Preparation of Literature Surveys

H. K. D. H. Bhadeshia

A good literature survey covers the state-of-the-art, is a critical assessment and can define new work. Chance favours the prepared mind (Pasteur). It also helps avoid the repetition of research through ignorance. There is an excellent article on the subject by R. W. Cahn, Journal of Materials Science 41 (2006) 593-596.

As a part of your course, you are required to conduct such a survey on one of the topics listed below. The length should be about 3000 words, not including references. You have eight full days to devote to the task. Your report must be concise and well-written, with particular attention to referencing.

To help you, there is an example format of a survey which can be used as a guideline to the presentation style, although this should not restrict creativity. A list of common mistakes can also be studied. Examples of published surveys are available:

The survey will be assessed and can contribute 6% (report - 5%; presentation - 1%) towards your final mark for the whole course.


Indicate your selection to Dr Barber, providing three topics in order of preference. You will then be informed of the unique title on which you should conduct the survey. You may consult the originator of the topic to obtain two references to start the survey, and you can make reasonable use of that originator for advice throughout the exercise.

On the 13th of December 2000, you are required to give a public presentation of your findings, to which all those involved in the Course will be invited. You may use a maximum of six transparencies and will have 15 minutes including 5 minutes for questions.

Libraries and search facilities

It is likely that University Libraries, such as the Scientific Periodicals Library (SPL), will have to be used, in addition to the Department Library and it is your responsibility to ensure that you are registered with the main University Library, so that you can use other libraries around the University. A variety of on-line search facilities can be used, including the worldwide web and the Science Citation Index (available through the"Web of Science": for information about accessing this, including usernames and passwords, see the Department Librarian).

Topics for Literature Surveys

The topics are identical to the titles of the individual research projects.

Marking Scheme

Marks will be given in integers, out of 18, as follows:
Superalloys Titanium Bainite Martensite Widmanstätten ferrite
Cast iron Welding Allotriomorphic ferrite Movies Slides
Neural Networks Pearlite Recrystallisation Theses

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