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  • 00:05

    ZINA O'LEARY: Core skills for new researchers--how to do a literature review in 10 easy steps.Writing a literature review is quite a challenging process.So in this video we're going to lookat how we can source and manage literatureeffectively, how we can understand the nuancesof a literature review.We're going to look at the importance of argumentsbecause it is arguments that drive a literature

  • 00:27

    ZINA O'LEARY [continued]: review towards a conclusion.And finally I'm going to take you through those 10 steps thatwill help you complete our literaturereview with as little stress as possible.Do you believe that they're going to be easy?Well, a literature review is not necessary the easiestthing to do, but it is something that you cantackle if you're systematic.

  • 00:48

    ZINA O'LEARY [continued]: So I want to talk about a few thingsbefore I get into the steps.And of course the first is going to beabout really thinking about sourcing and managingliterature.And that's not as hard as it usedto be to teach because students todayare so adept at finding things.I mean every time you google anything,

  • 01:10

    ZINA O'LEARY [continued]: you're really using the skills you need to findand source literature.Back when I was studying, we justdidn't have access to literature.We had something called card catalogs with big wooden boxes.And they had a card for every book in the library.And you pull them out and look for things.And if they didn't have a hard copy in the library,you didn't have access.

  • 01:30

    ZINA O'LEARY [continued]: Same with journals, very few were held in a library.And maybe another library had it and they'd have to deliver it.And we didn't have access to a lot of literature.Now our problem is a complete mountain of literature.There is so much literature out there.You have to wade through it, organize it, understand it.

  • 01:52

    ZINA O'LEARY [continued]: You have to filter what's important,what's not important.So the skills of doing a literature reviewstart with being able to figure out what's credibleand what's important and what you want to use.Now the other thing that's tricky about a literary reviewis understanding that writing up a literature

  • 02:13

    ZINA O'LEARY [continued]: review or the skills that you need to do thatare slightly different than just exploring a body of literature.So when you're exploring a body of literatureand you're just reviewing a body of, literature,you're doing things like trying to inform yourself of what'shappening in the field.Now this is slightly different whenyou go to write a lit review.

  • 02:34

    ZINA O'LEARY [continued]: When you're writing a lit review, what you're doingis informing your audience of what's happening in the field.So it's two different things.One, you're self-educating because you don't know a lot.The other is you're arguing what'shappening in the literature.So it's about your audience.When you're doing it for self-educated purposes,you're trying to form a foundationof topical and methodological knowledge and expertise.

  • 02:58

    ZINA O'LEARY [continued]: You're trying to figure out what'sout there so that I can grow my knowledge base.When you're writing a lit review, what you're doingis establishing your credibility as a knowledgeable and capableresearcher.So you're not learning, you're showingthat you're one of the researchers out there.When you're doing it for yourself

  • 03:19

    ZINA O'LEARY [continued]: you're developing skills in critical thinking and analysis,and you're finding gaps in the literature thatmay point to potential research questions.But when you write your lit review, you're arguing.You're arguing the relevance and significance of your researchquestion.When you're doing it for yourself,you're finding out what methods have been used.

  • 03:40

    ZINA O'LEARY [continued]: When you're writing a lit review,you're arguing the appropriatenessof your own methodological approach.So you're arguing that relevance.So the lit review is a very argumentative piece, very, veryspecific piece of writing.The lit review is all about arguments that

  • 04:02

    ZINA O'LEARY [continued]: lead to one final conclusion.And that conclusion is always the same.It's therefore we need to do this research the wayI'm proposing.So what you're doing in a lit review is saying,this is the body of knowledge.This is what's out there.This is what other people have said and they've doneand this is why there's still a need to do what I want to do.

  • 04:27

    ZINA O'LEARY [continued]: Perhaps you're arguing that the literature and the studies thathave been done have all been quantitativeand no one's really had a qualitative good look.Or maybe it's all been qualitativeand no one's done a broad overviewthrough a massive survey.Maybe all the research comes from the USand it's not applicable in the UK or in Australia.

  • 04:49

    ZINA O'LEARY [continued]: Maybe no one's looked at the realities of a regional areaand all the studies of it have been in urban areas.So what is the reality here?Maybe there's an assumption that'sbeen made that's been false and new researchhas changed things.Maybe the research hasn't looked at the influenceof social media, something that's quite new,and that needs to be explored.

  • 05:10

    ZINA O'LEARY [continued]: So everything in your lit review is an argumentthat leads to that final conclusion of thereforewe need to undertake the research as I'm suggesting.So we're talking about this lit reviewas an intellectual conversation and as an argument.And arguments are so important.

  • 05:31

    ZINA O'LEARY [continued]: They are what drives the lit review.Sometimes there's a tendency to almost doan annotated bibliography.Smith and Wesson said.Jones said.Chan said, Chan 1987, whatever it might be.That's really almost an immature way to handle a lit review.What you want to do is have an argumentand have the other authors support that argument.

  • 05:54

    ZINA O'LEARY [continued]: So we promised you 10 steps in a lit review.What are these 10 steps?Step number one, make doing a lit review an ongoing process.It's not something that you just start at the beginning.It's something that should be ongoing.You're constantly looking for new literature,and it's something that you don't want to leave to the end.You want to look at the literature in the beginning

  • 06:14

    ZINA O'LEARY [continued]: because it's going to help define your own question,your own methods.And then you want to keep on doing it.So don't just look at the literature.Write it up.Write it up and see if you can get those argumentsbecause those arguments are goingto set the whole context for your research.And then you want to look at the literaturethroughout that process, particularly the endto make sure that you've captured

  • 06:35

    ZINA O'LEARY [continued]: everything you want to capture.Number two, read quite a few good relevant reviews.Now it's easy to think I've never read a lit review,how am I going to write one?Well we've all read journal articlesand they all contain a little lit review in them.So take note of it.Read it.

  • 06:55

    ZINA O'LEARY [continued]: How did they work the literature?How did they express it?Make sure you're completely aware.Block off with a highlighter all thelit review sections so you can geta feel for how they're written.If you're doing a larger piece of work,try to find past theses that had been done,whether it's honors, a master's, a PhD with a particularlygood lit review section as identified

  • 07:16

    ZINA O'LEARY [continued]: by someone who knows, and then seehow they handle the literature.It's very, very hard to write oneif you don't have a context for what's good, what's bad,and what works.So read some good, relevant reviews so you have a target.Number three, begin to compile citations with abstracts.So when you're googling in your databases

  • 07:37

    ZINA O'LEARY [continued]: and you're using Google Scholar or some other method of findingthings in different databases and you'regetting all of those abstracts, wewant to start compiling all those citations.Now if you use referencing software,there's usually a button you can press so the reference cango straight into your database without youhaving to type anything.So start to compile those citations and the abstracts.

  • 08:01

    ZINA O'LEARY [continued]: Number four, actually read those abstractsand begin to color relevant articles.I would never, with the amount of literature that's out there,I'm not going to ask you to read every articleand then decide whether it's relevant.You can cull so many just by looking at the abstract,and we have to.We're talking about thousands of articles, socull all irrelevant articles.

  • 08:21

    ZINA O'LEARY [continued]: And irrelevant can be not relevant by topic.It could also be something that's outdated.So set your search criteria small.Only look for those relevant articles.Number five, assess whether you needto dig deeper and focus your reviewor whether you need to go broader.

  • 08:43

    ZINA O'LEARY [continued]: So do you need to find even more specific criteria?If your search gets you a thousand hits,do you need to start to look at the context?Do you need to lower your parameters for dateand only make it from 2010 on?Do you want to say regional areas, urban areas?Do you want to say UK, England, a particular county?

  • 09:05

    ZINA O'LEARY [continued]: Whatever it might be, start to narrow in.Is it particular theories that you want to look at?Or did you not find enough because you went too specificand you want to broaden out and drop off different criteria.So assess.Do I want to dig deeper?Do I want to broaden out?Number six, log, organize, and annotate each relevant article.

  • 09:28

    ZINA O'LEARY [continued]: So you've got your relevant articles now.We really want to make sure that they're logged in.You've got the citation.You've organized them.And they're annotated.And by annotated I mean taking notes on them.Now you really want to, as you read an article,not have to go back and read it two or three times.You want to take that article, youwant to extract what's really importantand know what you need to go back to.

  • 09:49

    ZINA O'LEARY [continued]: So highlighters are wonderful things.Sticky notes are a good thing.Don't assume that something you read will stay in your mind.Make sure that you are really annotating what's important,how it illuminates your own study sothat you don't have to go back.I have been accused of not being always organized.And it was very frustrating when I first managed

  • 10:10

    ZINA O'LEARY [continued]: a large research project that I did have to go backand refind articles.I remember something abstractly that Iread that would be perfect here, but I don't know where it was.And the amount of time I wasted is somethingI hope you don't have to do.So number seven, develop the arguments thatwill drive your lit review.

  • 10:32

    ZINA O'LEARY [continued]: What are the arguments that you want to use?What are the arguments that are goingto lead you to that conclusion of thereforewe should do the research as I'm proposing it?Are we talking about a lack of literature in the area?Are we talking about a lack of context?Are we talking about things that are old, whatever it might be,things with a false premise, a new change, a disruptive

  • 10:53

    ZINA O'LEARY [continued]: technology that's changed things?What are the arguments?What are the things?I often tell people instead of topic statements and headings,write a thesis statement.The literature has not taken social media into account.The literature does not address the challengesfor indigenous populations, whatever it might be.

  • 11:13

    ZINA O'LEARY [continued]: And then I make that argument and support itthrough literature.Number eight, write purposefully.So what do I mean by that?What I mean by write purposely is do write argumentatively.Whatever that thesis statement is--and you can change it back to headings--you are arguing for that.There really isn't any literature here.

  • 11:34

    ZINA O'LEARY [continued]: There really has been a false presence.The social media impact is huge and unless we look at that,we won't understand what's going on.You are arguing.And then you're using the literaturethat you've found to back up those arguments.So instead of saying Smith and Wesson said,you're arguing that social media is important.And then that's illuminated by Smith and Wesson.

  • 11:57

    ZINA O'LEARY [continued]: So it's a whole different system of arguing and usingliterature to drive those argumentsand writing purposefully.Number nine, adopt an appropriate style and tone.So when you're coming up, you think oh, I'mnot the level of these other authors.

  • 12:18

    ZINA O'LEARY [continued]: So I'm just going to summarize what they said.So that's one approach.The other approach is that you become hypercritical.This is what's wrong with our article.The sample is too small.They didn't dress properly, whatever it might be.You have a list of things that are wrong.I'm actually looking for you to bea bit more nuanced than that.I'm actually looking for you to start thinking of yourself

  • 12:39

    ZINA O'LEARY [continued]: as someone who is their equal, another producer of knowledge.And you really want to say what's happening.What's this body of literature--I'm another contributor.This is what's out there.This is what's really illuminatingand things I want to explore more.These are things that aren't working.What can I learn from each one?You are a player in this.So that's the appropriate tone and style.

  • 13:01

    ZINA O'LEARY [continued]: Finally, number 10, get plenty of feedback.And that also implies that you may have to redraft.So it's a hard thing to feel comfortablewith the first time, so you reallywant to make sure that you're getting someone else'sopinion, someone else's buy-in so that youcan go ahead and produce something

  • 13:23

    ZINA O'LEARY [continued]: that really does the work that the lit review needs to do.So, is it 10 easy steps?I'm going to say that it's 10 manageable steps.It's 10 steps that if you look at past reviewsand really think about arguments and write purposefully,it is something that you can do and do well.

  • 13:45

    ZINA O'LEARY [continued]: And the whole fear of doing a lit reviewshould be abated for you.

Video Info

Series Name: Core Skills for New Researchers

Publisher: SAGE Publications Ltd

Publication Year: 2018

Video Type:Tutorial

Methods: Literature review

Keywords: argument (research); literature (humanities); thesis

Segment Info

Segment Num.: 1

Persons Discussed:

Events Discussed:



Dr. Zina O'Leary explains sourcing literature, the importance of arguments, and the ten steps of a literature review.

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Core Skills for New Researchers: How to Do a Literature Review in 10 Easy Steps

Dr. Zina O'Leary explains sourcing literature, the importance of arguments, and the ten steps of a literature review.

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