Woodhill Park Retreat - http://www.woodhillpark.com
A staircase to successfully preparing a literature review
Dr Jens Hansen, Melanie Wong & Jo Perry
Dr Jens Hansen, Jo Perry and Melanie Wong have each contributed to the development of this resource.  Each of them are involved with the School of Education at the Manukau Institute of Technology 
By Dr Jens Hansen, Melanie Wong & Jo Perry
Published on 10/12/2010
There's quite a lot of material emerging on this site about the preparation of literature reviews, critiquing reviewed literature, and so on.  It's not really surprising that this is so because at the heart of practically all research, and at the core of most academic activity, is an ongoing thirst for being informed about what others have done.  That quest for information currency makes academics and researchers appear to be mainly concerned with keeping up-to-date with gossip - that is - who has done what, with whom, for what reasons and with what outcomes?

But it's not about gossip.  Quite seriously, almost without exception, academics and researchers want to know about whatever relevant theories might be doing the rounds of late; they also want to know about what traps to avoid when they are investigating something and they want to discover troves of treasure (or funds) which are likely to be profitable and worthwhile exploring.  Hence, their insatiable thirst for keeping up-to-date.

Of course, that thirst becomes transferred to students whenever they have to undertake research activities which are going to be assessed.  But rather than being a source of comfort, managing literature seems to rapidly become something of a nightmare for many budding researchers.  They simply don't know where to begin and neither do they really know what they should be doing.  For that reason, our little Ducky series is intended to simplify the processes involved.  The contribution that is accessible here is an example of that simplification process.  It's about the steps needed to organise a literature review. 

There's a danger, however, in generating something that is overly simple; the risk is that shades of deeper thinking and the possibility of exploring complex ideas disappear into the overpowering and dazzling lights of over-simplification.  So whilst we encourage you to use these simple mind-maps, we also encourage you to look further.  We want you to flex your thinking and we want you to grow your sifting skills.  You can do so by exploring, for instance, the other categories that appear on this website and we believe that your development can become enriched by investing time into delving into those resources.  As well as the staircase to developing your literature review:
  • have a look at the materials on sorting out your boolean operators,
  • study the notes written by Drs Hansen and Smith (which has now had more than 20,000 hits);
  • use the template on how to write an abstract, and so on.

To begin your explorations about what you have to do to construct your literature review, have a look at this resource by clicking here.