Literature Review Writing

After writing my literature review for TECH621, there are several items I would like to mention. Some comments, some questions, and probably some excuses.

First, in class today, it was asked if anyone had compiled a Research Question yet. I was somewhat surprised of the uncertainty of hands. I can’t imagine how anyone could ever write a literature review without one. I had a tremendous struggle trying to decide what to do. I read articles, came up with a research question, read more articles, scrapped my research question, lather, rinse, repeat. I must have done away with fully-formed research questions at least four times, each one causing me more stress than the last. I went from wanting to discover the way changes in design affected user participation in SNS, to exploring which Facebook features attracted which specific demographic the most. But I knew I didn’t have time to conduct surveys for that knowledge, and I knew my time was dwindling.

My cat providing moral support through this stressful endeavor. ❤

Second, I’m ultimately unsure if the research topic I chose was a good one. I wanted to focus on the design of social network sites because I’m interested in it, and I knew I had to use Radian 6, so I tried to come up with ways I could come up with data from that. With help, I came up with the idea of using the comments and complaints of Facebook users on the design changes of their website. But if that was my answer, what was my question?

After more tossing of possible research questions, I finally decided that I wanted to contribute to future designs of SNS, and came up with the topic of discovering what features of SNS do Facebook users value most. I felt pretty confident about it. One of the first article we read in class were about SNS, and I was able to find that same article referenced in many related papers. That is, I felt confident until last Sunday, when I discovered a single detailed article on users and their gratifications toward using Facebook and it’s features. It was a 2008 study, and truth be told, I’m a little scared that it’s too recent to say that it’s not timely enough.

Granted, Facebook has gone through two redesigns since 2008, bringing about new features such as the “Like” button, Usernames, Places, and Questions. But is that enough to say that another experiment is in order? Could I possibly leverage my point with the innovative methodology of using Radian 6 to acquire data? I’m not exactly sure how I would go about that though.

Ultimately, I tried what I could, but I feel that my finished review was not as strong as I had hoped. Perhaps it’s because it is my first time writing one on my one. Perhaps it’s because I couldn’t read effectively enough despite the tips I received. Regardless, what I’m hoping for most is feedback on how to get better. I focused on making my topic transitions smooth and logical, hoping that I was making a point that was getting across, but I feel that there are other topics I should have touched on, without really knowing what those topics were.

I talked about SNS and their definition, the popularity of Facebook and its many design changes, how changes in design alters user perception and use, and then the findings from the 2008 study that was most related to my own topic. I stressed that technology changes quickly and the importance of keeping up with that trend. I mentioned the value of users’ comments and the benefit of the study for designers.

But what other topics should I have covered to support my point? Which part of the topics I did cover should I have provided sources on? Or should I focus on tweaking the research question I have now to go a different direction?

I’m taking away a lot from this class but not without struggles, so if you have input please share. 🙂 Thanks in advance.


7 thoughts on “Literature Review Writing

  1. Laura, struggles are a normal part of the process. No one teaches you about the emotional work involved in these assignments. I tried to share some in my blog posts.

    I will keep these questions in mind, and will do my best to provide guidance on your literature review.

    • You’re posts were very helpful, and assured me that I was not alone in these frustrations. I think when it came to reading, the stress would get the better of me and distract me from the material now and again, which caused complications.

      I really do think that the exercise on Tuesday was beneficial as well – I think the biggest thing I took away from it was that I need to print out my sources. Finding the different information was MUCH easier. But I wonder if some of that was due to how well the article was structured, which was unlike many of the ones I had found…

      • Many empirical research articles follow a similar structure, once you get used to it, you start seeing it, even if they change it a bit. I realize no one seems to talk about the emotional work involved in doing research… I will try to write more about it.

  2. That’s part of the big push (and secretly why I hate writing literature reviews sometimes). Ultimately, the frightening thing is when your questions start becoming more questionable than you anticipated. This is my fourth literature review that I’ve written, and none of them have come easy…actually, most of them supported minimal sleeping. 😦

    The first one is ALWAYS the hardest, because despite all the examples and ideas out there, there is no one to determine what will suite you best in conveying data and support of said needed data. My first one happened to be for my thesis, and I was afraid to get sources, afraid that I was citing people incorrectly, afraid that someone was going to read it, and email me telling me that they never said anything I claimed that did. Then, I starting doubting my own writing ability-even though that’s what got me IN to grad school. Realize too that this is just phase one: you will most likely revise, revise, revise it some more, and then when you’re about finish, revise it again. It just happens, because as you do the work, you’ll stop and realize “wait a minute, this is happening, but I have no support for it.. Crap!” or “I think I could have supported that much stronger…” It’s stressful, and your thoughts are normal, and healthy. 🙂

    I think that if you’re contributing to SNS reform, the things you mentioned about what the population wants is key. A lot of complaining revolves around Facebook and their constant changes (which spurs a vast pool of questions about security, legal issues, sentiment, etc.), so focusing on them I think would be a good start. Check back to the study from 2008 and see how they collected data-can you actually build an argument for why your methodology is stronger? Can you link to that paper and support anything that reveals limitations that they couldn’t address? That’s how I would approach it.

    You’ll be fine, and you’ll make it. Sending you lots of eHugs! *squishies* 😀

    • Thanks Vanessa, your comments and support are MUCH appreciated! Your approach sounds like a great idea and I’ll be sure to try and implement it. I’ll also be sure and check out that blog you supplied. Thanks again. 😀

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