All those who have to write a thesis or dissertation undoubtedly face the need for writing a literature review of sufficient length as part of the thesis or dissertation. Now, what is a literature review? It can be defined as the comprehensive, systematic and written summary of research conducted on a particular topic. In effect is summarizes and foregrounds the background and the context of a research. Ideally, a literature review makes a proper, detailed and careful analysis of the area of research. To that extent it provides the general outline of a research and gives it the necessary perspective. It also enables a research scholar who is attempting to write a thesis to know the perceptible gaps in the research conducted so far on the specific topic. That will make it possible for the researcher to fill those gaps in available literature. That is why we say that a properly designed and executed literature review gives the outline of a research.
When we prepare a literature review we are actually collecting and analysing all the research work that has already been conducted on the research topic and is available in literature. For that we have a make an extensive search for literature related to our topic. The aim of this material collection stage should be to gather all the materials which are relevant to the topic. All the available literature on the research topic must be collected as the first step. That can include books, articles, interviews, newspapers, web sources, electronic media, etc. Then comes the next stage, that is, detailed examination to ascertain the relevance. Now comes the consolidation phase where we delete all unnecessary or irrelevant matter and organize and consolidate all the literature that pertains to our research. The next step is synthesis where we discuss the findings we have come across in our literature survey in a logical sequence paying attention to the various aspects of our topic of research. Then we summarize the points and specify the gaps that we find in the literature. We can conclude by stating that the thesis or dissertation is an attempt to fill those gaps. While preparing the literature review we should ensure that we conform to the specifications provided by the institution.