A little advice for reviewing literature

This little guide would help you in doing your dissertation thesis. This is not a comprehensive guide for literature reviewing, instead it address two interlinked important aspects. These ideas occurred to me while I was reviewing students’ write ups of their literature review. You may have already started your review or planning for it. At either stage, these views might help you to do a better review.

When writing your literature review, you have to be very clear about the facts you are presenting. It is important to indicate the reliability of the facts. In literature there are;

– Opinions
– Experiences
– Findings, and
– Conclusions

In your review these should be clearly identified. In terms of knowledge, above is in the increasing order of value. In general Findings through a research study are stronger than experience. Opinions can be merely assumptions in many cases, therefore not the proper knowledge. Conclusions are the strongest because it combines the findings to the current knowledge. However, the general situation may vary depending on the quality of the work. For example, if the findings are combined with poor literature review (current knowledge), the conclusions may become totally unreliable, but findings may be valuable.

This shows the requirement of you to be able to identify the quality of a study. Then you can use the knowledge effectively. That is why we say it is a critical review of literature. You just don’t buy in what is given.

Second point; we should indicate what type of knowledge is presented in our write-up. For example

The opinion of most researchers was that BIM should be implemented as a national policy (Abd, 2006; …) . However, Bimman (2012) suggests that organizations need not to wait for such policy. He has shown that XYZ Architects in Australia has successfully implemented BIM on their own. However, his description about the implementation indicates that XYZ Architects have not gained the full benefit of BIM implementation as their structural engineers and quantity surveyors were not BIM ready.

The above example starts with opinion, then another opinion by Bimman which becomes weak conclusion when combined with experience, then a critical review of the conclusion. You got to think of these things from the reader’s point of view.

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