Several arguments have been raised regarding the importance of primary and secondary literature sources when referencing literature reviews. Primary sources of literature comprises original information which is communicated formally or informally through journals, thesis, books and personal interaction between groups of people for instance scientists, conferences and colleagues among others. Primary sources portray the actual concept, idea and information authors intend to pass along thus is an effective literature source for studying historical events. However, today it is difficult to come across primary literature sources because some have been destroyed while others are not available for research this is because primary literature sources are usually retrieved from achieves which maybe accessible or inaccessible. Moreover, primary sources are difficult to interpret and analyze because they contain elements of fragmentation and ambiguity. Furthermore, primary sources may not relay accurate information because the probability for the author to be bias is high (Portney & Watkins, 2009).
Secondary literature sources comprises of information that has already been presented before. Secondary literature sources usually cite, build and comment on the information portrayed in the primary literature sources. These sources usually inform the public the strengths and weaknesses of the information relayed by primary sources. They identify controversial information and propose further research to be done on those disciplines. Furthermore, secondary sources of literature are composed with precision and accuracy is a virtue that is highly regarded. Therefore, in most cases these sources portray information that is accurate, unbiased and valuable (Dellinger, 2005).
The difference between the primary and secondary sources of literature is either subjective or contextual, thus a slight difference exists between the two. Therefore, I defer with the researcher’s decision because in my opinion the two literature sources are important and thus should be used hand in hand when referencing literature reviews as they complement each other.
Literature review is an account of published information written by accredited scholars or researchers among others. This body of information critically analyses the existing knowledge with the aim of portraying the strength and weaknesses of the information. It also identifies critical areas in the information that require further study through research activities. Literature review should be a discursive prose that is organized, within or related to the literature source on study, consistent and relevant among others (Green et al., 2006).
Literature review enables individuals to determine the credibility of available information and thus get valid knowledge. This helps individuals to identify gaps in literature, save on time especially because individuals are able to identify available search engines and bibliographic databases that are useful, prevents them from repeating similar mistakes that had been committed by other scholars and researchers, increase the scope of current knowledge, identify information, concepts and principles relevant to the project they are carrying out and identify a network of researchers among others (Dellinger & Leech, 2007).
Therefore, I agree with Portney and Watkins (2009), who proposes that literature review establishes a foundation for research work, helps individuals to understand current knowledge and determine areas that we can rely on to further expound on the available knowledge. In my opinion it will be advisable for the researcher to first carry out a literature review on the hypothesis ‘ending infant mortality in the African American community’ before formulating an applied research proposal (ARP). This will help the researcher to gain current knowledge on the topic, discover areas that have not been ventured into, identify contradicting concepts that require further research and avoid making similar mistakes and misconception of ideas that previous researchers committed.
Dellinger, A. B. (2005). Validity and the Review of Literature. Research in the Schools,
Dellinger, A. B. & Leech, N. L. (2007). Toward a Unified Validation Framework in Mixed
Methods Research. Journal of Mixed Methods Research, 1(4), 309-332.
Green, B. N., Johnson, C. D. & Adams, A. (2006). Writing Narrative Literature Reviews for
Peer-Reviewed Journals: Secrets of the Trade. Journal of Chiropractic Medicine, 5(6), 101-114.
Portney, G. L. & Watkins, P. M. (2009). Foundations of Clinical Research: Applications to
Practice. 3rd Ed. London: Prentice Hall.