The literature review has a two-fold purpose: to justify the focus of your study and to provide a rationale for your methodological approach. To do both effectively, you need to engage in considerable synthesis and critical analysis of current research in your field.
Synthesis will allow you to address inconsistencies in existing research and shed light on contradictions that point to the need for your study. You want to avoid summary of individual studies. While discussed in depth, they will ultimately be used to drive an ideas-based argument for your own original research.
Critical analysis is necessary for exploring the strengths and weaknesses of recent studies in your field, particularly as those studies help you to better understand and discuss existing inconsistencies and conflicts. However, and regardless of whether you’re conducting quantitative or qualitative research (or a mixed methods study!), analysis is a critical part of justifying your proposed study’s methodological approach.
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