How to Review Literature
Dr Adnan Farooqui
The third day of the research methodology workshop started with the lecture on “How to Review Literature” by Dr Adnan Farooqui, Assistant Professor, Department of Political Science, Jamia Millia Islamia. He spoke at length about the conceptual understanding of the review of literature, and demarcated it from mixing of facts.
Delineating the process of reviewing the literature, Dr Farooqui asserted that review of literature lays down a larger theoretical framework for research in any field, and helps the researcher to identify knowledge gap.
Further, enumerating the steps to be taken during literature review, he also noted that this process helps in authenticating the research arguments as well as the overall research process, in addition to identifying and acknowledging the academic contribution in respective field. Literature should connect various nodes of the research topic.
Besides, he observed that literature should be stated in chronological manner as it’s designed in a structural format to reflect an explanatory approach rather than a narrative. It shouldn’t revolve around the periphery of research objectives rather it should elaborate the methods in which academic literature have addressed the existing research topic.
While summarising that literature review helps to attain conceptual clarity about various research methods to be adopted, Dr Farooqui concluded that literature is cardinal in creating to edifice the research theme on the basis of which further analysis can be conducted.
Empiricism and Research
Prof. Biswajit Das
In the last session on the third day of the workshop, Prof. Biswajit Das delivered the lecture on ‘Empiricism and Research’ with specific emphasis on communication. He began with the concern that of late research, particularly in communication and media studies are not explanatory in nature. It is guided by the aspects of measurement in the name of scientific verifiability.
With these words, he mapped the theoretical trajectory of communication research and methodological issues involved. He said that earlier theoretical tradition was guided by the metaphor of ‘society as an organism’. In the heydays of positivism, the body-society metaphor was dominant paradigm. The positivistic approach focuses on nature of verification and falsification in the scientific process. Communication was compared with blood circulation system of the body.
There were shortcomings of this body-society metaphor because of which gradually it lost its dominance in research. Prof. Das highlighted how the contribution of Chicago School helps in developing communication as a science. For the first time, there were scholarly engagements with the question of communication beyond body-society metaphor. Charles Horton Cooley, Robert Ezra Park and John Dewey were the trio who immensely contributed in the development of communication as a science. They initiated interdisciplinary nature of communication and media studies. They were from diverse backgrounds. For instance, Park was a journalist. These Chicago School theorists were primarily operated within the four wall of effect tradition while arguing that modern means of communication are powerful agencies of socialization and democratization of society (American). Given the cosmopolitan nature of American society, it was argued that communication generates a sense of community in the society.
In opposition to this effect tradition of Chicago School, Columbia University’s Bureau of Applied Social Research was marking a methodological break while embarking on empiricism. The genesis of empiricism in communication studies can be traced to the work of Paul Lazarsfeld in the Bureau. As against the effect tradition of Chicago School, the Bureau was emphasizing on the limited effect of media. They initiated various empirical studies to measure the limited impact. This theoretical tradition is termed as ‘Administrative Research’ as it was primarily guided by the corporations and foundations such as Rockfeller Foundation. It completely ignored the questions of ownership and control. It was in opposition to the tradition of critical theory initiated by Frankfurt School. It was a theoretical polarization between administrative and critical research traditions. However, the cultural studies paradigm was ignored by the Frankfurt School’s critical theory also. The cultural turn in social science led to abandon empiricism while marking a methodological shift.
Prof. Das said that in India we are still dominated by effect tradition and media centricism. He highlighted the needs to move away from media centricism to explanatory research. At the same time, interdisciplinary has to be encouraged by bringing diverse methodological concerns.