Today I'm in the mood to write steps on how to start your literature review. Here goes..
1. Define your scope
So, once you have a brief idea about what to do for your PhD and Master, you need to define your scope. This becomes your 'Scope of work'.
The importance of defining your scope are:
1) To tell the examiner that our work is only this much.
2) For ease of writing Chapter 2.
My favorite method in defining the scope is by using Prof Khazani's K-chart method. Since I am not entitled to teach K-chart here (I heard that it is copyrighted), I would strongly suggest you to join Prof Khazani's talk should he provide any. Nonetheless, I share with you my K-chart here. The ones I bold are the focus of my study and the ones I did not bold is to tell the examiner that this is out of my scope.
Planning is the most crucial part that has been neglected by many. I shall caps lock it, bold, highlight, enlarge, whatever to stress the importance of planning.
Many times I found researchers got up all panicked trying to do everything but ended up with almost nothing. Take your time to plan, set some time to study about it. Let's say if your study is about Honda City, give yourself a couple of weeks to study first about cars in general. Google for tutorial about cars. Strengthen your foundation. Then only you study the difference between continental cars and Japanese cars. Then, you refine your scope to the difference between Honda, Nissan and Mitsubishi in terms of their technology.
You see, it doesn't matter if the planning take quite some times. It is worth it. You understand better rather than jumping here and there without understanding the big picture of your research. It's okay to go slow, rather than having to go back every now and then with little understanding in the end, trust me.
3. Read, read, read
I read the first time to get the overview and the theoretical background of a paper.
Twice until perhaps 15 to 16 times to understand the work. Then I extracted the advantages and disadvantages.
And again to know the software or hardware used and the parameters studied.
Again during thesis writing, to see how they write their results.
Unless you're a super genius, you can't understand a paper just by reading it once. What you might do is that you might misunderstand the whole paper due to assumption.
4. A proper documentation
Because you're gonna read it again and again and again, might as well have a proper documentation. This is my documentation from the first EPON DBA was published in 2001 until 2012, everything I can get my hands on (journals only).
5. Come out with a table
For ease of writing, because remember you're gonna write your critical review years after your read these papers. To help you refresh back my memory, I come up with this.. :)