How to Write a Literature Review as your Dissertation Chapter

 

how to write a literature review for a dissertation

Mar 27,  · "How to Write a Literature Review in 30 Minutes or Less" breaks down this academic assignment into 5 easy steps: (There is a text version of this video: http Author: David Taylor. A literature review has organizational pattern and combines summary and synthesis. Seek clarification from your instructor, for instance, on the number and types of sources to be included. Read on for more tips on how to write a literature review. 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.


How to write a dissertation literature review: an in-depth guide | Oxbridge Essays


Skip to content. Skip to navigation. This Study Guide explains why literature reviews are needed, and how they can be conducted and reported. Related Study Guides are: Referencing and bibliographiesAvoiding plagiarismWriting a dissertationWhat is critical reading? What is critical writing? The focus of the Study Guide is the literature review within a dissertation or a thesis, but many of the ideas are transferable to other kinds of writing, such as an extended essay, or a report.

The ability to review, and to report on relevant literature is a key academic skill. A literature review:. To some how to write a literature review for a dissertation, particularly with postgraduate research, the literature review can become a project in itself. It is an important showcase of your talents of: understanding, interpretation, analysis, clarity of thought, synthesis, and development of argument. 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, how to write a literature review for a 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 how to write a literature review for a dissertation 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.

The Study Guides: What is critical reading? Merriam describes the literature review as:. 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? What geographical area?

What social setting? What materials? 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, how to write a literature review for a dissertation 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, how to write a literature review for a dissertation, research questions, how to write a literature review for a dissertation, 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.

Blaxter et al. 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. 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. 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: knowing where to set boundaries. 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, how to write a literature review for a dissertation.

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, how to write a literature review for a dissertation. 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. If there is a key article or book that is of major importance to the development of your own research ideas, how to write a literature review for a dissertation, it is important to give extra space to describing and critiquing that piece of literature in more depth. Similarly, if there are some studies that you will be referring to more than to others, it would be useful to give them a full report and critique at this stage.

As well as using tables to display numerical data, tables can be useful within a literature review when you are comparing other kinds of material. For example, you could use a table to display the key differences between two or more:.

The table format can make the comparisons easier to understand than if they were listed within the text. It can also be a check for yourself that you have identified enough relevant differences. An omission will be more obvious within a table, where it would appear as a blank cell, than it would be within text.

Almost all academic writing will need a reference list. How to write a literature review for a dissertation is a comprehensive list of the full references of sources that you have referred to in your writing. The reader needs to be able to follow up any source you have referred to.

 

Doing a literature review — University of Leicester

 

how to write a literature review for a dissertation

 

Oct 13,  · The literature review is the section of your dissertation where you detail the work that's been done in your field and show how that research has influenced your own work. There should be no original work in the literature review section; it focuses entirely on already publishes research. Mar 27,  · "How to Write a Literature Review in 30 Minutes or Less" breaks down this academic assignment into 5 easy steps: (There is a text version of this video: http Author: David Taylor. Download the Dissertation Journey ebook to understand the challenges dissertation writers face and strategies for overcoming them. 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.