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If you attend a conference or workshop with a wider group of people, perhaps from other universities, you can take the opportunity to ask other attendees for recommendations of articles or books relevant to your area of research.Each department or school has assigned to it a specialist Information Librarian.
Increased ease of access to a wider range of published material has also increased the need for careful and clear critique of sources.
Just because something is ‘published’ does not mean its quality is assured.
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.
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.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.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.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.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 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.