Skill Spotlight: Literature Review


Welcome to this week’s HDR Development Bulletin.

The skill we are focusing on this week is developing your ‘Literature review’. Resources associated with this skill can be accessed here on the REST FLO site and here on the Flinders library site.

Conducting a literature review early on in your candidature is an essential part of your HDR learning journey. It creates space for you to deeply familiarise yourself with existing knowledge from one or more disciplines, as you identify and clarify the research gap you want to pursue.

Your literature review is also one of the most important parts of your thesis. It is a systematic interrogation of the existing research that helps you to position your research in the knowledge gap. It enables you to explore existing understanding in your research area whilst also providing context for the scope and significance of your specific research project.

The literature review is also a place that can trip you up.

  • Where should you stop and start the story?
  • How much detail and synthesis should you include?
  • How do you make sure it is ‘up to date’ by the time you are ready to submit?

Some of these boundaries will be determined through discussion between you and your supervisor. However, boundaries can also be guided by the type of approach you use when conducting your review as well as your field of research (some fields have a lot of existing knowledge, others have much less).

The library has several resources that can support you to conduct a thorough review. In addition to supplying the databases you will need to use to conduct your search, they run training in things like search procedures and setting up literature trackers. The library also offers one-one-one help and has provided the content below to share with you so you can learn more about this service.


Advanced and systematic searching support

HDRs who are seeking further assistance with library search skills, including systematic style reviews, can attend a Library Search Support drop-in session to get customised support and ask any questions you may have.

Sessions are run weekly at Central, Sturt & Medical libraries, as well as online (view drop-in schedule). Drop by anytime if you are stuck with searching and a librarian can provide specialised assistance, no bookings are required.

To get the most out of your time, it is suggested that you complete either of the following self-paced modules in Canvas (login required) prior to attending a drop-in:  Searching with confidence (beginner) and/or Systematic literature searching (advanced).

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GA2: Depth of Disciplinary Expertise