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Dissertation Literature Review:
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Dissertation Literature Review

The dissertation literature review is a section of the dissertation in which the student cites and discusses existing research and dissertations that are relevant to his or her topic. The main purposes of the dissertation literature review are to place the student's topic within the context of the ongoing work in the field, and to point out the need that the student's research can help to fill.

The student who has been doing extended coursework in his or her field will be aware of much of the research that will be relevant to his or her dissertation literature review. If the student needs more literature to discuss in the dissertation literature review, he or she can check the reference lists of papers he or she has read. These reference lists will include the titles of additional research papers that may be important to include in the student's dissertation literature review.

Another place to look for material for the literature review will be in the university library. The librarian can be helpful in pointing out indices to periodical literature and assisting the student in using search tools available on the Internet. The more literature the student has to consider for the dissertation literature review, the better. The Reader's Guide to Periodical Literature lists scholarly journals containing research papers in the student's field. Dissertation Abstracts International lists dissertation abstracts which can point the student toward relevant dissertations in the field.

Once the student has gathered the relevant literature, writing the dissertation literature review involves choosing which research to discuss, then outlining the order in which the various research papers will be discussed. Dissertation literature reviews should be outlined in detail in order to make the writing process easier. The outline can also contain the points the student wishes to highlight in the discussion of each item of the literature. Again, the student should remember to point out the ways in which the existing literature fails to cover the student's own dissertation topic. Dissertation literature reviews which convince their readers of the importance of the student's research are desirable, and this should be the student's main goal when writing the dissertation literature review.