Tips for Your Dissertation Literature ReviewWednesday, October 6th, 2010
Why are dissertation literature reviews so important?
Do you have to write a dissertation literature review, and you are not sure where to start? Don’t worry: here we can provide you some useful tips.
Now that it is your last year in college, you realize there is a big task ahead: your dissertation. This one is the most important work in any student’s academic career, since it is the culmination of a very long process. The dissertation (or thesis) is meant to show the student’s achievements at the end of their college studies and in the beginning of their professional life.
You have already begun to organize your dissertation steps with your tutor, and he mentions you should include a dissertation review writing in your work. It is important that you learn how to do it right.
What exactly is a literature review?
Maybe you have already prepared some kind of literature review assignment, in that situation you are ok. However, if you have never heard the expression until now, pay attention: a literature review has nothing to do with “literature” as we may understand it at first (classic books, famous writers, etc.). Your literature review is not focused on giving your opinion on a certain literary work. Of course, if you are writing a dissertation in physics or engineering you may have probably figured this out already, haven’t you?
In fact, the whole concept of “literature” implied in dissertation literature reviews is different, since literature reviews can survey scholarly articles, books and other sources (e.g. dissertations, conference proceedings), always relevant to a particular issue, theory or area of research. Then, it provides a description, summary, and critical evaluation of each work.
Where does it belong in my work?
A dissertation literature review will probably precede a research proposal and results section. The purpose of this assignment is to offer an overview of significant literature published on a topic (your dissertation topic of choice, that’s right!). Your main goal is to bring the reader up to date with current literature on such a topic and forms the basis for another goal, such as future research that may be necessary in that area, and here is where you enter the scene with your very own dissertation.
Why do I need to add it to my dissertation?
What is the purpose of the tutor when he or she asks you to hand in a dissertation literature review? Why should you listen to him or her if he suggests so? Because it is the best chance to show your research skills, and to get into the area of your field that could use most of your own productions. Writing a literature review lets you gain and demonstrate skills in two areas, such as information seeking (since you need to identify the useful articles or books among a huge list of literature available) and critical appraisal (since you must distinguish between unbiased and valid studies). Besides, it increases your knowledge on the topic. The more you know about previous works in the field, the more likely you’ll produce an original and valuable dissertation.