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How To Write A Perfect A Literature Review For A Dissertation

The literature review is where you demonstrate to the audience that you have a coherent understanding of the work that has already been published in your field as it relates to your topic. This can include any sources both in print and online. The literature review section of your dissertation is not meant as a place for you to regurgitate what other writers have provided. It is where you offer a critical discussion of what other writers have published as it relates to your topic. This is where you show insight into and awareness of the many arguments that already exist surrounding your topic. It is also where you demonstrate that you understand the other theories and approaches that have been made. Your overall job is to analyze all of the relevant work that has been previously published.

Your review should do the following:

  • Compare and contrast the views that are presented on a single issue by multiple authors
  • Group different authors together who have similar conclusions
  • Highlight certain studies that prove exemplary
  • Highlight studies that have major gaps in their research
  • Criticize the methodology of the authors
  • Note the areas where authors are most prominently disagreeing
  • Show how your particular study relates to the literature or to previous studies
  • Conclude by summarizing the biggest facts contains in the literature

Remember that your review should:

  • Define the problem on which you are working in your dissertation
  • Place your thesis in perspective with historical information
  • Avoid any duplication that is unnecessary
  • Evaluate the research methods that thus far have proved most promising
  • Relate your current dissertation findings to previous literature and make suggestions as to where the research can go in the future.

A great literature review will locate the areas where the biggest controversy exists and identify the areas where more search needs to be conducted.

The structure of your literature review is contingent upon the structure of your dissertation. You can compare and contrast the existing literature or group together authors who agree with one another. You should avoid merely listing what one author says and then moving on to what the next author says. Allow the structure of your literature review to be guided by controversial issues or topic areas rather than by a chronological list.