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Research Bias and Literature Review

Eliminating bias in research

A crucial element of any competent research is objectivity and researchers are responsible for critically examining the methods and conclusions for bias. To help researchers avoid and eliminate biased attitude, a standard of validity and reliability may be instrumental in research (Creswell, 2013). One of the leading causes of bias is the researcher’s intentional attempt to influence the research data in order to reach the desired outcome. Bias may occur unintentionally when there is a flaw in a method or an approach undertaken in the study.

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The researcher may be oblivious to the flawed method used, thus contributing to the bias. Shuttleworth (2009) maintains that “The main point to remember with bias is that, in many disciplines, it is unavoidable” (para. 5). He goes on to explain that any experimental design process cannot exist without biases, and the researcher’s job is to accept it and attempt to bring down their effects on the research (Shuttleworth, 2009). Bearing that in mind, it appears that it is impossible to entirely eliminate bias in the research. The researcher may fall back on the prior experience, or his views may depend on the community surrounding him.

Notwithstanding the seeming inevitability of bias, it may be brought down to a minimum, or even eliminated, if the research or a case study is conducted by several authors, preferably having different backgrounds. A peer-reviewed publication is also instrumental in eliminating bias. Researchers need to bear in mind that they may be prone to bias, and attempt to minimize it.

Purpose of a literature review

The major purpose of a literature review is to place the researched subject in the dialogue with other researchers which had already been conducted in the subject area. The review of literature helps define the key terminology, concepts, models, and case studies supporting the topic of your research. A comprehensive literature review may prove that your research is not just another one among hundreds of similar-attempted studies; it needs to point to the gaps in prior research that need to be filled and indicate the understudied or overlooked areas of interest. A literature review helps the research to be distinguished from hundreds of others by answering the questions which were not reflected in prior papers.

It is crucial to realize that a literature review and the search for information are two entirely different procedures. The literature review provides identification and a link between the literature and the area of the research. There are multiple sources to search for literature pertaining to the researched subject, although a priority needs to be established for a review to be more effective (Creswell, 2013). The preferred order is from encyclopedias, journal articles, and books to recent conference papers and dissertation abstracts. Although the Internet provides vast resources for a review, the literature needs to be selected with caution, only form authoritative sources (Creswell, 2009).

A study, a report, or any academic paper needs to be backed up with a comprehensive literature review which will add weight to the research, and make it more credible in academic circles.

Reference List

Creswell, J. W. (2013). Research Design Qualitative, Quantitative, and Mixed Methods Approaches. Thousand Oaks, California: Sage Publications.

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Shuttleworth, M. (2009). Research Bias. Web.

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