The purpose of literature review is to outline your different view and findings of a research that has been conducted previously by other scholars. It also helps you stand tall among peers in the topic of study, earning you a position of authority on that topic. But this is just the icing on the cake. Below are some pointers on the actual purpose of literature reviews.
A good review allows you to identify, learn and analyze previously mined data and information on the topic that you wish to write your dissertation or research paper on. It enables you to get a better grasp of what other researchers before you already investigated, thus preventing you from trying to rediscover the wheel.
You do not just research for the sake of it; you have to have a goal that you want to achieve with this research. A lit review allows you to establish a purpose for the research task.
Demonstration of Familiarity
Rarely will you come across an utterly virgin topic; one where no one else before you touched on. You will always find other people who went ahead of you. With your review, you demonstrate that you are well versed with the topic, and thus can discuss a variation of the same topic from the point of understanding.
To carve out a space for further research.
Being that you are using already existing sources, you need to show why it is essential to have further research on your topic based on what already is documented. Your review helps to show a gap in the previous results and conclusions that warrants further investigations.
To unearth the depth of previous investigations
Again, while preparing your review, you also get to identify the various investigations that were conducted by the scholars and researchers before, as well as what they may have missed. This allows you to set a clear purpose for your research.
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To learn how others have defined and measured key concepts
Scientific principles dictate that certain specific procedures be used during the research process. Otherwise, it seizes to be a viable research project. While carrying out your lit review, you get to examine and learn from the previously used processes by the other scholars to arrive at the theories and concepts they concluded on. With this knowledge, you are also in a position to make better judgements and build on their research to show the gap that they may have missed.
To develop alternative research prospects
Having identified a gap in previous research results from your sources, you are able to develop your own prospects for the research in order to fill the gap. Your lit review allows you to show how you are going to do this by pointing out this missing gap and the direction you will take to fill the gap.
Prevents rediscovering the wheel
As mentioned earlier, with your review, you are examining already existing sources, and so, you will not go after a topic area that has already been exhausted. You are able to investigate what others have done, the research processes they used, the results they got and the conclusions and theories that they came up with. This way, you will not do what they did to get to the same conclusions.
To build credibility for your research design
Finally, and most importantly, a major purpose of literature review that allows you to appear at par with your peers in that field of study is that you are able to demonstrate your understanding of the topic in question. You are also able to show what previous researchers may have missed, as well as how you are going to tackle the missing gap using your own laid out procedures. This automatically gives your research design credibility.