Thursday, 25 September 2014

Is the literature the most important part of the thesis?

Simple terms. Yes.
Without a well researched and constructed literature review to base your own research project, it would be difficult to show a number of things including:
The reason your research is needed;
The basis for your research and;
Where your research is placed in the current field of knowledge.

A strong literature review needs to be presented in a logical manner. This provides the reader, who may or may not be a leader in the field of knowledge, to understand the context which may include the political and historical background of where your research fits within the topic being examined.

There are a number of ways to structure a literature. I suggest ensuring that it flows. There are many hint sheets on how to start paragraphs, connect ideas and themes as well as critically analyse the work you are including. I found that reading theses front TROVE closely related to your topic and methodology will give you an idea how you would like your thesis structured. 

TROVE is created and maintained by the National Library of Australia and holds a variety of content sources including theses completed at Australian Universities. I suggest choosing three theses you think are close to your style of writing, read them in full (not all at once!) and then work out how you would begin to structure your thesis. There's no one right way. Remember the authors of the theses found on TROVE have all been conferred to PhDs.

When reading through the theses, take notes. In my note taking I included, at minimum, the following:
No. Of pages
Number of themes or sections within the literature review and
Any ideas that came to mind for my own research.

Working with your notes, place your  headings in to your own thesis template.

This is your starting point. Now on to sorting all those articles you've collected over time, selecting crucial pieces, rereading them and writing your own notes within your literature storage software, which in my case is Endnote.

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