chapter  6
22 Pages

Reading the Literature

To do useful research you need to know what other people have already done. Your subject has an established body of knowledge on which current views, hypotheses and dogma are based. There are five main reasons for needing to read, study, understand and (in some cases) remember this literature:

so that you know where the gaps in current knowledge are;

so that you don’t re-invent any existing wheels;

so that what you do is either a logical extension or a properly informed criticism of what has been done before;

so that you avoid mistakes and blind alleys which others have already discovered;

so that you can acknowledge and make proper reference to previous work.

These reasons apply to anyone doing any research under any circumstances.