2.1 Why is a review of literature important?
“A methodological review of past literature is a crucial endeavor for any academic research” (Webster & Watson, 2002: 48-49). “The need to uncover what is already known in the body of knowledge prior to initiating any research study should not be underestimated” (Hart, 1998). A literature review discusses published information in a particular subject area, and sometimes information in a particular subject area within a certain time period. It can be just a simple summary of the sources, but it usually has an organizational pattern and combines both summary and synthesis, often within specific conceptual categories. A summary is a recap of the important information of the source, but a synthesis is a re-organization, or a reshuffling, of that information in a way that informs how the researcher is planning to investigate a research problem. It might give a new interpretation of old material or combine new with old interpretations. Or it might trace the intellectual progression of the field, including major debates. And depending on the situation, the literature review may evaluate the sources and advise the reader on the most pertinent or relevant. The format of the literature review may vary from discipline to discipline, and from assignment to assignment, but the purpose is standard: critical analysis of a body of knowledge through summation and comparison.
What is a Literature Review?
Novice researchers tend to approach the literature review as nothing more than a collection of summaries of papers or an elaborated annotated bibliography of multiple research manuscripts (Webster & Watson, 2002). A meaningful literature review is much more. Hart (1998: 1), defined the literature review as “the use of ideas in the literature to justify the particular approach to the topic, the selection of methods, and demonstration that this research contributes something new”. He also noted that for the literature review, “quality means appropriate breadth and depth, rigor and consistency, clarity and brevity, and effective analysis and synthesis” (Hart, 1998: 1). J. Shaw (1995:326), pointed out that the process of the review should “explain how one piece of research builds on another”. Webster and Watson (2002), defined an effective literature review as one that “creates a firm foundation for advancing knowledge. It facilitates theory development, closes areas where a plethora of research exists, and uncovers areas where research is needed” (p. 13). From these definitions it is clear that an effective literature review should include the following characteristics: a) methodologically analyze and synthesize quality literature, b) provide a firm foundation to a research topic, c) provide a firm foundation to the selection of research methodology, and d) demonstrate that the proposed research contributes something new to the overall body of knowledge or advances the research field’s knowledge-base.
A literature review is a summary of previous research on a topic. The literature review surveys scholarly articles, books, and other sources relevant to a particular area of research or interest. Within the review the author provides a description, summary and critical evaluation of each source, i.e. the strengths and weaknesses. The literature review may also identify gaps or controversies in the literature and topics needing further research.
The purpose of a literature review
To place each work in the context of its contribution to understanding the research problem being studied; to describe the relationship of each work to the others under consideration; to identify new ways to interpret prior research; to reveal any gaps that exist in the literature; to resolve conflicts amongst seemingly contradictory previous studies; to identify areas of prior scholarship to prevent duplication of effort; to point the way in fulfilling a need for additional research; and to locate the researcher’s own research within the context of existing literature.
The analytical features of a literature review might give a new interpretation of old material or combine new with old interpretations; trace the intellectual progression of the field, including major debates. Depending on the situation, evaluate the sources and advise the reader on the most pertinent or relevant research, or usually in the conclusion of a literature review, identify where gaps exist in how a problem has been researched to date.
The Importance of Literature Review
1. It creates a rapport with the researcher’s audience
A literature review helps the researcher to create a sense of rapport with the audience or readers so they can trust that the researcher have done his/her homework. As a result, the audience or readers can give the researcher credit for his/her due diligence: he/she has done his/her fact-finding and fact-checking mission, one of the initial steps of any research writing.
As a student, the researcher may not be an expert in a given field; however, by listing a thorough review in his/her research paper, he/she’s telling the audience, in essence, that he/she know what he/she’s talking about. As a result, the more books, articles, and other sources the researcher can list in the literature review, the more trustworthy the scholarship and expertise will be. Depending on the nature of researcher’s paper, each entry can be long or short. The key for a researcher, is to stick to the gist of the sources as synthesize the source in the review: its thesis, research methods, findings, issues, and further discussions mentioned in the source.
2. It helps the researcher avoid incidental plagiarism
A literature review helps the researcher to identify a published paper on topic very similar to him/her before publishing his/her own paper. Of course, the researcher have not plagiarized anything from that publication; however, if and when he/she publish his/her work, people will be suspicious of authenticity. They will ask further about the significance of repeating similar research. However, the researcher could have utilized the time, money, and other resources that have been wasted on the research to something else. If the researcher could had prepared a literature review at the onset of the research, he/she could have easily avoided such mishap. During the compilation of the review, the researcher could have noticed how someone else has done similar research on the topic. By knowing this fact, the researcher can tailor or tweak his/her own research in such a way that it is not a mere rehashing of someone else’s original or old idea.
3. It give the researcher a deep understanding of things happening in their natural setting
As the researcher assemble outside sources, he/she will condense, evaluate, synthesize, and paraphrase the gist of outside sources in his/her own words. Through this process of winnowing, the researcher will be able to place the relevance of the research in the larger context of what others researchers have already done on the past topic.
The literature review will help the researcher to compare and contrast what he/she’s doing in the historical context of the research as well as how the research is different or original from what others have done, helping him/her rationalize the importance of doing this particular research.
Perhaps the researcher might be using a new or different research method which has not been available before, allowing him/her to collect the data more accurately or conduct an experiment that is more precise and exact thanks to many innovations of modern technology. Thus, it is essential in helping him/her shape and guide his/her research in the direction he/she may not have thought of by offering insights and different perspectives on the research topic.
A literature review goes beyond the search for information and includes the identification and articulation of relationships between the literature and the field of research. While the form of the literature review may vary with different types of studies, the basic purposes remain constant since it:
• provides a context for the research
• justifies the research
• ensures the research hasn’t been done before (or that it is not just a “replication study”)
• shows where the research fits into the existing body of knowledge
• enables the researcher to learn from previous theory on the subject
• illustrates how the subject has been studied previously
• highlights flaws in previous research
• outlines gaps in previous research
• shows that the work is adding to the understanding and knowledge of the field
• helps refine, refocus or even change the topic
2.2 Can a sound review help research move beyond commonly accepted wisdom? How?
The word “sound” implies that something is safe, strong, and secure, like the foundation of a building, the very structure upon which a whole edifice is built. Sound foundations are solid, stand firm, and resist direct attacks, while weak foundations crumble over time or cannot withstand the assault of a competing theory or contradictory piece of evidence. Sound is a constitutive part of diverse media and communicative practices in contemporary society. “Sound” also implies that something is healthy and vibrant — science that spawns new hypotheses and directions for further research. Unsound research is weak, lacks fitness, and is unable to thrive. The connections made between “sound” and “methodology” creates mental frames that simply do not coincide with how researchers actually evaluate methodology.
According to Bull ; Back (2003), sound review remains significantly under researched as a form of communication, as a modality of experience, and as a resource for cultural expression and social action, even if recent years have witnessed a revitalized interest internationally in the area This is in spite of the centrality of sound in most media and communicative practices, including face-to-face interaction and digital networks. This type of review revisits previous research on three sound prototypes i.e., speech, music, and environmental soundscapes; which has mostly been undertaken in separate disciplines such as rhetoric, philology, linguistics, classical musicology, popular music studies, architecture, discourse analysis, and many more.
When using a sound research review, risks to subjects are minimized. For instance, (i) by using procedures which are consistent with sound research design and which do not unnecessarily expose subjects to risk, and (ii) whenever appropriate, by using procedures already being performed on the subjects for diagnostic or treatment purposes.” At present, ordinary media users are in position, not only to receive, but also to send diverse forms of auditory, visual, as well as textual information. Users are becoming senders in new configurations of one-to-one, one-to-many, and, increasingly, many-to-many communication. Sound review allows the researcher to close the gap by using different findings of events. (Rynes, in press), pointed out that for researchers, there is evidence that closer links to practice provide access to high quality data, and that the amount of researcher time in the field is associated with greater academic citations as well as greater practitioner use of the findings. The researchers should develop an evidence-based on sound review capabilities in order to connect with the knowledge they need to become more effective. Therefore, it is in the self- interest of researcher to close the relevance gap, because he/she will then be better able to accomplish his/her purposes. Relevance should be a defining characteristic of rigor in the study of organizations (Starkey, Hatcheul, & Tempest, 2009) and should become one of the standards of excellence in the field (Hambrick, 2007; Mohrman et al., 1999).
Sound review creates a better platform for analyzing the existing information. Researchers reviewed existing information with the aim of spotting gaps and, based on that, formulate specific research questions. Gap-spotting is of course not something absolute but varies in both size and complexity: from incrementally extending an established theory to identifying more significant gaps in existing literature. Three basic modes of gap-spotting are identified; namely, confusion, neglect and application spotting. The focus of confusion spotting is to spot some kind of confusion in existing information within the sound. For example, the researcher may found that previous information on the topic exists, but available evidence is contradictory. The research question aims to sort out the identified confusion of the information and to explain it. The main version of this mode of constructing research questions was to search for competing explanations of the existing information within the sound. Spotting something neglected in existing information is the most common mode of constructing research questions. It tries to identify a topic or an area where no (good) research has been carried out. There is virgin territory—a white spot on the sound map—that produces an imperative for the alert researcher to develop sound about the neglected area(s). It is possible to distinguish three specific versions of neglect spotting, namely, spotting an over-listened area, an under-researched area and a lack of empirical support. The most common version of neglect spotting was to search for aspects in existing information that have been over-listened despite a wealth of studies. Musson and Tietze’s (2004) study, stated that ‘Places and spaces: The role of metonymy in organizational talk’ can be seen as representative of the overlooked version of neglect spotting.
Based on a sound of existing review, researchers conclude that while cultural meaning making in sound information is an established area of research, the discursive mechanics of the process in which meaning is created and maintained have been largely over-listened in existing sound information. They then go on to claim that ‘they will address this gap by carrying out a metonymical analysis of sound information’. Searching for under-researched areas in existing sound information is another common version of neglect spotting. A good representative of this route is Corley and Goia’s (2004) study of ambiguity in organizational identity change in corporate spin-offs. They review the organizational change literature and conclude that a strong bias exists in the literature toward empirical examinations of additive types of changes, such as mergers and assimilations. Much less attention has been paid to studying subtractive changes like downsizing or spin-offs. ‘Even a cursory review of the change literature reveals a strong bias toward additive changes … changes involving subtraction, such as spin-offs, equity carve-outs, and de-mergers have been understudied’ (Corley and Goia’s, 2004: 174). They further specify their research question by reviewing existing literature on organizational identity in general, and organizational identity change in particular. In their review they found that ‘although past research has provided insight into why organizational identities change … it has not provided adequate insight into how organizational identity change can occur’ (Corley and Goia, 2004: 174, emphasis in original). Thus, they set out to study how organizational identity changes occur in spin-off organizations. A similar but different version of neglect spotting is to search for areas in existing information that lack empirical support. For example, in reviewing the literature on organizational learning, Dyck et al. (2005), came to the conclusion that most of the theoretical concepts and models that were supposed to capture the nature of organizational learning have had little empirical support. This led them to study the extent to which current key concepts and models of organizational learning have been empirically supported.
Spotting a new application in existing information is a third basic mode of constructing research questions. It searches mainly for a shortage of a particular perspective in a specific area of research. The research task is to provide an alternative perspective to further an understanding of the particular subject matter in question. Typically, advocates of application spotting claim that a specific body of literature needs to be extended or complemented in some way or another. An example of this version can be found in Watson’s (2004) study ‘HRM and critical social science analysis’.
Sound review allows the researcher to broaden his/her research study. Without denying the relevance of gap-spotting, it is important to loosen up the set of social norms that strongly encourage researchers to use and internalize gap-spotting as the preferred way of constructing research questions from existing information. In particular, given that challenging the assumptions which underlie existing information is a recognized aspect of what makes a sound information interesting and influential, it seems motivated to broaden the researchers’ norms and methodological guidelines for sound production so they not only encourage gap-spotting, but also enable and actively promote the development of approaches that focus carefully and critically on assumptions, worldviews, perspectives, conventions, selective language and other elements in formulating research questions.
Sound review may arouse profound emotions of people. During social interactions, people tend to automatically align with their interactor’s facial expressions, vocalizations, postures and other bodily states. A great deal of the sound attraction comes from its “emotional powers”. That is, people tend to value sound because it expresses and induces emotions. While emotion as a field has often been standing in the shadows of its bigger brother, cognition (i.e., research on “higher” mental processes of information processing such as thinking and decision making), research on emotion is finally on the rise again, (Juslin &Sloboda, 2001a). It is a topic that is often approached with ambivalence. A common sentiment is that too much knowledge may “destroy the magic”. Yet time cannot be reversed, and sound is already used to manipulate the emotions of listeners in many areas of society (e.g., in advertising). (Neal and Chartrand, 2011; Stel and van Knippenberg, 2008; Wood et al., 2016) argued that a potential mechanism that allows humans to recognize and share emotions is automatic mimicry (Decety and Lamm, 2006; Schuler et al., 2016; Singer and Lamm, 2009). Automatic mimicry is defined as the unconscious or automatic imitation of speech and movements, gestures, facial expressions and eye gaze (for an extensive review see Chartrand and van Baaren, 2009).
The survival of the ancient ancestors depended on their ability to detect patterns in sounds, derive meaning from them, and adjust their behavior accordingly. Patel (2008) pointed out that, human beings are unparalleled in their ability to make sense out of sound. Such an ecological perspective on sound and emotion forms the basis of a recent multi-level framework that aims to explain emotional responses to sound in terms of a large set of psychological mechanisms. However, the emotions aroused by a piece of sound represent only one out of several aspects of sound experience (e.g., physical, perceptual, cognitive, personal, social, and existential aspects) that may or may not occur in any individual instance of sound listening. Juslin at el (2008), pointed out that, at the current stage of data collection, it appears that ‘every day emotions’ are more common in music listening, particularly if the prevalence estimates are based on representative samples of participants or situations. The emotions are adaptive because of their ability to quickly evaluate what is happening in the environment.
Above all that makes a sound information interesting and influential, there might be challenges come along. Creating a sound review can be seen as an inherently complex task, demanding the designer to understand, master and balance technology, human perception, aesthetics and semiotics. However, if sound review not carried out well, the researcher might not achieve his/her objectives. For example, it requires a proper operating system which demand a lot of money to purchase the relevant equipment. Few tools are needed in order to meet the needs of the research designer or developer incorporating sound as design material. To attend to this situation, software systems, number of methods and guidelines are needed to develop the sound. Sometimes the operating system of the sound might need to be changed. Installing a new component in a sound system is like bringing home a new puppy. Sometimes, the addition fits in as if it’s always been there; some other times, accommodating it requires a lot of time and effort. For example, you may found that some gears installed has immediately improved the system’s sound or, at least, provided a perspective on the sound just as valid if different from that of the component it replaced. Other gears may require changes up and down the chain to bring the sound system back into pleasing balance. Therefore, as long as the research is technically correct or scientifically sound, then, the information will be published.
A review of literature is important because without it the researcher will not acquire an understanding of the topic, of what has already been done on it, how it has been researched, and what the key issues are. By using the “sound methodology” metaphor, the only difference between articles published in top journals and those appearing in archival journals is, to paraphrase what an editor thought was interesting and would attract readers. In this essay a definition of literature review was given, the purpose has been discussed, followed by a description of various importance of research, and how can a sound review help research move beyond commonly accepted wisdom is discussed.