An Overview and Guideline of Systematic Literature Review as a Research Methodology

No matter what the discipline is, build your research on and relate it to existing knowledge as the crux of all literature search activities.

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Many a student often has various confusions in their minds about literature, literature search, literature review, systematic literature review, etc. A layman, in particular, does not have even the foggiest idea about all this. This article has the sole purpose of clearing all the messy questions regarding these literary terms. Read on to make yourself aware of what has been confusing you till now.

What is Literature?

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Derived from a Latin origin, literature means “writing formed with letters”. It is a group of works of art usually well-written poetry and prose. It may include drama, fiction, and novel, especially imaginative and creative ones. You may look at or review this written work for its artistic value. Literature also includes books and writings published on a particular subject. The purpose may be either to give knowledge or to advertise some products.

What is a Literature Search?

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It is a systematic, thorough, and well-organized search from the already published data such as books, reviews, articles, etc. Its purpose is to fully understand the shape of the literature on a specific topic before undertaking further research. Two of the most important aspects of this search are to find out, ‘what is the subject and style of a given or selected piece of literature?’ It always helps to find the best books for college students.

What is a Literature Review?

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This is a way of collecting and synthesizing previous research to create a firm foundation for advancing knowledge and developing theories. With well-integrated findings and perspectives from many empirical findings in the form of a literature review, you can address research questions with more power, compared to a single study. How long should a literature review be?

It depends upon the study selected for the review. Also, learning language arts through literature review is really a rewarding aspect of English.

What is a Systematic Literature Review?

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This review is a research method for identifying and critically appraising relevant research and collecting and analyzing data from previous research to answer a particular research question or hypothesis. It never involves bias and, hence, provides reliable findings to draw conclusions and make decisions. For example, how to research a novel can best be understood through a properly executed systematic literature review.

What is a Semi-systematic review?  

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This method overviews a topic and looks at how the research has progressed over time, and how the topic has developed across potentially relevant research traditions. It is also called a narrative review.

This research approach is very transparent with a well-developed research strategy. It enables the readers to judge whether the arguments for the judgment made were reasonable. They judge it both for the chosen topic and from a methodological perspective. This method fits best to analyze the books based on true stories.

How is a Systematic Literature Review Written in English Literature?

how to do systematic literature review
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Performing a systematic literature review involves several stages. You can even report it in the form of an original research article. The following are the six stages while writing a systematic literature review in English literature.

Defining the Objective

You must start your review by clearly defining the objective, or by forming a structured research question. You must specify in the title that the report is a systematic literature review. For example, if you are writing a systematic literature review of the impact of the poetry of Shakespeare, you will write the objective like this:

The objective of this literature revision is to analyze and review systematically the current research on the impacts of several poems of Shakespeare during and after his lifetime.

Defining the Methodology  

Here, you must define eligibility criteria by clearly specifying the methodology of the review. The material being reviewed must meet the study selection criteria to be excluded or included from the study. For example, if you are writing a systematic literature review of published material on the dramas of George Bernard Shaw, you will write:

About the inclusion criteria: The publication covers all the literal, technical, social, and political aspects of the true analysis of the great work from a great dramatist.

About the exclusion criteria: The publication does not confine itself to the work of G. B. Shaw alone. Instead, it gets off the track and involves the analysis of other writers simultaneously.

You may present the eligibility criteria in the form of tables as well.

Retrieving the Eligible Literature

Throughout the systematic literature review process, you keep retrieving eligible literature and thoroughly report your search strategy. Here, ideally, two independent investigators perform the selection process. However, you may represent the selection process graphically, in the form of a decision tree, or a flow diagram. For instance, you are dealing with the material related to the odes of John Keats in English literature. You will retrieve the eligible literature as follows.

Analysis about the two odes from John Keats was selected. ‘Ode to Autumn’ and ‘Ode to a Nightingale’ were written between March and June 1819. The viewer selected them justifiably because odes are the most distinctive poetic achievement on the part of this great English poet. Odes are essentially lyrical meditations on some object or quality and are an address to that object.

It is also right to say that in these two odes, Keats successfully and impressively confronts the conflicting impulses of his inner being and reflects upon his longings and their relations to the wider world around him. The critic has prominently brought to light the various aspects of Keats’ poetry as well.

Assessing the Quality of the Selected Literature

Whenever possible, exclude the material with low methodological quality by assessing the selected literature time and again. Remember, the validity and the quality of the studies included in the systematic literature review determine the overall quality of the review.

While analyzing a review written on the poems of P.B. Shelly, for instance, it must be kept under consideration whether or not the reviewer has discussed her philosophy about death. Reviewing Shelly without discussing death is like a flower without any fragrance.

Proceeding with the Characterization of the Studies

Here comes the stage to proceed with the so-called characterization of the studies. You must decide which data to look for in all the chosen literature and present it in the form of a summary. Keep in mind to always register all the information you find missing in some specific paper in your report. Once again, ideally, two independent investigators must perform this characterization of the studies.

The information that should be collected for this purpose must include sample size, study design, authors, year, aims and objectives, limitations, and findings or results. Writing a systematic literature review for an analysis of the novels from Charles Dickens, it is necessary to check and include all the relevant information regarding the characterization of the studies selected.

Integrating or Synthesizing the Results of Different Studies

This is your final interpretation and conclusion to be presented in a qualitative, narrative form. You must organize your systematic literature review by modulating one or more general arguments. You may get fine support in this regard if you choose two or three main information sources such as articles, books, other literature reviews.

This support will help you explain the results of other studies through the same process. Then you must connect the information obtained from different sources. This information may be used to make movies based on good books.

Remember, never just summarize the results but try your best to find the patterns in the results of various studies. Furthermore, you should identify the different results, address the methodological as well as theoretical conflicts and try to interpret them. In the end, it is highly advisable to summarize the main conclusions together with evaluating the current state of the subject. This will go a long way toward pointing out possible further directions.

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Inbound Professor with a focus on English literature. Also an expert in digital humanities, law and literature, political theory, early modern literature, global studies, and the history of political thought.

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