Literature Reviews Dissertation Writing Tips - Master's Dissertation Sample Outline Tips - Master's Dissertation Samples for Undergraduate Graduates
Literature Reviews:
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Literature Reviews

Literature reviews are always included in dissertations and other types of research papers. In essence, literature reviews are surveys and discussions of existing literature, i.e. published research papers and dissertations that cover the same subject matter as the students' own dissertation topics. Before describing their own research in their dissertations, students write literature reviews to provide a context and give an overview of the major trends in research in their fields. Literature reviews are the primary vehicle for this component of the dissertation writing process.

To prepare for writing literature reviews, students first gather copies of those dissertations, journal articles, and other research papers focused on the same topic as that of their own dissertation topics. Searching for relevant literature will begin with a review of research papers read as coursework that bear on the topic at hand. The reference lists of these papers may list other research papers that also bear on the topic. Students should make note of these and locate copies of them for possible inclusion in their literature reviews.

Students preparing for literature reviews can also check with their faculty advisors for ideas on which literature to include in their literature reviews. Often, the advisors themselves will have published research in a similar topic. Fellow students in the same department may have suggestions as well. Finally, students can search various resources at the library for papers which may need to be included in their literature reviews.

When students have gathered the literature, they must read it in detail and decide which research papers are the most relevant ones to include in their literature reviews. There is no hard and fast rule on how many references should be included in literature reviews. Students may want to study the literature reviews in other dissertations within their fields, noting the number of sources discussed.

When students have determined which literature to discuss, they are ready to begin outlining and writing their literature reviews. Students should have two goals when writing literature reviews: to give a clear, complete description of the state of existing inquiry in the field, and to provide a context for their own dissertation research, which will be described in subsequent chapters of their dissertations. Literature reviews which fulfill both of these goals are sure to be successful.