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Thorough Literature Reviews for Any Dissertation!

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Why do I need a literature review?

What is a literature review?


Your department will have its own guidance. It is important to keep control of the reading process, and to keep your research focus in mind. Rudestam and Newton It is also important to see the writing stage as part of the research process, not something that happens after you have finished reading the literature.

Wellington et al Once you are part way through your reading you can have a go at writing the literature review, in anticipation of revising it later on. It is often not until you start explaining something in writing that you find where your argument is weak, and you need to collect more evidence.

A skill that helps in curtailing the reading is: Decisions need to be made about where to focus your reading, and where you can refer briefly to an area but explain why you will not be going into it in more detail. The task of shaping a logical and effective report of a literature review is undeniably challenging. Some useful guidance on how to approach the writing up is given by Wellington et al In most disciplines, the aim is for the reader to reach the end of the literature review with a clear appreciation of what you are doing; why you are doing it; and how it fits in with other research in your field.

Often, the literature review will end with a statement of the research question s. Having a lot of literature to report on can feel overwhelming. It is important to keep the focus on your study, rather than on the literature Wellington To help you do this, you will need to establish a structure to work to.

A good, well-explained structure is also a huge help to the reader. As with any piece of extended writing, structure is crucial. There may be specific guidance on structure within your department, or you may need to devise your own. Once you have established your structure you need to outline it for your reader. Although you clearly need to write in an academic style, it can be helpful to imagine that you are telling a story. The thread running through the story is the explanation of why you decided to do the study that you are doing.

The story needs to be logical, informative, persuasive, comprehensive and, ideally, interesting. It needs to reach the logical conclusion that your research is a good idea. If there is a key article or book that is of major importance to the development of your own research ideas, it is important to give extra space to describing and critiquing that piece of literature in more depth.

Similarly, if there are some studies that you will be referring to more than to others, it would be useful to give them a full report and critique at this stage. As well as using tables to display numerical data, tables can be useful within a literature review when you are comparing other kinds of material. For example, you could use a table to display the key differences between two or more:. The table format can make the comparisons easier to understand than if they were listed within the text.

It can also be a check for yourself that you have identified enough relevant differences. An omission will be more obvious within a table, where it would appear as a blank cell, than it would be within text. Almost all academic writing will need a reference list. This is a comprehensive list of the full references of sources that you have referred to in your writing.

The reader needs to be able to follow up any source you have referred to. A bibliography is not usually necessary or relevant, unless you have been asked to produce one. This experience is common in PhD study, but it can happen at any level, and can feel as if you have wasted a lot of effort.

Looking at this positively, however, you have probably read more widely than you might otherwise have done. That probably confirms that it was a good question to ask! Although this can feel very disappointing at first, it can often be transformed into a benefit.

It is important that your research fits logically within the existing research in your area, and you may have found an ideal study to link with and to extend in some way. Firstly, this is unlikely. Perhaps if you modify your search strategy you will find something. Check out whether there is an important reason why the research has not been done, which would make it sensible for you to choose a different focus.

If you do decide to go ahead, then take extra care designing your research, in the absence of guidance from previous studies. Ploughing a little-known furrow as a novice researcher is going to be very difficult, and you may find it difficult to get much support or help.

An important aspect of your thesis and your viva, is that you can show how your research fits with other research. This will be just as important when there is limited existing research in your area, as when there is an abundance. Once you have a first draft of your literature review it is possible for you to assess how well you have achieved your aims.

One way of doing this is to examine each paragraph in turn, and to write in the margin a very brief summary of the content, and the type of content e. These summaries then provide the outline of the story you are telling, and the way that you are telling it. Both of these are important and need to be critically reviewed. Beware of becoming too attached to your writing. You need to be ready to cross out whole paragraphs or even whole sections if they do not pass the above tests. It may be mainly a case of cutting and pasting material into a different order, with some additional explanation and linking.

If this produces a more relevant and streamlined argument it is well worth the effort. Health Services Writing Centre: Personal tools Web Editor Log in. Search Site only in current section. For a printer-friendly PDF version of this guide, click here. Communicating your research , Resources , Writing.

Navigation Succeed in your studies. Take our essay writing tour. The term now encompasses a wide range of web-based sources, in addition to the more traditional books and print journals. Increased ease of access to a wider range of published material has also increased the need for careful and clear critique of sources.

You need to demonstrate to your reader that you are examining your sources with a critical approach, and not just believing them automatically. You need to be actively involved in interpreting the literature that you are reviewing, and in explaining that interpretation to the reader, rather than just listing what others have written. Thus a literature review for dissertation purposes is not like the structure of research papers to which you are accustomed.

Writing a dissertation literature review begins with finding the most current research in your research question area. Because as time has evolved, and research tools have become much more sophisticated, more current research is likely to be more valid and has been built on a lot of earlier research that you really do not need to review.

So, you begin with a ProQuest search, pulling up abstracts of the most recent literature that relates to your question. You will find, in your search for literature on ProQuest, that there will be abstracts for dissertations that were produced as long ago as the 19th century.

While some of these may be great to read, here is a more efficient method. Locate dissertations that have been written within the past two decades and read the abstracts for those first. You can then select the ones that most relate to your research question and order the full dissertations.

Read through the literature reviews of those dissertations, and you are sure to find summaries of earlier dissertations on the same question. If they look promising as well, you can then order up those to read. This saves a lot of time. In the dissertation guide that you have hopefully been given by your department advisor, review carefully how citations in your literature review are to be formatted.

For example, if your research question relates to the negative results of grade retention on elementary school children, you might cite a recent study by two prominent researchers in the field in this way. Jimerson and Davis,


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A literature review surveys scholarly articles, books, dissertations, conference proceedings and other resources which are relevant to a particular issue, area of research, or theory and provides context for a dissertation by identifying past research. MHR Writer UK gives dissertation literature review service with best quality. Writing a literature review for dissertation is easy for our expert writers.

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Are you in need of Literature review help? we offer custom literature review writing at affordable prices. We ensure that your Thesis or Dissertation Lit review is derived from most contemporary sources. We believe in Quality and Professionalism. The dissertation literature review can be tedious and, at times, frustrating. Get some tips on how to streamline the process!