University of Tasmania
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The Literature Review - Not Sinking, Writing

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posted on 2023-05-28, 00:06 authored by Catherine CrowleyCatherine Crowley
Most graduate candidates are fairly confident that they understand the role of the literature review. They see it as the backbone of their thesis, the launching pad for their own ideas, the scene setter that lays out the lie of the intellectual land. It is also a device that settles them into their research, that allows them to progress, and that increasingly justifies the direction they are taking. They will no doubt look to the literature review to eventually demonstrate their knowledge and understanding of an area, and to allow them to set clear boundaries on what they are going to attempt in their thesis. Indeed their whole justification for their thesis can 'fall out' from the review where it highlights significant gaps in the literature and the field that need addressing. Candidates may be less aware that the examiner will be looking for the literature review to serve a pragmatic purpose, namely to show a review of a field of literature that is 'substantial, relevant and up-to-date' and that justifies a unique, worthwhile research effort. So the literature review plays several roles, structural for its positioning of the thesis, contextual for its scene setting, inspirational for helping develop an argument, and operational for defining scope, limitations and originality. It provides the theoretical and methodological background for the thesis, as well as the context for the candidate's work by identifying and discussing literature and problem solving that will lead to his or her own research efforts.


Publication title

Supervising Doctorates Downunder: Keys to Effective Supervision in Australia & N Z






ACER Press

Publication status

  • Published

Place of publication

Camberwell, Victoria

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Copyright Copyright 2008 Australian Council for Educational Research

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