How to Write Literature Review for a Dissertation and Thesis

A literature review includes academic sources on a specific topic. It aims to supply up-to-date knowledge, ensuring that you specify relevant theories, methodologies, and deficiencies in the extant research.


How to Write Literature Review for a Dissertation and Thesis

Writing a Literature Review

A literature review includes academic sources on a specific topic. It aims to supply up-to-date knowledge, ensuring that you specify relevant theories, methodologies, and deficiencies in the extant research.

Penning a literature review includes five critical steps:

  1. Relevant literature search

  2. Resource check

  3. Specified themes, discussion, and deficiencies

  4. Structure outlining

  5. Write your literature review

Helpful literature is beyond epitomizing sources. It analyzes, critically assesses, and delineates the issues providing an apparent picture of current knowledge on the subject.

What is the objective of a literature review?

Writing a thesis, dissertation, or research paper involves conducting a literature review to a place where your research stands within existing knowledge. With the literature review, you have a chance to

  • depict your background on the topic and its academic context

  • devise a theoretical perspective and methods for your study

  • disclose your research’s position concerning other researchers and theorists

  • demonstrate how your research fills a gap or adds to an existing discussion

  • assess the up-to-date research and illustrate the depth of academic knowledge on the topic.

If you plan to pursue MS or Ph.D. degree, penning a literature review becomes more relevant and critical.  

1) Relevant literature search

Suppose you write the literature review section of a dissertation or research paper. Before the literature review, you should specify your topic precisely. Your search will address your research problem and questions.

Create a list of keywords

It would help if you began by forming a list of keywords for your research question. You must cover each of the key concepts or variables of interest. You may expand this list as you find new keywords during your literature search.

Find relevant sources

In searching for sources, you may begin with the keywords. Many databases are available to search for journals and articles.

Reading the abstract to discover whether an article benefits your study would be best. After finding a helpful book or writing, you may check the bibliography to reach other sources. 

2) Resource check

It is impossible to peruse everything written on your topic. Therefore, you must assess the sources most relevant to your research question.

Here is a list of questions to ponder.

  • What does the author try to address?

  • What are the critical concepts and their definitions?

  • What theories, models, and methods are relevant?

  • Is the research innovative or expanding already existing approaches?

  • What can you conclude from the study?

  • What is the relationship with other literature in the field? Does it verify, expand, or challenge already built knowledge?

You must use credible resources and include any landmark studies and critical theories in your field of study.

You should take notes and cite your sources

While reading, you should also start writing. You can later integrate notes into your literature review if you can take notes. Making an annotated bibliography can help you recall what you have read, saving time. Following your sources with citations will help you avoid plagiarism. 

3)  Specified themes, discussions, and deficiencies

Before organizing your literature review’s discussion and structure, you should ensure you comprehend the connections and relationships between the sources you have perused. Thus, you can pursue

  • What is trending, and what is the model? 

  • What are recurrent themes, questions, or concepts?

  • What are discussions, conflicts, and contradictions?

  • What are significant theories or studies changing the direction of the study field?

  • Deficiencies: What has not been studied in the literature? 

4) Structure outlining 

You may organize the body of a literature review using varied approaches. You may use chronological, thematic, methodological, and hypothetical approaches. The length of your literature review is a decisive factor in allowing you to combine many strategies.

The most straightforward approach includes pursuing the development of your subject over time. Suppose you go with this strategy. You should not simply list and epitomize sources in order. Instead, you are expected to analyze patterns and critical discussions shaping your research. You should also present your interpretation of how and why specific developments have taken place.

Suppose you investigate the effect of COVID-19 on underdeveloped nations. Your critical themes may include healthcare policies, hygiene and sanitation in multiple regions, wealth, and access to shots. If some recurring central themes occur, your literature can cover subsections addressing various aspects of the topic.

You should contrast the results and conclusions emerging from various directions. The methodological part deals with different disciplines or fields employing several research methods. It should include comparisons between qualitative versus quantitative research, empirical versus hypothetical approaches, and literature study in sociological, historical, and cultural contexts.

A literature review forms the foundation for a hypothetical framework. Thus, you can employ it in various deliberate theories, models, and critical concepts.

The relevance of a particular hypothetical approach or combining various theoretical concepts with building a framework for your research is probable. The relevance of a specific hypothetical approach or combining different theoretical ideas with creating a framework for your study is possible.

5) Write your literature review

The literature review should have an introduction, the main body, and a conclusion. The introduction should contain the focus and objective of the literature review. Suppose you write the literature review as part of your dissertation or thesis, repeating your primary problem or research question and presenting a summary of the academic context is relevant. Accentuating the topic's timeliness or underlining a deficiency in the literature is crucial.

The length of your literature review determines whether you need to divide the body into parts. Using subheadings for each theme, period, or methodological approach is necessary. Therefore you can epitomize and synthesize, providing essential points of each source. Then, paraphrasing other research should include analyzing and interpreting the significance of findings.

Equally important is critically assessing the strength and weaknesses of the sources used. Effective use of language is also crucial. You must employ transition words and topic sentences, offering connections, contrasts, and comparisons. Finally, the conclusion should epitomize the critical findings accentuating their significance. Ensure you have addressed how your research has contributed to the literature. After you have finished writing and revising your literature review, next is sending it to professional editing and proofreading service

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Literature review for a dissertations and thesis

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This article explains how to write literature review for your dissertation or thesis.  To give you an opportunity to practice proofreading, we have left a few spelling, punctuation, or grammatical errors in the text. See if you can spot them! If you spot the errors correctly, you will be entitled to a 10% discount.

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