Writing A Doctoral Dissertation Literature Review: 5 Simple Rules


Writing a review can seem overwhelming. A review is a summary or an overview of a study in a particular field. Once you have your topic, you can begin.

The main goal is to inform the readers everything there is to know about the topic (as long as it's relevant and sticks to the point). You should state what is known about your topic and why it's important. If there are unanswered questions about the topic, your review can include a solution to those question and how you plan to get there.

Here are some rules to follow when writing your review:

Rule Number One: Find All Relevant Literature

You need to search through books, journals or whatever materials you can find. Look for anything with information about your topic, anything that supports it. After you find things to support it, you should look for things that question it. Part of a review is including information that disagrees with the claim. Good or bad, it should be included.

Rule Number Two Make Copies

Once you have found what you're looking for, you need to keep it. If you don't have everything easily accessible and at your disposal then it's easy to forget what you've gathered, and that will result in having to start over and find it all again. Make copies of whatever literature is related to your review.

Rule Number Three: Read All Your Documents

Perhaps you've collected more than enough and you've narrowed down the stack to things that you think you need. But the documents you set aside could have more useful information than the ones you've decided to keep! You have to read everything. You can't afford to leave out important information. Once you have read them, you can then narrow them down from most important to least important.

Rule Number Four: Reference Your Sources Correctly

As soon as you know you're going to use something, cite it. Write it down. Your bibliography will be looked at, and if something doesn't match up, it won't look good. Spare yourself the awkwardness! A good way to avoid this is to start your reference list as soon as you know you're going to use a certain text.

Rule Number Five: Understand What You Use

If you don't understand something, don't use it! This will leave your readers just as confused as you are. If you have no idea what it means, that will come across in your writing.

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