how to write literature review dissertation

how to write literature review dissertation

An annotated bibliography is a list of your references with a summary of the content and the publication’s relationship to your research question. A literature review is an overview of the topic, an explanation of how publications differ from one another, and an examination of how each publication contributes to the discussion and understanding of the topic.
The purpose of a literature review is to provide a review of writings on the given topic in order to establish the reviewer’s own position in the existing field of scholarship on that topic. A literature review provides a reader with a comprehensive look at previous discussions prior to the one the reviewer will be making in his/her own research paper, thesis, or dissertation. In short, a literature review shows readers where the reviewer is entering the academic conversation on a particular topic in the context of existing scholarship.

How to write literature review dissertation
Beyond the identification of key themes and issues, it will be necessary to reach certain findings in light of your analysis of the relevant literature. Try to draw working conclusions about the current balance of opinion concerning certain controversies, suggest what you believe to be the emergent or future trends in the field, identify deficiencies in current knowledge and relate your own position to that of others.
It will be necessary to identify, draw out, explain, interpret and evaluate key themes that emerge from the literature you have been studying. Thematic analysis will not only demonstrate a genuine engagement with the literature, but provide you with a scaffold on which to build the body of your text.

How to write literature review dissertation

  • Summarise and synthesise: give an overview of the main points of each source and combine them into a coherent whole.
  • Analyse and interpret: don’t just paraphrase other researchers – add your own interpretations, discussing the significance of findings in relation to the literature as a whole.
  • Critically evaluate: mention the strengths and weaknesses of your sources.
  • Write in well-structured paragraphs: use transitions and topic sentences to draw connections, comparisons and contrasts.

As you write, make sure to follow these tips:

How to write literature review dissertation
Abstracts and recommendations
Whichever avenue you choose, reading the abstract is often a good starting point to get a sense of what the articles entails. You should also do a quick examination of the introductory and concluding paragraphs of the paper as these sections always provide some information on the aims and outcomes of the research, as well as ‘recommendations for future studies.’ These recommendations typically provide some insight on the research gaps in the literature. Another route would be to simply read as much as you can on your research subject while considering which research areas still need addressing in the literature – this is usually an indication of research gaps.
“While X argues for the enactment of more stringent migration policies, this paper argues along the lines of Y that migration policies should be based on human rights considerations.”

Always make sure you relate your discussion to your own piece of research, and in particular to your own research question, which may well have come about through a gap you have identified in the research.
The topic will therefore be the main tool for setting boundaries in one’s research, but there are others if the amount of citations is likely to be unwieldy. One is to review a particular type of literature – for example only to look at research-based articles and not at grey literature.