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A standard section of a thesis or major project is the literature review. As the name suggests, if you're completing a literature review, you will be examining the existing literature on a chosen topic, which will allow you:
to identify gaps in current knowledge;
to avoid reinventing the wheel (at the very least this will save time and it can stop you from making the same mistakes as others);
to carry on from where others have already reached (reviewing the field allows you to build on the platform of existing knowledge and ideas);
to identify other people working in the same and related fields (they provide you with a researcher network, which is a valuable resource indeed);
to increase your breadth of knowledge of the area in which your subject is located;
to identify seminal works in your area;
to provide the intellectual context for your own work (this will enable you to position your project in terms of related work);
to identify opposing views;
to put your own work in perspective;
to provide evidence that you can access the previous significant work in an area;
to discover transferable information and ideas (information and insights that may be relevant to your own project); and
to discover transferable research methods (research methods that could be relevant to your own project). (Bourner & Greener, 2016, pp. 8-9)
This narrated whiteboard video aims to demystify the process of writing a literature review and provide suggestions for how to get organized to write. The video uses a cocktail party analogy to illustrate the approach. Click for transcript.
Bourner, T., & Greener, S. (2016). The research journey: Four steps to success. In T. Greenfield & S. Greener (Eds.), Research methods for postgraduates (pp. 7-12). John Wiley & Sons.
Get Lit: The Literature Review (Dr. Candace Hastings, Texas A&M University Writing Center)
Key Takeaways From the Psi Chi Webinar: So You Need to Write a Literature Review (APA Style)
Literature Review Tutorial (American University Library)
Literature Reviews (University of Waterloo)
Sample literature review: Critical Thinking and Transferability: A Review of the Literature (Reece, 2002)
Sample outline: See the sections relating to the literature review section of a major research paper in Outlining a Research Paper (©2011 Amy L. Stuart, Associate Professor, University of South Florida)
Synthesis Table for Literature Reviews (CSUMB Library)