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EDL 7108 Action Research I: Literature Reviews and Annotated Bibliographies

Literature Reviews: An Overview

Annotated Bibliography and Literature Review Information

The Literature Review

According to Hart (1998), “A literature review is an objective, thorough summary and critical analysis of the relevant available research and non-research literature on the topic being studied” (as cited in Cronin, Ryan & Coughlan 2008).

The Literature Review Process

  • Selecting a review topic
  • Searching the literature
  • Gathering, reading and analyzing the literature
  • Writing the review
  • References

Lit Review Process

Types of Literature Reviews

  • Systematic literature review

Implemented in response to specific questions about clinical practice; designation of criteria for including/excluding literature is important part of this type of review.

Purpose: aims at producing an inclusive list of the entire literature on a topic; set apart the literature on a topic based on predefined criteria; assess and synthesize these sources

  • Traditional or narrative review

Summarizes, synthesizes and discusses literature on chosen topic; selective with regard to sources included.

Purpose: to give a comprehensive overview of the literature in a chosen area; to identify gaps in existing research; to develop conceptual framework; to refine research topic/question


(Cronin et al. 2008, 38)

Questions your lit review should answer

  • Why is this subject important?
  • Who else thinks it is important?
  • Who has worked on this subject before?
  • Who has done something similar to what I am doing?
  • What can be adapted to my own study?
  • What are the gaps in the research?
  • Who is going to use my material?
  • What use will my project be?
  • What will my contribution be?
  • What specific question will I answer?
  • What specific questions will my research not be able to address?

(Murray 2006:115)