Home 2015 – literature survey guidelines
Literature survey is background work that is made in groups as a part of the assignment. It is based on books and academic publications. The topics of literature surveys are selected so that they support the assignment.
NOTICE! Even though the literature survey is a group work, every student must contribute a part to the survey. The name of the author must be written in the beginning of the part he or she has contributed.
The main goal of a literature survey is to gather a basis for the practical work and to show that the student is familiar with existing literature and research on the topic. It is crucial to be familiar with the field, i.e. the concepts, methods and their applications, in order to be able to apply them correctly in one's own assignment. The literature survey will give the context and rationale of your work to you and your readers.
Example of the content of a literature survey
- Title and author
- name, student id and other information as usual
- Abstract (summary)
- Brief presentation of the content
- Give a list of names of essential concepts, approaches and methods that you have covered in your work
- Do not just collect some words that just sound nice
- What is the topic and why it is important
- To what larger wholeness the survey topic belongs
- What you plan to accomplish in your literature survey
- Definitions of concepts
- Description of the meaning of the concept
- Possible competiting definitions
- Concepts that might cause misunderstandings and confusion
- Possiple methods and approaches
- The actual content with appropriate titles
- E.g. description and comparison of approaches, methods and models and examples.
- Most important discoveries and conclusions
- Initial ideas or plans on how to apply in the assignment.
- Proposals for further research
- A good list of reference is important
- Has to follow some known referencing practice (E.g. Harvard referencing)
Important! When writing a literature survey, remember that it will be part of your assignment documentation. Write it keeping in mind the wholeness of how you will write the final report.
The idea is to write an informative abstract. The abstract must show the reader very quickly whether the full report is valuable for further study. It must function as an individual text, and not be worthless even if it is not accompanied by the report itself. The abstract must be short, concise (give a lot of information in few words, brief but comprehensive), but completely self-explanatory. (Abstracted from Davis, M:Scientific papers and presentations, 1997, p. 101). The abstract should be from a half of a page to three quarters of a page long.
It is crucial that you spend much effort on the conclusions, as that contributes to the work of the next stage. Conclusions part is the best place to present your own ideas in a literature survey. Otherwise, a literature survey is meant to cover the work done by others in the research field. As always, avoid mixing your opinions with the opinions of the other authors. And as always remember to write a reference, if you cite or use an opinion that is not your own.
Always remember to include also corresponding explanatory text in your literature survey when including a figure, image, picture etc. The caption is simply not enough, it does not tell the reader unambiguously why the element is there, what you are planning to say with it and what does it tell.
It is not necessary to directly follow the previous example. Please do apply it according to your topic! However, if you decide to deviate from these guidelines, consider what you are doing thoroughly - these guidelines are found to be a best practice.
Additional information about technical writing can be found from the library. You can also ask for more guidance.
Please notice also!
- English is strongly recommended as a writing language!
- Please supply copies of the references.
- Remember that the literature survey will be a part of your project document!
- It is required that the language of the literature survey is the same as the language of the rest of the documentation.
Guidelines for presenting the survey
- Concentrate on the keypoints of the survey.
- The group has to make a difference between own thoughts and thoughts of others (references).
- Write references in the slides also (remember references for the pictures).
Use this word template for the documentation. The documents will be processed into a seminar publication.
Please also review the presentation guidelines for general tips about presentations.
Updated: 09.01.2006, page maintained by PM&RG