How to write a dissertation literature review: an in-depth guide Essay

Therefore, you have got been tasked with writing your dissertation literary works review. It’s a simple endeavour; you merely take out your books, relax inside chair coffee in hand, prepared to make note of fast summaries of the readings as you skim through the pages. Literature review done? Not exactly.

In short, a dissertation literature review provides a vital assessment of the sources (literature) you've got gathered and look over surrounding your subject area, after which identifies a “gap” for the reason that literary works your research will make an effort to deal with.

There are a lot of misunderstandings about what a dissertation literary works review entails. Whilst in some instances a dissertation literary works review could be an easy summary of important sources, oftentimes it takes one to critically engage with the text to share your opinions from it, along with any critiques that you will find. What exactly is your interpretation of a particular supply? Does this interpretation differ quite a bit from other viewpoints into the literature? This is the sort of critical engagement expected in a literature review.

Whereas an overview will most likely offer a straightforward recap of general arguments associated with source(s), the objectives concerning a literary works review increase beyond this. a literature review may provide a new viewpoint on a vintage research paper or it might combine both brand new and old interpretations (this is actually the “gap” – more with this later). A literature review could also offer an intensive and critical outline associated with intellectual developments in a field with a focus on major, and frequently polemical, debates. In other scenarios, a literature review could also offer an assessment of a source and notify a reader about its legitimacy, pertinence and relevance towards the research subject.

«In a literary works review, you are planning to summarise and supply a critical analysis of this research arguments you have within your readings, without making new contributions towards literature. Ergo the word: “literature review”.»

There is often confusion between literature reviews and scholastic documents in general, however they are not just one additionally the exact same. Generally speaking, academic papers try to offer brand new research material about a specific topic, and a literature review features as an element of this goal. In an investigation paper, the literary works review types the cornerstone of this research – it will help to highlight any research gaps as support for a new argument or insights you intend to provide. In a literature review, you are planning to summarise and provide a critical analysis for the research arguments you have got within your readings, without making brand new contributions on literary works. Ergo the term: “literature review”.

Since we understand just what a literature review is, the next phase is to understand the idea of composing one in the first place. Like it or perhaps not, a literature review is a vital section of any educational write-up, because it tells your tutor or audience you have a nuanced knowledge of the sources concerning your quest area or question.

Even though it might seem arbitrary, the literature review helps persuade anyone reading and marking your project that everything have actually discussed is pertinent as well as your arguments are justified and worthwhile. So, in a nutshell, a literature review is essential, and also you need to put the necessary time into getting hired appropriate.

Since the next portion of this blog is very lengthy, we've broken it down into a few key steps that ought to make it better to follow when writing your personal dissertation literary works review. You start by identifying your sources, then you read and re-read them. Next, you consider any gaps inside research or literature you have used, and finally, you write your review using all of the preparation and information gathered inside steps prior.

To publish good dissertation literature review, you'll want a reasonable notion of what sources you'd like to review. When you yourself haven’t been given an official reference list by the tutor, refer back again to the techniques we recommended early in the day.

Make sure that your sources are balanced; include enough publications and scholastic journals and any useful published work from reputable scholars. To help you select your sources properly, you might like to look at the parameters and goals of your research. What are you looking for down? Within literature review, what theoretical dilemmas or views do you make an effort to tackle? What about your methodology? Will you concentrate on primarily qualitative or quantitative studies, or a mixture of both? These basic questions should help make suggestions in picking your sources and once again, remember that the abstract of a source is a really helpful device. Having an instant scan regarding the abstract as well as its ‘keywords’ will frequently offer you a sign of whether the supply is useful for pursuit or perhaps not.

As you’re pinpointing your sources, make certain you a keep an inventory as it’s super easy to reduce focus given the wide scope associated with online. Reference tools such as Mendeley allow you to store your sources on the web and via a desktop app, and generally are a powerful way to keep your bibliography organised. The citation tools attached to these programmes will even enable you to just export citations in a format of one's choice when needed later on. They'll save hours and hours trying to puzzle out how to use Harvard or APA referencing precisely.

Given that you have organised your sources efficiently, it’s time for you examine them. As abnormal as it may feel, it’s best to read in a couple of phases, as detail by detail below:

First, undergo all texts getting a feeling of their basic content and arguments. This will also help you judge which sources you primarily wish to consider inside review. Through the 2nd phase of the reading, after that you can simply take an even more critical, in-depth have a look at your sources. Make some notes, be critical, ask questions. What's your academic opinion on the text? Are you experiencing any responses on the methodological approach, the theoretical argument or the basic theory? Note these down. It'll make sure your literature review just isn't simply a summary of your readings, and certainly will encourage a clear line of argument which means your work is rational and coherent.

When composing a dissertation literature review, an important aspect to consider is distinguishing the investigation gap. Distinguishing the gap is specially important should your review kinds section of an investigation proposal, as it will emphasize the pertinence of the research – assuming that your research happens to be designed to fill this space. In other instances, identifying the space is a sign of good critical analysis and certainly will score you additional points.

To spot the “gap” it is necessary that we understand what this “gap” is. A research space is basically the existence of a research question, perspective or problem who has perhaps not been answered into the existing literary works on any industry of research. Identifying the study space is essential for showcasing the originality of the research; it proves you’re not merely recounting or regurgitating existing research. Additionally demonstrates that you might be quite definitely aware of the status for the literary works within selected field of study, which in turn, shows the amount of research and energy you have placed into your review.

Numerous students, especially at post-graduate level, believe it is extremely tough to identify research gaps in their subject area. For post-graduate research documents, identifying research gaps and formulating research questions that may deal with these gaps form the very essence of a research paper. Identifying research gaps does not have to be a difficult endeavour and there are numerous techniques to over come this trouble:

Start by reading
A easy approach is to read crucial areas of key articles inside research area. First, note that you’ll must search through many articles to spot the ones that are most suitable for your research. An instant search using keywords on Google Scholar will most likely give you an instant overview of the available literary works. Other helpful sources include databases including JSTOR or Wiley Online Library. You can then snowball extra articles by clicking on ‘related articles’ or looking into which other documents have cited your source.

Abstracts and recommendations
Whichever avenue you select, reading the abstract is usually an excellent starting place getting a sense of exactly what the articles entails. It's also wise to do a fast study of the introductory and concluding paragraphs of the paper since these parts always provide some informative data on the aims and results associated with research, and ‘recommendations for future studies.’ These suggestions typically offer some insight in the research gaps within the literature. Another path is always to just read as much as it is possible to on your own research subject while considering which research areas still require handling inside literature – normally a sign of research gaps.

Now you’re ready to begin placing fingers to keyboard. Consider the following tips:

1. Utilize test literature reviews
Ha view test dissertation literary works reviews inside topic area and read them thoroughly to familiarise yourself with existing key debates and themes. This is an excellent kick off point for framing and structuring your own personal review. If you are not really acquainted with academic writing, going right through samples will help you get a sense of what's expected within regard. Focus on the educational language and formal style used. Additionally, remember that the bibliography or guide part of your chosen texts will assist you to snowball further references if you need any.

2. Keep it simple
Keep your topic as narrowed down as you possibly can. Understand that you will find hundreds – or occasionally, thousands – of sources or perspectives concerning any subject area or subject. Researchers investigate research issues in lots of divergent means and also the literature available on any given subject is very broad. Inside literary works review, you won’t be likely to deal with every argument or perspective concerning your subject – this could in fact undermine your capability to compose a coherent and concentrated piece. You’ll make your work easier in the event that you restrict the range of one's work. Within review, make sure that you obviously state what the focus of your work will likely be.

3. Ensure your sources are as current as possible
If you are reviewing clinical work, it’s crucial your sources are because current possible provided the advancements inside field over the years. Within the medical industry particularly, research is constantly evolving and a source that’s just 36 months old may be even out-dated. Into the social sciences this guideline cannot use, as much theoretical works are classics and you'll be likely to know about these views. You might have to your review the work of Marx, or Hobbes, or virtually any classic scholar. You still need to balance concept with present approaches, while you will need to demonstrate the methods which perspectives in literature have changed over time, or you might even wish to demonstrate how scholars purchased classic theories to inform their work.

4. Look at the organization of your work
In a dissertation literature review, organising work goes beyond having an introduction, human anatomy and conclusion. You’ll be reviewing numerous texts, therefore you’ll also need to think obviously about how to organise themes, topics as well as your argument in general. Below is reveal guide on how best to try this:

  • look at the fundamental structure first

    Like any other scholastic paper, a dissertation literature review will comprise a fundamental introduction, body, and summary.

    The development of a literature review should be clear, brief and concentrated. It will outline the main focus of this review – put another way, it should demonstrably state the main subjects become covered. A good literature review will even state the arguments to be made, along with underlying rationale that underpins these arguments.

    Your body of your literature review will include an in-depth conversation associated with the scholastic sources you've selected to review. You may possibly choose to organise your sources in accordance with themes, methodology or according to a chronological purchase. In the body of one's review, make sure that your arguments are presented obviously and that you link these arguments using the literature. Can there be a scholar that will follow your view? State therefore, in a manner that the reader will comprehend easily. This shows that you're very knowledgeable about the academic research inside industry. Remember to additionally make note of any views that do not trust your position; excluding these arguments will certainly reduce the methodological robustness of one's piece. You should use direct quotations inside literature review, but do this sparingly which means you don’t appear sluggish. Many tutors wont address it kindly; the objective of a literature review is to demonstrate your capacity to critically engage with a piece of text, and littering your review with direct quotes isn’t good indicator of this. Alternatively, try to paraphrase quotations and only make use of direct quotes if it certainly helps to illustrate your argument.

    Within the summary of one's dissertation literature review, it’s vital that you give a directory of the conclusions you’ve drawn from your own readings. In case the literature review forms element of a broader research proposal, reiterate the gaps inside literature here, and obviously state how your proposed research will fill these gaps. Make tips for future research within area too, which demonstrates your analytical abilities and certainly will get you some additional points.

  • Pay extra focus on the structure for the human body

    At this point you have actually the fundamental framework of one's research in position, nevertheless it’s worth dedicating sometime to what the human body of one's work should entail. Your body could be the primary core of one's work, therefore it’s vital that you start thinking about the manner in which you will frame and organise it. You have got options here – you can choose to organise the information of one's work predicated on a chronological technique, based on themes, trends or methodology, or centered on arguments.

    To plan the body of work chronologically, you will need to organise your sources centered on once they were posted. A limitation of this approach usually it inhibits continuity within arguments and in some circumstances, can undermine the coherence of one's work. Usage with caution.

    A more coherent method of organising your work is cluster your sources in line with the arguments they make in a ‘for versus against’ way. This allows you to definitely present work in a more powerful method and what’s more, makes the key debates within the literature more obvious. State you're trying to convey the debates on European migration policy, you might want to begin by composing something along these lines:

    «While scholars such as for instance X argue that migration policies must certanly be made more stringent to counteract the increased movement of Syrian refugees to European countries, other scholars such as for instance Y offer a divergent viewpoint. They especially espouse a perspective based on a human rights approach…»

    This method also makes room for you to insert your vocals to the literary works. Consider this statement:

    «While X argues the enactment of more strict migration policies, this paper argues along the lines of Y that migration policies must certanly be predicated on peoples liberties considerations.»

    By using this strategy also enables you to introduce additional literature that supports your situation.

    Another method of organising your articles is based on theme; or sub-themes, if for example the review centers on one overarching subject. This technique of organization nevertheless enables you to provide an overview of any polemical debates within these sub-themes. A thematic review can certainly shift between chronological periods within each sub-section too.

    Structuring work making use of a methodological approach is very a standard approach, nevertheless it’s often found in tandem with other methods of organising sources. This technique is specially evident in basic sections whereby researchers may merely wish to declare that a specific subject happens to be mostly examined from a qualitative or quantitative viewpoint (they will often then cite numerous scholars or studies to aid this claim). In systematic reviews however, a methodological approach may form the foundation of this discussions in the human body. Should this be the situation for you, concentrate on the techniques employed by various researchers. Exactly how did they go about answering a certain research concern? Have there been any limits for this technique? If so, just what method(s) would have been better?

You’ll quickly realise that organising the body of your literature review is an iterative process and you’ll generally, utilize most of these approaches inside write-up. Your body of the research may also add additional parts which do not necessarily form part of its organisational structure. As an example, you might like to add a ‘context section’ providing you with some understanding on any back ground information required for comprehending the focus regarding the literary works review. It might probably also give attention to historical factors. You can include a quick methodology area that details the approach you found in choosing and analysing your sources.

5. Write the paragraphs associated with the body
Once you have got settled on the approach to writing your system, you have to now compose each of its paragraphs in a way that is in keeping with scholastic conventions. Consider this paragraph from a literature review about stakeholder involvement for environmental administration, to make clear the conversation that follows:

  • Inspite of the rhetoric plus the issues which have been expressed, there has been couple of tries to investigate the credibility of the many claims which have been designed for stake-holder involvement (Webler, 1999; Beierle, 2002; Brody, 2003; Blackstock et al., 2007). The couple of efforts which have been made have tended to spotlight assessing the process rather than the results (age.g. Beierle, 2002; Renn et al., 1995; Rowe and Frewer, 2000). This can be partly due to the challenge of picking appropriate evaluation requirements and data collection techniques. Blackstock et al., 2007 argue your assessment of participatory procedures should itself be participatory, with stakeholders selecting and using the evaluation requirements. But it is not straightforward. Webler and Tuler (2006) discovered strong distinctions of opinion between participants they selected from ten instance studies, by what constituted a «good» participatory process. (Supply: Reed, M.S., 2008. Stakeholder involvement for ecological management: a literature review. Biological conservation, 141(10), pp.2417-2431).

Because the instance above shows, a dissertation literary works review should be written making use of a formal and academic style. Additionally, note just how sources happen grouped based on both arguments and themes. Remember we noted that the process of grouping sources in the torso of one's literary works review is not a linear one? You will usually make use of a variety of the approaches that individuals have actually discussed. Make sure your writing is concise, coherent and lacking any individual or strong language. Avoid any phrases like, “we hate X’s work”; a far more academic way of saying your disagreement is always to simply state: “I would argue against X’s position that…”, or “X’s argument is inconsistent using the evidence because...”, or “X’s arguments depend on false presumptions because...”.

Within the test paragraph above, notice the use of words like “argue” – this is an excellent academic option to more commonplace words like “says”. Other good options include “states”, “asserts”, “proposes” or “claims”. More academic choices consist of “opine”, “posit”, “postulate”, or “promulgate”, nonetheless some tutors and visitors find these terms to be too ‘heavy’ and archaic, so ensure that you are familiar with the writing requirements in your institution.

Should your writing is tailored to a peer-reviewed journal, it’s well worth looking at articles within that journal to have a sense of the writing design. Most tutors provides a guideline on composing designs, and it’s important you adhere to this brief. You can expect to frequently be required to also utilize the third individual when writing a literature review, thus expressions such as “this paper argues” or “this paper is of view that…” work.

You will find exceptions at post-graduate level or generally speaking – like when you've got conducted your own primary research or posted work commonly – which give you the scholastic authority to boldly claim. In situations like these, the use of first person works and you will utilize phrases such as “We argue” or “I propose”.

Keep in mind and to generally use present tense whenever talking about opinions and theories (although into the context of certain research experiments, the use of days gone by tense is much better).

Beyond the use of the educational terms suggested above, ‘linking’ terms are also specially crucial whenever writing a literary works review, since you’ll be grouping countless writers together with either similar or divergent opinions. Helpful linking words and phrases consist of: likewise, there are parallels, in convergence with…

If you find disagreement, you might want to utilize some of the following: However, conversely, on the other hand, diverges from, antithetical to, differential from…

6. Write the conclusion
The conclusion of a dissertation literary works review should add a summary of the implications of literature, which you should then connect to your argument or basic research question.

The overall structure of one's literary works review is supposed to be mostly based on your research area and educational conventions which can be in accordance with it. Nonetheless, there are many important steps that apply across all disciplines which you should make certain you follow:

Never merely explain the opinions of writers
Analyse, analyse, analyse, and make sure your analysis is crucial (just what have actually the writers missed; in which does your opinion stay with theirs, etc.).

Plan the body of your argument making use of different techniques
Your framework should be organised centered on thematic areas, key debates or controversial issues, and based on methodological approaches. Keep your review powerful, but coherent. Be sure you identify literature gaps and link this towards own research.

Utilize ample evidence
This is vitally important and kinds the essence of a dissertation literary works review. You need to relate to different sources when coming up with a point; begin to see the test paragraph above for a good example of this. Your arguments and interpretation of an investigation subject must certanly be backed by evidence. Do not make baseless claims, as a literature review is an academic written piece and never a viewpoint piece.

Be really selective
Not every piece of research must be reviewed. If you're determined showing that you alert to the available literature out there, try writing practices including: There is robust literature available in regards to the migration patterns of Syrian refugees. Notable works consist of: X(2015), y (2013), Z (2014). Once you have recognized these works, you do not have to review them in more detail. Be selective towards sources that you will talk about in detail in your review.

Cannot count too much on direct quotes
Only use them to emphasise a spot. Similarly, don’t rely too heavily on work of an individual author. As an alternative, emphasize the importance of that writer in your research and move ahead. If you need to carry on back into the task of that writer, you then should link those talks together with your work. Never simply provide a summary of the author’s work. In what methods does work agree or disagree with his/hers? Be critical.

Make your sound heard
Yes, your whole point regarding the literary works review is offer a critical analysis and summary of the viewpoints out there, but a crucial analysis does range from the proven fact that you need to make your opinion known in context of literature. Note just how skilfully, in the last sample paragraph by Reed (2008), he weaves their views with sources. Read back throughout the sample and attempt to perfect this skill.

Ensure that you reference work correctly
And ensure you make use of the appropriate referencing design. For lots more assistance on this, follow this link.

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