Background and litterature surveys, how to master them – part 2 – Searching and classifying litterature

The background chapter or section is standard in most texts that a student writes. However, when do you know that it is well written? In the next three episodes, Kyrre and Anthony will guide you through the process of gathering text and writing a great background chapter. In this episode we tackle how to build a taxonomy and to use it when gathering research.

Notes on Background chapter

The background chapter as the hidden treasure, a potential wow factor.

What are important properties of a background chapter?

      – educational

      – interesting

      – effective

The Museum analogy

     Level 1: only the exibit, you are left to your own interpretations

     Level 2: Audio guide: you get commentary at each item, but no overview

     Level 3: A personal guide: Commentary, overview and storielines

Three bases you need to cover:

Domain knowledge: back up your statements and define the nouns from the problem statament

Required prior knowledge

State of the art in reasearch ( or litterature survey )

How to do a litterature survey:

  1. Identify topics to cover

  – use a mindmap

  1. Create a taxonomy

Here is a list of classification criteria you can use:

  – year

  – authors

  – project name

  – abstract

  – subfield

  – Approach ( simulation, survey, metasurvey, implementation )

  – Research or industry driven

  – Key findings

  – Impact

  – Paradigm / school of thought

  – citations

  1. Find litterature
  1. Identify storylines

  Some interesting questions:

  – Is there a preference on approach?

  – What is the volatility of the impact?

  – Any trends/shifts over time?

  – Any large projects that can be given special attention?

  1. Supplementary info to support the storylines

  – conferences / summits / workshops

  – calls for grants

  – EU / grant topics

  – google trends

  – Political activity

  – news articles

How to do the writing:

  • Stay away from personal opinions
  • Humor is a dangerous tool
  • Use the heading as a summary, rather than just a topic name
  • Use diagrams and timelines
  • Do not copy and paste text from other sources

Use a Writing Diary:

  1. Date:
  2. What do I want to accomplish?
  3. What was I able to accomplish?
  4. What do I need to do next?

Some useful phrasings


Research demonstrates that…

However, research has yet to examine…

This article examines…

This article asks “…?”

The results suggest that…

This article argues that…


Research demonstrates that…

However, research has yet to examine…

This article examines…

This article asks “…?”

This article proceeds in five sections. First, this article presents…


Research on XXXX provides a useful basis for examining …

This section provides an overview of research on …

First, this section analyses…

Framework subsection 1

Research demonstrates that…

This article conceives of … as … This conceptualization is supported by … who affirms that “…”.

According to the author “…”.

The literature reviewed in this section suggests that…

This article uses XXXX as a basis for examining…


This article uses … methods to examine…

… provides a useful case for analysis because…

Data from … provides a useful basis for examining…


This section proceeds in three sections. First, this section analyses…


This article asked, “…?”

To frame the answer to this question, this article introduced research that relates to …

This article has argued that …

This article builds on previous research by providing empirical evidence in support of …

The results demonstrate that …      

The results extend previous research that demonstrated…


Editing Checklist For Each Section

What’s the idea? (section)

What are it’s components? (paragraphs)

What do I really want to say? (sentence)

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