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Literature review

What is a literature review?

A literature review is essentially an analysis or synopsis of a collection of scholarly material. You should focus your review on a specific topic, issue, research method, area or theory. Literature for the purposes of review may include journal articles, books or thesis completed at an Honours, Masters or Doctoral level.

A literature review includes an analysis of the literature. This can include examination of an area of research, a particular issue, concept or theory. The analysis should include a critical evaluation of significant literature in your chosen area. You may analyse areas including distinguish features or points or view in the literature. Your analysis may include highlighting weaknesses within the literature or need for additional research.

Your literature review should demonstrate your knowledge in the area you have chosen. The review should also assist you in developing your own ideas on the area and show where your research fits into the material already produced.

Remember to always consult with your research supervisor or lecturer about requirements for your particular literature review.

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Useful resources

Central Queensland University Library Literature Review Tutorial.
An excellent and thorough site based around frequently asked questions.

Deakin University The Literature review.
Covers what a lit review is, its purpose and a link to a library page at the bottom on how EndNote can assist the process.

RMIT University Library Literature review.
Describes the purpose, goals and contents of the lit review as well as giving examples and links.

University of Melbourne (2008). Conducting a literature review.
A guide to finding material, critical reading skills, how to avoid plagiarism, and tips for structuring and writing your lit review. There's also a useful checklist, further reading and style guides.

Consortium Library from the University of Alaska Anchorage and Alaska Pacific University provide a overview of the litereature review process.

Taylor, D. (2003). The literature review: a few tips on conducting it. University of Toronto
A set of questions to help you conduct your literature review and get the most out of the literature.

Bell, J. (1999). Doing your research project: a guide for first-time researchers in education and social science. Buckingham, Open University.

Hart, C. (1998). Doing a literature review: releasing the social science research imagination. London, Sage.

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Preparing the literature review: tips from advisors

Supervisors and Students
What advice do you give to your students concering the preparation of the literature review for research?

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Keeping up to date: tips from advisors

In most fields literature is constantly evolving, and in some cases growing exponentially. The literature review is not a one-off process. You will need to keep up with the latest developments in you field across the course of your thesis.

Supervisors and Students
Supervisors Students
How do you make sure you keep up with the literature in the field? How important in your thesis preparation was it for you to make sure you kept up to date with the literature in your field? What strategies did you use for doing this?

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