The Review of Literature:
Telling What We Already Know

The review of literature in sport research is a critical summary what is already known what is already known on your topic. Whenever research is conducted and published in a scholarly journal article, the authors bring the reader up to speed on other research to date. Here are a few tips about related literature:

1. Scholarly journal articles are used. Sources included in a scientific literature should be credible in the field. Articles cited come from journals that meet the standards of experts in the field and require peer review before publication. In contrast, popular articles from magazines are not subject to academic standards.

For example, articles from Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise published by the American College of Sports Medicine include original scholarly articles. Runner's World is a respected popular publication, but it does not adhere to the rigorous scientific standards.

2. Organization by subheadings. Many reviews are divided into major areas of importance that are linked together. Main points are often summarized prior to the methods section.

3. Broad to narrow. The section begins a more general place and leads into what has already been found on the topic. Important variables are included.

4. Objectivity. Efforts are made to represent the body of knowledge fairly, including the approximate proportions of pros and cons. The reader should have no idea what researcher's personal opinion is.

5. Synthesis. One of the challenges, as well as one of the greatest teaching tools, is to learn to synthesize literature into a critical summary. Many sections have multiple citations within a paragraph or even a sentence.

6. Few, if any, quotations. The review is a summary of what is known. Quotations upon quotations are just that--not a critical review. Paraphrasing conveys main points. Quotes are avoided.

7. Connections. The literature review sets the stage for conducting a study. The introduction, statement of the problem, significance of the study, research questions, hypotheses, methods, discussion, and conclusions are all linked to the related literature.

Reading the related studies on a topic is a great way for coaches and athletes to find out what scientists already know. The real test is lies in applying what is useful in the sports arena and leaving the rest in the lab.

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