3. When to review the literature

You will probably have already undertaken a literature review for an undergraduate or postgraduate degree, but the literature review for your PhD will need to be extended and exhaustive.

You may be asking yourself: at what stages is a review of the literature relevant to my research question needed? There are three points that you should keep in mind.

Magnifying glass

Photo by João Silas on Unsplash

1.  Once you have decided on a research area, you'll need to begin by reviewing any literature which is relevant to your study. Doing this will enable you to pinpoint the context and reasoning for your chosen topic, allowing you to narrow your preliminary thoughts down to a more focused research question.

 2.  As you progress with your research, you'll need to ensure that you are in touch with new and relevant research which might be published during your own research journey. For tips on how to keep up to date with the latest research, see the 'Practical Tips' section of this module.

3.  When you have reached the writing-up stage, you'll need to position your own research in relation to the work of others, highlighting its significance for theory, practice and research. This might involve a further review of the literature with a different focus from your initial review.