THE REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE
(extracted from Judith Bell, Doing your Research Project: A guide for first-time researchers in education, health and social science, 4th ed, Open University Press, London, 2005)
Bell quotes Hart by stating essentially that the review of the literature is crucial to ones academic development; becoming an expert in the field. Haywood and Wragg allude to the fact that critical reviews are usually uncritical reviews... "It involves questioning assumptions, querying claims made for which no evidence has been provided, considering the findings of one researcher compared to those of others and evaluating. All researchers collect many facts, but then must select, organize and classify findings into a coherent pattern."
Theory and theoretical (or conceptual) frameworks are described by several different authors, mainly touching on key elements of the relationship between humans and social affairs, which organize and summarize empirical observations. Bell summarizes to state that "The label is not important, but the process of establishing a map or framework of how the research will be conducted and analysed is."
Bell goes on to include short extracts from successful literature reviews of both first-time researchers, and experienced researchers including Clara Nai, Gilbert Fan, and Richardson and Woodley.
Clara Nai divides her adult learning research into situational, institutional, and dispositional barriers, a method which she adopted from Cross (1981). Fan used headings in which to organize and categorize his findings regarding the decline of nursing program enrollment in Singapore:
• the decline in student enrolment in nursing education;
• curricula, types of nursing education and nursing com petencies;
• teaching and clinical supervision in nursing education programmes;
• the relationship between nursing education and the profession; and
• nursing as a career choice.
Richardson and Woodley prove to be well versed in academic reviews and use careful language to develop comprehensive connections and conclusions in their review.
Bell then reminds the reader to ask yourself whether the reviews you are reading are furniture sale catalogues or well organized accounts which are relevant to the topic.
The reading is concluded with a helpful ten point checklist for the review of literature.