This Study Guide explains why literature reviews are needed, and how they can be conducted and reported.
Related Study Guides are: Referencing and bibliographies, Avoiding plagiarism, Writing a dissertation, What is critical reading? The focus of the Study Guide is the literature review within a dissertation or a thesis, but many of the ideas are transferable to other kinds of writing, such as an extended essay, or a report.
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.
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.
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.
The ability to review, and to report on relevant literature is a key academic skill.
A literature review: To some extent, particularly with postgraduate research, the literature review can become a project in itself.