Dissertation Dilemma: Literature Review Stage

Literature Review is something that you do to gather resources, theories, important theorists that support or go against your research for your dissertation. Essentially explain how you are going to fill a knowledge gap. Well, that’s the gist of it at least. You are done with the Proposal and now it’s the literature review stage. We were given a full semester to work on this and I can see why. Its time consuming, tedious and really stressful. I panicked a lot and I read everything that I can about how to write one.

  1. Revisit your proposal: In reality, you would probably update or edit the way you are going to approach your research by now. But the key points are still in there and you have done a substantial amount of work regards to epistemology, theoretical approach, methodology amongst other things.
  2. Turn your research topic into a research question: My supervisor advised us on coming up with a question rather than a title for our dissertation. So helpful! It contains the key words, topic and what I hope to find out. Everytime I feel like I’m getting lost in my review, I go back to my question.
  3. Gather theories/theorists: I would recommend organising your literature review into themes rather than theorists. This helps you to gel ideologies together and shows your critical thinking skills. You can also break apart old theorists and showcase how it either fits or doesn’t fit your research. Do your academic research.
  4. Think about the flow: Have you setup your introduction the right way for your audience? Do you need a historical background? In what order should the themes appear in your literature review? How do each sub-topics connect with each other? Does your conclusion actually conclude?
  5. Give it a break: You spend so much time in writing your literature review that you sometimes go off-tangent (even when you keep going back to your research question). You just feel as though everything makes sense. Give it a few days or even a week not looking at it. Read it again at the end of it with a fresh mind. You will see if you have missed anything, if you need to brush up on something or if you have made an excellent point.

At the end of it all, feel really good about all of your handwork when you submit it in. Good luck!

Do you have any tips to share?

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