How to write literature review in dissertation?

We write the literature review to showcase the research work or the PhD work in a summary. Literature review or the literature survey is the largest work of the study that contains the elaborate details of all the related work of the particular field of study.

Literature review alone is enough to justify or to show the in depth knowledge of the entire review and so it gives answers to many readers of our research works. Literature review will provide the detailed study of our work to other researchers in the field of study.

We have to read various research articles to get informations for our research topic and then we should make notes for the important data while reading itself.

 Then after categorising the data we have to split the data based on the recent years of study and highlight the essential information for paraphrasing the literature review summary.

While we are writing our own dissertation literature review. We should start by identifying our collected reference papers, and then we should read and re-read them. Next, we should have to think whether any gaps are there in the research or literature we have used.

Finally we should write our review using all the preparation and information gathered in the steps format with the previously gathered information.

For writing the Literature review in dissertation we can follow the steps given below:

Step: 1 identify references

  • To write a good dissertation literature review, we need to have a fair idea of what sources we would like to review. If we haven’t been given a formal reference list by our guide or supporter, then refer some resources sites that provide brief information of all the required information.
  • Make sure that our sources are balanced with correct form of original data along with proof that includes enough books and academic journals and any useful published work from reputable scholars.
  • For choosing our sources appropriately, we might want to think about the parameters and objectives of our research. We should analyse what we are hoping to find out? For that note down a list of required terms for which we have to get data.
  • In our literature review, what theoretical issues or perspectives are we aiming to tackle? How about our methodology? Will we be able to focus on mainly qualitative or quantitative studies, or a mixture of both? These general questions should help in guiding us in selecting our related research papers.
  • We have to remember that the abstract of a source is a very useful tool.
  • Having a quick scan of the abstract and its main concept will often give us an indication of that whether the source will be useful for our research or not.
  • As we are identifying our sources, we must ensure that we are keeping a list as it is very easy to lose focus and then give us the wide scope of the Internet to search the informative sources.
  • The citation tools attached to these programmes will also allow us to simply export citations in a format of our choice when it is required later. They will save our countless hours trying to figure out how to use referencing.

Step: 2 read the sources

Now that we have organised our sources efficiently, it’s time to read through them. As unnatural as it may feel, it’s most effective to read in a few stages, as detailed below:

  • First, go through all the texts to get a sense of their general content and arguments. This will also help us judge which sources we mainly want to focus on in our review.
  • During the second stage of our reading, we can then take a more critical, in-depth look at our sources. Make a lot of notes, be critical, and to ask questions. What is our academic opinion on the text? Do we have any comments on the methodological approach, the theoretical argument or the general hypothesis?
  • We should note all these steps and evaluate thoughts and ideas that are present in your mind. It will ensure that our literature review is not merely a summary of our readings, and will encourage a clear line of argument so that our work is logical and coherent.

Step: 3  consider all the gaps in research

While we are writing a dissertation literature review, an essential thing that we should consider is identifying the research gap.

  • Identifying the gap is particularly important if our review forms part of a research proposal, as it will highlight the pertinence of our research – assuming that our research has been designed to fill this gap.
  • In other instances, identifying the gap is an indication of good critical analysis and can make us to score extra points.
  • To identify the “gap” it is important that we know what this “gap” is meant for.  A research gap is essentially the existence of a research question, perspective or problem that has not been answered in the existing literature on in any field of study.
  • Identifying the research gap is important for highlighting the originality of our research work and so it proves we are not simply recounting or regurgitating existing research.
  •  It also shows that we are very much aware of the status of the literature in our chosen field of study, which in turn, demonstrates the amount of research and effort that we have put into our reviewing process of the research work.
  • Many students, especially at post-graduate level, find it extremely difficult to identify research gaps in their subject area. For post-graduate research papers, identifying research gaps and formulating research questions that can address these gaps form the very good essence of a research paper.

Several ways to overcome difficulty in finding gaps:

Start by reading: A simple approach will be there to read important parts of key articles in your research area.

Abstracts and recommendations: Whichever avenue we choose, reading the abstract is often a good starting point to get a sense of what the articles essentials.

We should also do a quick examination of the introductory and concluding paragraphs of the paper as these section always provide some information on the aims and outcomes of the research, as well as recommendations for future studies to give considerations for all the gaps.