Summary: The literature review is a fundamental chapter in any dissertation or thesis. However, students have trouble writing this chapter, particularly if it is their first time working on a formal research project. In this article, we’ll go over five time-saving tips for effective literature review to help you approach this chapter smartly.

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Before exploring the literature review process steps, first, understand the purpose of the literature review.

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What is the Purpose of a Literature Review?

A literature review summarises previous research on your picked topic. The purpose of the literature review is to inform your audience about previous research in your field. The literature review is not intended to provide a shopping list of previous papers. Your literature review should be structured so that it flows logically and provides your readers with the appropriate amount of information. If you are still confused about choosing a dissertation topic, don’t worry you can easily ask for a topic list from online dissertation help services.

What is the Proper Length of the Literature Review?

The length of the literature review section differs by discipline. The literature review usually takes up one or two paragraphs of a standard research paper. However, if you are working on a topic that needs a strong theoretical foundation, a much longer literature review may be required. Moreover, always keep in mind the strategies for literature review organisation.
Let’s explore the guide to conducting a literature review!

Steps for Conducting a Literature Review

1. Create an outline before you start writing

Before you begin writing the literature review, you should create a rough outline or structure for it, just as you would with any other chapter in your dissertation or thesis. The goal is to ensure that the topics, key points, and order in which they are presented create a solid foundation for your literature review.

If you start composing from the start without an idea of the whole structure, you’re likely to end up with a jumbled mess. An effective literature review framework can be referred to as creating a skeleton outline because you are organising the fundamental structure of your chapter, which will be fleshed out with chapter content later.

While generating a loosely structured outline of the literature review earlier than you begin writing is important, keep in mind that it is only meant to guide you and keep you organised. That is, you do not have to stick to the structure you created at the start, and you can change things up, add, expand, or rearrange as you move. You can also get dissertation literature review writing help from reliable resources.

2. Search for literature reviews in your line of work

As a general guideline, it’s always a good idea to look at existing literature reviews on topics similar to yours to see how they’re organised and presented. Doing a literature review analysis will help you develop a suitable structure by providing ideas and identifying the “norms” in your field.

There are several common methods for finding these existing literature reviews. For example, you can search your university’s dissertation database/library for existing dissertations and theses. This will allow you to gain valuable insight into your university’s style and structural norms. Similarly, you can search public dissertation databases, which many university libraries also provide access to.

Next, look for literature review-style journal articles like narratives, systematic literature reviews (SLRs), or meta-analyses. You can find some of these articles on Google Scholar as well.

Working through existing literature reviews has the additional advantage of ensuring that you’ve covered as much relevant material as possible when developing your own literature review. In other words, it can help you identify any studies you’ve overlooked. However, be careful of choosing articles that are older than five years, as the topic of study may have changed since then, and the findings may not anymore be accurate or relevant.

3. Write first. Clean up later

Once you’ve read all of the literature and created a rough outline, it’s critical to avoid thinking that you’ll only be able to write the literature review once you’ve figured everything out and know exactly what you’re going to say. This will only leave you with writer’s block.

Once you have an open outline or structure, simply put your thoughts on paper and you can tidy them up later, add, remove, etc. In short, don’t try to say everything perfectly from the beginning because you might never start writing. A firm reasoning is associated with addressing the literature review in this manner which may seem strange or counterintuitive to some. If you have any confusion about conducting literature research, you can ask for help from the Dissertation Writing Service.

4. Insert citations and references along with writing

When you start writing, keep in mind that the literature review chapter must have a lot of references to excellent journal articles and studies. In fact, it should be the most heavily cited chapter in your dissertation or thesis. To that end, always include citations when writing your chapter. Don’t put it off until later because if you wait too long, you’re likely to forget key references, and who said what, and your literature review chapter will be brief on sources, limiting the chapter’s accuracy. You should follow the steps to writing a dissertation.

5. Ask a friend to review your writing

As you write more chapters, it’s easy to start mistaking the trees for the forest. As a result, it’s always a good idea to have a friend (who isn’t a subject expert) review your drafts and provide feedback, especially on readability. While your literature review will likely become quite technical, you must ensure that it is written at a level that a non-expert can understand.

When having someone you trust review your draft, ask them to highlight any parts of the chapter that are difficult to understand. If possible, you should also ask them to summarise what they understood in their own words. This will allow you to figure out which points are clear and which aren’t.

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In short, seek feedback on your writing from others. Because you’ll be immersed in your subject, it’s easy to write a literature review chapter that is difficult for the reader to understand. You’ll frequently make predictions about what the reader knows and thinks, which can make the chapter difficult to understand. People see things differently and can help you identify your blind spots, important questions, and so on. As a result, an outsider’s perspective can significantly improve the readability, clarity, and understanding of your literature review. This is the writing literature review best practices!

Literature Review Examples

Let’s examine some examples of literature reviews and discover different approaches to literature review synthesis. We will look at examples from different subjects and formats.

Example #1 (Social Sciences Research Paper)

A literature review typically begins with broad issues and then narrows down to specific issues. Then you continue to narrow it down until you find the articles that are most relevant to your research question.

In an example from a social science paper literature review, the authors start by stating that mental health research varies greatly, ranging from medication to therapy. Then they narrow the topic to the impact of social factors on depression and cite a few studies. Then they narrow it down to the role of corporations in providing mental health care to their employees. Now, this is directly related to their research problem.

Then they discuss the research gap. They claim that there aren’t many previous studies on the topic. There have only been two studies on this topic to date, and the results are inconsistent.

As you can see, the review flows very smoothly. It progresses from broad to specific and neatly concludes with the research gap.

Example #2 (Business Research Paper)

When dealing with a large amount of literature, it is a good idea to organise it into concepts before presenting it in your literature review.

Here’s an example of a literature review from a business paper about older consumers’ behaviour. The author begins with a broad statement stating that there is a wealth of literature on the subject of consumer behaviour. The author then grouped the articles based on ideas and presented them in text. As you can see, the first two lines contain almost 20 references.

The author then establishes the research gap and explains what makes their study unique. They claim that while there are numerous studies on general consumer behaviour, there are very few studies that specifically address the consumer behaviour of seniors. Their study is the first to look into this issue.

This literature review format can be used when you have limited space but need to include a large number of references. Also, you should consider research methodology selection, when conducting an effective literature review.

Final Words:

These recommendations are important because they provide much-needed structure as you write your literature review. Writers frequently begin a literature review with unclear ideas, and the process feels as if it needs to be revised. These literature review techniques can help you break the process of writing a literature review down, bringing focus to the writing process. Return to this list repeatedly if you feel lost in “literature review land.” They’ll help you recover your footing and return to your writing with renewed clarity.