I am at the early stage of my PhD and yet I am writing what looks like a literature review. I will use the word "Bibliography" for "literature review" or "the chapter that describes the state of the art in the domain" in the following (this has been corrected thank's to a comment).
My subject is about soft matter physics and a huge amount of theses has already been written on similar topics.
When looking at the literature review of these theses it may be noted that :
- The sequence of ideas is often the same (this makes sense, so why not?)
- Cited papers are always the same, even though 20 years elapsed between the first and last thesis. Moreover, papers from the 30's are cited but no one in my lab owns them (!)
My hypothesis is that these theses are the progeny of some sort of a Mother of All Thesis, and that paraphrasing the work of the previous student is ok.
So my question is "What makes a good literature review" and "How do you notice that a literature review is sloppy?" I think there are a lot of students here, some advice on writing a good literature review may be helpful..
Thank you in advance for your reply!
PS: I come to ask to the physicists here on SE because I think you have experienced it before at the time of your PhD, or as a supervisor you have to deal with paraphrasing of your students.
PS2: I am not asking about making proper citations, LaTeX handles it like a charm.