Writing the literature review chapter of a dissertation is one of the biggest headaches of most students. This is even worse with students who are writing a thesis/dissertation for the first time. This piece seeks to address some of the challenges students face when writing and how to go about it. By the end, you should know what a literature review is? How long should it be? And how to structure it.
What is a literature review?
The dissertation chapter is one of the critical aspects of your entire dissertation. It appears mostly after the introduction of your project. A literature review summarizes the current studies done on the topic you are researching. Though you can’t read on every available research, you should demonstrate that you’ve read widely on the subject.
Your review should digest the current state of your research field, the divergent views on critical issues, where researchers share common thoughts and where hypotheses are being challenged. Aside from summarizing these works, you should try to critique it if necessary by using credible references.
What dissertation literature review entails?
Your literature review should comprise various paragraphs summarizing various authors’ work critically discussing key points of your research. It should make a mention of projects by major theorists in your field of study.
Your literature review should analyze your research topic’s current state by relating previous writers’ works to each other. You then compare their opinions on every critical point and then deduce what the current problem is. In doing this, you can use sub-headings to distinguish the views of the various authors clearly.
How long is a literature review?
Ideally, your dissertation review should take about 25% of your work. This will, however, depend on the scope of work available for your research. Whatever you include should be relevant, suit the context of work, and useful to your field. It means your literature review must be concise but information-filled even if you have a lot of information at hand.
Secondly, if you have less information to use in your literature review, it is best to switch topics or reconsider your research questions to broaden the scope of work.
Tips for writing a comprehensive review
- Research question
Your literature review should relate to your research questions. Therefore, you should be clear in your mind what your questions are to guide literature. Knowing your questions also helps to avoid reading unnecessary content.
For a thought-provoking literature review, you need to research extensively on the research subject. You can use various credible search engines like google scholar, magazines, conference reviews, and journals.
- Significance of content
Every information you add to your literature review should be significant to your research project. The fact that you want your literature to meet a certain word count doesn’t mean you should just be adding content, which has less or no relevance to your project.
- Analyzing Key Points
It is critical to identify, expand, and evaluate the critical points in the literature you are reviewing. It shows your in-depth understanding of issues and presents a firm ground for further expansion.
- Credible sources
With lots of content currently flooding the internet, you should be careful where you choose the information for your work. You should verify the source of everything you use to avoid misinformation.