A Guide to Steer Your Academic Career
Edited by Alain Fayolle and Mike Wright
The first thing researchers must do if they want to publish quality academic research is to conduct a literature review. Regardless of whether this task is approached as a first-time or experienced researcher, both are doing it for the same reason: to increase their awareness and understanding of current work and perspectives in the research field so that they can position their own research clearly on the academic map of knowledge creation, either by identifying research gaps or by problematizing the state of the art as an alternative to the prevailing stopgap strategy (Alvesson and Sandberg, 2011). Therefore, literature reviews as ways of creating knowledge maps which are not only differentiated at a descriptive level but also at an evaluative level are also necessary for identifying a research topic and for formulating an interesting research question that builds on established knowledge. However, the importance of literature reviews is not matched by a common understanding of what a literature review is. This becomes apparent by the fact that many reviews are only thinly disguised annotated bibliographies, thus offering severe problems: as the literature review constitutes a key element of all parts of a research project report (for example, introduction, discussion and conclusion), or in the case of a pure literature review even represents the research project, its quality determines the value of the whole research activity. Quality in reviewing literature means an appropriate balance between depth and breadth, rigour and consistency, clarity and brevity, and effective analysis and synthesis (Hart, 2009).
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