A Critical Review of Literature and Its Importance

A Critical Review of Literature and Its Importance



In order to contextualize the study appropriately and provide the researcher with a comprehensive understanding of the current state of research in the field of investigation, it is imperative to conduct a thorough review of relevant literature. This process entails a comprehensive examination and documentation of all pertinent ideas and concepts related to the area of focus. The aim is to meticulously read, identify, evaluate, and reference existing research reports that are germane to the study.

Sources of Relevant Literature

The following are materials for literature review:
Encyclopedia and dictionaries.

  • Books
  • Journals
  • Conference papers and workshop reports
  • Magazines and NewspapersFinished research projects, theses, dissertations.

Read also: The Research Problems

Importance of Literature Review

(a) Understanding the State of Art

A literature review provides researchers with the opportunity to gain insight into the work of other researchers, including the ideas they have expressed, the topics they have covered, areas that still need to be explored, the investigation techniques they have used, and any shortcomings they may have encountered.

(b) Specifying the Research Focus

Systematically reviewing related literature enables a researcher to gain a better understanding of the issues related to their study. This understanding, in turn, allows them to clearly articulate a specific problem statement. By studying all previous research related to their topic, the researcher’s focus is sharpened, and they can formulate plausible hypotheses..

(c) Choosing the Method of Investigation

A literature review assists the researcher in selecting a more effective and trustworthy method of investigation. By examining prior studies, the researcher acquires a deeper understanding of the advantages and disadvantages of the methods employed by previous researchers.

(d) Avoiding Unnecessary Duplication

A literature review reveals to the researcher the areas or issues that have already been extensively researched by multiple scholars. This indicates that the researcher should not expend their efforts on topics that have already been thoroughly explored.

Organization of Literature Review

Review of Literature
Image Source: Google.com

(a) Dimensions of Literature Review
There are three dimensions in the review of relevant
These dimensions are conceptual, literature. theoretical and empirical reviews.

i. Conceptual Review or Framework

A conceptual review is a step-by-step depiction of previous research by other scholars on the various variables identified by the researcher as the focus of the study. These variables constitute the sub-themes of the conceptual review. The review involves a methodical presentation of the ideas put forth by prior researchers as supporting evidence for the researcher’s areas of interest, which will inform the discussion of findings. Therefore, the aim of the conceptual review is to identify any gaps between the findings of previous researchers and the researcher’s area of focus, in order to emphasize how such gaps can be addressed.

When presenting a literature review, it should be organized into sub-themes that are relevant to the topic under study. The researcher must carefully select appropriate sub-themes. For instance, consider the topic “The challenges of implementing the senior secondary mathematics curriculum.” Possible sub-themes that could be chosen for this topic include: financial constraints, the quality and quantity of mathematics teachers, extent of content coverage, supervision of instruction, guidance and counseling, nature of learners, assessment methods, and so on. These sub-themes should align with the problem statement and research questions or hypotheses formulated for the study.

ii. Theoretical Review

The theoretical review, also known as the theoretical framework, concentrates on the pertinent theories, models, or principles that serve as an anchor to the study. Every research project has a theoretical framework that adds credibility to the study. Therefore, it is crucial for researchers, during the literature review phase, to examine one or two theories related to their research focus and document them as supporting links that provide shape and foundation to their study.

iii. Empirical Review

The empirical review centers on the tangible outcomes of prior research investigations, utilizing concrete data and statistics to elucidate how the proposed study relates to earlier ones, particularly in terms of constructs.

(b) Style of Writing
When writing a literature review, it is common to use reported speech to present information. This involves paraphrasing, which means restating the information in the researcher’s own words. Quotations are also used in literature reviews, but they should be enclosed in quotation marks and lifted directly from the original source. If a quotation is longer than four lines, it should be indented rather than presented alongside the rest of the text. Indenting involves beginning each line of the quotation in the middle of the page with ample margins on both sides. Quotations that are indented do not need to be enclosed in quotation marks. When presenting ideas and findings in a literature review, it is important to link them together rather than presenting them as isolated pieces of information. Identical ideas and findings should be grouped together to make the review easier to follow.


In carrying out a research study, ideas borrowed
from referenced materials are usually acknowledged
by citing the source. The American Psychological Association (A. P. A.) reference style is the most
extensively used in the behavioural sciences.

Sources are cited in the text, while references are
listed at the end of the research report. The A. P. A.
style uses the author-date method of citation in text.
Citations are made in the appropriate position in the text depending on the context. Only the surname of the author and year of publication are included. initials are usually omitted. The year of publication is enclosed in. brackets just after the surname of the author is written. When an idea is quoted, the page where the idea is lifted must be indicated. The page is indicated after the year of publication, and enclosed in the same bracket but separated by a colon. Specific examples are illustrates as follows:

(a) A Publication of one Author

Example: Nworgu (1991) pointed out that research
is .. If it is a quotation lifted in page 20 of the
book, then it is presented as; Nworgu (1991: 20)
stated that.” Notice that the quotation is
enclose in quotation marks.

(b) When two Authors are involve

If there are two authors in a publication, the
surname of both authors are cited every time the
reference occurs. in the text. Example: Nwosu and
Obioma (1984) remarked that curriculum is…..

(c) When there are more than two Authors

If there are more than two authors in a publication,
but less than six, all the authors are cited the first
time the reference occurred in the text. In subsequent citations, only the surname of the first author is included followed by “et al”, and the year of publication. Example, first citation; according to Onwuka, Obioma, Nwosu, and Nwagwu (1988)
subsèquent citations; Onwuka et al (1988) remarked
that … if a publication has six or more authors, the surname of the first author followed by et al is used both in first, and subsequent citations.

(d) Corporate Body

Organizations, institutions, government entities, and other corporate entities are considered corporate bodies whose published works cannot be attributed to specific individuals as authors. Therefore, each time these corporate bodies are mentioned in the text, their full name must be written out.

For instance, if referencing the National Curriculum Volume 5 published in 1985, it should be cited in the text as: Federal Ministry of Education (1985). Similarly, a publication by the Institute of Education, University of Ibadan, should be cited as: Institute of Education, University of Ibadan (1986).

(e)When there are. Authors with the same Surname

In order to avoid confusion, if two or more authors
bearing the same surname are to be cited in the text,
their initials are included in all text citations, even
when the year of publication differs.


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