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You can then begin your process of evaluating the quality and relevance of what you read, and this can guide you to more focussed further reading. It can give you a degree of control, in what can feel like an overwhelming and uncontrollable stage of the research process.Taylor and Procter of The University of Toronto have some useful suggested questions to ask yourself at the beginning of your reading: can add other questions of your own to focus the search, for example: What time period am I interested in? Searching electronic databases is probably the quickest way to access a lot of material.
The ability to review, and to report on relevant literature is a key academic skill.
A literature review: To some extent, particularly with postgraduate research, the literature review can become a project in itself.
It is an important showcase of your talents of: understanding, interpretation, analysis, clarity of thought, synthesis, and development of argument.
The process of conducting and reporting your literature review can help you clarify your own thoughts about your study.
With small-scale writing projects, the literature review is likely to be done just once; probably before the writing begins.
With longer projects such as a dissertation for a Masters degree, and certainly with a Ph D, the literature review process will be more extended.
It can also establish a framework within which to present and analyse the findings.
After reading your literature review, it should be clear to the reader that you have up-to-date awareness of the relevant work of others, and that the research question you are asking is relevant. Be wary of saying that your research will solve a problem, or that it will change practice.
The term ‘synthesis’ refers to the bringing together of material from different sources, and the creation of an integrated whole.
In this case the ‘whole’ will be your structured review of relevant work, and your coherent argument for the study that you are doing.