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Writing a literature review for your dissertation? You think it's as easy as dusting off some books, sipping hot coffee simultaneously and just jotting down the summary of whatever you've read while skimming the pages, well not exactly.
The literature review of a dissertation is defined as the chapter which provides an analytical assessment of the research sources you've gathered and read during the research procedure of your dissertation. The material surrounds and relates to the selected subject area of your study and helps you to identify the gap in the previous work that your dissertation will address.
Many time students get confused about what to include in the literature review section of their dissertation. Here's the answer, in most of the scenarios, the literature review includes a simple summary of all the important sources that you should critically link with your text to convey your point of view of about the source along with any counterarguments that you have.
What did you interpret from a particular source and is this interpretation different from all the references you made in the literature review chapter is one approach to critically engage the literature review chapter.
A literature review provides a new outlook on the previously conducted researches or often combines both the new and old interpretations of a research study. It provides a thorough and analytic outline of the intellectual developments in a research study with a focus on major, and often polemical, debates. A literature review can also evaluate an information source for the readers and informs them about the validity, pertinence and relevance of that source to the study area.
In a literature review, the student aims to summarize and provide an analysis of the arguments found in the readings without adding any new contributions to the area. It forms the basis of your dissertation research.
Now that you're familiar with what a literature review is, it is time to understand the necessity of having a literature review in your dissertation. The literature review is an essential part of your dissertation as it demonstrates to the examiners and readers that you have a thoroughly refined understanding of the previous research work conducted in your selected study area.
A literature review helps a student to persuade the examiners and readers about the authenticity, relevance. and justification of the presented content in the dissertation. Therefore, it becomes all the more important to put in all the required efforts to formulate the right literature review for your dissertation.
Writing a literature review is not a simple task of reading and writing. It requires a student to often read and then re-read the sources to appropriately identify any gaps in the study area.
Here are a few steps you can refer to while writing your literature review
The first and the foremost step to write an impactful literature review is to have a fair idea of which sources will best suit the best with the dissertation theme. If you've been provided by a reference list by your mentor, its great but if not you should identify your sources, read them thoroughly, identify the gaps between those sources, and then finally write your literature review.
The sources selected should be balanced and produced by reputed scholars and authors. You can opt for books, academic journals, and other published reports or documents to act as authentic sources for your literature review. In order to choose your sources effectively, you should think about the parameters and objectives of your dissertation research.
Here are a few questions that can help you to choose relevant sources to include in your literature review-
An effective way to analyze the relevance of a source with respect to your dissertation is by reading the abstract of that sourced paper or study. It is the abstract that will help you to determine whether the source fits in with your research or not.
While you're on the way of identifying your sources, make sure that you make a list of all the relevant ones simultaneously as it is very easy to lose focus in today's data-driven era. Opt for an application to store your sources and a citation tool to save long hours of referencing in the end.
After effectively identifying your sources, the time has arrived to grab a steaming cup of coffee and read through the sources. It is advised to read in a few stages to get a clear and better idea of the text added in different sources. Briefly go through all the sources to get a general idea of the content written and the arguments made. This will help you to examine which sources you want to highlight in your literature review.
Follow this step by reading the sources again but this time in-depth to gain a more analytical sight into them. It is beneficial for a student to make notes while reading the sources and ask questions to relate the sources with their dissertation research.
Determining your academic opinion on the text presented in a source, commenting about the methodology used by the scholar, and sharing your point of view on the arguments made or on the research question/ hypothesis formulated in the sources is one way of representing the analysis of the sources in your literature review. These points will help you to make a clear line of argument in your dissertation and showcase that your work is coherent and logical.
Research gap plays an essential role in your dissertation project as a whole. Identifying a research gap highlights the appropriateness of your dissertation as it showcases your dissertation as a way to fill up the identified gap. Also, identifying a gap is an indicator of in-depth analysis and hence, creates a better impression on the readers and examiners.
In order to identify a gap successfully, you need to understand what exactly this gap is. A research gap is basically a research question, problem, or perspective that has not been explored in the existing works surrounding that area of study.
Identifying a research gap is important for establishing the originality of your dissertation as it proves you're not just regurgitating the existing piece of works. It shows how much you're aware of the status of the literature added in your dissertation and also about the number of efforts and research you'll need to put in your own work.
Students often find it difficult to identify the research gaps in their selected area of study. Here are a few ways to overcome the problems while pursuing this difficult endeavour
With all the relevant sources and points in hand, you're all set to start writing your literature review.
Follow the mentioned pointers to make the writing process smooth and convenient:
Once you've planned the approach with which you'll work on the body of your literature review, it is time for you to start writing the paragraphs to be included in this part. A review must be written in a formal and academic writing style. Sources should be grouped appropriately according to arguments made or the theme. The written text should be coherent, concise, and free of strong or personal language. A literature review majorly follows the third-person style of writing to highlight specific points of a source for the readers or examiners.
It is advised that a student should always be aware of the writing standards of an institute to ensure the usage of acceptable terms and language. Remember that it is beneficial to use the present tense when referring to certain sources of the literature review. BE aware of the linking words as they'll be used most frequently while writing our literature review.
An influential conclusion is the one that contains a summary of the implications drawn from the gathered sources and then link those to your argument ore the main research question of your dissertation.
Tips on writing a literature review:
Once you are through with writing your literature review, do not forget to proofread thoroughly before sharing it with the examiner or the readers.
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