Original Research or Literature Review?

Determining the difference between original research and literature reviews.
Do not confuse performing a literature review with original research. They are not synonymous. Simply gathering, reading, and subsequently summarizing information is a literature survey, not research. Original research includes several other elements of which interpretation is key.
In "Practical Research Planning and Design", research is defined by first explaining what it is not.

What Research is Not

Gathering information only to gather information. Going to the library to gain information about a particular topic.
Transposing facts from one place to another. Rewriting information into a paper.
Seeking information for its own sake. Comparing two sets of data.
Using a word to get attention. Used as a "catchphrase" to sell a product.
(Leedy and Ormrod, 2001)
The first three of these examples pertain to literature reviews. Literature reviews are an important part of research, and are discussed in detail in another section of this site.
"Research is the systematic process of collecting and analyzing information (data) in order to increase our understanding of the phenomenon about which we are concerned or interested" (Leedy and Ormrod, 2001). Original research contains several characteristics.
  • Originate with a question
  • Formation of a goal
  • Definition of a specific procedure
  • Dividing the goal into manageable units
  • Formation of a hypothesis
  • Collection of data
  • Setting forth assumptions
  • Research is helical
writing a report
(Leedy and Ormrod, 2001)
Once the data have been gathered, they must be interpreted. The results will either support or not support the hypothesis. New questions give rise to further research. This is the helical nature of research.