Literature Reviews


I have just started my PhD journey and I have a question on Lit. reviews.
- How many are you meant to do?
- Do you need to write one for every topic within your research paper? for example; you are researching Cancer in children in Asia. Would you do a research paper on Cancer in Asia, then Cancer in children etc..




I think literature review at start of research is necessary, although one needs to continue to read relevant papers all the time. In terms of topic, my point is the more, the better, the more detailed, the better.


A literature review is like any research, so you need to pose a question. in your example, it depends on what you actually want to know? Is there enough literature on cancer in children in Asia, or is there only a small amount of literature?


Hi msabier,
- You only do one thorough literature review but as XinyangLiu says it's a continuous process. So you do most of your literature review at the start but you add to it and make it more detailed as your reading develops throughout the PhD.
- You need to try and link those different (but related) aspects of your topic together within the lit review and show why you're focusing specifically on children in Asia.

Avatar for rewt

I think a good literature review tells both a good story introducing the topic/research question/problem while framing it inside the relevant literature. In order to do that, you can talk about anything topic you like in in as much depth and in any order. There isn't a set formula for what you should include, only what you think is relevant for your research.

That being said, it is good to start your literature review by writing in as much depth about each individual topic. Then you can make links between topics and determine the structure. It makes it a lot easier to determine what is actually relevant once you have a draft lit review that you can then edit and restructure.