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Best practices for writing the literature review section

Literature review is one of the most critical parts of your dissertation. This largely forms the bulk of your work and it provides the relevant backing that your research needs. While it may sound tedious, many students often have a hard time working their way through this section.

To help you out, this article focusses on providing you with some of the best practices that you can readily apply when tackling your literature review.

So, let’s get to it.

Clarify your research questions first

Several students often are carried away by the mere excitement of working on their dissertations without clearly knowing what their research questions are. You should begin by clarifying these first before jumping to literature search or else you will waste lots of your precious time reading a couple of aimless publications. In your analysis, define the issues of interest and then refine your search along the same lens.

Expand your search

Literature reviews are largely bulky meaning that the section is meant to capture lots of information concerning the topic and research questions. For this reason, you will be expected to carry out extensive and intensive searches throughout both physical and online-based archives/libraries. Just remember to streamline your search with your outlined research questions for better and relevant literature.

Relevance of the content

Many people are usually caught up in writing flat descriptions about what they have read from the various forms of texts and this should not be the case. Always plan to evaluate the content you read and assess its significance to the overall purpose of your work. This will ensure that your dissertation is consistent and relevant to a particular discipline.

Identify key themes

Just like establishing relevance, identifying key themes in your literature search helps in building the foundation for your dissertation. Take enough time when carrying out thematic analysis and this will in turn give your paper a natural flow of ideas.

Adopt a critical approach

Dissertations are largely informative meaning that literature reviews need to be scrutinized thoroughly. For this reason, you will have to take carefully analyze the publications that you read, dissect its content, and challenge the assumptions in it. Adopt a similar critical approach to make your literature reviews watertight. But before you finish, just remember to include your own arguments and provide your readers with explanations why you reacted in a given manner.

Sources and findings

 As a rule of thumb, you need to use credible sources to inform your work. Find out some of the authoritative texts and cite them in your literature review to enhance validity of your work. As for findings, strive to address emergent or possible future trends in the field as well as any significant knowledge gaps.


Well, dissertations are a piece of work. If you are a fresh beginner in this field, you will need to continue expanding your knowledge on its different processes. Don’t be afraid of making mistakes along the way but rather focus on learning from every mistake that you will make.

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