Drowning in a sea of authors – How to be critical in a PhD literature review.
- To provide sufficient background information so that your own research problem can be contextualised.
- To discuss how, how well, or even if, others have solved similar problems.
- To outline the methods used by others when discussing similar problems.
- Who wrote this and why?
- What are the authors trying to say?
- On what basis are they forming their judgements and arguments?
- Are they convincing?
- What theories or perspectives have been used? What alternative ones may have been used instead?
- What perspective are they coming from? What research tradition? What methods do they use? Are they appropriate?
- How does this work relate to others in the field?
- What are others arguing about the same topic?
- How does it relate to your research question or problem?
Don’t drown in a sea of authors.
- You need to speak with authority. Avoid falling into the trap of ‘he said, she said’, simply listing scholars and becoming invisible in the process.
- Avoid being overwhelmed by the literature.
Read, read, read, then write, write, write
- Is it an incremental increase in the knowledge in your field, or is it game-changing?
- Is it a classic, or does it just add a little to what we knew before?
Your PhD Thesis.
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Conclusion: don't be mean
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