Chapter 2: Dissertation Literature Review

We cannot stress this fact enough: Your Literature Review chapter represents an integral component to your successfully completing your dissertation.  This is because, after the Literature Review’s introduction—which orients the reader as to the purpose of the topic and states the main points clearly—this chapter provides the conceptual basis, justification, analysis, and interpretation of the problem under investigation.  It does this by presenting: (1) the historical knowledge in the field; (2) knowledge of similar research; (3) knowledge pertaining to unsolved problems surrounding your topic; and (4) any knowledge of gaps in the literature. Perhaps just as important, your Literature Review will also cite the research that you used to develop key elements of your study.  View a dissertation literature review example in this dissertation template. Despite these clear requirements, alternate viewpoints exist; however, we have laid out below a convincing path forward to get you to a well-informed end point.

Importantly, your Literature Review should have a specific order, logic, and flow to it.  Incorporating first a historical overview and any gaps in the literature represents an excellent starting point to creating a well-informed chapter.  You can easily follow these pieces with a review of the current findings, ordering them from general to more specific in terms of applicability to your research topic. To elaborate, you’ll want to highlight any literature related to the research variables, the constructs or factors involved, and then the theoretical framework followed by elements of the research design.  Following this order and logic will create an implicit flow to your Literature Review such that your readers feel you have done your job in-full with this chapter.

Next, you’ll need to include a review of the methodological literature relevant to your study.  This section must include a review of the methodological choices you settled upon for your study.  In fact, be certain you incorporate information about your research design, sample size, instruments, and data analysis.  In doing so, you will provide a basis for justifying all of these factors for your study.

Lastly, you will need to create a synthesis of research findings that connects your Literature Review to the specific research problem, and follow this piece with a critique of the previous research.  In the former, you can discuss the larger themes reviewed, while also touching upon the strengths and weaknesses of each study.  Essentially, your synthesis of research findings must aim to provide a summary of the logic behind your study, including the theoretical framework, ideas, and constructs.  Follow this section up by providing a critique of the previous research you’ve investigated.  Here, you should aim to provide a critical analysis of the research reviewed, including an assessment of specific factors, like the quality of the research reviewed and any accompanying strengths or weaknesses in the various methodologies.  Additionally, this component connects these factors specifically to your research direction and argument.  By doing so, this section addresses opposing views and controversies, helping construct a strong case for your research study.

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Of course, following the path outlined above will get you well on your way to completing your Literature Review.  Ideally, we have provided you with a roadmap to success, yet we understand that questions may still exist, or that questions may arise later in the process.  As always, feel free to reach out to us by filling out the contact request form, and one of our dissertation specialists will contact you for your free 30-minute consultation.  We have years of expertise dealing with all portions of the Literature Review—including broadening or narrowing the search terms and searching databases. Feel free to fill out the contact request form and one of our dissertation specialists will be in touch for a Free 30-minute consultation.  We love nothing more than using our decades of experience to help dissertation students get the results we know they are capable of!

Dissertation Literature Review Example and Resources

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