Format and Guide to Literature Review, Empirical Review and Theoretical Framework -4 important parts of Thesis Chapter Two

Format and Guide to Literature Review, Empirical Review and Theoretical Framework -4 important parts of Thesis Chapter Two

Before writing Chapter Two of your research project, you are expected to have completed chapter one, which is the foundation on which the review will be based. This segment of your research work is most often titled Literature Review or Review of Related Literature.

What is Literature Review?

A literature review refers to the systematic search, collection and breakdown of existing scholarly journals, articles, textbooks and other literal publications.

By conceptualization, a literature review can be seen as a deliberate examination of works of literature or scholarly works written in a given field of study. The literature review is of many types. It could be evaluative, exploratory, instrumental, or systematic.

Typically, a literature review showcases the current state of knowledge in a given field and scientific findings. Moreover, breakthroughs in a given subject, gaps in knowledge in a given field, and theoretical and methodological scholarly works in a given field of study.

Literature reviews significantly differ from a book review and are often written as part of a research thesis both at undergraduate, graduate and postgraduate levels. A literature review is also an important aspect of journal papers and research proposals (s), among others.

Majorly, information for literature reviews is obtained from secondary sources, and, as such, may or may not embody any new idea or approach.

In dissertation or thesis writing, literature reviews form a significant part of the work and often are the most voluminous, requiring lots of citations, effort, logical thinking and time.

Literature review entails the presentation of well-structured, articulated and organized reports of scholarly works on topics similar to the current research topic.

In thesis writing, it is expected that the literature review should sufficiently provide information on the knowledge milestone in the given study and highlight areas of need.

This is achieved through the careful selection, collection and review of extensive research work, which shares some similarities with the current study; this similarity is often seen in the variables the current study seeks to discuss.

For instance, a researcher is working on ascertaining the factors that foster teenage pregnancy in Delta State. The research can go ahead to review other research studies which have teenage pregnancy as one of its variables.

Before you dive into writing your literature review, the following “to-do “list should be adhered to:

  1. Search for scholarly works done, which are related to your topic, both in soft and hard copy. This means that your literature source should not be based on internet sources alone; it should include published textbooks and print journals.
  2. Choose from the list of literature available. While selecting, ensure to pick those closely related to the current study’s scope, research problem or the current study’s general objectives.
  3. Read thoroughly the works of literature selected for review, and take notes by extracting the information needed from the said research studies.
  4. After you might have finished reading and internalizing the selected works of literature to be reviewed, take action. Act on the information extracted. Always remember to present them in a manner that aids understanding and shows the logical sequence.
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Your discipline will determine the format of chapter two of your work. However, most often, chapter two of a research thesis  is discussed under the following subtitle;

  • Introduction: This provides a brief insight into the issues that will be discussed in chapter two as well as the organization of chapter two
  • Conceptual framework: your conceptual framework should be done in a manner which depicts logical linkages of central themes in your line of research. A good conceptual framework represents the interrelatedness of central issues in the research through a diagram. For instance, a researcher is working on a topic titled “The prevalence of sexually transmitted diseases (STD) among female adolescents in Ika, Delta State, Nigeria”. Let’s assume we are writing a conceptual framework for this topic.

 Conceptual framework

Sexually transmitted diseases have been proven to affect women’s health, and adolescent girls are inclusive in so many ways. A sexually transmitted disease refers to a disease which is transferred from one person to another during the processes of sexual intimacy.

They include such diseases as staphylococcus, syphilis, and gonorrhoea, among others.  Evidence from research studies in this line of study has revealed that these diseases, when left untreated, could greatly impede the health of their victims, as they can give rise to several health complications, including infertility, lowered immunity, and even death.

Chapter Two Format and Guide to Literature Review, Empirical Review and Theoretical Framework
Chapter Two Format and Guide to Literature Review, Empirical Review, and Theoretical Framework

We have successfully created a pictorial representation of the various concepts, which will be further elaborated on in this study segment; hence, the researcher expects to elaborate on these concepts critically.

  • Theoretical framework

In the theoretical framework, various theories propounded by researchers in the current research line of study is reviewed. In writing a theoretical framework, it is expected that the research refers to two to three theories, depending on the number of variables being researched, such information as to its founder, assumptions, and suitability for the current study should also be stated by the researcher.

  • Empirical review

In the empirical review, the researcher explores various empirical studies conducted by other researchers on topics related to the current research. Empirical research entails giving a comprehensive report of another researcher’s work. For instance,

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Okafor (2018) conducted a study on “the role of rape in the spread of sexually transmitted diseases among adolescent girls in Ika local government of Delta state. The researcher was geared on ascertaining the causes of rape among ………., to determine the relationship between rape and victims’ vulnerability to STDs.

A survey research design was adopted, while the population of the study comprised of 100 adolescent girls who were randomly selected from 20 villages made up the local government.

Data was collected through a questionnaire and was analyzed using statistical packages for social scientists (SPSS); from the data analyzed, the study found that rape increases the vulnerability of victims to such STDs as Hiv/Aids, gonorrhoea, staphylococcus, syphilis, among others.

Hence, the study recommended that rape victims be encouraged to seek medical attention, which will enable them to get medical help.

You must report the same process for all other empirical studies you want to review.

  • Summary of the Reviewed literature

At this point, you are expected to present all you have done in your chapter in brief sentences. For most undergraduate research studies, chapter two terminates here. However, for post-graduate studies, such sub-titles as Gap in Knowledge and contribution to knowledge are present and discussed before the summary of reviewed literature.

  • References

Here, the researcher provides a comprehensive list of all the works of literature he/she consulted while carrying out the study, as well as detailed information on all the authors cited or quoted in the work.


Practical steps to writing a literature Review

As an undergraduate, Master or Doctorate student, one of the challenges you will face is your final year project, especially chapter two, which is called Review of Literature or Literature Review; it is, therefore, necessary that you learn how it is written.

The term literature review is not merely a summary of all articles you have reviewed in the course of your project but rather the critical analysis of the relationships between your reviews of other works in relation to your specific topic of interest. Before you begin writing your literature review, you would, have a thesis and have done your preliminary pages and introduction.

The first thing you would do is collate a list of works that you would be reviewing. For example, if you working on the theme of Racism in Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Americanah, you would research all novels, books and essays on racism that has ever been written; this will guide you through critical works of literature that have been written aforetime.

The next would be to skim through the articles and make notes, abstracts and introductions from each of the works you are reviewing. Also, create topics and sub-topics and define terms your readers might want to know. After this, you will outline your review in a tabular form, ensuring your ideas are linked. For example:

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2.1. Racism as at 19th century

2.2. Evolution of Racist Behaviour

2.3. Racism in Contemporary times

Of course, this is just an example, but I am sure it has given you insights into what I am trying to explain. Writing a review can cause a bit of panic but (Galvan, 2006: 81-90) has created a simple and understandable way to do it:

  1. Identify the broad problem area, but avoid global statements
  2. Early in the review, indicate why the topic being reviewed is important
  3. Distinguish between research finding and other sources of information
  4. Indicate why certain studies are important
  5. If you are commenting on the timeliness of a topic, be specific in describing the time frame
  6. If citing a classic or landmark study, identify it as such
  7. If a landmark study was replicated, mention that and indicate the results of the replication
  8. Discuss other literature reviews on your topic
  9. Refer the reader to other reviews on issues that you will not be discussing in details
  10. Justify comments such as, “no studies were found.”
  11. Avoid long lists of nonspecific references
  12. If the results of previous studies are inconsistent or widely varying, cite them separately
  13. Cite all relevant references in the review section of the thesis, dissertation, or journal article

 Developing a coherent essay (Galvan, 2006: 91-96)

  1. If your review is long, provide an overview near the beginning of the review
  2. Near the beginning of a review, state explicitly what will and will not be covered
  3. Specify your point of view early in the review: this serves as the thesis statement of the review.
  4. Aim for a clear and cohesive essay that integrates the key details of the literature and communicates your point of view (literature is not a series of annotated articles).
  5. Use subheadings, especially in long reviews
  6. Use transitions to help trace your argument
  7. If your topic teaches across disciplines, consider reviewing studies from each discipline separately
  8. Write a conclusion for the end of the review: Provide closure so that the path of the argument ends with a conclusion of some kind.

However, how you end the review will depend on your reason for writing it. Suppose the review was written to stand alone. In that case, as is the case of a term paper or a review article for publication, the conclusion needs to make clear how the material in the body of the review has supported the assertion or proposition presented in the introduction.

On the other hand, a review of a thesis, dissertation, or journal article presenting original research usually leads to the research questions that will be addressed.


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