How to Write a Dissertation Literature Review Section
Literature review is the part of your dissertation that includes information about the written sources you studied during your research. The purpose of this review is to show your professor that you understand the sources you will need to work with when writing a dissertation. Rather often, you may be required to hand in this review before you get to work on the actual paper. This will help the supervisor determine whether you are indeed ready for the task.
In order to create a high quality literature review, you will need to use the following tips:
- Determine what kinds of literature you will need to read. If you are lucky, your professor will present you with a book list. However, in the vast majority of cases, you will need to compile this list on your own. Identify the most important parameters of your research and write down the questions you will need to consider. Use this information to look for sources that will help you find the necessary answers.
- Include a short and clear introduction that will outline the review. It must include the topics covered in the paper and your most important arguments.
- The evidence you find through reading various sources must be directly linked to your arguments. You need to express it in a clear and comprehendible manner. Add some quotes if it will help enhance the effect.
- Regardless of the format and structure you will choose for the review, it must be written in formal style. This means that you cannot use contractions, colloquialisms, slang expressions, etc. You also need to refrain from expressing strong personal opinions.
- Do not ever use the verb “says” when expressing someone else’s opinion. Choose one of the following: argues, states, claims. Use the appropriate word, depending on the context.
- Do everything within your power to avoid accidental plagiarism. It’s essential to take detailed notes when working with literature. You also need to differentiate between the quotes (both direct and indirect) and your personal comments. Use pens of different colors or highlighters to separate them.
- The summary of the literature presented in your review must help the reader understand the purpose of your research and its effect on the field of study. It will partially rationalize your work and allow readers to see it as part of a bigger scheme.
- Describe the relationships between the works used in your review.
- If there are some contradictory sources included in your booklist, resolve the conflict between them before submitting your review.