Thursday, 9 October 2014

The never ending literature review

At the moment, I am taking another look at my topic from a different aspect of the literature. This is to build on the current knowledge of my general topic and ensure that I have covered and made connections across field.  I read a book recommended to me,  'Doing a literature review: releasing the social science research imagination' by Chris Hart. Although a little dated, 1998, it still had valid points and reinforced my thoughts from a previous blog post on doing a literature review.

A thorough and extensive literature review is needed for a PhD thesis. A thorough review of the literature ensures the researcher shows scholarship and a deep understanding of key literature and the problem within the topic. 
The book recognises there is no such thing as a perfect review as it is an individual process of knowledge generation. Regular reading and writing on what was read helps develop a scholar's critical reading skills. It is important to write your thoughts down as you read literature say 3 to 5 articles or chapters. This process ensures that your work is documented and new writing is occurring regularly. In the long term, it will make writing the thesis easier as you will have plenty of your own work to draw from.
Key points to think about when you've had enough of the literature review and look like the guy on the cover Hart's book:
*the literature review is about 16 000 words long (approx 128 references)
*use mapping to get started for key words and word strings and add to it as you progress with searches
*read a little then produce new writing of your thoughts on what you just read
*the literature review will evolve your thinking on a topic and see it from different perspectives
* a thorough literature review will strengthen your argument and research question
*it will be the chapter that will continue to be reviewed until your final thesis is handed in for examination
*an examination of the literature review will increase your confidence on your topic, especially helpful for your defense oral (viva/confirmation).

So there you have it, the literature review in a nutshell and hope that you might just end up enjoying it!

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