Composing an Excellent Undergraduate Dissertation Literature Review

When it comes time to compose the literature review on your dissertation you need to remember that it helps to instruct laypersons about the subject matter, and it is to demonstrate that you have a firm grasp on the subject material. To help create an excellent review, you should keep in mind exactly what it should do.

  • Show how your work fits alongside existing literature on the subject.
  • Illuminate the path to further research.
  • Explain the major issues surrounding the subject matter.
  • Determine sources of literature that make large contributions to the topic.
  • Explain how other works in the same field relate to others.
  • Show other means to explain and shed light on any gaps in earlier research.
  • End conflicts found in sources that seem to contradict each other.

Keeping the purpose in mind will help as you begin you're preparing to write your review.

There are several tips to keep in mind as well to you begin working on this important piece of your dissertation.

  • Planning and building – There are two common ways to plan and build. The first is to go straight through and write it as it appears in order. The other way is to create all of the text at once, adding ideas and quotes to each of the titles.
  • Taking notes – Ensure that all of the notes you take are clear and concise and specific as you can make them. Note where different sources agree, or disagree to help you analyze what differing sources are saying.
  • Make certain that you have all of the information you need for citations – don’t forget you will need specific page numbers when you use a direct quote.
  • Be sure that you use any statistics that are relevant to your topic.
  • Don’t forget to include your own thoughts in your notes as well. For example, if you see an error or gap in the source material.
  • Use both events and the ideas that lead to these events.
  • Make use of several sources. There are many sources for you to draw from including books, journals, official reports, and research reports just to name a few. The internet is also a source of information, though make sure that anything you get from the internet is checked for validity.
  • Demonstrate critical thinking by comparing how other sources determine their positions.
  • Use different methods of using sources in your paper. Switch up the styles of using citations in your work to keep it interesting for the reader, but try to keep the tense the same.
  • Make certain that you place research questions properly. This is frequently determined by your instructor, so make certain that you ask and follow their directions. Otherwise you may place it at the beginning or end of your review.
  • Vary your vocabulary to avoid repetition of the same word, especially in a short span of text.
  • When you use a direct quote, keep it short and be sure that it fits easily into your own wording.
  • The last paragraph of your review can be used to directly lead the reader into the next section of the paper – your own project.

Following these tips should help your review shine.