Documentary research is a type of academic research that employs the use of source materials such as documents and texts for studying a specific research topic. Source materials used in this form of research may include newspapers, census results, story books, government publications, diaries, videos, works of art certificates visual and photographic items done on paper and so on.
Documentary research is the most commonly used type of research document amongst the three major social research methods (Scott 1990). Literature review on the other hand refers to a given body of secondary text of an existing document.
These documents can either be published or unpublished documents meant to review important points of knowledge needed to carry out comprehensive findings to a given research topic. It gives an general idea of both theory and methodology of a specific research topic (Hart 2001).
Documentary research process employs the use of conceptualizing methods in document review and use. It involves the use of ether qualitative or quantitative research analysis skills, or it may sometimes employ the use of both techniques to study a specific research topic. Documentary research process in research academic work helps to support the researchers referencing skills.
The information used in documentary research can be either primary or secondary, and involves the use of external sources to defend the debate of a given research academic work. Payne (2004, pg. 222) defines the documentary research as a research technique used to group, explore, deduce and find out the weaknesses of physical sources, frequently written materials both in private and public sectors (Payne 2004, pg. 222).
To achieve a good documentary research paper, there should be a clear structure of ideas relating to the topic of study with the proper use of key words to ease the search. Documentary research comes prior to the literature review and hence, proper time management is a priority in carrying out this study.
Literature review, on the other hand, usually comes after a research proposal and its deliverables. It involves the analysis of originally obtained information to review the acquired information and the significance of this information to the research topic. It achieves the purpose of updating the reader with the current reviews on a particular research topic and builds groundwork for future research studies in the same research area.
It also aids the researcher in highlighting areas of further research, which opens up the researcher’s scope for further studies (Grix 2000, pg 228). Literature review involves critique argument in that it debates for or against the research topic.
This argument helps to confirm or rule out arguments improving the entire quality of the study. It also highlights vital issues of past literature and how the literature relates with the current topic of study. The writing must involve the use of a logical flow of ideas, updated references relevant to the research topic and a consistent use of reference style.
In concluding, the fundamental requirement when writing either a documentary research or a literature review is the quality and relevance of the paper in connection to the research topic. These research approaches needs a keen consideration of research standards when carrying out a research on a particular research topic.
It is necessary when carrying out research to be aware that, there are many unrecognized sources of information in the web. These unrecognized sources of information pose a great danger in both documentary research and literature review writing.
The relevance and value of these web documents must pass through a proper assessment before applying them in writing documentary research or literature review. The assessment can undergo four basic factors such as authenticity, material representativeness, paper credibility and meaning.
Grix, J. (2001). Demystifying Postgraduate Research, 3rd ed. Birmingham: University of Birmingham University Press
Hart, C. (2001). A Comprehensive Guide for the Social Sciences, London: Sage
Payne, G., Payne, J. (2004). Key Concepts in Social Research, London: Sage Publications
Scott, J. (1990). A Matter of Record, Documentary Sources in Social Research, Cambridge: Polity Press