A literature review is a section in a dissertation that provides an in-depth analysis on previous research done on the topic under discussion. The review of the literature available should be pertinent to the particular area of the topic that you are discussing in your dissertation. A good literature review should cover both the specific and general aspects of the available material pertaining to your chosen topic. The following are some essential guides on how to conduct a literature review.
- Collect your sources
You need to conduct thorough research on your topic of interest in order to construct your literature review. Collect all the sources that you believe present pertinent information to your topic. The next step is to go through each resource, identifying key pieces of information that can help support your main argument of your dissertation. Think critically about the message that the author is attempting to pass to you in order to gain his perspective on the matter at hand.
2. Organize your literature review
After going through the resources, you may feel overwhelmed with all the information you have gained. In order for you to make sense of the logic behind the different pieces of the puzzle, you need to organize the literature review into manageable sections. A popular guideline is to subdivide the section into general and central texts. The section on general texts will entail a general background on the discussion surrounding your main topic. In this section, you can highlight different authors who have answered a question related to the topic, and state how these broader texts have affected your particular focus on the topic.
The central texts’ section is a detailed breakdown of the literature that is more specific to your area of interest, i.e. your research question. This section should also serve as the point at which you discuss the major gaps in the literature that your dissertation seeks to cover. In addition, you can use this section to critique the works of the other authors on your area of focus. Furthermore, you could use the section to build on the works of the other authors.
In addition to these broad sections, you need to categorize further the literature review into sub-categories. The sub-categories need to be specific in order to enhance the structure of your literature review. For instance, you can divide the general texts’ section into three sub-headings include empirical studies, theoretical debates, and issues with the literature.
3. Include your sources in your references page
When writing the literature review, you will be inserting the names of the authors of the different pieces of literature that you have used. Ensure that you keep track with these sources so that you can include them in your bibliography.
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