Even if you’re in the early stages of your research and just beginning to conduct a literature review, it’s useful to consider the eventual role that your review will play within your thesis and the way it functions to orient your readers.
Conducting a literature review is an ongoing, non-linear, and iterative process.“Your literature review will inform your question, theory, and methods, and your question, theory, and methods will help set the parameters of your literature review.
A literature review is an account of what has been published on a topic by accredited scholars and researchers.
Occasionally you will be asked to write one as a separate assignment (sometimes in the form of an annotated bibliography—see the bottom of the next page), but more often it is part of the introduction to an essay, research report, or thesis.
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.e.
Use an overall introduction and conclusion to state the scope of your coverage and to formulate the question, problem, or concept your chosen material illuminates.
Usually you will have the option of grouping items into sections—this helps you indicate comparisons and relationships.
In writing the literature review, your purpose is to convey to your reader what knowledge and ideas have been established on a topic, and what their strengths and weaknesses are.
As a piece of writing, the literature review must be defined by a guiding concept (e.g., your research objective, the problem or issue you are discussing, or your argumentative thesis).