Research in everyday usage is different from its strict sense. We often say that we are conducting research in the library or in the Internet. Although grammatically correct, these phrases denote a misconception of what research is. The correct term is that we are conducting a literature review.
What is the value of related literature?
A good research is designed to build on and use existing knowledge. Once a research topic is already determined and well-thought of, the researcher must look for academic and research journals, books, and other similar documents that contain reports of previous research studies about a topic related to the present research. This is called literature review or review of related literature. It involves a process of identifying, locating, organizing, and analyzing information about a research topic. Conducting a literature review is essential because it prevents duplication of studies and helps avoid problems that others have encountered. It would be wasteful for a researcher to begin working on a study without knowing what others have already done. Literature review also provides valuable information about how to measure the research variables involved and what research designs will be most useful. A thorough literature review before the implementation of the study reflects the depth of discussion, analysis, and interpretation of findings.
Literature serves the following functions in the research process:
- It provides information about past research studies related to the intended investigation, preventing the duplication of research undertakings.
- It presents gaps in the field of study. Gaps may either be areas in the body of knowledge that are not explored yet or parts where research studies yielded inconclusive results.
- It affords confidence and authority to the researchers since reviewing the literature can provide them all possible constructs and perspectives of the present study.
- It gives information about the methods used in similar studies, including the characteristics of the samples, the sampling techniques or the process of selecting the research participants, the variables considered, the kinds of data gathered, and the type of analysis and interpretation done on the collected data.
- It enumerates findings from previous studies that may support those of the present study.
- It provides ideas on how implications may be drawn out of the analysis and interpretation of data.