writing a literature review uk
writing a literature review uk
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.
In order to write a satisfactory literature review you must demonstrate your ability to search out relevant material from a wide variety of sources. Trawl online databases for useful dissertations and articles by using their abstracts to consider relevance, use all available university, college and departmental libraries, consult the web for extra resources, and follow footnotes. Don’t forget also, about the dissertation writing service from Oxbridge Essays, which offers a completely customised sample dissertation from which to model your own work.
It is often written as part of a dissertation, thesis, research paper, or proposal.
- To familiarise yourself with the current state of knowledge on your topic
- To ensure that you’re not just repeating what others have already done
- To identify gaps in knowledge and unresolved problems that your research can address
- To develop your theoretical framework and methodology
- To provide an overview of the key findings and debates on the topic
The scope of your review will depend on your topic and discipline: in the sciences you usually only review recent literature, but in the humanities you might take a long historical perspective (for example, to trace how a concept has changed in meaning over time).
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.
The Critical thinking page has advice on how to be a more critical researcher and a form you can use to help you think and break down the stages of developing your argument.
In a literature review, it is good practice to:
- What is the specific thesis, problem, or research question that my literature review helps to define?
- What type of literature review am I conducting? Am I looking at issues of theory? methodology? policy? quantitative research (e.g. on the effectiveness of a new procedure)? qualitative research (e.g., studies of loneliness among migrant workers)?
- What is the scope of my literature review? What types of publications am I using (e.g., journals, books, government documents, popular media)? What discipline am I working in (e.g., nursing psychology, sociology, medicine)?
- How good was my information seeking? Has my search been wide enough to ensure I’ve found all the relevant material? Has it been narrow enough to exclude irrelevant material? Is the number of sources I’ve used appropriate for the length of my paper?
- Have I critically analysed the literature I use? Do I follow through a set of concepts and questions, comparing items to each other in the ways they deal with them? Instead of just listing and summarizing items, do I assess them, discussing strengths and weaknesses?
- Have I cited and discussed studies contrary to my perspective?
- Will the reader find my literature review relevant, appropriate, and useful?
There are many possible structures. Your task is to establish one that will best fit the ‘story’ you are telling of the reason for your study. Once you have established your structure you need to outline it for your reader.