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A literature review is an analytical overview of the relevant literature published related to the subject matter of dissertations. There are two purposes of a literature review: to educate or to establish, and it will depend on who your readers are. If your readers are expected to already know about the subject matter, your purpose is to establish familiarity, expertise, and intelligence with regard to the subject. Otherwise, your job is to educate them and walk them through your dissertation.
How to Write a Literature Review Chapter for your Dissertation
In writing your literature review, make sure to include only primary and secondary sources that are relevant to the subject matter. Do not just simply collate all the facts but make sure you actually provide analyses of the sources. Define how these sources collaborate. Introduce new interpretations and, when able, clarify on some matters that were not clear before in previous research studies. Should there be any contradicting findings from these studies, try to resolve them as well. Finally, for issues that are no longer within your scope, you can always suggest to readers to make a further study on the subject matter.
Tips on Writing an Effective Literature Review
Your literature review must be well structured so avoid being overwhelmed by your materials. Create an outline of these sources first so you can be more organized when writing a literature review for a dissertation. As already mentioned, include only sources that are relevant to the study and make sure to cite them properly.
When choosing your primary and secondary sources, you have to consider their qualifications, neutrality, credibility, and worth. Look into the author’s credentials if he has the necessary title or position to make claims and judgments; look into his material and see if it is fair or biased; look into all his claims and pick which ones are considerable and which ones are not; and finally, whether these sources will actually add value to the dissertations.
When presenting these sources or materials, select or quote only the most important ones that are related to your subject matter and arguments. Properly cite these sources so your readers can make further readings on the subject, if they need clarifications or additional knowledge about the topics.
Lastly, your ideas should be incorporated in your review of the literature. Do not make it a simple summary or collection of related literature.
How to Look for Relevant Sources
A lot of information can be found on the Internet but not everything found online is reliable. Make sure not to get sources from unknown blogs and sites. Rely only on websites of organizations that are reputable.
In looking for online sources, use keywords that will get you to articles that are related to your study. Make it as specific as possible to avoid flooding your search results with irrelevant and bogus websites. Reputable and credible sites often are on top of the search results.
It will also be good for your research to go old school and visit libraries. Librarians are really helpful in terms of finding good primary and secondary sources that are actually relevant to dissertations. These could be journals and other publications. With the initial sources you gather, you can even look into their bibliographies to find their original sources and expand your material.
Remember, you do not necessarily have to bombard your readers with a lot of new information. The point of a literature review is to give you an overview. So, again, select only important sources. The more concise you are with your review, the better. After all, you do not want to bore your readers with a very long review which they will not retain anyway. A short yet complete literature review dissertation is the most efficient and useful as regards meeting a human being’s attention span.
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