Writing A Literature Review In A Dissertation – A Quick Guide

The literature review section of your dissertation is supposed to show your tutor or supervisor that you have a grasp of published works within your area of study. It does not have to capture all the works cited in your paper. However, it must substantially cover the different ideas, issues or questions raised in your paper.

There are three main considerations when compiling your literature review

  • Actual Literature Review
  • Unless you have read through the books you intend to use for the review, do not attempt to write this section. You will be exposed to misrepresentation of facts, falsehood and weak arguments. The literature to review is guided by the issues you are dealing with in your dissertation. You must identify the authors or researchers who support your arguments and those who oppose it. A one sided review is unacceptable.

  • Analyzing and Synthesizing the Literature
  • The aim of analysis is to identify categories and the topics that will be supported by each set of literature materials. Identify a chronological order that ensures that the strongest arguments in support of your thesis appear on top. A table may help you in organizing your analyses. This table should capture these three aspects

    • a) A sub topic, idea or position
    • b) Literature in support of the argument
    • c) Literature in opposition to the argument

    The table makes it easy to get an overall picture of all literature being reviewed for your dissertation and ensures that all sub-topics are adequately covered.

  • Composing the literature review section of your dissertation
  • The review section should begin with an overview of the issue under discussion. Identify the areas that will be covered and the approach you intend to use. Your point of view must be captured so that the reader can follow the arguments made by your supporters and those opposing your ideas.

    • Use subheadings- subheadings capture the subtopics instead of having a long stretch of review. A reader can go straight to a particular section instead of reading through the entire review.
    • Be consistent on formatting- the formatting style required must be uniform throughout the dissertation. It assists the reader to follow arguments instead of worrying about presentation. The reader is also able to distinguish your words from those of other authors.

The conclusion must provide a closure that binds all the ideas made by different authors who appeared in your literature review section. Your dissertation should flow coherently and be linked to the thesis statement. Always edit and proofread your work to get rid of typographical and grammatical errors.

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