How To Write A Literature Review Of The Dissertation

writer literature review

It might be your final semester of the undergraduate and postgraduate program where dissertation is your only requirement left to earn the degree. What do you think? Working on a dissertation for a single day would be enough? Well, it can take weeks, months, and even years to research and write a worthy dissertation.

There are many components of the dissertation structure. Each component of the dissertation requires a specific time to understand the requirements, and each one of them has its own significance in the dissertation. However, a combined effort of these components gives the desired results of the dissertation.

The literature review of the most significant component that requires your focus and interest along with complete knowledge if you want to desired outcomes. However, you need to follow a specific approach in order to write a literature review of the dissertation.

What Is A Literature Review?

A literature review of the dissertation includes a critical evaluation of the sources that were gathered for the selected topic of a dissertation. Furthermore, it recognises the gap in the literature for the selected area of your study.

Students have various misconceptions about the literature review of the dissertation. Writing a literature review can be difficult and easy at the same time which is entirely dependent on what topic you have selected and what approach of research you are going to pursue in your thesis. For some topics, you simply have to provide a summary in the literature review about the relevant information. While on the other hand for some topics we have to perform a critical and analysis and engage with the literature in order to explain our ideas, opinions, arguments, critiques, and claims in the literature review.

It is important to look for different sources and find the same information. Once you get the same relevant information from various sources make sure to critically evaluate the information whether they are the same or contradict each other. If they contradict each other, then find the reasons and the differences between the information in different sources about the same topic. This is how you need to critically engage with the literature review process.

When we talk about writing a summary, it is simply about the arguments gathered from various resources, however, the context of the literature review is far more than just a summary. A critical review of the literature can provide a new view of the point of the entire research, however, it can also combine old and new interpretations of the research which is known as the gap in the research.

A literature review can also include debates and focus on the main developments for the selected area of study. However, in many other cases, literature review points to assess the sources of information in order to enlighten the readers about the credibility, and relevancy of the area of study.

Difference Between A Literature Review And Academic Papers

Students normally confuse themselves about literature review in academic papers. There is a big difference between both of them and students need to understand that. The academic paper seeks to provide new information for the selected topic. On the other hand, the literature review in the research paper makes the foundation of the entire research. The main objective of the literature review is to find out the caps and to provide new and relevant arguments.

In a literature review of the research paper, you have to summarise the research arguments that you have gathered and critically analysed throughout the reading. Here, you don’t intend to make new contributions to the literature.

Is It Necessary To Write A Literature Review?

Once you understand what exactly a literature review is now you have to comprehend the step of writing a winning one. It doesn’t matter if you like writing a literature review or not it is always a core part of your research paper. It allows the targeted audience to understand the area of study through various sources of information and questions.

The literature review aims to convince the readers about the arguments and claims you made throughout the writing and to justify them with the use of logical facts and evidence.

How To Write A Literature Review For A Dissertation?

Understanding the procedure of writing a literature review is quite a lengthy process. This section of the article is broken down into various subheadings to make you understand the right process of writing a literature review and to achieve its objectives. You have to begin with finding the right sources, reading them, finding the gaps in the literature, and writing the literature review based on the gathered information.

Let’s see the entire process of writing a literature review in detail;

Recognise The Sources Of Information

In order to write a winning literature review of the dissertation, you have to first find the credible and the most relevant sources of information. There are specific guidelines for conducting research and your instructor is responsible to provide you with a detailed list of references. In a case, if you don’t get this references list from your instructor, try to find it out on your own.

Never rely on a single source alone. If you selected a single relevant research article, this doesn’t mean that you have to search for the articles only. Make sure that you keep balance on the sources of information. Reach out for research papers, books, research articles, research magazines, and other sources that are authentic and reliable at the same time.

If you want to select the right sources of information, you need to first understand the objectives and goals of your research.

There are few questions that you need to answer before moving towards the research process;

  • What exactly you are looking for throughout the research?
  • What are the objectives and goals of the research?
  • What kind of theoretical issues are you going to address in your research?
  • What would be your research methodology?
  • Are you going to conduct a quantitative, qualitative, or mixed approach?

Answering this question will help you to select the right sources of information. Students mostly get distressed when they see a huge document with a number of pages. If you want to effectively read the source whether it is relevant for your work or not, make sure that you read the abstract of the paper to make a quick scan while saving your time and effort at the same time.

Once you have decided on the sources, make sure that you make a detailed list of these sources in order to maintain focus throughout the research process. If you fail to make a list, there are chances that you might lose your focus.

Actively Read The Selected Sources

Once you have identified, find, and selected the sources, now make sure that you actively read them in order to get the desired knowledge of the subject.

Here are few steps of reading the selected sources effectively and efficiently;

  • First of all, try to get general information on the arguments and the entire content of the research paper. This process will help you to make the right judgement of the selected source and to provide your own review.
  • After getting general information about the paper, try to be critical and look for the inside of the selected source.
  • Make regular notes of the important points that you find throughout the reading process.
  • Be critical and write down the questions that come into your mind or you find in the source when reading.
  • Write down your opinion and suggestions on the content of the sources.
  • Note down the research methodology they have used in their research.
  • Find the theoretical arguments and the proposed hypothesis in the research.

Marking these points throughout the reading process would help you to be more clear and logical when writing your literature review. Make sure that you don’t even skip a single point mentioned above when reading the selected sources of information.

Find And Examine The Gaps In The Research

Identifying the gaps in the research is the most essential and critical thing you have to do when writing a dissertation literature review. It is the most effective part of your research proposal as it shows the relevancy of your research. You need to assume that you are specifically working to fill the gaps in the research. In most cases, identifying the gaps in the research shows that you have good critical analysis skills which can give you some extra marks for the activity.

Before you identify the gaps in the literature, you first need to know that what exactly the gaps are.

What Is The Research Gap?

The research gap is something based on the existing research questions. It can be an issue or a problem that is not resolved or a research question that is not answered in the literature. It is necessary for you to find out the research gaps in order to highlight the authenticity of your research. This actually showcases your abilities that you are not only relying on the existing research but you critically analysed the selected area of study. This was your understanding and knowledge of the literature in the selected field.

Almost every student finds it difficult to identify the gaps in the literature for the selected area of study. When we specifically talk about the postgraduate dissertation, it is very much important to generate research questions and to identify the gaps significantly. The process of identifying the gaps can be difficult for students. However, if you follow the right process you can easily find and demonstrate the gaps in the literature.

Let’s see the few steps that can help you to identify the gaps easily and effectively;

Begin with Reading

An easy straightforward approach is to read the most important parts of the selected research articles in your area.  First of all, you have to go through a number of research articles before selecting the most appropriate ones for research. Google Scholar is one of the best sources to find out the most appropriate and suitable research articles. However, there are many other sources as well that offers free access to a variety of literature. Make sure that the selected sources of information are relevant, reliable, and authentic at the same time.

Read Recommendations And Abstracts

If you want to get a good insight into the paper make sure that you read the abstract to get to the point information about the selected research article. It is necessary to get a good scan of the introduction and conclusion paragraphs in order to find out the objectives and findings of the research along with recommendations. The recommendations give a good idea of the expected research gaps in the provided literature. Another way is to read as much as possible about the selected topic while staying relevant to the area of study to find out the gaps in the literature significantly.

Writing Your Own Review For Research

After all the research and understanding of the requirements of literature review, now it’s time, to begin with, the writing process.  Let’s see some of the considerations of how you can write a review on the selected topic;

Check Out The Samples

First of all, select the samples of some relevant and authentic dissertation literature reviews that are relevant to the area of your study. Now read them in detail to get a good idea about the themes and the format of writing a literature review. This is the best practice, to begin with getting familiar with the structure and framing of the literature review. Make sure that you focus on the language and format style used throughout the literature review. Also, go through the references to get an idea about the sources of information they had selected and to find those sources for your own use as well.

Keep It Easy And Simple

You need to keep your literature review simple and clear to the audience. There might be thousands of resources available through which you can get various information on the same selected topic. However, you need to narrow it down accordingly. Every author has their own point of view about the same topic and they might differ in opinion.

You don’t need to include each and everything you find for the topic in a literature review. Make sure that you focus on the main points that support the arguments in your review. The entire process of writing a literature review will become easy if you limit the scope of your research.

Select The Most Current Resources

You might find a variety of research articles that may relate to your selected topic and area of study but are from the last decades. Make sure that you select the sources of information that are most current or can be in the time frame of 5 years. In most of the fields, research tips on evolving and this is why students should select updated research papers in order to stay relevant with applications in the selected area of study.

Reading the most current research articles would help you to understand the perspectives of the literature review that have different scholars have demonstrated their theories to the audience.

Organise The Information

Organising the information in the dissertation literature review or is for beyond the introduction, body, and conclusion of the writing. You have to preview different types of texts in order to get the idea of different types of themes, arguments, and topics in general.

Here are the details of how to organise the information of the literature review effectively and efficiently;

Comprehend The Basic Structure

Like all other academic assignments, the structure of the literature review is based on the introduction, body, and conclusion.

The introductory paragraphs of the literature review should be simple, concise, focused, and clear. It should focus on the outline of the review and should cover the key points.  The best literature review always provides the arguments along with logical evidence and facts to support them at the same time.

The body of the literature review should include a discussion of the sources that you have selected to review. You have a free hand to organise the relevant information based on any research methodology or any other theme that you find appropriate for the selected topic. Always ensure to present the arguments in a clear manner throughout the body of the literature review and to link them with the selected literature.

Remember to note down the points that contradict your point of view. Make sure that you exclude these arguments in order to stay relevant to the selected topic of the dissertation. You can also provide quotations in the literature review, however, don’t be so continuous about providing the quotations as makes you sound lazier. Always engage with the context of the writing in order to critically analyse the purpose of the information. The main purpose of the literature review is to demonstrate your abilities and how well you are critically engaged with the content. This is why a lot of quotations in your literature review actually is not a good sign. Rather than using the quotations in your literature review try paraphrasing the information in your own words.

In the summary section of the literature review, it is necessary to provide a summary of the information that you have gathered throughout your reading process.  It is necessary to provide the gaps in the literature review while filling the gaps at the same time. Never forget to provide recommendations for the sake of future research in the literature review which actually showcase your analytical abilities and can earn you extra points throughout the semester grades.

Focus On The Structure’s Body Paragraphs

You might have a good idea of the structure that you need to follow in your literature review. Now you have to demonstrate what should include in the body paragraphs. The body of the literature review is the most important work you need to do as you have to consider the framework in detail.

You have all the choices available whether you want to organise the information using a specific theme, chronologically, or based on the research methodology that you had selected to conduct research.  Structuring the literature review body paragraphs according to the research methodology is the most common and widely used structure.

However, if you want to structure your literature review using a methodology approach, make sure that you deeply investigate the methods implemented by different researchers. Make sure to answer the following questions when searching different research articles;

  • How the researcher has answered a specific research question?
  • Are there any limitations to the selected method?
  • If there are any limitations in the selected method, then what can be the best alternative available?

Answer to these questions I will help you to structure A literature review according to the research methodology approach.

However, when you use a methodological approach in scientific reviews, it helps to make a foundation of the discussion in the body section of the literature review.

Write The Body Paragraphs

Once you are done with selecting the approach to right the body section, now you must write each paragraph in such a way that keeps the audience engaged. If you are writing is customised with the selected base article, make sure that you have a deep look within the base article to get an idea after writing style.

Write The Conclusion

The conclusion of the literature review must include a brief summary of the literature. Furthermore, make sure to link the arguments or the research questions within the conclusion part.


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