A literature review is a piece of discursive prose , not a list describing or summarizing one piece of literature after another. It's usually a bad sign to see every paragraph beginning with the name of a researcher. Instead, organize the literature review into sections that present themes or identify trends, including relevant theory.
You are not trying to list all the material published, but to synthesize and evaluate it according to the guiding concept of your thesis or research question. Compare this to an annotated bibliography , which is something entirely different. For writing an annotated bibliography, you may need to summarise each item briefly, but should still follow through themes and concepts and do some critical assessment of material.
Use an overall introduction and conclusion to state the scope of your coverage and to formulate the question, problem, or concept your chosen material illuminates. Usually you will have the option of grouping items into sections - this helps you indicate comparisons and relationships. You may be able to write a paragraph or so to introduce the focus of each section. Pay attention to your future reader.
In case if your audience knows less than you know on the topic, you become an instructor. If they know more than you do, you should perform understanding, expertise, familiarity and intelligence. A literature review investigates books, articles, dissertations, conference texts and other relevant sources. Literature review provides a background and a context for a paper by demonstrating the results of previous research. It is very essential to become familiar with previous achievements relevant to specific theory, issue, or area of research to move forward, suggest new ideas and fill in the gaps.
Demonstrating your knowledge about your field of study means that you also have to prove that you understand theories, vocabulary, key phenomena and variables, as well as history and methods. Moreover, creating a literature review also informs the author about the most important and influential research groups and researchers in the area.
In a word, a little bit modified literature review could be a publishable and scholarly document. Take a look at the list below. It is your step-by-step guide on how to write a dissertation literature review. One of the main things to understand about writing a literature review is that it is familiar to the process of performing primary research on your topic.
To some extent, particularly with postgraduate research, the literature review can become a project in itself. It is an important showcase of your talents of: The process of conducting and reporting your literature review can help you clarify your own thoughts about your study. It can also establish a framework within which to present and analyse the findings.
After reading your literature review, it should be clear to the reader that you have up-to-date awareness of the relevant work of others, and that the research question you are asking is relevant.
Be wary of saying that your research will solve a problem, or that it will change practice. When readers come to your assignment, dissertation, or thesis, they will not just assume that your research or analysis is a good idea; they will want to be persuaded that it is relevant and that it was worth doing. They will ask questions such as:. These are questions that you will already probably be asking yourself. You will also need to be ready to answer them in a viva if you will be having one. It is important that your literature review is more than just a list of references with a short description of each one.
What is critical reading? With small-scale writing projects, the literature review is likely to be done just once; probably before the writing begins. 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.
Determine which literature makes a significant contribution to the understanding of your topic. Point the way to further research on your topic. Content of the Literature Review. The Literature Review must be well structured, and your ideas must flow logically from one point to the next. Ensure sources and references are current and relevant, cited .
What is a Literature Review? 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.
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. When to review the literature. With small-scale writing projects, the literature review is likely to be done just once; probably before the writing begins. With longer projects such as a dissertation for a Masters degree, and certainly with a PhD, the literature review process will be more extended.
Writing a Literature Review in a dissertation 4 | P a g e your dissertation topic and field of study Headings/Sub-headings In order to allow cross-referencing of chapters/information in your dissertation, it is important to structure the chapters/sections of your dissertation using numbered headings and sub-headings. A good sample literature review for dissertation is a analytical overview of the literature on your topic. Pay attention to your future reader. In case if your audience knows less than you know on the topic, you become an instructor.