Literature review as essential part of thesis

The discoveries and breakthroughs do not pop out of nowhere, as they are based on the previous works and projects of other researchers and inventors. The lit review is the part of the dissertation that demonstrates that your idea has been logically derived from the ideas of others, and you did come up with it on your own.

Moreover, this section of your paper shows the audience that you are able to:

  • Assess the research background critically, and fully understand it
  • Pick the relevant sources out of the general scope
  • Investigate previous research works and derive own conclusions
  • Contribute to the chosen field of studies by expanding on the research, filling in some gaps, or refuting the wrong claims.
  • Provide evidence and factual basis for the research

A lit review in your thesis paper is the section that presents the works relevant to your topic. It is not just a summary of what you have read, but rather a research history of the question you have chosen.

Lengthy literature reviews should have headings to guide the audience through the paper. They can group the research works of certain years or the ones that support the same point. The best way to approach the literature review is to start with the broad scope and slowly narrow it while you gain more knowledge on the question.

Start with the info that will help you with your thesis paper. Think what kind of studies have already been conducted on it, which areas are still unexplored, and what kind of works that may not be directly linked to the topic can still be necessary to read.

Note down all your initial thoughts on the topic. Create the list of the areas you want to get back to in the future. It is better to do it before you start looking for the literature and reading it, as it will help you not to waste time on the irrelevant material.

Students got used to the Internet, and they tend to rely on it too much while doing a review. You may think that the best way to find the info is to look for it on the web. However, it is rather the easiest one that the best one. Also, such work as literature review requires students to use more trustworthy sources, like journals, peer-reviewed articles, books, official publications, etc. The web will sure give you plenty of options, but it is unlikely all of them can be trusted, and you will have to spend quality time figuring out which ones can be used.

Therefore, most of the scholars recommend using libraries. However, you can use an online one, or even a credible database to look for the literature.

Try to find articles in journals. They can also be found in libraries, and most of them have separate sections with journals. The material you will find there will be up-to-date, as journals always include the newest researches on the topic.

One of the cons of the online library is that you will most likely not have an opportunity to speak to the librarian. Nevertheless, you can go to the real library at least once and consult the librarian and ask her or him for professional help.

You can search for articles with surveys on what is ‘hot’ in your field now, and see if you want to write about anything. If you already know some books that are considered relevant to the subject, look through their reference lists. You will surely find a few books or articles that are worth reading and putting in your lit review.