This section of the literature review comes after the introduction when writing any research paper. It makes logical sense since you have to make some introductory remarks before examining what others have done in your study field. You will get to review the literature from the works of other author’s secondary literature. An excellent literature review gets contextualized, critical, and comprehensive. It means that the literature review provides the reader with an analysis of the work, a survey of published work concerning what you are investigating, and a theory base essential in joining all the dots.
The objective of the literature review
The literature review has several purposes in dissertation writing. An excellent literature review should highlight the following:
- Your credentials: Readers will believe your work if you prove that you are well-read. It gets clear when readers examine the selection of your works.
- Theory base: This is a challenge to many students, yet it is an essential part of literature review.
- Context: In this part, you need to identify your work amid the work of other authors. Focus on work that relates to yours.
- Significance: Once readers read your literature review, they should find significance to your topic.
- Originality: After you reviewed the literature, you find something similar to what you intend to do, then ensure that your work is novel.
Structure of literature review
Since the number of work literature reviews have and its importance of balancing the literature structure is essential. In structuring your literature, the funnel method comes in handy since it brings order. It also makes it easy to write since it comes within a built structure.
- You are categorizing works. Group your work by commonality, regardless of the thesis statement or the topic.
- Ordering categories: Begin with the category with the theory base for your work.
- Internal order categories: Your categories need to have ordered so that the content gets delivered logically.
- Conclude literature review: At the bottom of the funnel, the only thing that remains is the conclusion of your literature review with a clear and concise summary.
Works included in the literature review and how you organize and relate them with each other reveal your knowledge of your field of study together with the topic. As a postgraduate student, you need to balance your works, put into context your work, and select appropriate quality and quantity. You also need to devote adequate space to discuss each facet of your work. Avoid general works, particularly those from textbooks. It is because general works do does not contain a sufficient level of detail. Do not underestimate the quantity of relevant work that you include in your work. It is practically possible for you to review all the works in your field. Select what is relevant to your topic.
Select work to include
There is no specific answer to the number of works to include in the literature review. As a general rule of thumb, Ph.D. dissertations need more works to get included in the literature review compared to the master’s ones. Despite the number of works, your literature review needs to be exhaustive and comprehensive. It should also reveal the truth of what is relevant and available in your field of study. In other words, it should offer an accurate and clear depiction of the modern state of research in your field of study. Avoid padding your literature if none exists for the topic you have selected, but remember to search carefully.
As earlier stated, the literature review is a key component of dissertation writing, and it takes effort and time to write a great one. This process of writing a dissertation is time-consuming to students and indeed to anyone. However, it is essential to give it a try despite the many challenges, and in any case, there is no way out apart from trying or attempting until you perfect this important skill. It is a direct relationship between the dissertation’s quality and the quality of literature review, and great examiners know this link.