Dissertation Literature Review
A dissertation literature review is a comprehensive overview of scholarly research that is relevant to the topic of a student's reference project. Dissertation literature reviews are not research papers. A research paper presents scholarly studies to make a point or argument; a literary report presents an exhaustive survey of relevant research on a particular topic in order to place the report study in context of its academic precedents.
A dissertation literature review usually follows the introduction chapter of a college report. The introduction outlines the research problem the report will address, describes the purpose of the study, and lists the writer's hypotheses regarding the outcomes of those problems. The literature review comes next to suggest the validity of the topic by pointing to its relevance to other scholars. Therefore, a dissertation literature review serves, in a way, to prove the credibility of both the report and the writer by demonstrating the writer's awareness of relevant research in the field.
Many students find dissertation literature reviews daunting because of their length and depth. However, this need not be the case. The most difficult aspect of the literature review is the research going into it; the writing element is fairly straightforward.
The best way to approach a dissertation literature review is to make a list of all the studies that need to be included and then divide that list into topic subcategories. For instance, if the report were about teaching strategies, the list of relevant studies would likely include several different articles about all types of teaching strategies. The list should be broken down into subcategories of articles that address roughly the same strategy. For instance, in this list there would be a subcategory for the Socratic method, another for discussion-based learning, etc. The dissertation literature review should be organized in such a way that all of the articles in one subcategory are discussed before moving on to a different subcategory. Furthermore, it should be organized so that studies that build on each other are placed next to each other in the text. This will make the literature review more readable and understandable.
Each study in a literary report should have its own paragraph or set of paragraphs that clearly outlines (1) the authors of the research, (2) the year the research was published, (3) what the study sought to determine, (4) the way the study was executed, and (5) the study's results or findings. All of this information should be discussed in an academic and objective fashion. Dissertation literature reviews are not places for commentary, but reporting. The student should simply present a summary of each study according to the guidelines presented above.
The literature review should conclude by describing the general ideas presented by the body of literature discussed in the study and pointing to any conclusions the research as a whole makes about the topic at hand. It should then suggest areas of research in the particular topic that have yet to be investigated.
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