Friday, 13 October 2017

Getting a literature review to flow

If we are writing a literature review for a new business idea, our writing should explore the background; the environment that our business will reside in. We do that by drawing a concept map which explores areas adjacent to our main business idea, and by scoping; deciding what is in and what is outside our business boundaries. Similar businesses are explored, testing the literature to see if there are flaws in our idea. Our literature review seeks ideas, frameworks and improvements to our existing concept. It may explore theories, it may explore other entrepreneurs who have set up similar styles, themes, or types of businesses. It informs our choices.

To illustrate this, perhaps our business idea is to create a mobile maintenance service, yet we consider exploring the long term health impacts of being users of the items that we are planning to maintain. Perhaps there is some tenuous medical evidence of cancers or bone degeneration from long term use. However, we aren't going to be using these items: we are only going to be repairing them. When we look at it this way, we can see that this medical information is outside the scope of our business model. We cannot affect the health effects, and, unless there is a very clear danger to our intended staff, we shouldn't waste time and trouble analysing something that cannot possibly help us run our business.

So how should we tackle our literature review? I have a cunning plan!
  1. Watch the concept mapping video here to understand how to create a concept map.
  2. Draw our own concept map, and decide what is in and what is outside the scope of our business idea. Talk with someone knowledgeable to help us decide what is "in" our topic area, and what is "out" (inclusion and exclusion criteria). This is 'scoping', and we really need someone who will try to poke holes in our idea. This testing will help us ensure that we include everything we need, but cut the fat.
  3. Once we have our concept map, we draw keywords from it, then we look for related literature on GoogleScholar and in our library databases. We need to be sure that we look for the 'right stuff', so we should watch the literature review video here so we focus on academic literature. 
  4. Then we need to analyse the literature we collect: we have to extract evidence from the papers we have found. I have a video to help us work out the purpose, structure and check points of putting a literature review together here
  5. Then we need to synthesise our literature: we have to smooth, to compile and to structure our evidence in order to draw conclusions.
  6. We also have to remember to reference correctly, aiming for at least one citation per paragraph. You may find the following video helps you here.
    Good luck!


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