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I'm writing a thesis and I'm supposed to find existing mechanisms about a topic.

The literature review papers can be called B and the primary literature B uses is called A.

I have found 2 literature reviews [B] that cover more than 30 state of the art mechanisms and I use their papers to list all the mechanisms. I basically mention all the mechanisms they mention and explain them briefly, and of course I give credit to the [B] papers. And those mechanisms I want to test out my self I will go to the primary source [A] to write in more depth about them and give credit to the [A] papers.

I have listed more than 30 mechanisms. If I were not to use these [B] articles I'd have to go trough 30+ [A] papers and basically recreate [B] papers and recreate a redundant literature review of said mechanisms that already exist in earlier papers.

Is this the correct way of using a literature review, or should I read it, and use the original [A]? I will later take the ones that fit my domain and make my own review. So I use existing reviews and use the primary sources [A] to make my own review.

  • Thinking about it, it seems very unprofessional to rely on a few literature reviews imo. Wont it show lack of research when I present my final paper? Shouldn't I rather look at the reviews and then go directly to the sources[A] and derive valuable information in the way I interpret it? – vasper May 12 '16 at 3:24
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Shouldn't I rather look at the reviews and then go directly to the sources[A] and derive valuable information in the way I interpret it?

Yes. You need to read anything that you cite, and you should read the original articles.

But if the review articles were helpful to you, you should cite them too. For example, the review article [B] might compare techniques used in two of the original [A] papers. You might want to cite that comparison in [B].

I have listed more than 30 mechanisms. If I were not to use these [B] articles I'd have to go trough 30+ [A] papers and basically recreate [B] papers and recreate a redundant literature review of said mechanisms that already exist in earlier papers.

Do use the review articles; they can help you and save you a lot of time. Without the review article, it would probably taken you a lot of time to figure out which [A] articles are relevant to your research, and to see how they relate to each other. Also, the people who write review articles tend to be experts in their field, so you're getting an expert opinion on what the state of the art is on a particular topic at the time the review was written.

You do still have to read the original articles, summarise them, and draw your own conclusions. And you should check for any important developments in the field that were published after the review article. But it's not nearly as much work as doing a literature review from scratch.

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  • Thanks! I have one more question. If I read a literature review, and use the papers they refer to, chances are what I infer from them will most likely be the same the literature reviews extracted from them. Wont that look strange? e.g [B] says technique does xxx, I will most likely interpret it the same way. And now as ive read the reviews the way they wrote it is stuck to my mind and it will probably resemble it. – vasper May 13 '16 at 2:18

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