Lesson 10: Review of Related Literature
In this first part of our class, we’ll discuss the importance of writing a good introduction and how it can be done.
- To establish the importance of writing a good review of related literature.
- To determine how we can go about writing a good review of related literature.
- To establish what constitutes a good review of related literature in thesis writing.
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Sample Review of Related Literature(Click the image to enlarge)
The review of related literature is one of the most important parts of your thesis. It is basically a well-collated group of paragraphs in which you have room to expound on the relevance of your thesis to your particular field of study by citing related work that has been proven to have an impact in the concerned area. In this class, we’ll be discussing how to write a good review of related literature—what it should contain and what should be left out.
In this part of the lesson, we’ll discuss what your review of related literature should contain and what it should omit. We’ll also be discussing a few ways in which you can efficiently and effectively gather data.
Because this is the part of the lesson where all your premises are being established, you have to expound on the background of your study significantly—you need to discuss established theories and other studies which have been conducted previously. This is also the portion in which it would be good for you to talk about data which backs up the relevance and importance of your study. It’s here that you’re able to win the audience over by grounding the seriousness of your thesis in facts and previous credible studies.
Once you’ve established the basic theories and the over-all relevance of your study, it’s time to look into the specific thing which your paper addresses—talk about why this has been previously unaddressed and what new perspective the field can gain from looking into this.
The review of related literature is also the part of the paper in which you can justify your methodology: after this section, all you will be doing is reporting facts so it’s important to be able to find sources that will ensure that the method you chose for your paper is indeed, the best method. You should include journal articles, books and studies which have utilized similar methods—talk about the advantages and disadvantages of these procedures.
Furthermore, you should remember to always cite your sources and to make sure that your data is as recent as can be helped—preferably published within the last five years. The more recent your sources, the more relevant it is. Older data is acceptable only if there has not been any new data so subvert it or to prove it irrelevant or null.
A good way to find sources for all of this data that you’ll need is to list down the different topics which your paper deals with and break them down into keywords: list down factors, effects, correlations and other terms which closely associate with your sub-topics. By having this list of words you’ll be able to gather a lot of information in a shorter period of time.
Because the review of related literature is so dense, it’s very important to organize your ideas well. You can do this by writing a layout and experimenting with the sequence of your phrases and paragraphs. Group sentences which contribute to the same idea together.
Also make sure that the order of the paragraphs is such that your reader doesn’t get confused: make sure to put paragraphs that define and explain your concepts come before the paragraphs which delve deeper into the nuances and details of your study. It’s also good to put ideas which correlate or which are causal after each other (for example, a paragraph on the rise of autism in the 1960s preceded by an explanation on Thalidomide—a discontinued drug used to cure morning sickness which used to be very popular at the time but which had autism and missing limbs as a side effect).
It’s also good to end your paragraphs which transition into the next ones: this is called a linking sentence. This makes the transition from idea to idea less jarring and allows the reader to better understand what point you’re trying to make by mentioning both of these things.
For example, it is easier to understand this:
“Studies have shown that Thalidomide, a drug that was developed to cure morning sickness and which has been discontinued in recent years, was the primary cause for the autism boom in the 1960s.”
Rather than this:
“Thalidomide was formulated in the 1960 and then eventually it was discontinued. This was made to cure morning sickness. In the 1960s, there was an autism boom.”
Providing transition sentences helps your ideas flow so that you have a review of related literature which is cohesive and which supports the rest of your study.
Tying It All Together
A review of related literature is typically 5 to 20 pages long. It contains a lot of ideas and for this reason, the last sentence has to be able to tie everything together. The conclusive paragraph should be able to summarize all the ideas discussed without directly re-stating what has already been said. This reminds the reader of previous discussions and prepares him/her for the rest of the paper.
For example, it’s okay to say, “Throughout the paper we discussed a lot of very important topics—among these are the chemical formula of Thalidomide, its effects on mothers in pre-natal care and subsequently, the children once they are born”, however one should refrain from literally re-emphasizing everything which was discussed—“In this paper, we discussed Thalidomide, the drug formulated to cure morning sickness which ended up giving babies birth defects like autism or missing limbs. We also discussed that the chemical structure of Thalidomide is…”
This last sentence should also provide a conclusive statement which states the relevance of all the data discussed to the study as well as the study’s relevance to the rest of the world. This sentence also serves as a jumping-off point for the reader before he/she reads about the methodology or how the thesis study was carried out.
In this lesson, we were able to discuss a number of points, namely—how to find sources for your review of related literature, how to properly organize the flow of ideas throughout the aforementioned body of work and how to tie it all together. Furthermore, we were able to talk about what makes a good review of related literature and how it is crucial in determining the quality of your thesis.
Next, we’ll be talking about how to go about writing your methodology. We’ll be discussing what should be included in this part and why discussing your detailed methodology is very important when writing your thesis.