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How to Write a Literature Review for a Dissertation

Writing a literature review can be annoying. You need to read a ton of books and articles and essays, both online and in physical format, and then find a way to relate them not only to each other, but also to your dissertation. But don’t panic, follow our simple rules and you’ll get that lit review done in no time:

  • Style
  • Take Notes
  • Keep Your dissertation in Mind
  • Analyze
  • Link

  • Style
  • Your lit review might seem like a waste of time, but it’s every bit important as the rest of your paper. Keep to the guidelines the rest of your paper uses. If you’re writing your paper in Times New Roman, and it’s justified and has a space between paragraphs, then your lit review should do the same.

  • Take Notes
  • As you read through your sources make sure to have a pen and paper handy. You never know what you’ll find as you read that you’ll be able to use. You don’t want to find a great idea only to then spend a week going back over everything to find it again.

  • Keep Your Dissertation in Mind
  • As you read, keep your dissertation in mind. Keep a copy of your title close by and ask yourself is this book working for the title or isn’t it? You are trying to showcase that you’ve read and understood the literature on your topic, and you want to relate it all together somehow, so you don’t need any irrelevancies. If it’s not relevant, cut it out.

  • Analyze
  • You’re not trying to show how many sources you’ve read. Instead, try to show how well you understood those sources. By analyzing the text you show that you’re not just skimming everything, but you’re actually going in detail with the text. Analyze each one’s strengths and weaknesses. See what’s working and what’s not. Which parts are great to use and which bits can you discard. Your review is not a long bibliography. You aren’t making a list. You’re showcasing your knowledge.

  • Link
  • You’re trying to write a critical analysis of the sources you’ve used. You want to find a way to compare and contrast them to each other and to your paper. Don’t just shove one in and write up what you thought about it, compare it to other books, link it in with your paper.