Literature Review – a cornerstone of thesis writing

The final product of Master’s Studies is a scholarly paper called a thesis and based on reseach conducted by a student. General topic of my thesis is massive departure of teaching staff from public schools in Kazakhstan. Last year I did research proposal on this topic, and having penetrated deep into the problem related to this I decided to continue investigating the issue in my thesis.

If I were to identify the most challenging part of thesis writing I would choose a literature review. First, there was a lack of literature on the topic reporting about studies conducted in Kazakhstan. Frankly speaking, I didn’t manage to find anything somehow related to the area of my focus; therefore it was identified as a huge gap in literature. Second, I had no idea of how to organize a bunch of resources I had found into coherent and logical writing piece. Finally, I divided literature into two chunks according to two research questions that had been formulated. Research questions were the following: -What factors influence teacher departure from public schools to NISs in Kazakhstan? -What are the motivations of teacher retention in public schools in Kazakhstan? Thus, first body of sources was a description of studies that scrutinized factors of teacher massive departure from mainstream public schools, whereas second group of articles explored motivations of teacher retention in the same kind of schools.

A literature review reflects how the research I am conducting fits with studies that have been done earlier.Besides, the important part of literature review is to find scholarly and reputable articles related to my thesis topic, therefore I have searched ERIC, Sage Journals, and EBSCO databases looking for peer-reviewed papers based on primary data. For the past two weeks I have been working on selecting papers that can be added to ones I have already reviewed. I have had fifteen articles from the last year research proposal, and have recently found about ten more studies. Next step is to review the recent sources and assign them to a relevant chunk of my literature review. However, I believe it is an ongoing process, and I can always refer back to my review if there are any relevant papers.

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4 thoughts on “Literature Review – a cornerstone of thesis writing

  1. Thank you for your post.
    I think you are doing right job by keeping your topic from the previous year in mind. Regarding your 1st RQ, I think that it might not be the issue of most of teachers to move to NIS (only) there are also other schools like KTL and others which attract teachers from mainstream schools. To my mind exploring this question only in the context of NIS is not enough to research the problem of departuring from mainstream schools.

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  2. Dear Marina

    This was the most interesting topic among the ones that attracted me. We certainly have this issue all over the Kazakhstan, and there are several reasons for that. I could say that this happens as a result of a low-salary, the status of teachers and amount of work they need to complete.
    It is also true there are not many trustworthy materials, that could allow you to investigate and if you need any statistical information I am free to help (We do help many teachers with rural school background in our school).
    All the best!!!

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  3. Marina,

    In the second paragraph you mentioned the biggest challenge being the lack of articles about studies conduced in Kaz on your specific topic. In the last paragraph you say that you searched databases and found a number of peer-reviewed papers. My question is—were these peer-reviewed papers Kazakhstan-specific???? I am well aware of the problem writers here have finding good published sources on their Kazakhstan topics. So please let me know in this blog or by email how you found them. On the other hand, were the articles you found papers about retention or teacher departure in other countries that might have some relevance for Kazakhstan?

    Just one punctuation issue:

    You write: Besides, the important part of literature review is to find scholarly and reputable articles related to my thesis topic, therefore I have searched ERIC, Sage Journals, and EBSCO databases looking for peer-reviewed papers based on primary data.

    The word “therefore” is separating TWO INDEPENDENT CLAUSES, so do it this way:
    ………; therefore, ………

    4.5 out of 5

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    1. Robyn,

      Unfortunately, the peer-reviewed papers that I found are not Kazakhstan-specific, but they for sure have relevance for Kazakhstan. You have noticed that it is an issue to find research on various topics conducted in Kazakhstan; however, one option may be searching for studies done in Post-Soviet countries, as they may be relevant to our country.

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