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In the following sections, you will find additional information and advice for writing a literature review within specific disciplinary areas.Practice-based research often leads to the production of a creative artifact, a body of work or a performance, as well as an accompanying exegetical text.This involves identifying and discussing the key concepts, ideas and theories that are relevant to your research.
You can see an example of where literature is dealt with in the annotated humanities example on the Thesis structure page.
In disciplines which use footnotes for referencing, some of the literature analysis is carried on in the footnotes, in parallel to the main argument in the text above, as can be seen in the example below, from a history thesis.
In essence, a literature review identifies, evaluates and synthesises the relevant literature within a particular field of research.
It illuminates how knowledge has evolved within the field, highlighting what has already been done, what is generally accepted, what is emerging and what is the current state of thinking on the topic.
With a focus on creative practice, your research may not necessarily be guided by an explicit research question or a gap that your research aims to address.
Nonetheless, a literature review should still contextualise and situate your practice, processes and/or work.
Rather, it should include the key sources related to the main debates, trends and gaps in your research area.
Even if you’re in the early stages of your research and just beginning to conduct a literature review, it’s useful to consider the eventual role that your review will play within your thesis and the way it functions to orient your readers.
Humanities theses are generally divided into chapters which each deal with an aspect of the research problem.
There is usually also a short literature review in the introduction, to situate and justify the study, but often further appropriate research literature is integrated into each chapter.