Collecting versus Exploring

 Collecting resources for the literature review feels productive. You end each session with more articles that may inform your research. Your numbers look impressive. But knowledge is what you need and a pile of articles is not knowledge. It’s just a pile of articles.

Unfortunately, it took me over a year to get this—and I still struggle. Here’s the lesson. The literature review is not about the quantity or breadth of the literature collected. It is about the substantiation of your research. You need to synthesize and critique enough literature to show that you deeply understand the context of your question and to make a strong argument for your study. That’s it.

So, the intent is not to collect literature. The intent is to explore, understand, and synthesize just the high quality literature that provides context and justification for your study. It requires no more and no less. That’s the lesson I’m learning day by day and a well-drafted literature review turned in for comment by May 12, 2014, will show that I finally get it.

Working on a thesis or dissertation? Check out the resource post.

(C) Laura Springer
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Musings of a peripatetic wannabe-sage by Laura Springer is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License..

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