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Doing the literature review: The literature review: why?

The literature review: why?

These e-modules about Doing a literature review explain why literature reviews are needed, how you can conduct one and how to report. The focus is the literature review within a dissertation or thesis, but many of the ideas are transferable to other kinds of writing, such as a peer-reviewed publication (typically in a journal, or - depending upon the discipline - as a book chapter), or a report resulting from a research project or other commissioned research.

Do I really need a literature review?

The literature review helps place your research in the context of what has already been done in the field. The literature review is a component of most scholarly writing. To some extent, particularly with postgraduate research, the literature review can become a project in itself. 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 can help you clarify your own thoughts about your topic. It can also establish a framework within which to present and analyze the findings.

Figure based on: Reasons for doing a literature review. Based on: Success with your early years research project' (Sage Research Methods).

But the essentials of literature reviews can also easily be misunderstood. Please take 11 minutes to have a look at the video Literature reviews: common Errors Made When Conducting a Literature Review (12:22).

The handout with Do's and don'ts (PDF) can also be helpful.