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Write a Literature Review for a Dissertation

This article will teach you the meaning of a literature review and dissertation. You will learn how to write a dissertation.
Then you will learn how to write a literature review for a dissertation. Before you understand about a literature review, it is important to know each and everything about a dissertation.

The literature review is mainly focused on filling the gaps. So, let us study the preliminaries required to write a literature review.

What is a Literature Review

A literature review is nothing but an article review on any paper. The paper could be a research paper or any dissertation. It is written in a reportative manner. It is written in a narrative way. The review written in the literature review could substantiate the current problems, gaps, methodology or theoretical aspect of the paper. also provide samples for literature review for you to have a better perspective. If you are writing a literature review on a paper. You must study the original paper thoroughly before you start writing.

How to Write the Literature Review for a Dissertation.

Types of Literature Review

Narrative literature review

A narrative literature review also known as traditional literature reviews are generally written by critiques. The agenda of this review is to find defaults in the paper. Not just the faults, while writing a narrative review you summarize the whole literature. You should be able to find the corrections and identify the parts where the could have been improved. Finally, in your narrative review, you must draw conclusions about the topics and identify the gaps and parts where the consistency is lacking. As it has been said before, if you are intending to write a literature review, you must fully study and gather all the information about the original paper. Make a list of important questions you want to put. Also, make a note of important statements that were critical or intriguing.

Systematic Literature Review

A Systematic literature review by name it is easier to understand. It is all about a systematic approach. Therefore, there are no chances of any exceptions in your statements. It requires a more distinctive and definitive approach. It is mainly based on critical analysis and it is comprehensive. Mainly, that entails all the information shared during the timeframe the review. There are 2 categories.


It is based on the techniques that are not statistical. It is rather focused on qualitative research than quantitative research. This technique integrates and evaluates the findings. Then it interprets it with the various qualitative research studies.


On the other hand, If you wish to conduct a meta-analysis. You retrieve your findings from various other studies. You focus on the main subject and make a critical analysis. The critical analysis is mainly on rigid evidence-based statistics. Most importantly, The deductive research approach is required here.

Argumentative Literature Review

You can derive it by the name itself. The review is about examining the literature. The approach is very selective. Sometimes, it is based on an assumption that is embedded deeply within. It could also be a philosophical problem. You have to be very careful while writing an argumentative literature review. It should resemble any kind of biasedness to any of the sides of the argument. You should be rational at all turns.

Integrative Literature Review

Integrative Review is kind of research review and it mainly focuses on research only. So, It contains reviews based on critiques and synthesizes representative literature on a topic in an integrated manner. The new frameworks and perspectives on the topic are generated. The body of literature includes all studies that address related or identical hypotheses. Hence, A well-done integrative review meets the same standards as primary research in regard to clarity and rigour.

Historical Literature Review

There are a few things that are kept in isolation from historical precedent. There is a timeframe attached to it. However, Historical reviews are focused on exploring research. It is done throughout a period of time. Also, it is focused on the origin of the issue. The first time any problem, ideology, concept or theory emerged in the literature. Then comes the part the evolution started taking place in regards to that event. The agenda is to conduct research in the historical context.

Methodological Literature Review

Methodological Literature Review has a different kind of approach. The review does not focus on the methodology of some of the writer’s concept or paper. Also, it does not focus on the analysis of the methodology either. The approach is kept a little perspective towards the framework. The framework of understanding the same methodology at different angles. It enables the reader to draw a dynamic understanding of the paper. Therefore, it will demand more effort and time from you. Critical thinking is the key to it. It also enables researchers to draw on a wide variety of knowledge ranging from the conceptual level to practical documents for use in fieldwork in the areas of ontological and epistemological consideration, quantitative and qualitative integration, sampling, interviewing, data collection and data analysis, and helps highlight many ethical issues which we should be aware of and consider as we go through our study.

How to Write a Literature Review of the Dissertation.

Structure of a Literature Review


It is the most important part of the literature review structure. It contains the reason and main aspects of the whole paper. You should adhere to the following things in your paper while writing a literature review.

  • You should define your topic and provide an appropriate context for reviewing the literature;
  • It is mandatory to establish your reasons. Mention about your point of view and perceptions towards the original paper.
  • You should explain about the group or the organization. It should be in a sequential manner.
  • Also, you can state the scope of the review. You can put a brief description of the gaps in the original paper. It will help the readers to foresee the direction of your literature review. It will give a small idea about the topic. Plus, If you are writing a literature review on any medical term. Let us say if it is about a disease. Then, you should start by describing the stats of the patients and problems.
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Main Body

The main body of the literature review should contain the following things.

Literature review of a dissertation comes before dissertation methodology and therefore, you should make it a point to track all research methods of the literature review and make notes of them. The information would is used in the demonstration of methods.

Organise the literature on the basis of the major scheme. You should provide insights. It is the main key of the body. The insight that runs into the relationship between your chosen topic and the wider subject area. So, you should move from a general and wider view of the literature.


This is the final part of the literature review structure. It is considered the most important part. The reason is that insight all the major outcomes of your findings. Keep the following pointers in mind while drawing your conclusion.

  • You should summarise the important aspects of the existing body of literature;
  • Then you evaluate the current state of the literature review;
  • Make sure to identify significant flaws or gaps in existing knowledge. It is the most important thing to consider.
  • Also, you should outline areas for future study. It becomes helpful for the other researchers to conduct future research on the same subject.
  • If possible, it is recommended to attach a link to your research to existing knowledge.

What is a Dissertation

Generally, Dissertation and Thesis are considered the same in many countries. However, the dissertation is considered probably the longest piece of writing. It is written at the PhD level. It is basically a study about topic or abstract.

The length of a dissertation could vary depending on the level of your study and the country. However, It is basically around 10,000-12,000 words if you are an undergraduate. 15,000-25,000 words at the PhD level and it can also go up to 50000 words.

Analysis of a Dissertation

In the beginning. Before you start the research, It is important to conduct a literature review of the paper or the respective topic. It shows how well you have understood the original paper. Also, It contributes to the betterment of your final scores. It will describe how well you have comprehended the academic work that already exists on your topic. These are the points that you will accommodate.


First, you should collect the resources and abstract the most important or relevant sources (e.g. books and journal articles).
You should evaluate all the sources and critically analyse them.
Draw patterns, evaluate the gaps in the paper. Make a wider perspective of the connections between the loops that you have drawn.

Once you have taken care of the above points. Check all the chapters and section thoroughly. In the dissertation literature review, It is not wise to just summarize the original paper or study. The purpose is to develop a coherent structure. The argument should lead to a clear understanding. It should justify your own research. Therefore, You should support your dissertation literature review by keeping the following things into consideration.

Review Analysis

First and foremost, You literature review should address all the gaps.
You should introduce a new theoretical or methodological approach to the topic
It will be better if you propose a new perspective or idea about the paper. Most preferably a solution to the main issue.

Refer to the pointers provided to write a compelling literature review mentioned above. As, It advances in a theoretical debate. A good review builds on and strengthens existing knowledge with new data.

The literature review often becomes the basis for a theoretical framework, in which you define and analyze the key theories, concepts and models that frame your research. In this section, you can answer descriptive research questions about the relationship between concepts or variables.

Important Guidelines

The importance of the Literature Review

Now that we have understood the meaning of Literature Review, the next stage is to know the purpose of it. Literature Review is the most necessary part of your dissertation. You demonstrate to the reader that you have a nuanced understanding of the sources that concerns your dissertation.

It is not based on some random preference of the writers although it might seem arbitrary to you. The literature review helps to persuade the person reading and marking your assignment that what you have written about is relevant and your arguments are justified and worthwhile.

Reading and Identifying the sources

In order to demonstrate a good dissertation literature review, you should foresee the nature of your research and identify the sources appropriately. You should have a good idea of the sources that you have opted.

Identify all the sources properly. You should go through all the phrases to get to the point. Plus, Generate sensible information about the content and arguments involved in it. Finally, managing your sources wisely is the key to writing good literature for your dissertation. Critically analyse all the sources.

Identifying the gaps in research

To identify the “gap” it is necessary to understand the areas of research where a gap could occur. A research gap is essentially the existence of a research question. It is the main perspective or problem that has not been addressed. Identifying the research gap is important for highlighting the originality of your research. The entire literature review revolves around this part. If you haven’t found any gaps, it means you haven’t conducted the original research efficiently.

First, Make a subtle way of approach. This way of approach is based on important parts and key points of the research. First, note that you’ll have to sift through many articles to identify the ones that are most suitable for your research. Hence, You should try using Google Scholar by typing the main keywords.

Initially, the recommendations that you have been provided with will definitely help you. It will help you in getting more insight into the research gaps. Additionally, you can read more on the given subject. Try to find as many possibilities you can, in the research.

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Key Point – Writing the Literature Review

Use samples

You can take a look at some of the samples pdf provided. Try to read and understand them completely. If you find it difficult to understand a part, do not skip it. You can seek help from your tutor to get a better understanding. Plus, You can also take help from some reliable online resources. Most importantly, get familiarized with existing sources. It could be a stepping stone towards outlining and structuring your review.

Make a subtle approach

Summarising the topic is a priority. It is important because you will find a huge number of sources based on similar topics and related topics. You wouldn’t want to circle around the same content. There could be other perspectives on the same topic. Besides, Experienced researchers investigate their research topics in the most dynamic way. The literature available on any given subject is extremely broad.

Find the latest sources

Finding latest sources could be challenging. It makes sure your facts and figures about the research are up to date. Especially, if you are writing a literature review on scientific work. It becomes important that your sources should be as current as possible. Innovations and advancements in those fields tend to change every now and then. The research process is in constant pace in the medical field. There are sources older than 3 years. Fortunately, in the field of social science, you may not need to follow this criterion.

Organize your work

When you are writing a Literature Review for a dissertation, It is not about just organizing the structure. The structure mainly consists of an introduction, main body and conclusion. Yet, it is not the whole picture. You will need to review a number of texts. Therefore you will need to think critically before placing our arguments, original themes and topics of your review. Of course, the basic things need to be followed in every case.

Plan about organizing the structure of the literature first.
Then, get into the deep analysis of writing the contents in every part of the structure.

Main Body of the literature

The appropriate approach is everything. So, after determining the approach on how to write the contents in your body, you must construct your paragraphs as per academic conventions.

First, you should know your audience. If you are writing for an undergraduate level, you should keep your language simple. And, when you are writing at a postgraduate level. It gives you the academic authority to boldly make claims.


You should always keep the conclusion on high priority. So, you have to suggest solutions to the problems and identify the main issues of the event. Plus, You should include a summary of the implications of the literature. Then, you connect the main agendas of the paper with your arguments or questions.

By Sara Jason

Sara has been closely working with academic websites for last 8 years. Sara has been associated with for last 4 years a s a leading academic writer. She writes majorly about marketing, general management and human resources.