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Q# 1:- How to write a Literature Review?

What Is A Literature Review?

A literature review is an appraising description of information found in the

literature associated to your chosen area of research. The literature review
illustrates, summarize, appraise and clarify the literature for which you are
writing literature review. It should give a hypothetical foundation for the research
and helps you establish the nature of your research. Unrelated works are
removed completely while the marginal ones are considered critically.


Writing Literature Reviews

The importance of literature review can not be denied because it is a review of

writing on a subject. The under-mentioned reasons the importance of literature

a. Literature review helps to find new ways to figure out any ambiguity or
flaws in earlier researches.
b. A literature review portrays the link of each work to the others.
c. Literature review resolves any contradictory findings, or gaps in previous
d. Most importantly, literature review leads the way forward for further
e. It adds the understanding and knowledge of the particular field.


1. The literature review discovers the areas of controversy in the literature.
2. The literature review explains how each work is similar to and how it
varies from the others.
3. Literature review should be well-structured around and directly linked to
the research question you are developing.
4. The literature review should present an overview of the subject, issue or
theory under consideration, along with the objectives of the literature

Development Of Literature Review

A literature review involves the four stages to advance:

First of all, the component issues of topic of literature review to examine or
research are determined.

Finding materials are collected relevant to the subject being explored to write
the literature review.

It is determined that which literature makes a worth mentioning contribution to
the understanding of the topic of literature review.

Finally, the findings of relevant literature are analyzed to conclude and include in
literature review.

Apply these tips to write a good literature review:

i. You need to keep entire and exact records and references of what you
read and find during research.
ii. Learn the required citation style.
iii. Make notes or summaries of the articles, books journals, papers whatever
you read.
iv. You must infer and read between the lines when go through any written
v. Broaden your vision and develop your own ideas without worrying that it
might not be accepted. Just don’t be relaxed with copying previous work.
vi. Divide the literature review into different thematic parts which will help
you to focus.
vii. Read the leading published material and search for the current issues for
the latest information.

There is a wide range of sources to develop your literature review. These
resources include:

• Books • Conference proceedings

• Scholarly journals • Thesis
• Previous Research papers • Unpublished papers
• World wide web • Empirical studies
• Bibliographies • Historical records
• Encyclopedias
• Newspapers • Commercial reports

• Statistics • Government reports and

handbooks/information reports from other bodies


The following pattern is a very reasonable one to organize a literature review.


Define the topic, together with your reason for selecting the topic. You could also
point out overall trends, gaps, particular themes etc.

1. Body:

In body, you discuss your sources. There are some way to in which you
could organize your discussion:

a. Chronologically:

For example: If writers' views have a tendency to change over time.

There is little point in doing the review by order of publication
unless this demonstrates a clear style.

b. Thematically:

Here you can decide particular themes in the literature. For

example in the literature review of poverty and disability, the writer
can take the themes of the prevalence and structure of disability,
education, employment, income and poverty, causes of disability,
the path from poverty to disability and vice versa, and finally,
policies for disabled people.

c. Methodologically

In this way, the focus is on the methods of the researcher. For

example, qualitative versus quantitative approaches.

2. Conclusion:

Summarize the major contributions, evaluating the current position, and

pointing out flaws in methodology, gaps in the research, contradictions,
and areas for further study.
Literature Review Revision?

To revise and check of any flaw or lack in literature review, answer to these

• What is the specific thesis, problem, or research question that my

literature review helps to define?
• How good was my information seeking?
• Was my search wide enough to ensure the availability of relevant
• Did I narrow enough the literature review to leave out irrelevant material?
• Have I used suitable number of sources for the length?

• Have I critically analyzedthe literature I use?

• Hive I just summarized the material I read?
• Does it have my own thoughts and insight?
• Have I used the citation properly?
• Will the reader find my literature review appropriate, and useful?

Q# 2:- What is a Problem Statement and its significant

to research?

Research and development proposals, whether designed for master's theses,

doctoral dissertations, internal agency projects, or applications to external
funding sources, may be considered as responses to a problem. Despite the
obvious and integral link between the statement of the problem and the raison
d'être of the entire proposal, the nature of problems remains largely
unexplicated and the processes for generating problem statements are ignored
altogether or charged off as an intuitive activity that will become evident to the
neophyte inquirer as he gains experience and expertise in his craft. Research
texts devote sections to the methodology associated with carrying out the
inquiry, i.e., procedures, but will dispense with the problem with such peculiar
statements as:

"It is not always possible for the researcher to formulate his problem
simply, clearly, and completely. He often may only have a rather general,
diffuse, even confused, notion of the problem...a problem, then is an
interrogative sentence or statement that asks: What relation exists
between two or more variables?"

I would like to suggest that a problem statement is not general, diffuse,

confused, or simplistic; they get that way because the writer fails to grapple with
the essential elements. Neither is a coherent and functional problem statement
an interrogative sentence as Kerlinger suggests (and many university professors
believe); that is, a problem statement is not a question, although of necessity it
becomes the springboard for generating and presenting research questions in an
R&D proposal. A problem statement is a logical argument with structure,
sequence, substance and rationale.

It is a constant complaint among those who evaluate proposals that the

most frequent deficiency noted by them is the lack of a clear problem statement
to define and guide the inquiry. And the most frequent dilemna among graduate
students is their seemingly aimless search for a problem significant enough to
pursue and discrete enough to handle. More often than not, "problem
statements" take on the characteristics described by Kerlinger and proposals
end up looking like solutions in search of a problem to which they might become
attached. A well articulated statement of the problem establishes the foundation
for everything to follow in the proposal and will render less problematic most of
the conceptual, rhetorical and methodological obstacles typically encountered
during the process of proposal development. This means that, in subsequent
sections of the proposal, there should be no surprises, such as categories,
questions, varialbes or data sources that come out of nowhere: if it can't be
found in the problem section, at least at the implicit level, then it either does not
belong in the study or the problem statement needs to be re-written.


A problem is a situation resulting from the interaction or juxtaposition of

two or more factors (e.g., givens, constraints, conditions, desires, etc.) which
yields (1) a perplexing or enigmatic state, (2) an undesirable consequence, or (3)
a conflict which renders the choice from among alternative courses of action

A problem solution is an action which clarifies the perplexing or enigmatic

state, which alleviates or eliminates an undesirable consequence, or which
resolves the conflict or delineates the course of action to be taken.

The nature of the relationship between or among the factors generating the
problem may take any of several forms, e.g.:

1. provocative exception
2. contradictory evidence
3. moot alternatives, i.e., knowledge void
4. action-knowledge conflict
5. knowledge-action conflict
6. other


1. Establishing - to establish the existence of two or more juxtaposed
factors which, by their interaction produce an enigmatic or
perplexing state, yield an undesirable consequence, or result in a
conflict which renders the choice from among alternatives moot.

2. Relating - to relate the problem to its antecedents (i.e., educational,

scientific, social).
3. Justifying – to justify the utility, significance, or interest inherent in
the pursuit of the problem.


- Failure to establish the existence of a problem, e.g., raw statements like:
"The purpose of this project is to..."
"The question(s) to be investigated is..."
"The Acme Inventory of Dissertation Dementia will be used to..."
- Statement of a condition - "The number one problem in the country
today is inflation."

- The Boiler Plate problem

- The problem that has no history

- Parochialism - personal, institutional, disciplinary

- The "lick the world" statement

- The solution that makes no difference

- The justification without a problem


Principle Proposition

Ordinarily stated in the form of a given; a generalization; a generally

accepted proposition; a description of a condition; and less frequently, but
possibly, a goal. One example of a principal proposition in the category of a
description of a condition might be a brief literature based narrative review of
models of instruction that concludes with "so it can be seen that a wide variety
of models of instruction are available to teachers, some theoretical, some
empirically grounded...". Another might be a brief summary of the scientific
evidence that under girds Darwin's law of natural selection that ends with a
statement such as, "Therefore, all known species of flower either reproduce
through cross pollination, have evolved into self reproducing organisms, or they
become extinct."

Interacting Proposition

The interacting proposition is juxtaposed with the principle proposition to

form the second link in the argument establishing the existence of the problem
by contradicting, contravening, noting exceptions to, challenging, or casting
doubt upon the principal proposition. The interacting proposition frequently
assumes the form of:

1. provocative exception

2. conflicting evidence

3. knowledge void, incomplete knowledge

4. action-knowledge conflict or knowledge-action conflict

5. action-action conflict

6. theoretical conflict

7. theoretical-action conflict or knowledge conflict

In the category of action-knowledge conflict, using the example of the study of

models of instruction implied by the principal proposition given above, the
researcher might assert that,, "However, in spite of this vast array of possibilities
for more effectively organizing and delivering instruction available to teachers,
the dominant mode of instruction continues to be
lecture/demonstration/discussion...". This situation poses a perplexing state of
affairs, to wit; professional educators behave contrary to substantial evidence
that there are better courses of action. Why?

In the study of flowers implied by the principal proposition (above) about flowers
unerringly complying with Darwin's law, the researcher might note that, after
two decades of carefully labeling and observing 3,500 individual flowers in plots
of Pink Lady's Slipper orchids commonly found in New England, "this orchid is
entirely hostile to bees, only 23 instances of pollination have ever been
observed, none have become nectar producers to attract bees. and they have no
discernible means of self reproduction common to other plants with that
capability. Yet they continue to thrive far beyond the life expectancy of any
known variety when in fact all but 23 should be extinct." This orchid is an
enigma, a provocative exception to Darwin's law, and the researcher is well on
his way to a multi-million dollar National Science Foundation grant to resolve the
enigma of how it is that this particular plant can thrive in spite of the laws of
nature. But that grant will not be forthcoming until he/she identifies the most
fruitful focus for the investigation and the payoff that stands to be gained

Speculative Proposition

Examines or speculates about the most likely causes of the apparent

anomaly or conflict; sets the direction for the inquiry; completes the sentence,
"The principle and interacting proposition co-exist in my best judgment
because..." These speculations present to the reader and writer a menu of
choices from which to select a focus for the inquiry with the help of the
completion of a statement beginning like, "The most likely..." or "The most
promising..." or, "One plausible explanation is..." This element sets up the
opportunity to make a clear statement of the purpose of the project, but also is
suggestive of the major variables and categories to be more clearly articulated in
the overarching conceptual framework of the study (the basic design).

For example, in the study of teachers' instructional behavior, the researcher

might list out the variety of plausible explanations for the failure of teachers to
incorporate a variety of strategies into their repertoire of professional practices
(assuming the researcher has established that fact beyond raw assertion in the
first place). Plausible explanations could include; "it is likely that many just
simply don't know any better because their training did not provide them with
the knowledge and skill needed to maximize their performance;" or "there likely
are several factors inherent in the culture of school organization (such as...) that
mitigate against certain behaviors;" or "some teachers may be adept at
evaluating (and rejecting) certain innovative practices for response costs in
relation to payoffs in student outcomes." Given this menu, the researcher could
choose to focus on the nature of inservice and preservice professional education
programs for teachers, a study of factors in school culture and climate on the job
that control professional behavior, the concerns-based motivation of teachers
when faced with innovative choice adoption decisions, or some combination of
all of these. It is here that a statement like, "Therefore, the purpose of this study
is to..." would round out the logical argument that constitutes the statement of
the problem. That section ("Purpose of the Study") might start with a statement
of general purpose, augmented by a central objective and one or two major
research questions that provide sharper focus. (A more detailed delineation of
objectives, questions and/or hypotheses would ordinarily be included in the
section on methodology). The example above of teacher instructional behavior
discussed above is available here in an annotated form to demonstrate the
division of a problem statement into its component parts.

The format noted above generates the substantive dimensions of the

problem but leaves open the question of how the inquirer intends to grapple with
the established conflict. Figure 1, at the end of this section, picks up with the
substantive orientation of the problem and classifies the various response modes
available to the inquirer in responding to the problem, whether it be research,
development, program evaluation, etceteras. Click for a window to Figure 1.

Relating and Justifying Functions

During the course of problem statement development and identification of the

primary mode of response, the inquirer is responsible for relating the problem to
its antecedents. Problems do not exist in vacua, but stem from particular
circumstances. The juxtaposed factors constituting the problem have histories;
these may be of a scientific, social, educational, economic, etc., origin. It is not
the purpose here to thoroughly describe the context of the proposal: That is
accomplished through a treatment of the related research. What is necessary is
a sufficient description of antecedents to put the statement in perspective so
that the researcher and the reader will be able to appreciate the problem in the
tradition of inquiry of which it is a part. This was accomplished in part by a brief
introductory discussion with enough key citations to establish "which forest we
are in" followed by the core elements of the problem statement itself which
identifies "some of the major trees."

A final function of the problem section of the proposal is to justify the utility,
significance, or interest of the problem. Resources and time are always scarce. It
is of great importance from the point of view of a potential funding agency or a
graduate student's advisor (or committee) and from the researcher's own point
of view, that priority be given to problems of urgency or utility.

Obviously, if problems are to be assessed for their significance, some criteria

must be brought to bear. These criteria include, among others, heuristic value,
improved programmatic sequencing, social utility, scientific interest, and the
convenience and concern of the researcher or developer. These criteria will later
be defined in a discussion of proposal objectives. In any case, a statement or
paragraph describing what stands to be gained by investigating the problem is a
vital ingredient for the reader in further understanding the problem and its
applicability to professional practice, or empirical knowledge, and for the writer
in making decisions about whether, how, and to what extent to proceed.

The justification or statement of significance can easily be generated if the writer

remembers that his/her study is a proposed solution to the problem: that is, it
alleviates consequences posed by the existence of the problem, such as a
conflict between knowledge and practice. Problem consequences are cognitive,
psychological, valuational and practical and they are experienced by people
(administrators, teachers, scientists, minorities...) and programs (planning,
curriculum, policy, clinical interventions...). List them out, then write a paragraph
or two based on the list describing to what and for whom undesirable
consequences accrue. The natural next step is the inverse; an assertion of what
stands to be gained, by who, and how, as a result of successful completion and
dissemination of the study. In dissertations, this is a section typically labeled
Significance of the Study.

The problem statement, in its entirety, is an internally consistent logical

argument having structure, sequence and rationale. Although I have said that a
problem statement is not a question, a problem statement necessarily leads into
at least one central research question or objective from which numerous
research questions and/or hypotheses could be generated. Like other sections of
the proposal, it will in all likelihood, be rewritten a number of times as the
development of each subsequent section provides the writer with a more
informed, sharper vantage point from which to critically view the proposal as a
coherent, internally consistent creation in its entirety, incrementally and
retrospectively. This is one fact of academic life that makes writing both a
challenge and painful endeavor for most of us.

Another point to underscore is the need to avoid the temptation to overwrite:

Most problem statements, particularly those written for dissertation proposals,
are best limited to three to five or six pages. To be sure, other elements that
should or could be included in the same section with the problem statement,
such as definition of terms, a listing of variables, limitations and delimitations,
may expand the length of the section beyond five pages or so, but the problem
statement itself should be fairly compact and succinct.

While I'm at it, one of the things mentioned in the previous paragraph --definition
of terms-- is a feature of dissertation culture that won't die but probably should.
If you use terminology in the problem statement narrative with which readers
(and you) are likely to have difficulty nailing down with regard to the precise
meaning, make every effort to weave the meaning into the narrative where it
occurs naturally or deal with it in locations where operational definitions are
required (e.g., procedures). Typically, doctoral dissertation committee members
will receive a proposal with a "Definition of Terms" section tacked on at the end
of the section where it is too late and out of context from the reader's point of
view, and they are forced to flip pages in pursuit of that enlightenment. See
Gall, Borg & Gall, p. 96 (1996) on this issue.


Here is a link to the header and first few paragraphs from an article published by
Harold Wiglensky in Educaton Policy Analysis Archives. Using the discussion
above, identify the essential ingredients of a problem statement and try to
articulate the logic of the argument he uses to establish the existence of the
problem. How are the functions of the problem statement reflected in this
example? Here is another by George Kuh of Indiana University from the same

Supplementary Readings

Gall, Meredith, Borg, Walter & Gall, Joyce (2003). Educational Research: An
Introduction (Chapter 2), Allyn and Bacon (Seventh Edition).

Kaplan, Abraham (1964). The Conduct of Inquiry (Chapter 1). San Francisco:

Kerlinger, Fred (1986). Foundations of Behavioral Research (Chapter 2). New

York: Holt, Reinhart and Winston (Third Edition).

Marshall, Catherine and Rossman, Gretchen (1989; 1995). Designing Qualitative

Research (Chapter 2). Newbury Park, CA: Sage.

Merriam, Sharan (1988). Case Study Research in Education. San Francisco, CA:
Jossey-Bass, ch. 3.

Rudestam. K. & Newton, R. (1992). Surviving Your Dissertation: A

Comprehensive Guide to Content and Process. Newberry Park, CA: Sage.

A suggestion is made to consult a catalog from Sage Publications. Sage markets

the most comprehensive collection of references in the field of social science
research available anywhere in the world -- and some of the best!!

1. This having been said, Kerlinger was none the less a pioneer and giant among
behavioral scientists. Note also that the authors of an otherwise useful text
(Ruderstam & Newton, 1992), are just as unclear on this issue. They, however,
have some excellent suggestions for doctoral students seeking a topic worthy of

Figure 1. Response Taxonomy for Problem Statements