How to write a dissertation literature review

Dissertation Literature Review

 literature review

Writing a bad literature review is the surest way to derail your dissertation. A flawed literature review means a flawed dissertation because a researcher must significantly understand the literature before conducting his/her own research. Writing a literature review showcases the student’s understanding of a particular topic/area of study. It also serves as an educative process where the student learns about influential researchers in the field. Students often face a lot of confusion regarding their literature reviews. If you are one of these students, do not be in disarray. Ouacademic writing company offers professional, quality, reliable, and affordable dissertation literature review help to students in the USA, the UK, Australia, Canada, and worldwide.

Literature reviews also play a significant role in:

  • Establishing the research problem.
  • Looking for new ways of examination.
  • Evading useless approaches.
  • Acquiring methodological understanding.
  • Identifying gaps in previous studies.
  • Identifying new variables pertinent to your topic.
  • Gaining new insights.
  • Identifying relationships between different concepts.
  • Establishing the context of the topic.
  • Acquiring the topic’s vocabulary.
  • Justifying the problem’s significance.
  • Providing a structure for relating new findings to old findings in the discussion chapter of your dissertation.

How to write a dissertation literature review

Below we have highlighted and detailed a step-by-step guide to writing your literature review. We have broken down these steps into three broad categories:

  1. Identify the sources

To write an outstanding dissertation, you have to have a list of sources you will review. These sources include books, journals, peer-reviewed articles, and any practical work published by scholars. To identify the appropriate sources, consider the objectives of your study. The sources you settle on should be relevant to your topic and academic field. Consider your methodology, the theoretical perspectives you plan to examine, and whether you will focus on qualitative or quantitative studies. It is essential that you keep a list of all these sources to avoid losing focus and struggling later on when referencing your work.  

  1. Read your sources

After compiling a list of relevant sources, read through them. First, skim through them to get a general understanding of what they are exactly about. This is important as it provides you with insight into the sources that you will focus on more in your review. Then take an analytical and comprehensive look at these sources while taking detailed notes and evaluating your academic opinion on the said sources. This is important because it gives your literature review an argumentative foundation rather than a mere summary of sources.

  1. Examine gaps in the research

A research gap refers to an existing research perspective or question that has not been explored in the existing literature or previous studies. Identifying a research gap shows that your research is original and that you are not just repeating existing research. Finding gaps is essential as it highlights the relevance of your research and signifies good critical analysis skills that will score your dissertation high marks. Finding these gaps and coming up with research questions is the very reason why you are doing your research.  

  1. Write your literature review.

Now that you are well prepared, it is time to start writing your literature review. A few things to remember when writing your review:

  • Familiarize yourself: Look at some dissertation literature reviews in your academic field. Go through them thoroughly to know what is expected of you. This is also helpful if you are not familiar with dissertation writing. Be keen on the formal writing style and academic language used.
  • Simplicity: It is important to remember that hundreds, even thousands of sources on any given topic exist. You are not expected to address all the topic’s perspectives; therefore, keep it focused. Narrow down your study’s focus and highlight it in the literature review.
  • Organization: Figure out how you will arrange your literature review’s themes, ideas, and topics. Your ideas should flow in a smooth, coherent, and clear manner. Like any other academic writing piece, a dissertation literature review comprises an introduction, body, and conclusion. You can choose to structure your work chronologically, according to themes, trends, or arguments.

Things to remember in your literature review 

You need to remember some essential things when working on your dissertation literature review. These are just some tips to ensure that your literature review chapter and dissertation are iron-clad.

  1. Do not simply describe the work and opinions of other writers. Instead, analyze their works critically.
  2. Structure your literature review’s body properly. Your structure should be organized and coherent. You can structure the review chronologically, conceptually, or methodologically.
  3. Use multiple sources. Ample sources are what form the basis of the entire literature review. When making a point, back it up with various sources. Making baseless claims transforms your dissertation into an opinion piece of writing.
  4. Only use direct quotes when emphasizing a point or when it is absolutely necessary. Relying too much on direct quotes will only inhibit your dissertation’s impact and pertinence.
  5. Even though you are supposed to summarize different works and viewpoints in your literature review, your voice needs to be heard – weave your thoughts and opinions with evidence.
  6. All sources used in writing your dissertation literature review must be properly referenced. Failure to which leads to plagiarism

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 literature review


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