As academics and researchers, we are taught to conduct and report on our research. One of the basic skills we learn is to conduct and write the literature review. Jennex (2009) discusses the value of good literature reviews as being the building and strengthening of a body of knowledge. Good research that is not basic research builds on that which was done before and uses previous research to ground current research in theory and as a lens for interpreting results. However, as the numbers of information systems (IS) journals grow-Lamp (2004) lists 861 IS journals with 735 still active (as of March 25, 2014)—the time and effort it takes to conduct a thorough and comprehensive literature review is growing. The result of increasing time to conduct and report on the literature review is that the quality of the literature review is declining. Of course, fueling the growth in IS journals is the increase in academics and researchers conducting and submitting research. The result of having more research articles being written is that there are more to review, creating a drain on limited reviewer resources. The data to support these statements comes
Introduction 25 Why Are Literature Reviews a Problem? 26 Methodology 27 Literature Review 28 Issues with the Literature Review 32 Recommendations 35 Conclusions 38 References 38
from reviewing the reviews of articles and papers submitted to the International Journal of Knowledge Management (IJKM). Other experience (anecdotal influencing my perception) is used from reviews from the International Journal of Information Systems for Crisis Response and Management (IJISCRAM), the Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences (HICSS), the Association of Information Systems (AIS) Conference of the Americas (AMCIS), European Conference on Information Systems (ECIS), and various other ad hoc reviews for IS journals and doctoral dissertations. This chapter first discusses how literature adds value to research. Next the chapter discusses reasons offered or observed that are used to justify lower-quality literature reviews. The chapter concludes with suggestions on what should be done to improve literature review quality and perhaps establish a baseline publishing policy on literature reviews.