In essence, a literature review identifies, evaluates and synthesises the relevant literature within a particular field of research. It illuminates how knowledge has evolved within the field, highlighting what has already been done, what is generally accepted, what is emerging and what is the current state of thinking on the topic. In addition, within research-based texts such as a Doctoral thesis, a literature review identifies a research gap i. However, your literature review does not need to be inclusive of every article and book that has been written on your topic because that will be too broad. Rather, it should include the key sources related to the main debates, trends and gaps in your research area. A review of literature presents much more than a summary of relevant sources.
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When you start your literature review , you may feel intimidated by the quantity of work that you should go through. You may as well be worrying where to start in the first place. In today's post, we look at different places where you can find references to papers that could be of your interest. Not all papers will eventually be equally important for your thesis. Depending on the article and its contents, you may simply browse the article for the main findings in less than 20 minutes, or you may sit down with the article for a week, pulling apart all its calculations and equations.
To achieve this, your literature review needs a well-thought-out structure. Deciding on the structure of your literature review should come towards the end of the literature review process — after you have collected and digested the literature, but before you start writing the chapter. In other words, you need to first develop a rich understanding of the literature before you even attempt to map out a structure. Equally importantly, you need to have a structure in place before you start writing , or your literature review will most likely end up a rambling, disjointed mess. Like any other chapter in your thesis or dissertation, your literature review needs to have a clear, logical structure.
This article is a quick guide to conducting a literature search. Need help? Hire a literature search expert on Kolabtree.