As a postgraduate engineering student, I'm doing a thesis project on a technical system that encourages people to exercise. Now I need to write a literature survey for it. As I never wrote literature survey before, I wonder whether I should discuss the incentive of my research like the advantages of doing exercises on it, which requires me to spend time looking for some sociology papers and reading them. Instead, if I just discuss the technologies used for my system in my literature survey, is it also OK?

  • I guess it depends on the field. Usually it is better to leave out discussing advantages of a proposed system if the thesis focuses on the technical aspects of the system.
    – adipro
    Apr 22, 2016 at 3:52
  • I think that you certainly should discuss that aspect in a section typically called "Introduction". However, I would not refer to it as an "incentive" or, even, a "motivation" for your research. Instead, paint a wider picture of the domain (field) that your research is or can be applicable to, including knowledge and/or solution gaps. Then, by describing how solutions like yours could be valuable, you present your research in the context of the field and show where and how your suggested solution fits in. This will establish the importance and/or relevance of your research. May 25, 2016 at 2:53

1 Answer 1


Since you are doing a "thesis project", which seems to be a rather particular kind of writing, you should probably ask your advisor what exactly they expect of you concerning the literature review.

In general, though, normally a literature review for such a topic should mainly cover other research that is related to your topic. Specifically, I would consider surveying research on:

  • other technical systems that encourage people to exercise;
  • other systems or approaches (non-technical) that encourage people to exercise;
  • other research that is generally similar to what you are doing, with "similar" being fairly broadly defined.

In general, I wouldn't expect that you would need to do anything about the advantages of exercise--that is well known and understood, and extremely general.

All that said, again, you should ask your advisor what exactly they expect.

  • I want to ask a general question, leaving my case aside, if a new technical system that's combined by two sub-system to achieve a certain social value is under my research and it's very hard to find something similar to that system on the previous literature. How should I write the literature survey? Should I just discuss the researches done on the two sub-systems?
    – Ivan
    Apr 25, 2016 at 4:54
  • Welcome to Stack Exchange. Here's a clarification of how comments are supposed to work: Is this comment a different question? (Then please ask a brand new question.) Or is it a clarification of your original question? (Then please either edit your original question directly or post the clarifying comment on your original question, so that other people can see it and possibly respond.) When you post a comment to my answer, it should be to ask clarification for or comment on my own answer, not to further or extend dicussion. Organizing things this way gives you and others better quality answers.
    – Tripartio
    Apr 26, 2016 at 12:13

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