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Dissertations - Skills Guide: Literature Review

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Literature Review

What is it?

Literature reviews involve collecting information from literature that is already available, similar to a long essay. It is a written argument that builds a case from previous research (Machi and McEvoy, 2012). Every dissertation should include a literature review, but a dissertation as a whole can be a literature review. In this section we discuss literature reviews for the whole dissertation.


What are the benefits of a literature review?

There are advantages and disadvantages to any approach. The advantages of conducting a literature review include accessibility, deeper understanding of your chosen topic, identifying experts and current research within that area, and answering key questions about current research. The disadvantages might include not providing new information on the subject and, depending on the subject area, you may have to include information that is out of date. 


How do I write it?

A literature review is often split into chapters, you can choose if these chapters have titles that represent the information within them, or call them chapter 1, chapter 2, ect. A regular format for a literature review is:

Introduction (including methodology)

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4


This particular example is split into 6 sections, however it may be more or less depending on your topic.