Importance of Literature Review in Social Sciences/Humanities

Literature review is an essential part of academic work. My deep understanding of literature review emerged from my Bachelor’s degree up until my Ph.D. degree. As students we are not believed to be experts of the topic, therefore, the following are what I have learnt about the importance of literature review;

  • Identify contribution to knowledge: This is a key fact in any research work, most topics have existing knowledge which are vital to broaden ones knowledge as a researcher. According to my Ph.D supervisor (Dr. Brian ), understanding the existing knowledge of your research through scholarly works will help you in identify your contribution to knowledge and setting research question. The essence of every research work is to address something different or discover something new. This will give an affirmation to the audience that your work is valid and you have done your home work properly before concluding or having a position on a topic. The more the scholarly works, articles and books, the more expertise you will be.
  • Understand your Methodology & Theoretical framework: Adopting the right methodology to your research is very important and can be achieved by understanding the existing knowledge. Research methodology across disciplines differ, it is necessary to put that into consideration and read through previous works in order to adopt the right methodology. This also applies to the theoretical framework as the theories that will be adopted needs to be understood thoroughly.
  • Improve Writing and Critical thinking skills: It will be difficult to enhance this skills if you do not expand your knowledge. My personal way of improving my critical thinking skills is by reviewing a literature review, writing my contributions about the scholarly work, what I expect from the author, understanding the validity and reliability of the research. This has helped me in analyzing my personal research work as a third party. This is an idea acquired during training sessions at the Centre of Academic Writing at Coventry University. The understanding of how to place arguments in a research will be ameliorated, not everyone are good at writing. Therefore, if you are in that situation, it will be of great importance to read as many literatures as possible, this way you can understand how writers write.
  • Networking: In the context of networking, I denote relating with scholars in your field. A personal experience is when I started my Ph.D., I found great a significant book ‘Corporal Punishment of children: A human rights violation’ by Susan Bitensky, she is a professor of International human rights. My interest aligned with hers, I couldn’t help but get in touch with her for advice and to commend her work as well. I wouldn’t have come across her work if I didn’t engage in a lot of literature review. In addition, networking is needed for collaborations, publications and so on.

My conclusion is that in academic work especially in the social sciences, reading is a vital tool.

I hope you find this helpful? kindly let me know your suggestions, thoughts and experiences, as it can be useful to me and to other audience.

Thanks.


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