1 oxford brookes university u08096 project note 3

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  • Oxford Brookes University

    U08096 Project

    Note 3

  • SupervisorVincent Ching


  • Note 3Literature Search

  • Learning OutcomesUnderstand the process of literature surveys.Define and conduct a literature survey.Manage the information obtained during a literature search.Understand how to conduct a critical evaluation.Write a literature review.

  • Literature surveyto ascertain current knowledge in the field.finds out what has been researched and written about the subject so far, and then proceeds with a critique or re-interpretation of the material or perhaps an evaluation of it using a different perspective or theoretical framework.

  • IntroductionIn computing projects students often think that as long as they write a good piece of software or develop a good design then it does not matter much about the written elements. This view is quite wrong and ignores the fact that the project is a distinct learning element and must therefore be complete and coherent.

  • Purpose of Literature ReviewPreparation this is about preparing YOUR mind for studyRefinement - to refine your research questions.Focus - to focus on key ideas identified by other sources.Duplication - to avoid repeating work that has already been done by others.Methods - to identify methods and strategies that might be useful in your own project.

  • Purpose of Literature ReviewAdd value to all those papers you have read.Explain how the many ideas of others have led up to and have contributed to your research problem.Show you know the literature.Gives a historical perspective.Leads into the problem you wish to tackle.Describes related works.Gives a new view of the problem.

  • Literature ReviewTherefore your review should be a relevant, clear, coherent and concise argument that leads to a description of your proposed area of study. A literature review is built from a series of arguments, which in total lead to a conclusion.

  • Purpose of Literature ReviewFinally, the review is like a mini project in itself. In general its form will be: Analysis of the your project idea so that it is clearly understood.Assembly of important facts and ideas.Synthesis (putting together) of those facts and ideas into a convincing argument.

  • Literature SearchingUnder discipline research you are expected to use library, the internet or other information sources to fully research your topic area.

  • FindThe first step is to use keywords to search various library or on-line catalogues for potentially useful information and ideas. For example, in an Inventory Management scheme one might use the following keywords to search sequentially: Inventory Management, Inventory Control, Asset Management, Access 2000, ASP and so on. You will find useful information and this in turn will give you further keywords and allow you to get deeper into the subject area. It is very important that you carefully record where each piece of information came from.

  • EvaluateSources where did the information come from and how reliable is that source. As a rule journal articles and books are a good source whilst web sites, newspaper articles, magazine articles must be treated with caution because there is no control over content.Content essentially one is trying to decide whether the material is sound technically and academically.Useful asking if the material is useful in the project.

  • DiscussOnce you have found and evaluated the material you need to include it in your project documentation by discussing it in context. That is to show how it applies to and supports (or does not support), illustrates or clarifies your project theme or idea.

  • CiteIn general you use the material to illustrate a point of view or support an argument you are making. It is very important that you use the material you find and that you cite it correctly. If you do not cite your research it will be assumed that you did not do any and you will lose marks.

  • Initial ResearchThe foundation of your work will be a literature survey which is made up of:Literature Search - that is the mechanics of looking for, sorting, understanding and digesting research material that is available.Literature Review - is your written understanding, critical evaluation, conceptualisation and presentation of the totality of the material you have obtained. Referencing - how to cite the material you want to use.

  • Rationale for Literature Survey Preparation that is you are preparing YOUR mind with all you need to know to carryout your project. Justification - in that it shows your project has worth and the area it covers is recognisable and meaningful and that you have something worthwhile to add to it.

  • Rationale for Literature Survey Contextualisation - in that your project is set within an area of interest and you will say how it fits into that area and possibly contributes to wider issues.Further Work - it is possible that what you do can be carried on and extended by later researchers. In such a case the literature review will allow others to see the foundations upon which your own work is built and therefore give them confidence in how you have extended it.

  • The Literature Survey ProcessDefinition - essentially this sets initial boundaries on your search in that it identifies topics in which you are interested, usually in the form of Keywords.Systematic - the searches must be logical and structured in the way they look for published materials. You should note that we are looking for published material: not someone's idea, not your own assumptions or guesses. Techniques - there are many techniques such as relevance trees or spider diagrams.

  • The Literature Survey ProcessFocus - as you search you will be able to sharpen your search and concentrate on some key topic areas.Critical Evaluation - it is very likely that your searches will uncover all sorts of information so if the task is to be managed you will have to evaluate each element. Refinement - the process is iterative in that after an initial survey one has 'more questions than answers' and therefore you need to reflect on what you have learned. At this stage you might want to broaden your search, narrow it further or even start again with a new set of keywords.

  • Relevance TreeA "relevance tree" is an analytic technique that subdivides a broad topic into increasingly smaller subtopics. The output is a pictorial representation with a hierarchical structure that shows how a given topic can be subdivided into increasingly finer levels of detail.A relevance tree looks much like an organizational chart and presents information in a hierarchical structure. The hierarchy begins at a high level of abstraction and descends with greater degrees of detail in succeeding levels of the tree. The entries at a particular level, when taken together, are intended to describe completely the item to which they are connected in the level above.

  • Spider DiagramsSpider diagrams are an excellent way to condense a lot of information onto one page, and can be an invaluable aid to revision.

  • The Literature Survey ProcessObviously at some stage one has to stop and write your review. However, you should always lookout for relevant materials throughout the life of the project.

  • SourcesThere are a large number of sources as follows: books, journals, conference proceedings, CD-ROM, reports, other projects, theses, manuals, software and so on.

  • Finding InformationThe best place to start is in a library where they will not only have a good book and journal collection but will also have search tools and people with specialised knowledge who can help you formulate your own search strategy. Some common tools are:Internet - Two good search engines are:http://www.yahoo.co.uk/http://www.infoseek.com/

  • Finding InformationThere are also many publishers of journals which offer search facilities, e.g.:http://www.elsevier.nlYou could also look at newsgroups and mailservers, e.g.http://www.mailbase.ac.uk

  • Finding InformationOPAC (online Public Access Catalogue) - These systems will almost always allow you to search by keyword, author, title and so on. E.g.:http://opac97.bl.uk/ (British Library)http://copac.ac.uk/copac/ (Access other Universities libraries)BIDS (Bath Information Data Services) - This is a database that contains up-to-date abstracts and articles from several journals and conferences. It is a subscription service but most institutions have access rights.http://bids.ac.uk/

  • Finding InformationInter-library Loans - This is a very useful service and allows you to see almost any published materials because someone will have a copy. However, there is usually a charge for this service.Online Book Stores these are very good sources to search using keywords one of the best is abebooks.com.

  • Managing The InformationIt makes sense to have some means of managing and controlling the information gathered otherwise you will lose sight of important articles or have articles which you cannot cite properly because you have lost the full reference.

  • Managing The InformationOpen a good filing system - this might be a database or ring binder or other similar device for indexing and storing the material you find.Indexing - you can use a database system based on something like a relevance tree or a propriety archival package (see http://www.risinc.com).

  • Managing The InformationFormat - there are several standards for recording references and you will need to use one of them and you are advised to record all references properly at all times.Notes - as you read each article make notes, u