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Literature Review Tips in Education

Literature Reviews

What is the Purpose of the Literature Review in Education Research?

Advanced literature reviews uncover a research problem for further study and questions the current state of knowledge about a topic in order to define an area for new research (Machi, Lawrence A.  The Literature Review: Six Steps to Success.  Corwin Press, 2012.)

To advance our collective understanding, a researcher or scholar needs to understand what has been done before, the strengths and weaknesses of existing studies, and what they might mean....To be useful and meaningful, education research must be cumulative; it must build on and learn from prior research and scholarship on the topic. (Boote and Beile, 2005)

A literature review in socio-cultural-political (SCP) education research seeks to identify, analyze and summarize the published research literature about SCP topics.  The literature review is both a course assignment as well as an ongoing integral tool and foundations to the Joint PhD comprehensive portfolios; the dissertation study proposal; and the full dissertation (required as chapter(s)). A literature review is required before undertaking any new research project as well as continuous throughout the research process.

The purpose of an SCP literature review is to establish what is currently known about a specific SCP topic as well as its genealogical connections, and, to evaluate the strength of the evidence upon which any new knowledge will be based. A review of an SCP topic may identify implications for future theorizing as well as practice or implications in the fields of education (K-16+). Literature reviews also identify areas of an SCP topic that needs further research.

A systematic review is a literature review that follows a rigorous process to find all of the research conducted on a topic and then critically appraises the research methods of the highest quality articles, reports, books, monographs ... These reviews track and report their search and appraisal methods in addition to providing a summary of the knowledge established by the appraised research.

Library Assistance

If you require assistance with any aspect of your literature search, please contact the Education Librarian at your home institution:

Lakehead University, Gisella Scalese

Brock University, Jennifer Thiessen

University of Windsor, Scott Cowan