Role of Literature in Research

Topics: Research, Scientific method, Literature Pages: 6 (1499 words) Published: March 27, 2011







Literature simply is a body of written works. It is what has been written to be investigated, thus an existing body of written works or knowledge on a chosen topic or problem area. The name is often applied to those imaginative works of poetry and prose distinguished by the intentions of their authors and the excellence of their execution. Literature may be classified according to a variety of systems, including language, national origin, historical period, genre, and subject matter.

Definitions of the word literature tend to be circular. The Concise Oxford Dictionary says it is “writings whose value lies in the beauty of form or emotional effect.” The 19th-century critic Walter Pater referred to “the matter of imaginative or artistic literature” as a “transcript, not of mere fact, but of fact in its infinitely varied forms.” But such definitions really assume that the reader already knows what literature is. And indeed its central meaning, at least, is clear enough. Deriving from the Latin littera, “a letter of the alphabet,” literature is first and foremost mankind's entire body of writing; after that it is the body of writing belonging to a given language or people; then it is individual pieces of writing.


Basically there are two types of literature and these are:

• Theoretical or conceptual literature- it is the type of literature that portrays the general approach to answering a research problem. It is an instinctive discussion of conceptual issues that arise in answering the research problem though it entails a formal economic theory. It demonstrates which variables should be used in an empirical analysis and also points how the variables should emerge in the econometric model. • Empirical or research literature-this type of research establishes how the present research fits into the whole scheme of things. It surveys the research previously done on the problem and evaluates the adequacies of the current research and what the current research has not been able to accomplish.

However these two types of literature could have their sources being either:

Primary: these are the first occurrence of a piece of work. Examples are; reports, theses, emails, conference proceedings, company reports, some government publications and unpublished manuscripts.

Secondary: these are aimed at larger audience and are easy to locate than the primary literature sources. Examples are; books, journals, newspapers and some government publications.

Tertiary: these are called search tools and are designed to help locate the primary and secondary literature sources or to introduce a topic. Examples are; indexes, abstracts, catalogues, encyclopaedias, dictionaries, bibliographies and citation indexes.

What is literature review?
To understand what literature review is, the following concepts must be defined. It is:

‘Literature’ because it refers to the publications you consulted to understand and explore your research area.

‘Review’ implies your personal interpretation of those works – critique, approval, appraisal, relationship with other works, evaluation and justification. Base on the above explanations,

• Literature Review is a critical evaluation and interpretation of existing research that is relevant for building a coherent argument for the need of your own research. A written summary of the findings from the literature search.

It must set the context, background and justification for your research area and question: if it doesn’t, you have not successfully established your research topic or question

A basic description of good and poor literature review is tabulated below:

|A ‘good’ literature review … |A...

References: • Gall, M.D, Borg,W.R. and Gall, J.P.(2002) Educational Research: An introduction (7th edition), New York, Longman.
• Hart, C. (1998), Doing a literature review, London, Sage.
• Jankowicz,A.D. (2005) Business Research Projects (4th edition), London,
Thomson Learning.
• Wikipedia (2005) Wikipedia homepage [online] (cited 27 November).
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