The purpose of literature reviews

In this video Dr George Patton from Waldon University argues that reviewing the literature is not the purpose of a literature review, but rather, that its purpose is to gain an understanding of the history of research in your area so you can situate your own ideas and research. All research, even on unique topics, is built on knowledge that has come before. This may be knowledge of “facts” and processes but also knowledge of research and diagnostic methods. As you “review” you need to be thinking about the history of the research in your field, who the key researchers are, and how ideas and methods have developed over time. You will learn much about the processes of research and where the gaps and inconsistencies are, from which you can draw your own conclusions about where your research or other future research should head.

Thanks to Pat Thomson, Professor of Education in the School of Education, The University of Nottingham and writer of the excellent blog Patter for alerting me to this video. You can read more from Pat about this video in her post here: all that reading? think of it as tracing your family tree.

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