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Dissertation: Literature Review Section

What is a literature review?

❶Remember — a good literature review not only provides important background to your own dissertation writing , but also helps to show where your dissertation will fit into the field. They specifically espouse a perspective based on a human rights approach…" This approach also leaves room for you to insert your voice into the literature.

What is a dissertation literature review? Example

How to write a literature review for a dissertation
Top dissertation literature review tips
Why do I need a literature review?

It's unlikely you will have the time to read every word available on your topic, however in the literature review you should aim to demonstrate wide reading. Rather than simply a list of different writers in the field and their opinions, your literature review should give a clear idea of the whole field as it currently stands, describing different bodies of literature, providing varying standpoints on the important issues, and indicating where general opinions have recently changed or are currently being challenged.

It must provide a critique of each work, not simply a summary of the books and articles to which you refer. Furthermore, this should be done using authoritative works written by experts — you'll need to evaluate each relevant book or article you discover to ensure it has been written by an academic. Remember — a good literature review not only provides important background to your own dissertation writing , but also helps to show where your dissertation will fit into the field.

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 might be helpful to use subheadings or bullet points in your dissertation writing to clarify the different areas of theory and the positions of each writer.

These subsections might echo areas of the subject you will later visit in your dissertation itself. In any case, when considering your inclusion and exclusion criteria, it is important to ask the following of each article: In practice, this process will ensure that the review remains concisely tailored to the topic discussed. Moreover, if you find that the literature available is too sparse, or conversely, insurmountable; it is worth reconsidering your research questions to develop a more constrained focus on the topic at hand.

The next section of this blog offers 10 top tips on how to ensure you write a great dissertation literature review. Do not begin analysing the literature before clarifying in your own mind the research questions that will guide your dissertation.

By formulating problems beforehand, you will avoid wasting hours in aimless reading. Know the issues of concern to you and consider the material through this lens alone. 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.

A common mistake in writing a literature review is to get bogged down in flat descriptions of the content of the many books, journals articles and reports that you have been reading.

Relate only the directly relevant content, and spend as much time analysing the comparative significance of various sources for your own purposes. 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.

Nothing must make it into your literature review which has not been scrutinised, questioned and dissected. A critical approach to all reviewed material is the means to ensuring the elimination of mere description and the proper emphasis on original analysis. Challenge assumptions, generate arguments and give reasons for your reactions.

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. The need to consult a broad range of material has already been stated, but consider also the validity of the sources you review.

In some subject areas classic texts retain their authority for literally thousands of years; cutting edge scientific research will need to be more mindful of the dangers of consulting obsolete data. Key themes provide a natural structuring principle in a literature review, as do categories based on relevance to research questions, academic position, theoretical paradigm, chronology, and so on. Part of your analysis of reviewed material will almost certainly involve a consideration of the theoretical underpinning of each source, inherent working assumptions, paradigmatic aims, and so on.

Explicitly articulate the rationale behind the theoretical aspect to your own findings and the position you have reached by the end of the literature review. First and foremost, you should decide the sources that you would be using for writing a literature review. There will be a number of sources from which you could choose the relevant studies and literature.

You can either choose websites, news articles and other online resources, or you could find relevant researches and studies published in the past on the same topic. In addition to this, you could use a combination of the sources i. In addition to choosing the source, you should also decide on the inclusion and exclusion criteria i. For instance, you can choose that researches, studies and other resources from and onwards for your study, and all researches prior to this year will be excluded.

For obtaining accurate results while looking for relevant studies, you can create a criteria based on keywords as well. Identify keywords related to your research topic and list them. Researches with the specified keywords can be included and the rest can be excluded. Even though this criteria is extremely specific and tough, but doing so makes your research much better and focused. Secondly, you should build a link to the chosen concepts, theories and your topic.

This is known as the conceptual framework. This framework helps in narrowing down you research and identify core concepts, models and theories that should be a part of your research. Explaining this conceptual framework is essential as your literature review will be based on the aspects mentioned in the framework.

Thus, it is necessary that your literature review consists of all the required concepts and theories that will assist in explaining the topic in a much better manner. This layout will serve as a guide as to how to start a literature review.

This will help you in preparing a draft of the literature review and listing the concepts that should be explained. Next, you should look into the theories that are related to your research topic. These theories should be related to the topic in a manner which will help the readers understand why they were chosen and how they will contribute to your research.

Now comes the tough part. You have gathered all the data and have finalized your sources, you are all ready to start writing the literature review of a dissertation. Your literature review should consist of three main sections; introduction, discussion and conclusion. A lot of students do not conclude the section in a separate heading which might leave your reader a little confused at the end. Thus, make sure that all these sections are included in your literature review.

Make sure that the pattern is logical and each concept follows the other. Next you will need to write the discussion section. This is where you make an impact by including concept, theories and models related to your topic.

You should always make sure there are different body paragraphs and the discussion section contains different headings. This will offer easy readability to the readers, and will also help you discuss the theories and other related literature in a logical manner. Each paragraph should state a different point and most importantly, the first line of each paragraph should be a topic sentence. This means that by reading the first line, readers should get an idea as to what this paragraph will talk about.

When explaining the theories, you can add direct quotes, but make sure that you cite them accurately. Not doing so might result in penalization. Presenting a critical view and analyzing the literature is another aspect that you should focus on while writing your literature review this will be discussed later in this article. This adds depth to your work and will help you to present a literature review that is well thought, well researched and well written.

Then comes the conclusion section of the literature review. In this section you should discuss the main concepts of the literature review. If you include new concepts and theories in your conclusion, your literature review would be considered as vague.


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Determine which literature makes a significant contribution to the understanding of your topic. Point the way to further research on your topic. Content of the Literature Review. The Literature Review must be well structured, and your ideas must flow logically from one point to the next. Ensure sources and references are current and relevant, cited appropriately according to your discipline.

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Writing a faulty literature review is one of many ways to derail a dissertation. This article summarizes some pivotal information on how to write a high-quali ty dissertation literature review.

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Writing a Literature Review in a dissertation 4 | P a g e your dissertation topic and field of study Headings/Sub-headings In order to allow cross-referencing of chapters/information in your dissertation, it is important to structure the chapters/sections of your . Writing the literature review of a dissertation is one of the most challenging tasks. Literature review is usually the second section of a dissertation. It shows your readers that you’ve read sufficient studies and researches related to the topic.

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To write a good dissertation literature review, you need to have a fair idea of what sources you would like to review. If you haven’t been given a formal reference list by your tutor, refer back to the techniques we recommended earlier. Dissertation: Literature Review Section. Writing a literature review for a dissertation is one of the main ways to demonstrate that you have made a strong research for your dissertation and have a strong academic background in your field.