Posted on: 5th May 2020 1558 Views

Literature Review for Dissertation

The literature review is a detailed evaluation of existing research. In case you are writing Doctor Level dissertations then you need to include a literature review. If you intend to write a literature review for a Ph.D. With the thesis then you are at the right place. In this article, our dissertation writing professional is providing a guide for writing a literature review section in the Dissertation.

Literature Review for Dissertation

Dissertation Literature Review: Meaning

A literature review is a comprehensive summary of existing literature on the topic. It can also refer to a survey of scholarly sources relevant to a particular research topic. The main purpose of writing a literature review section in the dissertation is to demonstrate that researcher knows the subject on which they are performing research.

The literature review section in the Dissertation provides an overview of present knowledge. It enables you to find relevant theories, methodology, and gaps in the existing literature. A characteristic of a good literature review is that it contains a summary of all sources.  Other characteristics of the literature review are that it includes analysis, synthesis, and critical evaluation of sources. A good literature review section provides a clear picture of the state of knowledge related to the subject.

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Why write a Literature Review for a Dissertation?

When you are writing a thesis or Dissertation.  Then you are required to perform a literature review for situating research within existing knowledge. It is a literature review section of a Dissertation that provides you with an opportunity to:

  • Showcase that you know about the topic and the scholarly background of the issue.
  • Create a theoretical Framework and methodology for research.
  • Place yourself in the context of other researchers and theorists.
  • Demonstrate the way the dissertation addresses a literature gap.

A literature review can be written as a standalone assignment. The main objective of writing a literature review section is to evaluate the present state of research.

How to write a literature review in a Dissertation?

Writing a literature review includes the collection, evaluation, and analysis of information that is related to research questions.  The 5 steps included in writing a literature review for the Dissertation are:

Step 1: Searching for relevant literature

Before starting to search for a Literature review, you are required to properly define the research topic. At the initial step of conducting the literature review for the Dissertation, you are required to search for literature that is relevant to the Research objectives and Research questions. In case, you are writing a literature review as a standalone assignment then you need to select a point or topic and create a research question that will direct your research. After designing a  central research question that can be answerable without gathering original information. You can search for existing literature utilizing keywords and citations.  You can begin searching for existing literature by searching for existing literature. Some databases from where you can gather information by searching different databases such as:

Google Scholar

Catalog of University library


Project muse

You can read an abstract section of each article, as this will help you in determining a specific journal that is relevant to your topic or not. If you found any useful publications relevant to your research questions or objectives, then you can check its bibliography for finding other sources to gather information. You should note recurring citations for identifying the most crucial publications on the research topic.

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Step 2: Evaluation of sources

You cannot read every publication related to the topic, therefore you can make evaluations of different publications and make a selection of such article which is most relevant to the research question. At the time of evaluating different sources, you need to  consider the following :

  • Research problem which you are going to address
  • Key concepts relevant to research questions
  • Results and conclusion of the study
  • Contribution of publication in developing an understanding of the topic.
  • Strengths and weaknesses of the study

It is very much essential for you to make sure that the source which you are selecting for gathering information is creditable. The scope of the Literature review is based on the research topic and field of investigation. For example, b in the field of science, you are required to utilize recent literature. But if you are performing research in the humanities field you are required to include a long historical perspective.

Prepare notes and cites sources

As you read the different publications, you should start preparing notes before starting the writing procedure. You can incorporate prepared notes in the text of the literature review. You must track the sources with the references. You should provide complete information along with references as this will help you in eliminating the chances of plagiarism. At the time of writing the dissertation literature review, you need to provide a paragraph that contains a summary and analysis of every source. As it is the tactics that will help you in remembering the things you have read and would help you in saving time for performing later procedures. You can also utilize the Free APA reference Generator for doing correct and consistent citations.

Step 3: Identification of themes, gaps, and debates

At this step of writing a literature review for a dissertation, you need to begin organizing arguments in the literature review section. Before structuring arguments in the literature review section you are required to develop an understanding of the link between sources you have read. Based on your notes you can easily analyze:

  • Trends and patterns
  • Themes
  • Debates, conflicts, and contradictions
  • Pivotal Publications
  • Knowledge Gaps

Note: You can also demonstrate the way research on the specific topic makes contributions towards improvement in existing knowledge.

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Step 4: Outline the structure

There are several approaches that you can utilize for organizing the main body of the literature review section in the dissertation. Before starting writing the main body of the Dissertation literature review section, you should develop a rough idea about strategy. Considering the length of the Dissertation literature review section, you can integrate different strategies. The different approaches for organizing the literature section in the dissertation are :

a) Chronological

It is the easiest approach that you can utilize for organizing the main body section of the literature review. In case you are using this specific approach, you need to be extra careful and you should avoid listing as well as summarising sources. The researcher needs to take the initiative for analyzing patterns and important debates that have shaped the direction of the discipline.

b) Thematic

In case you identify a few recurring central themes then you can arrange your literature review into subsections that address different aspects of the research topic.

For example: In case you are conducting a literature review on inequalities in migrant health outcomes then you can design various themes such as healthcare policy.  Cultural attitude , legal status , language barriers etc.

c) Methodological

You can utilize different research methods if you are using information using sources from a different discipline. Researchers may intend to make a comparison between results and conclusions that emerges from different approaches.

d) Theoretical

A literature review is considered a foundation of a theoretical framework. You can utilize a Dissertation literature review for discussing different theories relevant to your topic. In the literature review section of the dissertation, you can include arguments related to the relevance of a particular theoretical approach. You can integrate different theoretical concepts for developing a framework for research.

Step 5: Writing Literature Review

At this step, you can start writing the literature review for the Dissertation. The structure of the Literature review in the dissertation includes the Introduction, main body, and conclusion.

1. Introduction

In the introduction section of the dissertation literature review chapter, you need to clearly define the research topic. It is also very crucial for you to clearly state the aims and objectives of the research. You can also demonstrate the implication of your research. It is very much essential for you to establish the focus and objective of the literature review.

2. Main body

Based on the length of the literature review, You are required to categorize the main body into sub-sections. You can utilize subheadings for every theme, and period.

At the time of writing the literature review section of the dissertation, you are required to :

3. Summarise and synthesize

You should provide an overview of the key points of every source and integrate them into a coherent whole.

4. Analyze and interpret

You should not paraphrase other researchers. You are required to provide interpretation. You should discuss the importance of the findings.

Critically evaluate: you need to mention the strength and weaknesses of the research.

5. Conclusion

You should provide the key points of the Dissertations.


It has been concluded from the above that the literature review section in the dissertation helps in developing in-depth knowledge about the topic. Another fact that has been discovered is that the literature review provides researchers with an opportunity to showcase their knowledge about the subject.

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