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The term ‘synthesis’ refers to the bringing together of material from different sources, and the creation of an integrated whole.In this case the ‘whole’ will be your structured review of relevant work, and your coherent argument for the study that you are doing.Your interpretation may be self-evident to you, but it may not be to everyone else.
You can find the contact details for the Information Librarian for your own area via the Library web pages.
This person can help you identify relevant sources, and create effective electronic searches: anything on your research area is a good start. You may also want to make a clear decision about whether to start with a very narrow focus and work outwards, or to start wide before focussing in. It is a good idea to decide your strategy on this, rather than drifting into one or the other.
Guidance will be available via your own department or school and via the relevant Information Librarian.
There may also be key sources of publications for your subject that are accessible electronically, such as collections of policy documents, standards, archive material, videos, and audio-recordings.
You can then begin your process of evaluating the quality and relevance of what you read, and this can guide you to more focussed further reading. It can give you a degree of control, in what can feel like an overwhelming and uncontrollable stage of the research process.
Taylor and Procter of The University of Toronto have some useful suggested questions to ask yourself at the beginning of your reading: can add other questions of your own to focus the search, for example: What time period am I interested in? Searching electronic databases is probably the quickest way to access a lot of material.With small-scale writing projects, the literature review is likely to be done just once; probably before the writing begins.With longer projects such as a dissertation for a Masters degree, and certainly with a Ph D, the literature review process will be more extended.The ability to review, and to report on relevant literature is a key academic skill.A literature review: To some extent, particularly with postgraduate research, the literature review can become a project in itself.They will ask questions such as: These are questions that you will already probably be asking yourself.You will also need to be ready to answer them in a viva if you will be having one. are particularly relevant to the process of critical review.You need to demonstrate to your reader that you are examining your sources with a critical approach, and not just believing them automatically.Your interpretation of each piece of evidence is just that: an interpretation.If you can find a few really useful sources, it can be a good idea to check through their reference lists to see the range of sources that they referred to.This can be particularly useful if you find a review article that evaluates other literature in the field.