Before writing a review of literature, it is necessary to clearly articulate the idea what it must carry in itself. The purpose of the review, first of all, is to describe what was done on the problems. Moreover, the review of the literature should, if possible, justify the need for further research. That is, it must be shown that the study of the issue touched upon in the work, on the one hand, is topical and promising, but, on the other hand, has not really been carried out yet or was carried out in insufficient volume.
Quality criteria of literature review
Several criteria can be singled out for the quality of the literature review. They include:
- form of presentation of the material
- the content of the review
- compliance with the expectations of the supervisor
- scope of the review
- used literature
Form of presentation – the review should be well structured. Practice shows that the presence of a clear structure facilitates the perception of the material and significantly improves the subjective perception of the work written in scientific language.
Content – the review should:
- consider the issues quite full and deep
- important questions should not be missed in it
- match the topic of the dissertation
The content of the literature review is the most important characteristic that determines its perception. If the review is satisfactory to the supervisor, the remaining criteria – such as the scope of the survey and the number of sources used in it – will not cause significant questions. So, if the amount is too high or too low, the scientific supervisor will treat this with loyalty. With a small number of sources in the list of literature, the scientific adviser will sympathize with the explanation that the topic has not been studied enough and will agree with the simple ways of formal increase in the number of sources.
If the content is poorly written, the secondary indicators of the quality of the review (insufficient or excessive volume of literary review, insufficient or excessive number of references, etc.) will catch your eye and cause questions.
Importance of literature review in scientific works
If the review does not satisfy the scientific adviser, its completion may require an infinitely large number of corrections. In some cases, it is easier to write a new survey from scratch than to refine the review that does not suit the scientific adviser.
Thus, it is the content that should be placed at the heart of the literature review. At the same time, a thorough in-depth study of the topic is not a guarantee of high content evaluation: formally, the content of the review can be performed qualitatively, but it does not correspond to the topic of scientific work.
This is a common mistake, which is often the root cause of the discrepancy between the survey and the expectations of the supervisor. Turning to the specifics, the dilemma that often arises before the author in the planning and writing of a review is whether to focus on well-known, deeply studied common questions or whether to concentrate on details. The general advice that can be given to this effect – write a review on the most narrow issues relevant to the research tasks and explain the formulation of precisely such tasks.
Another criterion for the quality of the review – its compliance with the expectations of the scientific adviser – although subjective, nevertheless, we consider it necessary to separately specify it because of its high significance.
The qualitative content of the review is a prerequisite for the scientific supervisor to accept the review, but is not its guarantee.
Practice shows that a review of the literature on the same topic can be written according to completely different schemes (ie, according to different plans), and even within one scheme it is possible to differentiate the accents in different ways.
Since the literature review is ultimately assessed by the supervisor, it is very important to understand his requirements for the contents of the review as early as possible. This will avoid the situation in which the supervisor will not be satisfied with the content of the literature review, and also significantly reduce the time and labor resources for its preparation.