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How to conduct literature survey for PhD-Wanted to know the secrets

Hello Guys,


It is a mandate for every researcher scholar to conduct a detailed literature review once after selecting his/her research area. But why it is compulsory? You will get to know the answers only if you address the following questions:

1. What is literature review? 2. Why it is considered as so important? 3. How to conduct a literature review?

4. What type of articles are to be collected for conducting the literature review?


Let’s us go into more detail in knowing about the basics of literature review


What is a literature review?

  • A literature review is defined as a survey of academic sources on a specific research topic. It affords an summary of current knowledge, allowing you to identify pertinent theories, research methods, and research gaps in the current research.

  • A good literature review doesn’t just summarize sources rather it also examines, creates, and critically estimates to give a perfect picture of the state of information on the research area taken.

  • The development of a literature review comprises of finding of relevant research articles (such as journal articles and books), further critically evaluating them, and enlightening what have been found.

Why literature review is considered as so important?

There are several many valid reasons for conducting a literature review, however the following four main key points gives a clear understanding of doing the literature review.

In general, the basic and fundamental goal of every research scholar is to identify any new concept or invention while doing their research work. In order to bring out this, literature review is used to compare and justify the proposed novel invention/discovery.

  • Valuation of the current state of research on a topic.

  • Finding out the experts on the research topic which you have chosen.

  • Finding of the possible key questions about a research topic which needs further research.


How to conduct a literature review?

Below are the five simple keep tips to conduct the literature review

  • Choose a good and original research topic

  • Search and collect the relevant literatures from the databases

  • Study all the collected research articles

  • Analyze (i.e., particular research article)

  • Identify how far the previous research can be enhanced in your research work

  • Summarize the literature review based on the collected materials

Flow diagram consisting the steps of literature review development

We will see each of the above-mentioned steps in more detail.


Step 1: Choose a good and original research topic

Based on your research domain, select at least 2-3 good and original research topics and get any of the one topic confirmed with your supervisor as they will be definitely having a greater knowledge on your research area and hence, they can give a proper suggestion in choosing a workable topic among your suggested ones.


Step 2: Search and collect relevant materials

  • Based on the research topic, search and collect only relevant previously published reference papers that are related to your research work/topic.

  • It is suggested always to collect only recent years reference papers(i.e., may be 3-5 years) since the research information collected should be up to date and not out dated one .

  • The reference papers should be collected only from reputed journal databases like Scopus, SCI/SCIE, Elsevier, Springer, IEEE, ACM etc.,


Step 3: Study/skim all the collected reference articles

Once after collecting the reference papers, start to study all the papers in terms of the below key points:

  • What are the proposed model involved in the particular research article.

  • Where does the proposed model used for and how the model can be simulated?

  • What are the obtained results from the simulation?

  • How the obtained results are compared with the existing studies?

  • How the novel model is validated and proved?


How to skim the read articles?

The articles which were collected needs to skimmed in terms of the following key points

  • Title of the research study, author(s) name, journal name, date of publication

  • Abstract

  • Table of contents (if applicable)

  • Conclude together with help of introduction and conclusion

Step 4: Analyze the collected research papers

  • After the studying each and every reference articles, now start to analyze each reference research paper in specific.

  • Now, we need to analyze and see how long the proposed novel model in the specific research article is advanced in the field of research?

  • What are the advantages and limitations of the research study?


Step 5: Identify how far the previous research can be enhanced in our research work

  • In this step, we need to identify how the previous/earlier research work can be enhanced in our research work?

  • How the disadvantages of the earlier research can be enhanced in our proposed work?

  • How far our proposed research work will be progressive in the area of research.

Step 6: Summarization of the literature review

A clear summarization of the literature review needs to be included in this section. The summarization can be done either in a paragraph for a tabular column format.

Critically summarize each article in terms of the following key pointers:

  • Name of the author(s) of the particular research article

  • Year of publication

  • Title of the article

  • Findings of the study

  • Methodology employed in the research study

  • Advantages and limitations of the research study


Hope this article is useful to all the research scholar who are in the very beginning stage of their research work.

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