When I graduated my master's program, I got an A on my thesis, but they said I would have knocked it out of the park had I included a literature review.
A literature review?
I thought I knew what it was. I thought I had included it. Guess not.
By the time I reached my doctoral program. I still had no idea how to do it. It took doing my comps two times to get it right.
It's the area where I see most people struggling, too.
What the heck is a literature review?
It's when you find the literature relating to your topic, put scholars in conversation with one another, and make a case for your argument/contribution.
Kristin Luker, in a super friendly way, will tell you how to see what kind of literature you need and how to put it together.
I also recommend searching for LITERATURE REVIEWS on YouTube and watching the videos there.
There are many ways to go about it:
For me, the literature reviews required two full boxes of index cards and days at the library sifting and sorting materials. It does become kind of fun after I surrendered.
Two of my colleagues also really enjoyed their literature review process.
One flew off to Mexico City to do hers. Another retreated to the libraries of Tuscon, Arizona.
They liked being able to dive into the scholarship that really interested them. You don't have too many more times in your career where you will go through this process. It's really a privilege to focus in this way.
Please comment below on your experiences with literature reviews so others can benefit.
Sarah Federman, PhD