Their system provides an excellent guide for getting through the massive amounts of literature for any purpose: in a dissertation, an M. thesis, or an article or book in any field of study.
Below is a summary of the steps they outline as well as a step-by-step method for writing a literature review.
The great thing about this process is that it breaks down into manageable steps something that seems enormous: writing a literature review. students, unless you are already familiar with the literature.
I think that Foss and Walter’s system for writing the literature review is ideal for a dissertation, because a Ph. candidate has already read widely in his or her field through graduate seminars and comprehensive exams. It is always hard to figure out how much you need to read for deep meaning, and how much you just need to know what others have said.
Writing a literature review is often the most daunting part of writing an article, book, thesis, or dissertation. I have found it helpful to be as systematic as possible when completing this gargantuan task.
Sonja Foss and William Walters* describe an efficient and effective way of writing a literature review.Step One: Decide on your areas of research: Before you begin to search for articles or books, decide beforehand what areas you are going to research.Make sure that you only get articles and books in those areas, even if you come across fascinating books in other areas.Read the abstracts online and download and/or print those articles that pertain to your area of research.Find books in the library that are relevant and check them out.A literature review I am currently working on, for example, explores barriers to higher education for undocumented students.Step Two: Search for the literature: Conduct a comprehensive bibliographic search of books and articles in your area.The personal statement, commonly called the “college essay,” is one of the most critical parts of any student’s application.After all, most students are applying to schools where the other applicants have similar GPAs and test scores – the essays are often what sets a student apart..That balance will depend on how much you already know.For people writing literature reviews for articles or books, this system also could work, especially when you are writing in a field with which you are already familiar.