Aliving document, according to Cambridge (2008), is a type of documentthat is always changing, a document to which adding and deletingthings makes it morph and adapt to the times and the needs. Thisclearly is directly associated to the literature review and thesubsequent incorporation in the dissertation prospectus and proposal.The motive being is that in any and every field there is always newinformation being published as well as new ideas being formed whileworking on the dissertation, these should be included in theliterature review. This is why the idea of a living documentdescribes what the dissertations literary review is, and the idea ofit is a valid and existing idea. The literary review will need to beupdated continuously to reflect where the current research in thearea is as well as the new ideas being used for the dissertation.This is a significant aspect to consider because as a student, I lookto find the end of the method and to complete a final paper.Nonetheless, as a researcher, this mentality is shifted. Theliterature review is subject to change over and over again. It isessential for me to keep in mind that new literature and data isbeing added to the topic, and it is my responsibility to add it to myreview when necessary.
Dueto advancement in technologies, researchers and scholars publishtheir articles online as opposed to the traditional print publishing.This means that the information and finding contained in the articleis not a sealed black box. According to Shanahan(2015), the published article can be “updated, amended, extendedand indeed directly linked to other articles and data”. These arethe characteristics that define a living document. The idea of aliving document is not a new phenomenon. The United Statesconstitution is considered a living document since interpretation andapplication should be in the context of the modern world. However, inresearch, a living document is based on the view that “in aniterative, incremental development process should be open torevisiting and revising designs, plans and schedules” (McGregor,2012). Creating a living document that is not static and can beupdated with current information as it is required will allowscholars and researchers have an access to real time information.Additionally, living documents allows researchers to focus on aspecific aspect or section of the study at a time since it allowseasier reporting concurrent studies. Although it has not been appliedextensively in primary research, living documents have been used insystematic reviews where the author of a review regularly updates thearticle to include new development in the field of review. Dependingon the field of study, the publication of living document is asubject of debate. For example, in clinical trial studies, theresearch methods and analysis are read and evaluated simultaneouslyand therefore publication of working documents is limited (Shanahan,2015).However, Altman et al (2014) argued that with new and emergingtechnologies, opportunities presented by living documents areunlimited.
AltmanD. G., Furberg C. D., Grimshaw J. M., & Shanahan D. R. (2014).“Linked publications from a single trial: a thread of evidence”.Trials.15:369.
McGregor,J. (2012). “Breathing life into “living documents”, Journalof Object technology,5(4), 17-21
Shanahan,D. R. (2015). "Aliving document: reincarnating the research article".Trials 16(1): 151.