Help - literature review!

Discussion in 'Education and Resettlement Courses' started by metimmee, Mar 10, 2010.

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  1. I've never written a literature review within an assignment before.

    Let’s say the subject has four separate techniques for achieving an aim. Would I describe each technique separately in a short summary and then evaluate each technique against the literature or would I assume the reader is fully aware of the techniques and go straight into critical evaluation?

    For the sake of the work count, I hope its the former..
  2. msr

    msr LE

    The former.

    You can describe each technique in turn then critically evaluate it (positive and negative) in light of the other techniques. You could also mention the historical progress through these techniques and why new ones have evolved, what issues they solved and what issues they introduced.

    The literature review shows you have done your reading.

  3. Make no assumptions. May I suggest that a typical Lit Review should stand alone as a complete piece of work understandable to anyone reading your work It should then have an intro a middle bit and a concluding section. Introduce your lit review and set it in the context of your assignment (i.e. say why it is being done). Determine and then describe the parameters you have set for THIS lit review. That is, are you going to search out each and every bit of lit ever published anywhere in the world or, perhaps because of time constraints (that you can describe), limit your review to, for example literature in published military journals/the internet/only UK/only US &c. Then describe your PLAN for the lit review. This usually states a number of key words or key terms that will inform your 'search. Then say WHERE you intend to search (or' searched', depending on the way you are writing). Having set out these prelims you then say in a short para that you looked in and at, wherever, and what you found: "There was a mass of literature on..." / "There was a limited amount of available literature from reliable sources..." or something similar. Then go on to say something like: "The literature search following the parameters set out above found that there are three distinct arguments/debates/views/ controversies..." Your lit review can then end with a concluding section or paragraph along the lines of:
    "This review set out to... The search revealed..." From this search and review it has been established that... This has informed the [whatever comes next] 'framework of this assignment/the methodology/used/the structure of a questionnaire etc.
    Then provide some signposting for the reader - describe the scaffolding of your review: "The review will ... The first section looks at... The next section discusses and sections three and four etc.

    The overall purpose of this approach is that you announce the parameters, describe any limitations and then, this is the important bit - continually link back to and lean on what you found placed in the lit review as you make your different arguments. Incidentally mentioning the limitations YOU have imposed is a way of mentioning that you know about other works but have decided not to use them because you want perhaps to focus on 'current sources' UK sources only &c. That way you can't be criticised for missing out the work of someone the person who set the work might have expected to see.

    In short it is not just about finding some sources listing and describing them - but creating a 'lit review' to inform your particular piece of work.

    Finally, finally, a good piece of writing with a lit review has of course a list of the references you have found and used.

  4. Thanks to your both, very useful information.