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Literature Review Chapter:
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Literature Review Chapter

All dissertations need to include a literature review chapter. In the literature review chapter, the student gathers and discusses research papers, dissertations, and other literature that is related to his or her topic. The purpose of the literature review chapter is to give the reader a background in the state of research in the field and to place the student's own research in a wider context.

What research should be discussed in the literature review chapter? Any research paper the student has read during coursework that has inspired or been related to the student's dissertation topic should be discussed. In addition, the student should consult the lists of references in all of these relevant papers to look for the titles of other papers that may also be related. The abstracts of these papers should be available for view online or through the library. The student can review the abstracts to determine more fully which papers should be read and included in his or her own literature review chapter.

In the student's literature review chapter, it is important to make a case for the student's own research. While the student discusses the body of knowledge on the topic, he or she should note gaps in the literature that he or she intends to fill with his or her dissertation topic. A dissertation is, above all, an argument for the importance and significance of a student's research, and the literature review chapter contributes to this argument by showing that further research is necessary in the topic.

How many dissertations, research papers, and other articles need to be discussed in the literature review chapter? This depends on the amount of related literature available and on the intended final length of the student's dissertation. It is more important to cover every relevant piece of literature on the topic than to leave any out for the sake of brevity. For a more specific answer, the student may want to consult with his or her faculty advisor, who may have helpful advice regarding the literature review chapter.