This Study Guide explains why literature reviews are needed, and how they can be conducted and reported.Related Study Guides are: Referencing and bibliographies, Avoiding plagiarism, Writing a dissertation, What is critical reading? The focus of the Study Guide is the literature review within a dissertation or a thesis, but many of the ideas are transferable to other kinds of writing, such as an extended essay, or a report.If you attend a conference or workshop with a wider group of people, perhaps from other universities, you can take the opportunity to ask other attendees for recommendations of articles or books relevant to your area of research.
This Study Guide explains why literature reviews are needed, and how they can be conducted and reported.
This will then provide you with a long reference list, and some evaluation of the references it contains.
No electronic literature search can be 100% comprehensive, as the match between search terms and the content of articles will never be perfect.
You can then begin your process of evaluating the quality and relevance of what you read, and this can guide you to more focussed further reading. It can give you a degree of control, in what can feel like an overwhelming and uncontrollable stage of the research process.
Taylor and Procter of The University of Toronto have some useful suggested questions to ask yourself at the beginning of your reading: can add other questions of your own to focus the search, for example: What time period am I interested in? Searching electronic databases is probably the quickest way to access a lot of material.
It is an important showcase of your talents of: understanding, interpretation, analysis, clarity of thought, synthesis, and development of argument.
The process of conducting and reporting your literature review can help you clarify your own thoughts about your study.
The ability to review, and to report on relevant literature is a key academic skill.
A literature review: To some extent, particularly with postgraduate research, the literature review can become a project in itself.
Staff and students in your area can be good sources of ideas about where to look for relevant literature.
They may already have copies of articles that you can work with.