A survey of the scholarly resources which provide us with enough idea about the available content of a particular topic is known as a literature review. To write a literature review, we have to gather the most relevant and significant publications relevant to a topic idea. These publications provide us with a comprehensive guide about the content of different authors. To write a literature review, we have to describe the publications, we have to summarize the main points of the publications, we have to discuss the gaps in the research and we have to evaluate the contribution of the publication to the specific topic. Here, we will provide a complete guide to writing a dissertation literature review.
Find the relevant literature
The first step to writing the literature review is to find the relevant literature. For this reason, you will have to conduct in-depth research. Before conducting the research, you should have a clearly defined topic idea. For example, if you are going to write a literature review for your dissertation or a research paper, this topic idea should be relevant to the research problems and research questions of your dissertation or research paper. Anyhow, if you are going to write the literature review in the form of a stand-alone assignment, you will have to develop a central question to direct the research process.
While selecting the research question, you should make sure that this research question should be answerable. After that, you should try to prepare a list of the keywords relevant to your research question. This list of keywords will be helpful to you to gather enough data for your literature review. Some essential resources to find out journals and scholarly articles relevant to your topic idea are a catalogue of your university, Google Scholar, Medline, JSTOR and Inspec etc. After finding a resource, you should read its abstract. After reading its abstract, you will get an idea of whether this resource is relevant to your topic idea or not.
Evaluate and select the resources
While researching your topic idea, you will find lots of resources relevant to your topic idea. No doubt, reading all of these resources is almost impossible for you. Therefore, you should try to evaluate these resources and try to select those resources which are relevant to your topic idea. To evaluate and select the resources relevant to your topic, you should try to get answers to these questions;
- What questions are the author addressing in the resource?
- The key concepts of the resource?
- What are the key theories and models of the resource?
- The results of the resource?
- Is this resource contributing knowledge relevant to your topic idea?
- What are the strengths of the research?
- What are the weaknesses of the research?
Moreover, you should also try to know the credibility of the resources. After getting answers to these questions, if you find that these specific resources are relevant to your topic idea, you can select these resources and use these resources while creating content for your literature review.
Identify the themes and gaps
After evaluating and selecting the resources, the next step is to take an overview of the arguments and structure of the resources. As a result, you can easily understand the connections and relationships between these resources. To find out the authentic resources for your literature review, you should try to identify some essential things.
First, you should understand the trends and patterns of resources. These trends and patterns tell you about the popularity of the resources. Secondly, you should understand the theme of the resources. This theme will provide you with an idea about the discussion questions. Thirdly, you should try to know about the conflicts between the resources. These conflicts will provide you with an idea of disagreeing resources. At last, you should try to know the gaps between the resources. These gaps will provide an idea of what is missing in these resources. The identification of the gaps between the resources is also important because you will have to discuss gaps between the resources in your literature review.
Outline the structure of the literature review
There are various approaches to organizing the body of the literature review. Therefore, you should select one of them and you should prepare a rough idea for the writing strategy of your literature review. There are four basic strategies to outline the structure. The first is known as chronological.
If you are going to write the literature review by adopting a chronological strategy, you will have to summarize and list the resources in a specific order. The second approach is known as thematic. In this strategy, you will have to organize the content into different subsections. The third strategy is known as methodological. In this strategy, you will have to organize the content of different disciplines. The fourth strategy is known as theoretical. In this strategy, you will have to organize the content in the form of a theoretical framework. You should select one of them and try to organize the content of your literature review accordingly.
Compose your literature review
At last, you will have to compose the literature review. It is consists of three components. The first component is an introduction. In the introductory section, you will have to establish the focus and purpose of the literature review. The second section is the body. In the body, you will have to summarize and synthesize the main points of the resources, you will have to analyze and interpret the main points of these resources and you will have to critically evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of the resources. You should try to compose the body in the form of well-organized paragraphs. The last section of the body is known as the body. In the body, you will have to summarize all the main points of the literature review. These main points should emphasize the strength of the literature review.