Every research student will have certain questions about how to write a proper literature review. That is perhaps the most painful question a student has to tackle in the first phase of writing a thesis or dissertation. Although each institution may have its own criteria about the specifications with regard to the dissertation, the literature review component will have certain common features accepted all over in the academic world.
What exactly is a literature review? It is nothing other than a consolidated written summary of all available research conducted so far on the particular topic we are working on. In other words it is an in-depth analysis of all the past research conducted on the specific research topic.
A well-organized literature review is an inevitable component of any thesis or dissertation because that foregrounds the research. It is the literature review that highlights what all aspects of the research problem have already been worked on, the gaps in the research conducted so far, and how we can build on past research to go to our hypotheses. We are actually building on past research and adding to that body of knowledge and literature through our research. That is why various educational institutions and research foundations insist that a well-written thesis or dissertation should begin with a properly executed literature review.
We have seen how a good literature review takes into account all past research conducted so far on the research topic we are dealing with. Therefore, when we are attempting to compile our literature review, we must first of all gather all available literature on the topic. Take care to collect all kinds of literature related to the topic including books, ebooks, articles, newspaper reports, personal interviews, pamphlets, letters and emails, press releases, government documents, films, screenplays, documentaries, various web sources, etc. Never forget to take down the sources of the material we collect correctly as that will be essential when we come to the writing stage.
The next stage in compiling a literature review is to organize the collected literature on the basis of relevance and importance. That phase has to be very carefully done. Do not bring in any unnecessary or irrelevant material in the literature review. Also avoid any material that is not even remotely related to our research topic. Now it is time to consolidate the material we have selected and to write a systematic literature review.