Drowning in Muddied Waters or Swimming Downstream?: A Critical Analysis of Literature Reviewing in a Phenomenological Study through an Exploration of the Lifeworld, Reflexivity and Role of the Researcher

DOI: 10.1080/20797222.2017.1293355
Author(s): Jane FrySenior Lecturer in Midwifery, Faculty of Health and Social Sciences, England, Janet ScammellAssociate Professor of Nursing, Faculty of Health and Social Sciences, England, Sue BarkerLecturer in Mental Health, Department of Psychology,


This paper proceeds from examining the debate regarding the question of whether a systematic literature review should be undertaken within a qualitative research study to focusing specifically on the role of a literature review in a phenomenological study. Along with pointing to the pertinence of orienting to, articulating and delineating the phenomenon within a review of the literature, the paper presents an appropriate approach for this purpose. How a review of the existing literature should locate the focal phenomenon within a given context is illustrated by excerpts from the first author’s literature review within a descriptive phenomenological study. Also discussed is the important issue of when the researcher should fully enter the attitude of the phenomenological reduction and how this may influence the study.

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