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If you can find a few really useful sources, it can be a good idea to check through their reference lists to see the range of sources that they referred to.This can be particularly useful if you find a review article that evaluates other literature in the field.
Guidance will be available via your own department or school and via the relevant Information Librarian.
There may also be key sources of publications for your subject that are accessible electronically, such as collections of policy documents, standards, archive material, videos, and audio-recordings.
It is important that your literature review is more than just a list of references with a short description of each one. Merriam (1988:6) describes the literature review as: Merriam’s statement was made in 1988, since which time there has been further extension of the concept of being ‘published’ within the academic context.
The term now encompasses a wide range of web-based sources, in addition to the more traditional books and print journals.
There are three stages at which a review of the literature is needed: This applies especially to people doing Ph Ds on a part-time basis, where their research might extend over six or more years.
You need to be able to demonstrate that you are aware of current issues and research, and to show how your research is relevant within a changing context.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.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.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.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.You can then begin your process of evaluating the quality and relevance of what you read, and this can guide you to more focussed further reading. It can give you a degree of control, in what can feel like an overwhelming and uncontrollable stage of the research process.Taylor and Procter of The University of Toronto have some useful suggested questions to ask yourself at the beginning of your reading: can add other questions of your own to focus the search, for example: What time period am I interested in? Searching electronic databases is probably the quickest way to access a lot of material.