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How to Write a Literature Review for a Dissertation

Writing a solid Literature review can be a daunting task for first-timers. If you are not acquainted with literature review as a usual requirement in regular essays, the concept of compiling one for your dissertation can feel overwhelming at times.

Here, we split down the dissertation literature review and give you insights into how to write one on your own. Professional Dissertation Help is now a click away at the British Dissertation Help website online dissertation help services.

What is a literature review?

The literature review often appears near the start of your dissertation and is an integral part of your overall dissertation structure. It summarizes the current writings in the field you are researching and where your dissertation will subsequently fit.

How Long Should a Literature Review Be?

There is no predetermined length for a literature review. The span of the chapter relies on your field of study. Though, literature reviews are generally 10-15% of the entire time.

If your literature review is significantly shorter, ask yourself these questions:

  • If there is other related research that you have not traversed
  • If you have presented enough of writing about the knowledge you did explore

Prepare before you start.

There are many ways through which you can start preparing your Literature survey right away!

1. Use Key Terms to search: 

Search appropriate databases using keywords related to your research field and specific to your own research. Skim thoroughly through the peer-reviewed journals to save time.

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2. Get involved:

Get fully submerged in the ocean of literature to concretize your reasoning and understanding of the entire subject. Before presenting your thoughts to the audience, make sure you have explored the topic well yourself.

3. Research Gaps:

Try to find out the gaps in previous research, meaning where their knowledge ends and your study begins. Thus establish a solid reason for your case study and prove it worthy for a doctoral thesis.

4. Organize your Findings:

Group references by subject and methodology. You can use any manual system like a notebook or an index card, or you can use computer-based systems like OneNote, Zotero, notion etc.

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Write the Literature Review for your Dissertation

Once you have accumulated a sufficient number of appropriate references, you’ll need to piece them together in a way that narrates your story. Clarify what previous researchers have achieved by describing how information on this topic has developed. Let’s jump into how to write your dissertation’s literature survey.

1. Draft an Outline:

The key is organising all the review material and structuring it. To skeletonize, do not overthink it and go simple and easy. In your reference binder, you have already the bare-bones ready.

  • By topic: This is by far the most common way of organizing previous work in the field. The topic-wise organization helps your structure logically.
  • Chronologically: Use this when you want to present your work in a narrative light.
  • By methodology: Students use this only when they are conducting a mixed-method study.

2. Write the Sections: 

Writing small discrete paragraphs will be easy as you are writing about other people’s work. Write small pieces without worrying about the flow of the entire chapter, as you can piece these tiny paragraphs together later on to complete the chapter.

3. Probe/Analyze:

The literature review shows your critical thinking ability about the already done work in the field of study. Apply special care when tackling controversial arguments. Never feel hesitant when you disagree and state them right away. Remember, you are not offending and just sharing your hypothesis. 

4. Justify the Methodology:

Consolidate some related background work on methodology when you are discussing existing studies and analyzing them. This approach can be very helpful in getting committee members interested in your planned systemic approach for the research, particularly when it is little known or little used.

Advice for Writing Your Dissertation’s Literature Review

  • Remember to link each section back to your study.
  • Discuss differing conclusions or theoretical grounds. 
  • Argue how each study or theory relates to the others in that section.
  • Avoid relying on direct quotes. You should demonstrate that you understand the study and can describe it with accuracy.

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