Guidelines to Write the Literature Review

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Guidelines to Write the Literature Review


The literature review is an important section of a dissertation. The purpose of the literature review is to show the reader that you have analyzed and studied existing studies concerning a particular topic or question in your discipline. The resources studied can be journal articles, books, and online sources. The literature review can be a part of the dissertation or it can be an isolated assignment which might be asked to test your ability to read and comment on a wide range of research resources. The review helps to provide a theoretical framework that can be aligned with the research objectives and questions. This article will provide a detailed discussion on how to write a literature review of a dissertation.

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Important Guidelines

It is important to know how to write a literature review of a dissertation and follow the basic guidelines in order to ensure coherence and quality. The review should use a critical approach towards discussion and analysis. It should not be a simple summary of what others have published regarding the subject. The writer must show insight as well as awareness about the various arguments, theories, and approaches. Furthermore, the writer should do a complete synthesis and analysis of the published work while relating it with the research purpose and rationale.

The review must use alternative viewpoints on the subject by comparing and contrasting the views of various authors. The validity of the review can be enhanced when authors that draw similar conclusions are also mentioned by the student writer. A critical discussion means analyzing the methodology in a critical manner while identifying the areas where the authors are in disagreement. Broadly speaking, the writer should highlight the gaps in research and demonstrate how their study is related to previous studies. By highlighting the gaps, the writer can provide a justification for the purpose of the dissertation. Another important goal should be to focus on demonstrating how the study is related to the literature in general. Finally, the conclusion of the review should summarize what the literature has stated.  You can gain further information by searching for an online literature review sample.
A good literature review seeks to provide a historical perspective for your study. It introduces the topic by using scholarly sources which have already used extensive research in order to study that particular topic. The problem that you are working on can be defined and limited while unnecessary duplication can be avoided in the review. The findings that you make can be related to previous knowledge which helps in establishing guidelines for future research. A good literature review will always focus on using a critical writing approach and identify the areas where there is disagreement by authors. Finally, it helps to raise questions and identify areas where further research is needed. You can find this by searching for a literature review example that will help to clarify the purpose of the review.

Literature Review Structure

The structure of the review should be based on the research topic. It is important that you should know how to start a literature review. The divergent opinions of various authors should be grouped together through comparison and contrast. Each section of the literature review should be a critical discussion based on the specific area of research. Controversial areas or questions asked should help to determine the structure of the literature review. You should not simply write the summary of one article and follow it by another summary. Each section should have a critical analysis together with comparison and contrast of the various authors.  The use of transition words and phrases is important if you want to group writers with similar opinions. If there is disagreement then you can use linkers such as however, conversely, and nevertheless. The review should end with a summary of the key findings and it should be linked with the primary hypothesis or research question. It is important that you should know how to write a literature review with complete knowledge of the requirements because this part of the dissertation carries significant weight-age.

Writing the Review

Before writing the review, you should start searching for scholarly sources that are related to your topic or research. Searching through online databases with specific keywords can help to expedite the process. It is important to understand to how to do a literature search because each source will play a critical role in the structure of the literature.  Recent articles and reviews have extensive reference lists which can help in the searching process. These lists allow you to search for particular studies in an efficient manner. The parameters of the research should be identified before selecting the sources.

This will help to streamline the processes. You should ask questions. What are your objectives? What are trying to find out? You should start looking at theory, methodology, policy, and other important areas that will help in writing the literature review. The next step is to identify the main areas and questions involved. This should be followed by searching scholarly resources that are related to the areas and questions. The literature review must always have a strong line of argument. You can write critical notes and comments while doing the reading.

The introduction must be clear and short which should provide an outline of the review. It should include the main topics and cover the order of the arguments. The main body of the literature review can be subdivided into other headings. The arguments that you use should be linked with the evidence from existing studies. Quotations can be used whenever it is appropriate. You must acknowledge opposing opinions in your thesis. This helps to increase the reliability and validity of your review. Having complete knowledge of how to conduct a literature review will make it appropriate and valid to the reader.

The review must use a formal and academic style with clear and concise writing approach. Colloquialism and personal language should be avoided. The objectivity of the review should be maintained while respecting others’ opinions is a valid part of literature reviews. Emotive language or personal opinions must be avoided at all costs. If you find something that is nonsense then use general language such as “inconsistent”, “lacking in specific areas” or other such neutral phrases.

Scholarly sources should be assessed using a critical approach. The credentials of the author should be carefully identified while the author’s arguments should be studied by using a critical approach. You should look at the methodology, case studies, scientific evidence, and other evidence provided by the author in order to determine its reliability and neutrality. Moreover, you should be able to check the objectivity of the author by determining the perspective. The author’s ability to use opposing arguments or evidence should be systematically studied as part of the literature review. Finally, it is important to study which parts of the thesis are convincing. The arguments and conclusions should be studied through a critical approach. Taking account of the above things is part of how to write a dissertation literature review.

The topic sentences of each paragraph should be studied to check if the review has a clear position. The sentences must be logical and make the transition to the next one in a smooth manner. A simple description is not enough for it to be a literature review. It should be able to evaluate and compare the research literature. A central guiding concept should be present for the benefit of the reader. This will help to make the literature review appropriate and valid.

You should make a new outline if you feel that there is no clarity or focus in the review. Each section and paragraph should be logical and provide a smooth transition. The literature review should be based on having high levels of objectivity and neutrality. The goal of the review must be to provide background information on the subject. It should also provide the means for future research. The literature review layout should be clear and precise in order to provide information to the reader.


The literature review is an important part of dissertations because it helps to provide a rationale for the research. It undertakes a systematic analysis of divergent opinions taken from existing scholarly sources. A good literature review will have indicated the purpose of the research. The writer must be able to define the parameters of the review and search for the best scholarly sources on the subject. The critical evaluation of the research is important because it can help in organizing the material according to the issues. A logical approach should be utilized in order to organize the material. The amount of detail should be precise as it must be according to the objectives of the review. A critical approach should be used to focus on the design, methodologies, arguments, and evidence of the authors. Divergent opinions should be compared and contrasted in order to ensure the neutrality and objectivity of the dissertation. A complete knowledge of how to write the literature review for a dissertation must be provided in order to achieve success.

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