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Literature Review in Research Methodology

When we consider research methodology, the literature review stands as a critical phase, forming the bedrock upon which a research study is constructed. This article delves into the nuances of conducting a literature review, elucidating its significance, purpose, and methodologies employed by researchers to synthesise existing knowledge.

The Significance of Literature Review

A literature review is not a mere recapitulation of existing works; rather, it serves as a scholarly synthesis, contributing to the understanding of a specific research topic. As scholars navigate the vast expanse of existing literature, they engage in a meticulous examination of previous studies, identifying gaps, controversies, and trends. This process not only aids in refining research questions but also ensures that the proposed study is situated within the broader context of existing scholarship.

Purpose and Objectives

The primary purpose of a literature review is twofold: to establish the rationale for the chosen research and to demonstrate a comprehensive understanding of the existing body of knowledge. Through a systematic examination of peer-reviewed articles, books, and other scholarly sources, researchers aim to trace the evolution of ideas, theories, and methodologies related to their chosen topic. This panoramic view enables scholars to position their research within the ongoing discourse, establishing the groundwork for contributions to the academic conversation.

Methodologies for Conducting a Literature Review

Conducting an effective literature review involves a strategic approach that extends beyond summarisation. Researchers employ various methodologies to synthesise, analyse, and critique existing literature. The chronological approach traces the historical development of a topic, highlighting seminal studies and key milestones. In contrast, the thematic approach organises literature based on recurring themes or concepts, facilitating a nuanced understanding of diverse perspectives.

Critiquing and Evaluating Sources

A critical aspect of literature reviews is the meticulous evaluation of sources. Scholars must scrutinise the methodology, validity, and reliability of each study, discerning the strengths and limitations inherent in the existing body of knowledge. By critically appraising sources, researchers ensure the integrity of their literature reviews, fortifying their argumentation and contributing to the scholarly rigour of their work.

Integration of Findings

Synthesising information gleaned from diverse sources requires a keen analytical eye. Researchers must adeptly integrate findings, identifying patterns, contradictions, and gaps within the literature. This integrative approach goes beyond a mere enumeration of studies; it involves weaving a cohesive narrative that not only informs the reader but also sets the stage for the subsequent phases of the research study.


In essence, the literature review in research methodology is not a perfunctory exercise; it is a scholarly pursuit that demands rigour, critical thinking, and synthesis. By undertaking a comprehensive review of existing literature, researchers contribute to the evolving narrative of their chosen field, ensuring that their work stands on the shoulders of those who have come before while providing a solid foundation for future scholarly activities.


Cooper, H. M. (1988). Organising Knowledge Synthesis: A Taxonomy of Literature Reviews. Knowledge in Society, 1(1), 104-126.

Webster, J., & Watson, R. T. (2002). Analysing the Past to Prepare for the Future: Writing a Literature Review. MIS Quarterly, 26(2), xiii-xxiii.

Booth, A., Papaioannou, D., & Sutton, A. (2012). Systematic Approaches to a Successful Literature Review. SAGE Publications.


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