Writing a dissertation literature review is among the most detailed and challenging of academic assignments. The majority of degree programs usually require a literature review as part of the student’s work, and the task is usually quite a painstaking one. A well-written literature review means researching scholarly sources, analyzing and evaluating these, arriving at conclusions, identifying gaps in existing knowledge, and often takes many days of hard work to complete.
The ability to create a worthy dissertation literature review requires the writer to synthesize and generalize a myriad of thoughts and conclusions put forward by other scholars while omitting their own original thinking and/or arguments. A literature review may be a component of a student’s research paper, used to develop and support persuasive arguments. The task for the writer is to re-evaluate information that has already been analyzed and to identify the most reliable and useful source materials for their project. Essentially, a literature review involves summing up the most important and relevant sources in an organized manner. It is a combination of both summary and synthesis.
What Does an Effective Literature Review Entail?
A dissertation literature review is a challenging piece of writing and features as one of the more difficult academic tasks. Almost every degree program requires a literature review for assessment purposes. This chapter of a dissertation is a critical summing-up of the contributions of other researchers in your chosen field or area. Typically, this part of a paper can comprise between 3,000 words and 10,000 words, and, in writing it, the writer should thoroughly compare all literature that is relevant to their own study.
The experience within the dissertation writing team at PaperMasters.org means we really do know how to write a dissertation literature review and fully understand the elements required to produce great reviews. Make sure you adhere to our recommendations in order to get good results in your academic endeavors.
- Choose Literary Sources Carefully
Even though certain classical and excellent theories may have been developed in times past, you are advised to concentrate on more modern studies i.e. those conducted within the past five years. Failure to do this may prevent you from being able to show the current state of research in your field or demonstrate it in a contextual sense.
- Take a Critical Lens Perspective
Virtually every scholarly field is fraught with contrary scientific viewpoints and a variety of theories. It is rare for one universally agreed truth to exist so you need to show you are aware of contrary viewpoints and concerns when developing your paper’s arguments. Examining literature with a critical lens should also help you spot weaknesses and gaps in existing research and identify any limitations.
- Maintain a Clear Focus and Structure
When writing a literature review, structure your argument(s) carefully and arrange them logically. This theoretical dissertation chapter involves more than just describing the work of other scholars. The way you organize it needs to be consistent with the focus of your research.
Why a Literature Review is Important
A good literature review performs a number of functions that make it such an important part of a dissertation or research paper. These include:
- A literature review helps build a strong rapport and connection between writer and audience. It shows readers you have been meticulous in the way you have written your paper and that, therefore, your work is credible. A solid research paper is, ultimately, a careful source-searching and fact-checking task.
- It helps prevent plagiarism. Even though your work is based on studies undertaken by other scholars, you have indicated this with citations. You have used the work of others to support and strengthen yours in the same way that others may use your research at some future time. In other words, your literature review shows your work is not plagiarized and protects you against such threats.
- It fine-tunes the focus of your research. Collecting supporting literature and evidence from various other places should help you see the significance and relevance of your work in the midst of so much material in its field or subject area. Needless to say, this will enhance your reputation as a credible researcher.
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The Elements/Requirements of a Good Literature Review
When you were writing your dissertation’s outline and proposal, it is likely you identified gaps in current literature to be addressed in your proposed research project. Nevertheless, thinking that the primary purpose of the literature review for your dissertation is just providing an overview of the research, you have done or suggesting your work is original would be a grave mistake. Instead of just giving background context for your work, it is important to understand the literature review is a very important and integral component of the actual research project itself.
The best literature reviews are not only comprised of critical and in-depth synthesis and discussion of any relevant research that has been published. They also offer a well-developed argument that forms the theoretical foundation of the complete research effort and its thesis. Therefore, a perfectly written literature review for a dissertation should:
- Set the theoretical context and background for your research and provide justification for undertaking it while also showing you have mastered the project’s appropriate and related theoretical and conceptual tools.
- Show you are intimately familiar with the most up-to-date and relevant literature pertaining to your project and that you know all the main theories, approaches and arguments in this field.
- Offer an inter-linked overview of the work of other researchers on your research topic, summing up and evaluating a suitable number of projects similar to yours with a critical lens.
- Define in clear terms the scope of the literature you will discuss and explain what will and will not be covered in your paper. Provide arguments to support your choice of literature and justify your reasons for omissions.
- Discuss in critical terms the literature you have chosen as you assess the strong and weak points of the analyses, arguments, methodologies and strategies of each text.
- Identify any limitations in current works and describe any gap you intend your work to fill. Build logical connections between any shortcomings in existing research and the goals you have set for your work while showing how the research question(s) you have identified have arisen from existing literature gaps.
- Set forth a coherent conceptual framework for your readers with regards to how they should understand your selected hypotheses, research question(s), analyses and methodology. This is a way of picking out from the critical analysis and discussion of your chosen literature the theoretical framework you will use as the conceptual basis of your entire thesis.
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Structure of a Literature Review
As one of the most important parts of a dissertation, it is little wonder that students look for dissertation literature review help online. The following explains the structure of a literature review:
A good literature review should an introduction chapter that is used to a) define your topic and b) set out the context in which you will review the available literature. Also, explain here your reasons for reviewing certain literature and describe the review sequence.
You might also find our article on Hypothesis Statement for a Dissertation useful.
Your literature review’s main body is used to offer insight into the inter-relationship that exists between your chosen topic and the broader subject or field to which it belongs. Analyzing selected literature with a critical lens will allow you to explore the topic from the broader literature down to a narrower perspective. It is essential you show a clearly defined link between your sources. For instance, sources could be ordered chronologically according to the theme or by idea development.
Use this final section to recap on the primary arguments – those for and against – in the literature. Offer an overall view of your chosen topic. Additionally, this is an ideal opportunity to draw attention to the gaps you identified and make recommendations for any further research that may be needed in the future.
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Tips on Writing a Literature Review
As the providers of professional dissertation literature review services, we offer the following tips to help you write an effective literature review with associated analysis:
- Focus on the latest studies. While many classical arguments and theories were put forward some time ago, you can really only show your research in its true context and find appropriate research gaps through a review of the latest literature.
- Take a critical approach at all times when developing your paper’s argument. Always keep in mind that no field of academia has just one universally accepted truth. Having an open mind to opposite viewpoints demonstrates you are aware of all relevant literature.
- Your review of literature should be focused and consistent. Structure every argument in a logical and careful manner to make them easy for readers to follow.
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The professional writing service offered by PaperMasters.org is capable of helping you with everything described above and more. In choosing our writing service to help with your literature review, we will assign a vastly experienced and knowledgeable advisor to your project – someone who excels at writing the finest quality dissertation literature reviews in your field.
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