Dr. Niall McMahon

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Literature Reviews

2022-02-11

A literature review is exactly what it sounds like: a review of the existing writing about a topic. The literature review places your work in a wider context, telling a story that:

A literature review is often structured:

Or a combination of these. You can perhaps imagine other structures; the main thing is to have a clear and sensible narrative.

Understanding improves with time, so recent work will build on previous studies. Starting with early papers on the topic, you can show how understanding changed with time and then describe the current situation.

Some of the questions that the literature review can answer include:

In general, as understanding improves or an area matures, research questions become more specific. All the broad questions will have been answered.

Your work may involve a combination of several subtopics. These can be dealt with separately or woven together. The important thing is to have a coherent narrative.

DCU School of Computing MCM students can also review Andrew McCarren's material here.