Certain aspects of conducting a standard review of literature have not yet been covered in this course. Therefore, while you are invited to critically examine any aspect of the studies (e.g., a study’s design, appropriateness of the theoretic framework, data sampling methods), your conclusion should be considered preliminary. Bear in mind that five studies are typically not enough to reflect the full range of knowledge on a particular question and you are not expected to be familiar enough with research methodology to conduct a comprehensive evaluation of all aspects of the studies.

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Conducting a review of the literature requires a thorough and systematic search of all relevant literature in order to find and assess existing research. These are the key points to remember when reviewing literature.

  1. The research question must be clearly defined. This will allow you to locate relevant literature and help focus your research.
  2. You can conduct an extensive search by using multiple databases and search engines. You can refine your search by using keywords, subject headings and Boolean operators. You should include published as well as unpublished literature.
  3. To screen and select the relevant literature, review the title and abstracts to identify their relevancy to the research question. You should carefully evaluate the full text articles to determine if they are suitable for inclusion.
  4. Data extraction: Take relevant information from included literature. This includes details about the study design, sample sizes, data collection methods and the results.
  5. Evaluation of literature quality: Use established criteria such as the Cochrane Risk of Bias or GRADE to assess the quality of included literature. The study design, sample methods, data analysis and other factors can all affect the validity or reliability of findings.
  6. Summarize the results: Analyze and synthesize data from various sources. You may need to create tables and diagrams that display the data, or identify patterns or themes in the studies.
  7. Make conclusions: These are the conclusions based on an analysis and synthèse of the literature. You might need to identify gaps and highlight areas where there is agreement or disagreement. This will also allow you to make recommendations for future research.

Important to remember that a systematic review of literature needs careful planning, meticulous attention to detail and an understanding of research methods. This is an intensive and time-consuming task that can yield valuable insights about existing research.

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