Thursday, February 25, 2010

#3 Reading the Literature Review (freewrite, 10 minutes)

I recently read a Literature Review of biometrics, which also happens to be the topic of my research prospectus. Its structure was much less straightforward and narrow compared to the article that I used for the Anatomy of a Journal Article assignment. Instead of following through with a single research question or problem, this author decided to take the literature review on a broad journey of a single topic, creating a very nice overview of Biometrics. This literature review seemed to mostly be organized thematically. To begin, the author first started talking about the historical aspect of Biometrics and about how it has advanced. Then the author moved on to share the differences among the many different types of biometric methods that have evolved. There were many models and pictures in this point, which almost seemed to take my focus away from extracting knowledge from the writing. From this point, the author decided to include a wide variety of some of the present day companies or entities that use biometrics. He noted that people are increasingly using this in their homes in order to increase security. He also noted how there are many companies all over the world that have started to implement various biometric systems. There seemed to be three main themes throughout this review, the history, the methods, and the use. Although they seemed to mesh together rather well when reading it, now that I stepped back to look at the overall themes of the paper I don't think that they work that well together at all. I think there should have been more interlinking between the advantages and disadvantages of the various methods with the various methods that are available for use today.

It is different from papers that I have written in the past in that it is a very broad overview of a single topic. Most papers that I have written require that you focus on a single issue and then discuss ways to solve it. This literature review would be useful as support for a project proposal just based upon the sheer amount of data contained on a single subject in just one place. Literature Reviews are really helpful for most researchers as they don't necessarily have to look all over the place to find sources when they could just look in one place to find everything that they needed. Although the review may not be as dense as the researcher wanted, you can also trace back through the sources of the literature review, seemingly opening up your available sources exponentially. Usually the sources that are used in a literature review are some of the best sources on that topic, so by using those sources you can almost guarantee a solid paper.

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