Skip Nav

Doing a literature review

Top dissertation literature review tips

❶What time period am I interested in? This can mean that you get mixed up over what is an exact quote, and what you have written in your own words; or over what was an idea of your own that you jotted down, or an idea from some text.

Why do I need a literature review?

How to write a literature review for a dissertation
What is a dissertation literature review? Example
What is a literature review?

Literature Review Section Writing a literature review for a dissertation is one of the main ways to demonstrate that you have made a strong research for your dissertation and have a strong academic background in your field. What is a dissertation literature review?

Example A good sample literature review for dissertation is a analytical overview of the literature on your topic. The purposes of writing a literature review are: Indentifying gaps in the previous research; Helping to avoid the topics and questions that do not require any research; Setting the background on the areas that has been already explored; Helping to identify similar works in the subject area; Allowing to set the intellectual context with previous related research; Providing a writer with the opposite points of view; Helping to define effective methods applicable to your project.

How to write a literature review for a dissertation Take a look at the list below. What supporting arguments should be included? Construct evidence that distinguishes relevant studies and excludes irrelevant ones. How are you going to find relevant argumentation? Determine which materials are potentially worth of examining.

What discovered arguments should be included in the literature review? Explain criteria to define valid and invalid sources. Data analysis and interpretation. How can you draw conclusions about the gathered literature as a whole? What data should be included in the literature review report?

Edit your review to separate important material from unimportant. The key components here are the following: A rationale; Hypothesis and questions; Plan for gathering data, including explanation how and why the material will be chosen; Plan for detailed data analysis; Plan for interpreting and presenting the information.

With longer projects such as a dissertation for a Masters degree, and certainly with a PhD, the literature review process will be more extended. This applies especially to people doing PhDs on a part-time basis, where their research might extend over six or more years.

You need to be able to demonstrate that you are aware of current issues and research, and to show how your research is relevant within a changing context. Staff and students in your area can be good sources of ideas about where to look for relevant literature. They may already have copies of articles that you can work with. If you attend a conference or workshop with a wider group of people, perhaps from other universities, you can take the opportunity to ask other attendees for recommendations of articles or books relevant to your area of research.

Each department or school has assigned to it a specialist Information Librarian. You can find the contact details for the Information Librarian for your own area via the Library web pages. This person can help you identify relevant sources, and create effective electronic searches:. Reading anything on your research area is a good start. You can then begin your process of evaluating the quality and relevance of what you read, and this can guide you to more focussed further reading.

Taylor and Procter of The University of Toronto have some useful suggested questions to ask yourself at the beginning of your reading:. You can add other questions of your own to focus the search, for example: What time period am I interested in? You may also want to make a clear decision about whether to start with a very narrow focus and work outwards, or to start wide before focussing in.

You may even want to do both at once. It is a good idea to decide your strategy on this, rather than drifting into one or the other. It can give you a degree of control, in what can feel like an overwhelming and uncontrollable stage of the research process.

Searching electronic databases is probably the quickest way to access a lot of material. Guidance will be available via your own department or school and via the relevant Information Librarian.

There may also be key sources of publications for your subject that are accessible electronically, such as collections of policy documents, standards, archive material, videos, and audio-recordings.

If you can find a few really useful sources, it can be a good idea to check through their reference lists to see the range of sources that they referred to. This can be particularly useful if you find a review article that evaluates other literature in the field. This will then provide you with a long reference list, and some evaluation of the references it contains.

An electronic search may throw up a huge number of hits, but there are still likely to be other relevant articles that it has not detected. So, despite having access to electronic databases and to electronic searching techniques, it can be surprisingly useful to have a pile of journals actually on your desk, and to look through the contents pages, and the individual articles. Often hand searching of journals will reveal ideas about focus, research questions, methods, techniques, or interpretations that had not occurred to you.

Sometimes even a key idea can be discovered in this way. It is therefore probably worth allocating some time to sitting in the library, with issues from the last year or two of the most relevant journals for your research topic, and reviewing them for anything of relevance. To avoid printing out or photocopying a lot of material that you will not ultimately read, you can use the abstracts of articles to check their relevance before you obtain full copies. EndNote and RefWorks are software packages that you can use to collect and store details of your references, and your comments on them.

As you review the references, remember to be a critical reader see Study Guide What is critical reading? Keeping a record of your search strategy is useful, to prevent you duplicating effort by doing the same search twice, or missing out a significant and relevant sector of literature because you think you have already done that search.

Increasingly, examiners at post-graduate level are looking for the detail of how you chose which evidence you decided to refer to. They will want to know how you went about looking for relevant material, and your process of selection and omission.

You need to check what is required within your own discipline. If you are required to record and present your search strategy, you may be able to include the technical details of the search strategy as an appendix to your thesis. Plagiarism is regarded as a serious offence by all Universities, and you need to make sure that you do not, even accidentally, commit plagiarism. It can happen accidentally, for example, if you are careless in your note-taking. This can mean that you get mixed up over what is an exact quote, and what you have written in your own words; or over what was an idea of your own that you jotted down, or an idea from some text.

This has the advantage that, when you come to use that example in your writing up, you can choose:. Help is available regarding how to avoid plagiarism and it is worth checking it out. Your department will have its own guidance. It is important to keep control of the reading process, and to keep your research focus in mind. Rudestam and Newton It is also important to see the writing stage as part of the research process, not something that happens after you have finished reading the literature.

Wellington et al Once you are part way through your reading you can have a go at writing the literature review, in anticipation of revising it later on.

It is often not until you start explaining something in writing that you find where your argument is weak, and you need to collect more evidence. A skill that helps in curtailing the reading is: Decisions need to be made about where to focus your reading, and where you can refer briefly to an area but explain why you will not be going into it in more detail.

The task of shaping a logical and effective report of a literature review is undeniably challenging. Some useful guidance on how to approach the writing up is given by Wellington et al In most disciplines, the aim is for the reader to reach the end of the literature review with a clear appreciation of what you are doing; why you are doing it; and how it fits in with other research in your field. Often, the literature review will end with a statement of the research question s.

Having a lot of literature to report on can feel overwhelming. It is important to keep the focus on your study, rather than on the literature Wellington To help you do this, you will need to establish a structure to work to. A good, well-explained structure is also a huge help to the reader. As with any piece of extended writing, structure is crucial. There may be specific guidance on structure within your department, or you may need to devise your own.

Once you have established your structure you need to outline it for your reader. Although you clearly need to write in an academic style, it can be helpful to imagine that you are telling a story. The thread running through the story is the explanation of why you decided to do the study that you are doing. The story needs to be logical, informative, persuasive, comprehensive and, ideally, interesting.

It needs to reach the logical conclusion that your research is a good idea.


Main Topics

Privacy Policy

Writing a Literature Review As an academic writer, you are expected to provide an analytical overview of the significant literature published on your topic. If your audience knows less than you do on the topic, your purpose is instructional.

Privacy FAQs

Randolph, Dissertation Literature Review framework for the self-evaluation of literature reviews concludes the article. Purposes for Writing a Literature Review Conducting a literature review is a means of demonstrating an author’s knowledge about a particular.

About Our Ads

A literature review surveys scholarly articles, books, dissertations, conference proceedings and other resources which are relevant to a particular issue, area of research, or theory and provides context for a dissertation by identifying past research. Literature Review Examples The dissertation literature reviews below have been written by students to help you with preparing your own literature review. These literature reviews are not the work of our professional dissertation writers.

Cookie Info

Dissertation: Literature Review Section. Writing a literature review for a dissertation is one of the main ways to demonstrate that you have made a strong research for your dissertation and have a strong academic background in your field. Management Dissertation Literature Reviews. Search to find a specific literature review or browse from the list below.