Writing a literature review for a thesis: HOW and WHY

Here I am 1/4 of the way through writing my thesis as I near the stage of completing my literature review.

How did I get here?

Well as I am saving my major thesis update for another post I’d like to bring your focus to the progress of my literature review.  AKA stage 1 of any major research.

For those of you playing along at home a literature review is a critical analysis of published sources, or literature, on a particular topic. It is an assessment of the literature and provides a summary, classification, comparison and evaluation. At postgraduate level literature reviews can be incorporated into an article, a research report or (if you are lucky like me) a thesis.

So.. HOW?

Creating a literature review involves a number of steps

Step 1 – what are you interested in

Pick a topic that you know you will want to study for several months/years.

Keep in mind how intense this process gets – ask yourself – am I really interested in this concept?

Step 2 – what aspects interest you

Now that you have your broad topic – what aspects of that topic interest you?

For example, if you chose corporate social responsibility what is it that interests you?

How organisations utilise it?
How employees engage with it?
How customers respond to it?

You need to really be specific in order to correctly evaluate the current literature

Step 3 – what currently exists in that area

What research has been done before? This step involves the majority of time. It involves lots of reading, research and analysing of past papers in order to understand the scope of work.

Step 4 – what research could you build on

Perhaps you’ve found a case study on how customers engage and react to companies that utilise corporate social responsibility – what about dividing customers by industry? Maybe the financial industry obtains different results to retail?

Step 5 – discuss and narrow down the gap in the literature

Now that you’ve worked out what you are interested in and you know what is missing from the current research you are ready to start writing your own research.

I hope you all found that helpful – any questions or comments, put them below!




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