This article on ‘What is Literature Review and why is it important?‘ was written by Shashanki Kaushik, an intern at Legal Upanishad.
A literature review, which is frequently included as part of academic research, has several functions. This article digs into its numerous applications, which range from adding to the body of knowledge in a certain sector to supporting evidence-based decision-making. Furthermore, it addresses the authority and scope of conducting literature reviews in academic, legal, and policy contexts, putting light on their critical role in influencing modern discourse.
The purpose of this article is to explain the significance of literature reviews, their usefulness in diverse circumstances, and the powers and jurisdictions connected with their execution.
What is a Literature review?
A literature review is a critical examination and synthesis of existing research, publications, and scholarly works related to a specific topic or research question. It is a fundamental component of academic and professional research endeavours, serving multiple purposes.
Significance of Literature Reviews
- Contributing to Knowledge: One of the primary functions of a literature review is to contribute to the existing body of knowledge. By synthesizing and analyzing prior research, scholars can identify gaps in current understanding, propose new research questions, and suggest avenues for further investigation. In this regard, literature reviews play a pivotal role in advancing academic disciplines.
- Informing Decision-Making: Beyond academia, literature reviews are invaluable tools for informed decision-making. Policymakers, government agencies, and organizations often rely on comprehensive literature reviews to develop evidence-based policies and strategies. These reviews provide a comprehensive overview of existing research, helping decision-makers identify best practices and make well-informed choices.
- Validating Research Claims: In the scientific community, literature reviews are crucial for validating research claims and hypotheses. Peer-reviewed articles often require authors to provide a literature review as part of their research papers to demonstrate the novelty and significance of their contributions. This process ensures that new research builds upon and is grounded in existing knowledge.
- Academic Writing and Research Proposals: In academic writing, literature reviews serve as a foundation for research papers, theses, and dissertations. They provide context for the study, establish the research’s importance, and guide the reader through the evolution of ideas in the field. When developing research proposals, researchers use literature reviews to justify their study’s relevance and feasibility.
Challenges and Ethical Considerations
Bias and Selectivity
- Academic Bias: In academia, researchers may exhibit bias in their literature reviews by selectively citing works that support their arguments. This bias can compromise the objectivity and credibility of the review.
- Legal Precedent Bias: In the legal context, the reliance on precedent can sometimes lead to perpetuation of outdated or unjust legal principles. Legal professionals must be cautious to balance the use of precedent with the need for legal evolution.
- Policy Bias: Ethical literature reviews in the policy context require a commitment to unbiased analysis and consideration of diverse perspectives.
Plagiarism and Attribution
- Academic Plagiarism: Plagiarism, the unethical appropriation of others’ work, is a serious concern in academia. Proper attribution is essential to avoid plagiarism and maintain the integrity of literature reviews.
- Legal Citation: In the legal field, accurate citation of legal precedents is paramount. Failing to cite relevant legal literature and cases can undermine the legal argument’s validity.
- Policy Accountability: In policy, failure to provide accurate citations and transparently acknowledge the sources of information can damage the credibility of policy decisions and recommendations.
Access to Information
- Academic Access: Limited access to academic journals and publications due to paywalls and subscription models can hinder the ability of researchers to conduct comprehensive literature reviews. Open access initiatives aim to address this challenge.
- Legal Resources: Access to comprehensive legal resources is crucial for conducting literature reviews in the legal field. Legal professionals must have access to updated statutes, regulations, and case law to conduct thorough reviews.
- Policy Data: Policymakers may face challenges in accessing timely and relevant data and research reports needed for literature reviews. Government transparency initiatives and data-sharing agreements can help mitigate these challenges.
In conclusion, literature reviews are indispensable tools with a far-reaching impact across academic, legal, and policy contexts. Their significance lies in their ability to contribute to knowledge, inform decision-making, validate research claims, and facilitate the growth of academic disciplines. The powers and jurisdictions associated with literature reviews vary depending on the context but ultimately rely on individuals and organizations committed to ethical and unbiased research practices. As literature reviews continue to shape contemporary discourse, addressing challenges and ethical considerations is imperative to maintain their integrity and relevance in an ever-evolving world.
List of References:
- ‘Why is it important to do a literature review in research?’, Pubrica Academy, available at: https://pubrica.com/academy/research/why-is-it-important-to-do-a-literature-review-in-research/
- ‘Literature review’, The University of Edinburgh, available at: https://www.ed.ac.uk/institute-academic-development/study-hub/learning-resources/literature-review
- ‘Literature Review’ University of Illinois, available at: https://www.uis.edu/learning-hub/writing-resources/handouts/learning-hub/literature-review#:~:text=The%20purpose%20of%20a%20literature,conducting%20your%20own%20original%20research.