Writing the literature review of a dissertation is one of the most challenging tasks. Literature review is usually the second section of a dissertation. It shows your readers that you’ve read sufficient studies and researches related to the topic. The literature review section presents an analysis of researches conducted in the past, what the authors and researchers have found related to the topic and how the topic relates in the world today. However, there are various aspects that you should be aware of while writing a literature review.
How to Do a Literature Search
First and foremost, you should decide the sources that you would be using for writing a literature review. There will be a number of sources from which you could choose the relevant studies and literature. You can either choose websites, news articles and other online resources, or you could find relevant researches and studies published in the past on the same topic. In addition to this, you could use a combination of the sources i.e. online as well as past researches. Doing so would help you present a thorough analysis of the research that you’ve conducted. In addition to choosing the source, you should also decide on the inclusion and exclusion criteria i.e. the years of publication that will be included in the research and which publication years will be excluded. For instance, you can choose that researches, studies and other resources from 2005 and onwards for your study, and all researches prior to this year will be excluded. For obtaining accurate results while looking for relevant studies, you can create a criteria based on keywords as well. Identify keywords related to your research topic and list them. Researches with the specified keywords can be included and the rest can be excluded. Even though this criteria is extremely specific and tough, but doing so makes your research much better and focused.
Building a Conceptual Framework
Secondly, you should build a link to the chosen concepts, theories and your topic. This is known as the conceptual framework. This framework helps in narrowing down you research and identify core concepts, models and theories that should be a part of your research. Explaining this conceptual framework is essential as your literature review will be based on the aspects mentioned in the framework. Thus, it is necessary that your literature review consists of all the required concepts and theories that will assist in explaining the topic in a much better manner.
Preparing a Literature Review Layout
This layout will serve as a guide as to how to start a literature review. Initially, you should identify the different concepts that are a part of your study and that are included in the topic that you’re researching on. This will help you in preparing a draft of the literature review and listing the concepts that should be explained. Next, you should look into the theories that are related to your research topic. Including theories is extremely essential, but your literature review shouldn’t only include the explanation of theories. These theories should be related to the topic in a manner which will help the readers understand why they were chosen and how they will contribute to your research.
How to Write a Dissertation Literature Review
Now comes the tough part. You have gathered all the data and have finalized your sources, you are all ready to start writing the literature review of a dissertation. Your literature review should consist of three main sections; introduction, discussion and conclusion. A lot of students do not conclude the section in a separate heading which might leave your reader a little confused at the end. In cases where you’re writing a dissertation as part of your degree completion program, you might be awarded negative points for missing out on the conclusion. Thus, make sure that all these sections are included in your literature review.
The introduction section should talk about the concepts, models and theories that you’ve identified. This section should mainly introduce the researches and studies that you’ve planned to include and how they relate to your chosen topic. In addition to this, the introduction section of the literature review should include the scope of the review, the criteria that you’ve used for your literature selection and the pattern. Make sure that the pattern is logical and each concept follows the other.
Next you will need to write the discussion section. This is where you make an impact by including concept, theories and models related to your topic. You should always make sure there are different body paragraphs and the discussion section contains different headings. This will offer easy readability to the readers, and will also help you discuss the theories and other related literature in a logical manner. Each paragraph should state a different point and most importantly, the first line of each paragraph should be a topic sentence. This means that by reading the first line, readers should get an idea as to what this paragraph will talk about. The body paragraphs should present a historical background about the past researches that you’ve chosen and then build upon them. When explaining the theories, you can add direct quotes, but make sure that you cite them accurately. Not doing so might result in penalization. You should also compare and contrast one author’s view from another. Presenting a critical view and analyzing the literature is another aspect that you should focus on while writing your literature review (this will be discussed later in this article). This adds depth to your work and will help you to present a literature review that is well thought, well researched and well written.
Then comes the conclusion section of the literature review. In this section you should discuss the main concepts of the literature review. Make sure that you do not include any concept, theory or model that you haven’t discussed in the body. If you include new concepts and theories in your conclusion, your literature review would be considered as vague. Your overall perspective of the topic and what you have gauged from the literature search and researches should be presented in this part. Furthermore, your concluding part should also include the gaps of the researches and you should present areas for further research and improvement (this will be discussed towards the end of the article).
Analyze the Literature
Writing a literature is not about explaining the concepts, models and theories. You cannot just state what has been said or found in the past researches. You have to be analytical about the theories and concepts you are discussing. This means that you have to make sure that the literature that you’ve included i analyzed in a manner that will help you explore more about your topic and will prove to be helpful to answer the research question that you’ve set. You need to understand how the researches link to your topic, what are the major trends and patterns that should be considered, what are similarities and differences between the sources and how these sources are helpful in conducting the present research. This analysis should be presented in an unbiased manner. Refrain from expressing your own personal views, but make sure that the analysis is based on facts and is backed by researches as well.
Identify Gaps in Literature
This is another aspect that adds strength to your literature review. Not all researches have covered each and every aspects of all topics. There is always something that needs to be researched, and with the world evolving at such a dynamic pace, there are concepts that need to be explored. When writing your literature review, find out what more could have been studied and researched. Find out whether researches over those concepts have been conducted or not. If not, you could include them as a gap in the literature review and can suggest that researching them would help in learning more about the concept. Also, you could suggest improvements in the said area and can explain as to why improvement is needed, and once done, how the research would help in improving future researches.
This aspect isn’t given much attention, but is one of the most critical aspects of a dissertation. You should make sure that your entire literature review is backed up with references. A recommended type of citation includes referencing every paragraph or after every 100 words. This gives an impression that you have thoroughly researched, and know where your information is coming from. Even though the whole literature review should contain appropriate amount of referencing, but special attention should be paid when analyzing literature. This part requires proper and accurate referencing.
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- Data retrieved from: http://www.citewrite.qut.edu.au/write/litreview.jsp, on 17th May, 2017
- Data retrieved from: http://guides.library.vcu.edu/lit-review, on 17th May, 2017
- Data retrieved from: http://www.monash.edu.au/lls/llonline/writing/general/lit-reviews/index.xml, on 17th May, 2017
- Data retrieved from: http://www.duluth.umn.edu/~hrallis/guides/researching/litreview.html, on 17th May, 2017
- Data retrieved from: http://library.bcu.ac.uk/learner/writingguides/1.04.htm, on 17th May, 2017
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