This Study Guide explains why literature reviews are needed, and how they can be conducted and reported.
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 your literature review can help you clarify your own thoughts about your study.
The term ‘synthesis’ refers to the bringing together of material from different sources, and the creation of an integrated whole.
In this case the ‘whole’ will be your structured review of relevant work, and your coherent argument for the study that you are doing.
With small-scale writing projects, the literature review is likely to be done just once; probably before the writing begins.
With longer projects such as a dissertation for a Masters degree, and certainly with a Ph D, the literature review process will be more extended.It would be safer and probably more realistic to say that your research will ‘address a gap’, rather than that it will ‘fill a gap’.When readers come to your assignment, dissertation, or thesis, they will not just assume that your research or analysis is a good idea; they will want to be persuaded that it is relevant and that it was worth doing.The JLC is SHU’s central academic support service and is open to all SHU students.Our mission is to provide academic support to strengthen student learning and empower every student to develop as self-directed learners.You can find the contact details for the Information Librarian for your own area via the Library web pages.This person can help you identify relevant sources, and create effective electronic searches: anything on your research area is a good start. You may also want to make a clear decision about whether to start with a very narrow focus and work outwards, or to start wide before focussing in. It is a good idea to decide your strategy on this, rather than drifting into one or the other.Your interpretation may be self-evident to you, but it may not be to everyone else.You need to critique your own interpretation of material, and to present your rationale, so that your reader can follow your thinking.They will ask questions such as: These are questions that you will already probably be asking yourself.You will also need to be ready to answer them in a viva if you will be having one. are particularly relevant to the process of critical review.