This guide will help postgraduate students, higher degree research (HDR) candidates and researchers to understand the process of conducting and writing a literature review.
It will explain and discuss:
the different types of literature reviews;
how and where to search for literature;
evaluation of sources and critical appraisal of literature;
how to manage and analyse your literature
Links to additional resources will be provided for more detailed information.
This guide is not intended for undergraduate students completing assignment tasks. Generally, the literature review required for undergraduate study will not be as comprehensive as the literature review required by researchers and PhD candidates conducting original research.
The purpose or aim of the literature review
A literature review, as part of a thesis or for any other publication, should demonstrate your knowledge of the research has been conducted in the past and should place your research in the context of this work. A thesis is an original and significant piece of work that adds to the body of knowledge in a particular field. A literature review can have a number of purposes within a thesis. These include:
demonstrating and clarify your understanding of your field of research;
identifying patterns and trends in the literature;
identifying gaps in the literature and seek new lines of inquiry;
identifying similarities and differences in previous research and place you work in perspective;
justifying your own research;
increasing your breadth of knowledge of your subject area;
identifying seminal and influential published works in your field;
identifying relevant journals, publishers and conferences to search;
providing the intellectual context for your own work, enabling you to position your project relative to other work;
identifying experts working in your field (a researcher network is a valuable resource);
carrying on from where others have already reached
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