writing a literature review for a dissertation

writing a literature review for a dissertation

Writing a literature review for a dissertation
You’ll soon realise that organising the body of your literature review is an iterative process and you’ll more often than not, use all of these approaches in your write-up. The body of your research may also include additional sections that do not necessarily form a part of its organisational structure. For instance, you might want to include a ‘context section’ that provides some insight on any background detail required for understanding the focus of the literature review. It may also focus on historical considerations. You could include a short methodology section that details the approach you used in selecting and analysing your sources.
Now you’re well prepared to start putting fingers to keyboard. Consider the following pointers:

Writing a literature review for a dissertation
You probably won’t be able to read absolutely everything that has been written on the topic – you’ll have to evaluate which sources are most relevant to your questions.
Like any other academic text, your literature review should have an introduction, a main body, and a conclusion. What you include in each depends on the objective of your literature review.

Writing a literature review for a dissertation
Paragraphs giving the title of each book and then summarising their contents do not constitute a literature review. You need to look for themes that several authors mention and discuss the ways the different authorities have tackled them. Your literature review should be as comprehensive as possible, mentioning all the major theorists or writers in the field of your dissertation subject.
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.

  • Aims and objectives.
  • Central thesis.
  • Outcomes.
  • Theoretical framework.
  • Context and background.
  • Research design and method.
  • Findings.
  • Contribution to the field.

You can also limit your search by date. In the above example, the authors use the starting date of 1992 as the year when former polytechnics became universities in the UK.

Writing a literature review for a dissertation
Use your keywords to begin searching for sources. Some useful databases to search for journals and articles include:
The introduction should clearly establish the focus and purpose of the literature review.