I was just looking at my blog posts and in Feb 2018 I said that I think I finally know how to do a literature review. You would have thought that I would have done it now and my next blog post, one year later, would be about my amazing data analysis chapters or such like.
Well, here I am on 1st March 2019, writing my literature chapter at 10pm on Friday night for a deadline on Monday. However, it is not all bleak, I think I have actually finally cracked it. I do not know what version of the chapter this is. I don’t like to keep count any more.
What helped this time was some particular guidance from my supervisors that seemed to finally strike a chord. I think it is difficult for them to understand why I can’t understand how to do/organise a literature review. But now I think I understand it as something that you as a writer are in control of rather than having to provide ‘a review of the literature’ which to me sounds like listing the literature which I am very aware of, is the number one thing you don’t do. Rather, you organise it and use it in a way that is shows how it is useful for your thesis. You are sort of explaining what job the literature is doing for your own project. At least that is my understanding and what I am doing. I found this article helpful from Pat Thompson ‘Getting ready to write about ‘the literature” as she can explain it much better. These questions in particular from her article are very helpful:
- What studies provide the warrant for your particular project?
In other words, are there any studies which actually say your research is needed? What are they? Why do they say the research is needed?
- What studies will your research speak to?
Are there studies like yours but which don’t do exactly what yours will do? In other words, is there a gap in a key set of studies around your topic – say which and what is the gap left and why is this important?
- Are there other studies which your research might speak back to? What is the ‘problem’ with these studies that yours might address?
- What studies provide the building blocks for your study?
In other words, what literatures are you using as the basis for defining, boundary-ing, and organizing your key ideas? Why these particular studies and not others?
I actually have hardly any memories of the past year in terms of my PhD, but even so, I am surprised that it has been 12 months since the last post. This last year is just one big blank…. oh actually, last year I remember starting my new job which I like, oh and that also involved finding a cafe right near work that I didn’t know about. I also remember there was a heatwave. What else, oh yeah, it was the year I had to change the toner waste box in my printer which was a right hassle (only cos I kept putting the old one back in and couldn’t understand why it wasn’t working). But, soon, this chapter will also be a distant memory and I can finally get onto my analysis! I am still excited by the PhD even after x number of years (I actually can’t remember how many years it has been).
Well, better get back to it!