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Conducting a Systematic Literature Review

Conducting a Systematic Literature Review


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Conducting research can be daunting. There are a few distinctions that can help make it easier. First and foremost, research can be either primary or secondary. Primary research generally involves gathering data directly from research subjects and requires ethical approval. Secondary research involves gathering data that already exists. Because secondary research

Does not include talking directly with human subjects, or generating new data, it does not need ethical approval. In secondary research, you use findings of other researchers and authors. A systematic literature review is one of many research methodologies that can be used to conduct secondary research.

A systematic literature review is different than a literature review. A literature review provides a high level summary of the literature in the fields connected to your proposed topic of research. It is a general synthesis of what has been done

In the research area, by whom, highlights what past research tells us about the topic, and identifies gaps and tensions in the field. A systematic literature review begins with an intentional and purposeful selection of data that will be included in the research study. This includes:

– identifying types of information that will be included in the review, such as policy documents, journal articles, book chapters, blogs, and so on – criteria used to ensure inclusion of potential pieces of work, such as the scope

Of the review; types of data to be included; and search terms for identifying types of information – and any other specifications, such as language of the information. Once you have identified the works that will be analyzed, you need to do a deep and thorough

Read to extract key information and themes from each piece. A coding guide will help you discern which pieces of work you will use in your systematic literature review. Be sure to note why you have excluded a piece and how the ones you have included meet the selection criteria.

In the analysis phase, categorizing your findings and looking for commonalities and areas of difference is useful. When you report on your findings you want to identify what themes emerged. The final step of a systematic literature review is to interpret your findings and bring

Them back to your research question – what do they tell us about this topic? Are there gaps in the research? Are there contradictions in your findings? How do these findings inform a response to your research question? What recommendations can you offer? Is there a

Need for further research? Were there best practices identified that you can highlight? The reader should be able to understand what you did, how you did it, and the sense that you made of the findings as they relate to the research question you were investigating.
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