How to Write a Literature Review

This is a general guide on how to conduct and write a literature review. You are also advised to check the course or program information and materials provided by teaching staff, including your project supervisor, for subject-specific guidance.

What is a literature review?

Simply, a literature review is a piece of academic writing demonstrating knowledge and understanding of the academic literature on a specific topic placed in context.  Further, a literature review also includes a critical evaluation of the material; this is why it is called a literature review rather than a report on literature.

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How to Write a Literature Review​ Chapter of a Dissertation

A literature review is one of the critical chapters in your dissertation. A literature review introduces your readers to scholarly sources you consulted and how they support your argument. Unfortunately, most students have trouble navigating around this part of their dissertation, and most of them end up consulting online sources for guidance. In addition, getting a good and supportive literature review needs time and commitment to going through these sources one by one and collecting relevant information. Understanding the approach below can make your literature review writing process easier.

There are five steps that you ought to follow while writing your literature review chapter:

  1. Outline the problem statement
  2. Search for relevant literature
  3. Conduct a knowledge synthesis
  4. Outline the structure.
  5. Write your literature review.
  1. Outline the problem statement

A research problem statement includes the issues that your research ought to solve. Your literature review needs to be connected to these problems for your research to be firmly grounded in a real-world situation. Having an outline or a draft of your research problem statement is a guide that will help you focus on your review and identify the kind of literature to consult. A problem statement should also be concise and manageable to make it easier to tackle. A problem statement should also be relevant to your topic of study and should be unique such that it will give you vast ideas of areas to focus on. A problem statement is comprised of three components;

  • Content: In the content, you describe the current situation, what is wrong with the current situation, and what needs to change.
  • Knowledge gap: The context and significance frame a knowledge gap. A knowledge gap helps to guide you as you carry out your research by identifying what is missing the all-previous research and focusing on them to create knowledge.
  • Significance of the problem: In this section, it is essential to tell the reader about the scope of your problem and its significance in helping to solve problems in your area.
  1. Search for relevant literature

As you consult other forms of literature, ensure that they are relevant to your topic of study when choosing literature to review, ensure that it is published within five to ten years, and are primarily peer-reviewed research articles. Then, when you are sure that they were recently published and that they are peer-reviewed articles, you can determine if they are worthy of a deeper analysis.

  1. Conduct a knowledge synthesis

Synthesis is a critical part of a literature review writing process. It is the most rigorous part as it requires you to analyse groups of studies relevant to your topic of study. As you explore and evaluate these research articles, ensure that you look for emerging patterns, discrepancies and gaps. Analysing these aspects of research articles enables you to understand the patterns used in the literature review writing process and focus on other parts of your research field that have not yet been covered before. Therefore, analysing literature relevant to your study area acts as a guide to help you choose what forms of literature to focus on and to select research articles that will support your argument. This part of writing your literature review is time-consuming. Still, suppose you understand aspects of other works of literature and do this work well. In that case, you will write a critical analysis well integrated with your topic of study rather than sharing summaries of one research article after another. Literature determines if your work has a firm foundation or if it will break; therefore, ensure that your literature is well synthesised.

  1. Outlining your literature review’s structure

Before presenting contents from your literature review in your dissertation paper, you need to determine the structure of your literature review. There are various ways to organise the body of your literature review. However, other students may prefer to combine these strategies due to the length of their literature review.

These strategies include;

  • A chronological strategy is the simplest approach as it guides the development of your topic. When using this strategy, ensure to focus on the patterns, gaps and discrepancies in other literature.
  • Theoretical strategy often acts as a foundation for theoretical frameworks. This strategy can discuss theories, concepts and models in your research literature review.
  • The thematic strategy involves identifying recurring themes in your literature review and addressing them in sub-sections.
  • The methodological strategy entails gathering information from a range of fields using a variety of research procedures, then comparing the findings and conclusions drawn from the various ways.
  1. Write your literature review.

Your literature review should have an introduction, a body and a conclusion, just like any other academic paper.

  • Introduction: An introduction is crucial as it introduces other research articles used in the body to support your argument. The body of your literature review creates an in-depth discussion of the research materials that you have used to support your research. As a result, the focus and purpose of the literature review should be established in the introduction.
  • Body: The content from additional relevant sources should be discussed in depth in the body of your literature review. Students choose different structures of their literature review depending on its length. Therefore, students prefer to divide their body into subsections to make it easier for the reader to understand the content of your literature review easily. As you write your literature review, ensure to summarise and synthesise by giving an overview of the main points in your discussion, analyse other research materials and interpret them by discussing the significance of your findings. After studying and analysing, critically evaluate other research articles by stating their strengths and weaknesses. Lastly, write well-articulated paragraphs by creating comparisons, connections and contrasts.
  • Conclude: After you have written your introduction and body section, conclude your literature review section by briefly restating the main points discussed in your body and their significance to your study.
And that ladies and gentlemen is how you write a dissertation Literature Review. Have some fun!Search