The Literature Review
Are you fed up of hearing the words Literature Review (LR) used in your coursework often and not understanding what it means mean or where to begin? Don’t worry; we’ll take you through the steps on writing an excellent dissertation LR!
What exactly is a literature review?
A dissertation LR, in summary, offers a critical evaluation of the sources you have acquired and read on your topic area and then determines a “gap” in that research that your study will try to fill.
Given that a dissertation LR can take many different forms, there are many misconceptions regarding what exactly it includes. While a dissertation LR occasionally only needs to be a brief synopsis of key sources, it usually necessitates critical analysis of the source material in order to express your ideas on the text, whether favourable or unfavourable. What are your thoughts on a specific source? Does this perspective substantially vary from other perspectives in the literature? This kind of critical involvement is what is anticipated of you in a LR.
While a summary will almost certainly include a brief reminder of the main points made by the source(s), a LR is expected to go beyond this. An updated viewpoint on a well-known research study may be offered by a LR, or it can bring together both fresh and established perspectives (i.e., the “gap”). A comprehensive and critical summary of the intellectual advancements in an area, with an emphasis on the important and frequently contentious disputes, may also be provided via a LR. In other cases, a LR might offer a reader an evaluation of a source and explain its reliability, applicability, and relevance to the topic of the study.
Academicians state that “without adding anything new to the body of literature, the goal of a LR is to summarize and offer a critique of the research ideas you have discovered in your readings.”
Academic articles generally, and LRs in particular, are often confused, but they are not the same thing. A LR is typically included as part of the purpose of academic articles to offer new research material on a particular issue. The LR serves as the foundation for the investigation in a research paper; it aids in identifying any research gaps and supports any new arguments or ideas you want to present. Without adding anything new to the body of literature, the goal of a LR is to summarize and offer a critical critique of the research ideas you have discovered in your readings.
Do you really need to review the literature?
Understanding the purpose of creating a LR is the next logical step after learning what it is. Whether you like it or not, a LR is a crucial component of any dissertation since it shows your readers or instructor that you have a thorough comprehension of the sources related to your topic or subject.
Despite the fact that it could appear arbitrary, the LR aids in convincing the person reading and grading your project that the topic you have covered is pertinent and your arguments are well-founded and valuable. In conclusion, a LR is crucial, and you should take the time necessary to do it well.
How should a literature review for a dissertation be written?
Prior to reading and re-reading your sources, you must first identify them. Then, utilizing all the preparation and knowledge amassed in the preceding steps, you compose your review while considering any gaps in the research or material you have used.
Discover your sources
You need to have an adequate grasp of the sources you want to review in order to produce a strong dissertation LR. Refer to the methods we suggested before if your instructor has not provided you with a recommended reference list.
Include adequate books, journals from academia, and other relevant published works from prominent researchers to ensure that your sources are well-balanced. You may wish to consider the constraints and goals of your research to aid in selecting the right sources. What do you want to learn? What theoretical problems or viewpoints do you hope to address in your LR? What about your approach? Will you primarily concentrate on either quantitative or qualitative investigations, or on a combination of the two? You should use these general guidelines to help you choose your sources. Additionally, keep in mind how helpful a source’s abstract is. Quickly scanning the abstract including its “keywords” will frequently indicate whether or not it will be helpful for your research.
Given the size of the Internet, it’s quite easy to lose concentration as you’re locating your sources, so make sure you maintain a list. One can store the sources online and through a desktop application using reference tools like Mendeley, which is an excellent option for keeping one’s bibliography organized. One can easily export citations in the style of one’s liking using the citation tools included with these programs at a later time. These could spare you endless hours spent attempting to understand how to properly reference using APA or Harvard style.
Examine the sources used.
It’s time to start poring through the materials now that they are organized effectively. As strange as it may seem, reading in stages, as described below, is most successful.
First, go over each paragraph to acquire a feel of its overall argument and substance. This should also assist you in determining the sources you want to prioritize your review on. The subsequent portion of your reading will allow you to examine your sources critically and in greater detail. Take numerous notes, be critical, and pose inquiries. What is your scholarly assessment of the the content? Do you possess any feedback on the theoretical justification, the methodological technique, or the broad hypothesis? Take note of these. In addition to encouraging a clear line of reasoning so that the research is logical and cohesive, it will make certain that the LR is not just a synopsis of your readings.
Concentrate on the research gaps
A crucial factor to take into account while preparing a dissertation LR is determining the research gap. Finding the gap is crucial if your LR is an aspect of a research proposal because it will demonstrate the relevance of your study, presuming it was created to address the need. In other cases, noticing the gap is a sign of strong critical thinking and might help you earn bonus points.
It’s critical that we understand the “gap” in order to locate it. A research gap is simply the presence of a research issue or perspective for which there is no satisfactory solution in the body of literature already available in any area of inquiry. Finding the research gap is crucial for emphasizing the newness of your investigation; it shows that you are not either summarizing or reiterating prior study. It also reveals the extent of research and work you put into your LR because it indicates you are well-informed about the state of the literature in your selected field of study.
Finding research gaps in their field of study can be very challenging for many scholars, particularly those in post-graduate study. Finding research gaps and developing research questions which can fill them constitute the very core of even a research paper for graduate-level work. There are various approaches to overcoming this challenge, so finding research gaps need not be a tough endeavour. Some approaches are
To begin with, read!
Reading significant passages from relevant articles in the research field is a straightforward strategy. First, be aware that finding the articles most suited for your research will require you to sort through a large number of them. You can frequently get a fast summary of the existing literature by conducting a short search on Google Scholar utilizing keywords. Databases like JSTOR or Wiley Online Library are some additional helpful resources. By selecting “related articles” or looking for other publications that have mentioned your source, you can then generate more articles.
Go through Abstracts
Regardless of the route you take, reading the abstract is frequently an excellent place to begin to get an overview of what the papers are about. Additionally, you should quickly scan the introduction and conclusion of the report because they typically include some details on the objectives and findings of the study as well as ” suggestions for future research.” Usually, these suggestions offer some information on the areas where the literature needs more research. Another option is to just look into as much as possible on the research topic while keeping in mind which research topics in the literature still require to be addressed; this is typically a sign of research gaps.
Outline your Structure
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