ideas, results and observations addressed in each research article were added to the relevant column, which were further refined to form basic keyword like structure for writing review of related literature.

I had done unsuccessful experimentations with the narrative style of writing review of related literature earlier also, but this time I managed to succeed with the continuous help of Research Team of our project. The requirement of writing a good review of related literature is to maintain smooth flow of ideas. The plot of review of related literature should reveal effortlessly what and how things have been done, and very predictably bring forth what needs to be undertaken further. I organised the related issues and sub-themes in Blumind (Open Source mind mapping software), to make a flow for writing.

Sometimes, though I feel that emphasis on this type of review of related literature writing should be cultivated right from the beginning of interactions with research at masters’ level. It is also needful to have academic orientation of the learners towards quality reading and writing work. For this they need to cultivate a habit of reading research papers and articles apart from their essential curricular needs, in a very keen, observant and critical approach. There is a need to have organised, well-structured and comprehensive resource materials on writing review of related literature in the narrative form as OER. This would help number of novice learners and budding researchers to learn independently, the ‘art of writing review of related literature’.