Reviewing The Literature

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The fact that a researcher is undertaking the research program speaks for its importance, and an educated reader may well be insulted that they are not allowed to judge the importance for themselves.

They want to be re-assured that it is a serious paper, not a pseudo-scientific sales advertisement.

It can help to think of the literature review as the foundations for your study, since the rest of your work will build upon the ideas and existing research you discuss therein.

A crucial part of this is formulating a theoretical framework, which comprises the concepts and theories that your work is based upon and against which its success will be judged.

Take solace that even the best scientists can fall into the trap of using poor evidence. If your research program is well constructed, a less-than-perfect literature review will not affect the results.

The text in this article is licensed under the Creative Commons-License Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0).

Common in the social and physical sciences, but also sometimes required in the humanities, a literature review is a summary of past research in your subject area.

Sometimes this is a standalone investigation of how an idea or field of inquiry has developed over time.

It is a summary and synopsis of a particular area of research, allowing anybody reading the paper to establish why you are pursuing this particular research.

A good literature review expands on the reasons behind selecting a particular research question.

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