Literature review is one of the crucial “milestones” in developing your research paper as this period gives you a full understanding of the scope and content of your research problem.
For me, literature review seems to be a “discourse” with other scholars on topic of my research. A discourse you are trying to have while looking through all those piles of articles related to your topic. My issue is the more “discourse” I have with scholars the more I get confused. Dozens of thoughts come to my mind while scrutinizing the ideas. You think about your contribution to an issue not duplicating someone’s work. It may sound cliché but I do not fancy discovering the continents again. I seek for a new and open problem, at least, aspect of the problem. Or, for example, how can I suggest promising solutions to the issue related to Kazakhstani context and many other questions.
What I am trying to do in this case is putting all those ideas into a system. After reading an article I completed a table with main research questions and findings of this article I read, which seemed a bit systematic. However, the most interesting stage of confusion came later on. At this stage I realized that merely a third share of all articles I read was relevant to my topic. Others were appropriate but not in such “close proximity” to my topic as I expected them to be after reading the title. So, titles can sometimes be misleading. Keywords and an abstract are helpful here though.
Another challenge I faced was being a distant student, not in terms of being an online-learner but in terms of a distance from Nazarbayev University Library. While on campus, I could easily access NU library login and download necessary articles, thanks to an extensive database of our library. However, from home, being 450 km from Astana, it appears to be impossible. What is more, the issue is not in access to database but in downloading articles. However, I am lucky enough to have very approachable group-mates who downloaded necessary articles and shared some with me. I am really grateful to them.
Where am I in the overall writing and editing process? Well, I am still in the process of searching and assessing articles in accordance with the relevance to my topic, ethical considerations and credibility of the sources.
I have a plan. I compiled a tentave must-read list of literature, half-of-read and half is not. First, I am going to read as much literature as I can to get acquainted with significant researchers in my field of reseacrh. It is amazing how one issue can be investigated and looked by many scholars from different perspectives. Once I critically studied and analysed all facets of my research question, I am going to start shaping my literature review.
I would just recommend those young researchers who do not know where to start their literature reviews from – just start reading. Do not wait for the Eureka moment to happen thinking that all ideas will fall from the sky. Start your “discourse” with researchers.
And, what is your path in writing literature review? A smooth one or not without “bumps” on it? Can you share main difficulties you have with, and most importantly, what are your solutions to address those challenges?