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
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.
- To get ideas.
- To make a case in a research proposal for there being a gap in knowledge that the proposed work will fill.
- To build on the work of others in one's own research.
- To make a case for the methodology to be used (or already used).
- To show how the work and the results link in with the work of others.
- To suggest future work that needs doing (not necessarily by oneself).
More about on the literature review/survey
The following pages give advice on practical matters of producing a literature survey/review in: