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How To Write A Literature Review For A Dissertation: 10 Practical Tips

Every correctly formatted dissertation requires a literature review section. You need to know currently established knowledge, previous research, existing theories, and the various theoretical concepts connected with your subject. To structure literature and properly represent your own research project, you may turn to the university's library catalogue — that would be a good starting point.

Here are a few tips for writing a literature review! If you plan to do the work on your own, our tips should come in handy. However, when you need help, apply to essay writing services. They provide custom dissertation writing for any topic and subject within a stated deadline and with fair pricing.

What Are Literature Reviews and Their Purpose?

Once you’re done with your research, you will need to conclude a literature review, which is a brief summary of your academic work. It overlooks the current knowledge, major theories, journal articles, life sciences facts, and more resources that you’ve reached to complete the paper.

In addition, it assures readers and proves that the presented statements are true. By establishing the literature reviews, students show the related academic work made by other researchers and confirm that they have read, analyzed, evaluated, and assimilated the research topic. A proper dissertation literature review entails the following and helps to:

  • Demonstrate your understanding of research questions and scholarly debates
  • Identify relevant theories and create a solid outline for your paper
  • Prove your familiarity with the scholarly context 
  • Develop a methodology for your research
  • Collate your knowledge with other researchers.

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The Purpose of Literature Review

Many experts claim that creating a literature review should be one of the first steps after deciding on the dissertation topic. Critical analysis and reading can support you in recurring central themes and composing academic questions. A solid literature review shows a base point of understanding and familiarity with the chosen topic before you proceed with further investigations. Moreover, it helps you to determine what research has been done previously and identify themes that are currently unknown within your field of study. While doing your own research, you’ll be able to elevate the following skills:

  • Identify controversial issues and disputed statements
  • Analyze and sum up already investigated relevant research and theories
  • Consider and emphasize the possible gaps within the research question.

How to Write a Dissertation Literature Review?

If you’re planning on doing the research on your own, you need to be highly attentive and follow a step-to-step guide not to miss essential details and create a proper structure.

Find Relevant Sources

It’s easy to get lost in a variety of articles that may be connected to your topic. That’s why it would be a good idea to set a list of keywords. Don’t worry if it is too large — add all the tempting key concepts and alternatives, related definitions, and synonyms. You can modify the list in case you find more keys or would like to put some away.

Let’s say your topic is «How social media will impact human mental health generation after». So, the potential keywords would be generation, social impact, teenagers, Instagram, TikTok, self-perception, etc.

Once you’re done picking the main concepts, use them in finding the corresponding resources. You can either go to the university’s library or apply to online pages. To speed up the research process, read the abstracts of the publications. In case the journal matches your topic, dig deeper — analyze it and check the bibliography to access more related research articles.

Evaluate the Research Proposal

You are not obligated to read every book and journal that is relevant to your studies, but you are responsible for proofreading those that you chose. Ask yourself a rank of questions like «How does this source contribute to the development of my questions?», or «What are other example literature-related articles? How do they supplement my academic work?», etc.

You have to prove whether your literature review is credible and answer the literature review’s argument. Find and analyze the popularity of a particular source, and how many times it was mentioned in previous research. Furthermore, note that depending on your field of study, you would need to list different amounts of literature.

For instance, if you’re writing a dissertation on human studies, you should show changes that have taken place over the past couple of centuries and interdisciplinary knowledge acquisition; therefore, a larger number of sources. However, if you’re doing scientific research, the recent developments will be enough.

Identify Key Debates and Gaps

Before you can start organizing your literature review, you have to make sure that you clearly see the connection between your topic and the sources that you’ve chosen. Your notes may come in handy on this step as you can begin looking for specific details. Here are some recommendations:

  • Analyze what patterns become more or less common and prevalent
  • Determine what terms and questions occur among existing research
  • Find the answer to whether the sources comply or conflict; where is the debatable point
  • Prove that specific developments change the direction of the academic field
  • Think if there is more to add to the literature review; what are the drawbacks that have to be supported with the recent updates?


Preparing a rough version of a dissertation body is a great start to organizing a large block of statements. You need to have an image in your mind of how your example literature review is going to look like. There are several options that you can modify or combine:

  • Methodological
    Many students apply to journals from various fields of study and include different research methods in their academic papers. Therefore, comparing and showing the results is an excellent way to represent the final thought briefly. For instance, collate economic migration theory and social migration theory, or divide your literature review into cultural attitudes, historical facts, and sociological statements.
  • Chronological
    Listing your sources in chronological order is one of the easiest options. Yet, you need to avoid simple ranking regarding the timeline. Write a literature review showing the reasons and explaining why such situations occur, what was the outcome of certain changes, and in what ways they impacted the topic of your research.
  • Theoretical
    A literature review is the base of the theoretical structure. It’s intended to discuss different terms, definitions, and theories of the research question. You can challenge certain cultural sources and theoretical views, or combine several of them to create a suitable pattern for your dissertation.
  • Thematic
    If your topic includes reiterative concepts, you may represent your literature review in an order that appeals to various aspects of the topic. For example, if you’re doing research in computer science, you can mention ways of collecting, storing, and processing personal data.

Writing Part

A distinctive feature of academic writing is the presence of the introduction, body, and conclusion. The content of each block depends on your theme and dissertation requirements. The introduction has to represent the main purpose of the literature review — clearly and briefly. It is the part where you raise the research question, and central concepts, and add a short summary of the scientific context. Here you can highlight the time frames, or emphasize the gaps that you’re addressing.

The body of the dissertation will be large, so you can divide it into several blocks with headings and subheadings. While writing, make sure that you follow the essential aspects of academic work. Give a brief overview and summary of the key concepts, clarify the importance of each statement and add your own interpretation, prove that your sources are credible, and mention their weaknesses if applicable. The conclusion serves to summarize the result of your literature review and emphasize its contribution to the particular study field. It represents how well you’ve addressed the concept mentioned in the introduction.

Writing a literature review for a dissertation is a daunting task, especially when you have to do it right. It requires a comprehensive understanding of the field you are researching, strong organizational skills, and the ability to effectively synthesize and connect sources. To make the process easier, it helps to break it down into manageable steps. One of the most important steps is to do my assignments thoroughly and accurately, ensuring that all the relevant information is included. This includes researching and organizing the literature, carefully analyzing sources, and writing a compelling review.

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10 Tips For Writing a Good Literature Review For A Dissertation

Keeping your literature review’s structure neat and organized may be complicated, considering frequent changes and updates in the academic paper. By following the tips below, you’ll ease your job and end up keeping the whole journal in order.

1. Clarify the Importance

When writing a literature review, you shouldn’t just retell the short description of each source. Prove that the existing literature is important in your academic writing. Explain why you’ve decided to join your statements with a particular source, and clarify the influence of it on your research position.

2. Relevant Literature is a Must

The selection of literature is broad. You have to apply to all the possible sources like webpages, scientific databases, college libraries, etc. Consider that literature search is highly essential, so critically evaluate each source you pick.

3. Key Topics

Making your literature review clear and easy to understand is one of the keys to a successful research paper. Readers skip those chapters that seem too watery and messy, so make sure they comprehend all the research and can find the connection between your key findings and dissertation literature review on the completed topic.

4. Don't be Afraid to Criticize

When describing sources, you can critique them, show your opinion, and whether you agree or disagree with the authors of these sources. If you don’t do it, your position will be difficult to understand. To make the process a bit easier, you can consider hiring a literature review writer who can help you assemble a comprehensive review of existing literature in the field and provide you with tailored advice. With their professional help, you can make sure that your literature review for dissertation is both comprehensive and up-to-date.

5. Reviewing the Literature Is Essential

You should always remember that once you’ve made the slightest change in your research arguments, your literature review updates as well. Be patient and come back to this section over and over — you can find mistakes you haven’t noticed before, or research addresses gaps in the paper that you’ve forgotten to fill. Review the existing research until it’s 100 percent correct.

6. Emphasize the Key Concepts

You would be hardly able to mention all the relevant literature in your research paper, which means you require only key theories that would help you to proceed with further studies. Pick several works and describe, criticizes, prove or disapprove of them. Understanding visual aspects such as literature review size and formatting is a valuable skill to achieve.

7. Adapt to the University’s Standards

The style of literature reviews varies depending on the institution you’re in. That’s why you need to be careful and attentive while reading the scholarly context requirements. Make some drafts, and ask your instructor to revise and modify them when needed. Change them as many times as needed to reach the result that meets the university’s standards.

8. Check the Current State

Students don’t always evaluate their writing well and don’t fit into terms. Let’s say your dissertation topic is «migrant health outcomes» — it requires lots of time to be done perfectly. However, it doesn’t matter how complicated your research is, you have to meet the deadlines. Talk to your instructor, define the milestones of your academic journals, and make sure to finish each chapter in stated terms.

9. Make it More Useful

Don’t concentrate on just retelling the content of the sources — it’s boring and unnecessary. Instead, find exciting facts, social sciences statements, pivotal publications, and a few researchers who provided existing knowledge on your topic. Make your dissertation interesting and catchy. It can be difficult to keep track of the relevant research, and to make connections between the sources and the argument you're trying to make. To get a paper written for you, it's important to plan and organize your literature review, and to make sure that you are including all the relevant sources in your discussion. Furthermore, citing your sources correctly is another key element of any literature review.

10. Don’t be Afraid to Ask for Help

If you have no clue how to start your paper, you may go to the PapersOwl - writing service online. There is a wide range of professional authors who have long experience writing in academic fields. They are ready to supply you with all the necessary tools to complete robust research.

You can be a person who is getting an education at university and wants to make a good dissertation for getting a Ph.D. degree. To start your research, you’ll need to read numerous sources, proceed with critical analysis, and check lots of literature review examples. Having someone working with you would be vital. In this case, PapersOwl authors will be in touch throughout the whole writing process. They can find influential theories, fill out the research gaps, or help you challenge established knowledge.

Moreover, online experts can teach you to create a proper literature review structure and help you obtain a theoretical scholarship in your field of education. Finally, such a procedure would cost fair money, and you’ll see that the final results are worth it.

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Writing a literature review might be a tough task, but knowing the foundation concepts will genuinely help you. By following the step-to-step guide, you’ll end up having a perfect dissertation. Look over several sample literature reviews, take notes, and structure your own paper. Remain brief and always support your statements with credible sources, showing their significance and impact on the topic. Use publication-related articles, books, and webpages to address the main questions and research gap. Compile your literature review according to our recommendations and turn to your advisor to complete the dissertation.

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