Topic 5: Preparing the literature review


This topic focuses on the preparation of a critical review of the literature. It will require you to identify and report on the literature (including any prior research) that is relevant to your proposed thesis. Students will be expected to show a clear understanding of prior research in the area, to identify gaps in the literature and to frame research questions based on the literature. The topic examines how to critically review the literature, how to identify gaps in the literature and how to frame appropriate research question(s) for your thesis.

On successful completion of this topic, you should be able to:

  • Demonstrate an understanding of the literature relevant to the proposed research topic;
  • Reflect critically on the relevant literature in terms of methodological, empirical and theoretical constructs;
  • Synthesise the body of literature examined into a holistic and readable report;
  • Discriminate between literature that is pertinent to your research and literature that is less relevant;
  • Demonstrate an understanding of research methodologies and approaches used by researchers in their fields of research;
  • Identify relevant seminal works, including areas of agreement and controversy;
  • Identify possible research gaps which could form the basis of new research questions;
  • Reference appropriately;
  • Develop a bibliography using ENDNOTE;
  • Undertake a bibliographic analysis using NVivo and Leximancer.

Recommended readings

Lecture notes

Useful links and videos