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Literature Review for Your Doctoral Dissertation

7 Proven Steps to Conduct Literature Review for Your Doctoral Dissertation

 

Conducting a high-quality literature review is critical to writing a perfect doctoral dissertation. However, it is no simple task. After reviewing thousands of literature review sections of students from all over the world, what have I found? A plethora of recurring sets of mistakes is what I have found. Due to this, I have felt that there is a need to explain to students how to conduct a literature review.

A literature review is the fundamental part of your Ph.D. dissertation. It is that stage at which you learn about the work of other scholars in your research area. So, crafting it in a good manner is critical to getting high marks as well as a degree. Hence, in today’s article, I am going to unearth the top 7 proven steps that can help you conduct a literature review effectively. However, before moving on to the steps, let’s define the literature review.

What is meant by conducting a literature review?

A literature review in its literal meaning is a survey of scholarly sources published in your research area and is related to your dissertation topic. The literature review process allows you to identify overlooked and unstudied topics in your field. Those overlooked and unstudied topics are sometimes called research gaps. Also, the literature review section helps you communicate the importance of your research to the academic audience. It tells them how your research is going to add value to the existing body of scholarship.

Top 7 proven steps to conduct a literature review

A good literature review does not just summarise the research of other scholars. It analyses, synthesizes, and critically evaluates the sources to give a clear picture of what is known to date. To write such a literature review, undoubtedly, you need some kind of guidance. Today, I am going to give you that guidance in the form of 7 steps I have learned after attending a webinar by Joseph Brito. Hence, a brief description of the 7 proven steps is as follows:

Define your research scope

The research scope is defining the research area, questions, and problems. You must establish your research scope at first to collect the literature that is the true representative of your interests. You can define your research scope with the help of a concept map. How? Develop a list containing the keywords and main concepts related to your research area. This list will help you create a concept map of your research scope. Additionally, at this initial stage, set some other parameters like the discipline of your research.

Plan your research approach

Planning is important to conduct a literature review effectively. Without a plan in hand, you should better forget about conducting a good literature review. Nevertheless, you need to start by identifying where to search for research papers and articles related to your research area. Define whether you want to use Google Scholar, online databases, or the library of your research institute to conduct the review. Identifying credible journals and academic presses should also be part of your plan.

Search literature – Be efficient

Until now, you have defined the research scope and tools you are going to use to conduct a literature review. The next step is to start searching the literature related to your research area. Make extensive use of the keywords and concepts that you have identified at the starting phases. Moreover, to come to more solid conclusions, you can make use of the reference list given at the end of each research paper. Open those references in the new tab of your search engine and browse those sources as they are also related to your research area.

Read and select sources thoroughly

After the research phase has been completed, the reading phase starts. Remember that you do not need to read the full text of the research papers. Just give a good glance at the abstract, problem statement, and the conclusion of the selected sources. Mark each source in an annotated bibliography that matches your research aims and objectives, and scope. Know that a literature review is an iterative process of searching, reading, and selecting.

Organize the selected papers

After performing the above-mentioned step, you have got a list of papers that matches your research area. What is next? The next step is to organize those selected papers. Organize the papers based on the research topics or subtopics that relate to your research area. Also, look at the patterns present in the selected literature. Those patterns can also be useful in the organization of your literature. Additionally, getting help from online literature management tools or cheap dissertation help providing services is not bad.

Outline the structure of the literature review

Various approaches to organizing the body of literature review are in practice these days. as the second last step, you need to decide which approach you want to use and structure the literature review according to that. The four approaches to writing a literature review are chronological, methodological, thematic, and theoretical. Each approach has different guidelines. Therefore, you should read about each approach and decide which is the best for your literature review.

Do not rely on low-quality sources

Relying on low-quality sources can have serious consequences on your doctoral dissertation’s literature review section. The reason is that low-quality sources often do not contain authentic information from authentic sources. Moreover, the low-quality sources do not give you much idea about writing a literature review. Therefore, it is always recommended to stay away from such sources. The researchers advise using the CRAAP test when conducting a literature review.

Conclusion

Undoubtedly, a literature review is the backbone of your doctoral dissertation. It critically informs you about the work of other scholars in your research area. Collect sources that are representative of your research topic. Conclusively, follow the 7 steps mentioned above, and rock this important section of your dissertation.
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