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Why make a literature survey/review in a research project?

How a literature survey/review sets the scene for all research projects

Before any research project is undertaken, students need to ensure that they will not be 'reinventing the wheel'. So it is essential to find out what has already been done in the area. This involves consulting what has been published and documenting what is relevant. Hence the need for a survey or review of the literature.

Even if there appears to be no literature on a particular research area because it is new or marginal, you still need to show that you have consulted enough literature to show that this is the case. Almost certainly, though, there will be something similar in some respects which you can quote and capitalise on.

How a literature survey/review can take research projects forward

Sections from The Research Student's Guide to Success in the chapter on literature

Why the work of others is important

Identifying and accessing relevant material

Reading purposefully and effectively

Bibliographic management software

Systems and styles for citing sources

Using literature in your own work

Implications for a 'Literature Survey/Review'

The case that literature is to support depends on the nature of the work and what the writing is for. Typical uses for research students include the following, but the list is not all-inclusive.

More about on the literature review/survey

The following pages give advice on practical matters of producing a literature survey/review in:

© Pat Cryer

* 'Supervisor' is a shorthand for 'research degree supervisor', 'advisor' or 'tutor', and applies to varying extents for all research degrees: PhD, DPhil. MPhil, Prof Doc and even undergraduate and masters' projects. In some countries, notably the USA, a 'supervisor' is known as an 'advisor'.