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Literature Review Structure

/ September 15, 2012 / 0 comments

There are many different ways to structure your literature review. However, a well-written literature review normally consists of the following parts:

An Overview – outlining the main sources of literature in your topic area, the main schools of thought and any themes, questions or trends that characterise your area of study.

Clear Objectives – a statement of what you intend to do or show with your literature review. How will it add value to the rest of your dissertation, essay or assignment?

A Classification Scheme – a system of organising and structuring the existing literature so that it can be evaluated for your purposes. For example, you can categorise existing theories and arguments based on the schools of thought they support, the questions they examine, what they contribute to the subject that is unique, the research methods they use, or when they were introduced chronologically.

An Evaluation – this is your own evaluation of the literature that you have decided to include. You should try to answer such questions as: what does this piece of literature contribute, what are its limitations or failures, is it objective, how is it similar to or different from other literature, does it raise any important questions? The goal is to highlight the specific insights and findings that each source of literature brings to the table which frame how you understand and intend to analyse your topic.

Synthesis and conclusion – finally, you can integrate the literature that you have reviewed in a way that creates a framework for the rest of your dissertation, essay or assignment. You might explain which theories you support and why, what gaps are present in the literature that you intend to work on or combine different theories into a theoretical framework that you will use to analyse your research problem.

Think hard about your literature review structure

A literature review is an important component of many forms of academic work. If you are writing your dissertation, it is a good idea to discuss the structure of your literature review with an advisor so that it supports your specific research objectives.

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