The aim of a literature review is to show your reader (your tutor) that you have read, and have a good grasp of, the main published work concerning a particular topic or question in your field. This work may be in any format, including online sources. It may be a separate assignment, or one of the introductory sections of a report, dissertation or thesis. In the latter cases in particular, the review will be guided by your research objective or by the issue or thesis you are arguing and will provide the framework for your further work.
It is very important to note that your review should not be simply a description of what others have published in the form of a set of summaries, but should take the form of a critical discussion, showing insight and an awareness of differing arguments, theories and approaches. It should be a synthesis and analysis of the relevant published work, linked at all times to your own purpose and rationale.
According to Caulley (1992) of La Trobe University, the literature review should:
• compare and contrast different authors’ views on an issue
• group authors who draw similar conclusions
• criticise aspects of methodology
• note areas in which authors are in disagreement
• highlight exemplary studies
• highlight gaps in research
• show how your study relates to previous studies
• show how your study relates to the literature in general
• conclude by summarising what the literature says
• to define and limit the problem you are working on
• to place your study in an historical perspective
• to avoid unnecessary duplication
• to evaluate promising research methods
• to relate your findings to previous knowledge and suggest further research
A good literature review, therefore, is critical of what has been written, identifies areas of controversy, raises questions and identifies areas which need further research.
The overall structure of your review will depend largely on your own thesis or research area. What you will need to do is to group together and compare and contrast the varying opinions of different writers on certain topics. What you must not do is just describe what one writer says, and then go on to give a general overview of another writer, and then another, and so on. Your structure should be dictated instead by topic areas, controversial issues or by questions to which there are varying approaches and theories. Within each of these sections, you would then discuss what the different literature argues, remembering to link this to your own purpose.
Linking words are important. If you are grouping together writers with similar opinions, you would use words or phrases such as:
similarly, in addition, also, again
More importantly, if there is disagreement, you need to indicate clearly that you are aware of this by the use of linkers such as:
however, on the other hand, conversely, nevertheless
At the end of the review you should include a summary of what the literature implies, which again links to your hypothesis or main question.
You first need to decide what you need to read. In many cases you will be given a booklist or directed towards areas of useful published work. Make sure you use this help. With dissertations, and particularly theses, it will be more down to you to decide. It is important, therefore, to try and decide on the parameters of your research. What exactly are your objectives and what do you need to find out? In your review, are you looking at issues of theory, methodology, policy, quantitive research, or what? Before you start reading it may be useful to compile a list of the main areas and questions involved, and then read with the purpose of finding out about or answering these. Unless something comes up which is particularly important, stick to this list, as it is very easy to get sidetracked, particularly on the internet.
A good literature review needs a clear line of argument. You therefore need to use the critical notes and comments you made whilst doing your reading to express an academic opinion. Make sure that:
• you include a clear, short introduction which gives an outline of the review, including the main topics covered and the order of the arguments, with a brief rationale for this.
• there is always a clear link between your own arguments and the evidence uncovered in your reading. Include a short summary at the end of each section.
Use quotations if appropriate.
• you always acknowledge opinions which do not agree with your thesis. If you ignore opposing viewpoints, your argument will in fact be weaker.
Your review must be written in a formal, academic style. Keep your writing clear and concise, avoiding colloquialisms and personal language. You should always aim to be objective and respectful of others’ opinions; this is not the place for emotive language or strong personal opinions. If you thought something was rubbish, use words such as “inconsistent”, “lacking in certain areas” or “based on false assumptions”! (See Guide 1.21)
When introducing someone’s opinion, don’t use “says”, but instead an appropriate verb which more accurately reflects this viewpoint, such as “argues”, “claims” or “states”. Use the present tense for general opinions and theories, or the past when referring to specific research or experiments:
Although Trescothick (2001) argues that attack is the best form of defence, Boycott (1969) claims that …
In a field study carried out amongst the homeless of Sydney, Warne (1999) found that …
And remember at all times to avoid plagiarising your sources. Always separate your source opinions from your own hypothesis. making sure you consistently reference the literature you are referring to. When you are doing your reading and making notes, it might be an idea to use different colours to distinguish between your ideas and those of others.
SAMPLE LITERATURE REVIEW
In the past many writers have dealt extensively in writing business accounting, economic, purchasing and supply have dwelt much on partnership as a form of business. This chapter happens to gather their ideas to enable every reader of this work to have background knowledge of partnership business and what it entails.
For convince and to ensure that important terms in partnership are discussed this chapter is divided into two parts namely general nature of partnership and types of partners and ranks, formation and its operation.
Part one, the general nature of partnership business considers the historical background of topic and defines the terms of references. Stating the essential factors, the relevant laws in partnership, the advantages and disadvantages of partnership, kinds of partnership with reference to limited partnership due to its unique nature, partnership by stopped, and the entity concept. It closes with the consideration of characteristics of partnership business.
The second part reviews the formation and operation of partnership business. It continues by considering the formation procedures and (if any) a content of the partnership deed. More also it is not the coming together of people that is in partnership, but to also test the existence of partnership.
Other areas of importance in partnership conversed is operation which unveil such areas as the power and liability of a partner and its limitation to liability are considered.
This is a fact that must be disclosed in partnership business the minimum number of persons that should be in are two in number but the maximum number is (20) twenty person. For some specific business like the banking sector the maximum number is 10 people while other ventures like accounting firm, group of solicitors, estate valuer could be up to twenty. For professionally qualified member they could be more than twenty.
In normal condition if members are more than twenty they must register as a company under the company and allied matters decree 1990 (CAMD). This registration restriction does not apply to professional bodies like accountants and legal practitioners. (Section 9 (2) CAMD 1990).
The members that formed partnership are called partners and their partnership is known as a firm like legal practitioners, accountants, medical doctors or architects partnership firms thrives around the good name of their senior partners and members. Example includes Gani and Co, Rotimi Williams firm of Chartered Accountants, Ani Ogunde and Co, Eghueghwu and Co and so on.
In view of it all before any partnership business can exist the following condition must be present (Anyanwu, 1990)
- The business must be carried out in common for the benefit of all partners.
- Two person must come together less it should be called sole proprietorship
- Their ultimate aim which is profit making must the members of the Hauseatic league operated extensively through partnerships.
In England, the law of part of partnership came into the common law from the merchant law (Encyclopedia Americana 1981).
In the medieval period there were two types of partnership, namely commencea and societies. The commencea is a limited partner in which a financier will come together with a merchant for a specific business like an expedition venture. The financier provides the cash but took no part in management. The profit will be shown at the end of the business being the difference between the expended amount on the venture and the return from the business (Nwoko 1990) a good example of an early merchant in this era is macco Polo – who attempted to establish a trade route to the far East. A common contract during this time would involve a loss to the merchant adventure. The merchant took an active role in trading bearing all the physical and emotional risks upon the successful completion of every journey. The capitalist take most of the profiles (up to 75%) while the merchant settle for the remaining 25% (Hisrich 1985).
The societies were more or less a general form of partnership in which individual member took part in the management; it was also like commencea whose business is within a defined period of time. Profit is calculated on the completed ventures and shares the return on an agreed formula. This become more popular as the need arise for more cash to finance ventures.
In partnership business on this part will not be complete if, issues on admission, amalgamation, retirement and dissolution of partnership business, all these should be considered in course of writing and a conclusion.