Sources of literature review


Sources of Literature Review

Researchers often waste time searching for literature in an unsystematic way. The literature search is an ever-expanding process, for each literature may lead to a new list of sources. Researchers may consider these sources as basic. There are different sources of the literature review. Some of them are enumerated below.

1. Using the online/card catalog

The online (computer) or card catalog in a university or campus library is a listing of all titles the library holds, indexed by author, title, subject, and in many cases keywords (or words in the title). To find the correct subject heading for the topic, consult the Library of Congress Subject Headings. The researcher should become thoroughly acquainted with the university library, the location of its varied facilities, and the services it provides. In addition to the traditional card catalog, many university libraries have computerized their holdings and have placed terminals in various locations for ease of finding books and periodicals.

Library's catalog of holdings may exist, in whole or in part, in some other form besides online. For example, a version or the online catalog may be available on a CD-ROM. Sometimes libraries list only recent works online and catalog holder works with printed files on microfilm or microfiche, bound books, or cards kept in drawers. In some libraries, the main catalog is primarily in the form of cards. Books in a card catalog are usually listed by author, title, and subject. Although author cards, title cards, and subject cards may be arranged alphabetically in a single catalog, many card catalogs are divided into two sections or, more rarely, into three sections. Finally, the library may have special catalogs for publications other than books such as serials or periodicals (e.g ., newspapers, magazines, scholarly journals) or audiovisual materials.

2. Microfiche

The development of microfiche has been one of the most significant contributions to library services by providing economy and convenience of storing and distribution of scholarly materials. A microfiche is a film sheet containing micro-images of printed materials.

3. Super and ultra-fiche

Recent development in the field of microfiche will transform the process of storage, retrieval, and distribution of published materials in libraries. Super microfiche has been developed that contains up to 1,000 pages of printed material in a single 4"x 6" transparent card, the equivalent of two or more books.

4. Books

Different writers have described their ideas and theories in their books. A study of all such books is essential for the researcher to know what people who conducted similar research earlier have said on the subject. Studies of all such work bring greater clarity and avoid duplication of effort. In the absence of such knowledge, a researcher might be wasting his time upon a subject upon which much has already been said.

5. Bibliographies

The first objective of the researcher is the preparation of full preliminary bibliography as practicable. All the sources, published and unpublished, must be recorded before one can make a reasonable selection and whittle them down to a working bibliography. There are bibliographies at many levels: the broadest are bibliographies of bibliographies; next are bibliographies of broad disciplines; last and most narrow are bibliographies of specific fields or subjects. Some bibliographies are annotated, i.e ., they offer a short abstract or description of each book. Others just give basic bibliographical information: author, title, publisher, publication, place, and date.

6. Biographies

Information on living persons is collected in Current Biography, The International who's who, and who's who in the World. American National Biography, Dictionary of Canadian Biography, Dictionary of National Biography for Great Britain, and Webster's New Biographical Dictionary are some examples.

7. Encyclopedias

Encyclopedias define a field's key concepts and provide information on the major leaders in that field. These serve as a storehouse of information and usually contain well-rounded discussion and selected bibliographies that are prepared by specialists. Encyclopedias are arranged alphabetically by subject, and for each field of research, they present a critical evaluation and summary of the work that has been done. These days Encyclopedia Britannica and Encarta are available in CD form in local markets too.

8. UN Publications

The many special UN publications are listed in the annual Catalog of United Nations Publications. The United Nations and its sister organizations and other multilateral organizations carry studies in various areas, and such organizations have several publications, which are of great value to the researchers especially of social sciences. In Nepal, TU Library has a UN depository section, where publications of
various multilateral organizations are available. In addition, researchers can get information through the website of the UN from the Internet on a computer.

9. Handbooks

Handbooks and annual reviews contain an edited collection of articles that provide an authoritative summary of a specific topic, including evaluations of theory and research. A few known handbooks are the handbook of qualitative research, the handbook of psychology, the MLA handbook for writers of research papers, the handbook for focus group research, and so on.

10. Journals

Information about new ideas and developments often appears in journals long before it appears in books. There are many journals in management and in other closely related areas that are the best sources for reports on recent research studies. Such journals give much more up-to-date treatment to current questions in required areas than books possibly can. They also publish articles of temporary, local or limited interest that never appear in book form. The journals of proper dates are the best sources for determining contemporary opinion and status, present or past.

11. Abstracts

Abstracts provide a summary of the research reports done in different fields. Psychological abstracts (Washington: American Psychological Association) and Sociological abstracts (New York: Sociological abstract, INC) are the two common examples of abstracts. These abstracts are useful sources of up-to-date information for researchers. In an abstract, besides a summary, researchers get all the relevant information such as the title of the research report, name of the author, and the journal pagination information such as the title of the research report, name of the author, and the journal pagination information, etc ., regarding the research article. The only limitation of abstracts is that they fail to satisfy those researchers who desire detailed information regarding the methodology and results of the research articles.

12. Indexes

Once you have found an article that interests you, another way to expand your search and locate other relevant articles is to use the Social Sciences Citation Index (SSCI). Citation indexes are based on the idea that published research in an area includes two previously published papers, which provided the basis for the New work. Therefore, if you can locate an important only article in the field, you should be able to identify later articles that side the sources.

13. Computer searches

So far we have mentioned a number of tools that you can use to identify literature in your field. If you have a topic that combines several different concepts, this type of search can be especially time-consuming. If your search is complex, conducting your search on a computer in CDROM (compact-disk read-only-memory) or online database will make your task much easier.

Because many different CD-ROM and online databases are available, there are also many different search techniques. Most libraries that have these available will also have handouts or brochures on how to search the database, or you may ask a reference librarian. In beginning your search, you need to choose a database relevant to your subject and then structure your search strategy so that you will obtain the most relevant citations and abstracts.

14. Webography

Since the Web was introduced to the world in 1992, Web technology has been seeking ways to make the contents more accessible. The dynamic nature of the Web, its lighting growth rate, the ephemeral nature of some Web pages, the different skill levels and interests of users, and the lack of standards make this an enormous challenge. Trends indicate that the Web will continue to grow and that we will continue to apply new technologies to tapping the information available on this vast and unique resource. Already some search engines are better able to identify key resources. Efforts are underway to adopt standardized meta-tags included in the coding to describe the contents of Web pages. Some search engines are using expert systems to learn more about the information requestor. This is already being used extensively to target advertisements and is being used more frequently to "select" from among several options the information source that will be delivered to the requestor. More efforts are being made to index a larger portion of the web content but, at the same time, efforts are also underway to improve the relevancy of the results delivered for anyone search.

15. Theses/Dissertations

The terms "dissertation" and "thesis" are sometimes used interchangeably in everyday academic conversations. Most universities in North America call a Ph.D. a dissertation and the master's thesis, while most British universities call the Ph.D. the thesis and the master the dissertation.

The universities that award the authors their doctoral and master's degrees usually preserve theses/dissertations. Doctoral theses/ dissertations are the results of original research, so they can be an important resource in the field of that very subject. The advantage of looking at a thesis/ dissertation based on social research is that the method-how the study was done-is usually delineated in quite a lot of detail. Theses/Dissertations may even refer to the problems encountered in trying to accomplish the aims of the study (such problems are rarely reported on in an article). Copies of most master's theses/ dissertations and doctoral theses/ dissertations written in Nepal are sent to the Central Library of Tribhuvan University.

16. Newspapers and Pamphlets

Many articles of particular interest to a researcher may be located through pamphlets and newspapers. Current newspapers provide up-to-date information on speeches, seminars, conferences, new trends, and a number of other topics. Old newspapers, which preserve a record of past events, movements, and ideas, are particularly useful in historical inquiries.

17. Government documents

Government documents are a rich source of information. They include statistical data, research studies, official reports, laws, and economic surveys, and other material that are not always available elsewhere. These are available in national, regional, zonal, district level as well as local level organizations.

18. Monographs

Monographs are also major sources of information on ongoing research. The research monograph is a research report covering a fairly large research project of a single subject. It is usually a form of communication among scholars in a particular field, and as such, has a limited audience. Since the monograph is usually longer than an article but shorter than a book, publication of the research monograph is usually supported by a university press, a bureau of business research, a central bureau of statistics, a research foundation, or the author himself.

19. Term paper and Assignments

The term paper is an academic report, which may have one or several objectives. Generally, it is based on a library investigation of some topic and rarely involves laboratory/ fieldwork. In institutions, where both opportunity and encouragement make it possible, the student may make a field study of a problem in one or more business firms.

The term paper is short enough so that it does not require an appendix common to large expositions. Ten to thirty pages (typed in double spaced) covers the range of most papers. The term paper is used to acquaint the student with systematic, careful, and accurate gathering and presentation of information.

20. Professional paper

The professional paper is directed toward either a basic research problem or an applied research problem. The applied research report solves an operating problem for a particular company at a particular time. The professional paper, if it does this at all, is such that the problem is one that faces many companies and the solution presented may be adopted by many companies.

21. Reviews

Reviews are short articles that give brief information regarding the work done in a particular area over a period of time. Reviews are commonly published in journals, yearbooks, handbooks, and encyclopedias. Reviewers select research articles of their interest, organize them content-wise, criticize their findings, and offer their own suggestions and conclusions. Review articles are a good source for those investigators who wish to have all the relevant researches at one place without taking pains to look for them. Since the reviewers organize all the possible research papers of the relevant area in their review articles, review articles also provide the advantage of prior reviews (Singh, 1998: 362).

22. Guide to research

There are guides intended to direct you to the most important sources of information and scholarship in the area you are researching. Whereas indexes, bibliographies, and collections of abstracts tend to strive for comprehensiveness and objectivity in presenting information, guides to research are usually selective and evaluative.

23. Dictionaries

Dictionaries alphabetically arranged works that provide information, usually in concise form, about words or topics. Two of the most authoritative dictionaries of words are Webster's Third New International Dictionary of the English Language and, especially for the history of a word's meanings and usage, The Oxford English Dictionary.

24. Yearbooks

Yearbooks present information about specific years in the past. Examples are The Americana Annual, Britannica Book of Year, Europa Yearbook, Far Eastern Economic Review Yearbook and Statistical Yearbook.

25. Almanac

An annual publication that includes a calendar for the year as well as astronomical information and details of anniversaries and events or an annually published book of information relating to a particular subject or activity. A book often but not always published annually, containing practical information on a particular subject. World almanac is an outstanding publication of this type.

26. Atlases

Atlases are collections of maps, usually published in book form, as a loose-leaf, boxed set. What often characterizes atlas maps is a standard design, organized around a coherent theme. Atlases are produced on a wide range of subjects. A national atlas provides base and thematic information about a particular country. The National Atlas of Unites States of America is the official atlas of the United States; The Times Atlas of the World covers regions and nations of the entire world.

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