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How To Write Literature Review For Thesis? Read On To Find Out!

thesis literature review

A thesis literature review is a complete analysis of scholarly sources on a selected topic of study. It is crafted to give an overview of the current knowledge, to help the researcher know the methods, theories, and gaps that exist in research.

Doing a literature review requires you to collect and analyze scholarly resources that are related to your topic. When conducting a literature review, the process can be broken down into five key stages.

Literature Review Structure

  1. Look for relevant scholarly resources. This is checking for different resources, such as journals and books, which are related to your study.
  2. Evaluate the resources. This is careful sorting of the different resources to identify the most relevant ones.
  3. Identify debates and gaps in these resources. This is further analysis of the scholarly resources to establish the main arguments and possible gaps in research.
  4. Develop your outline. This is the format of the literature review that tells you what you are supposed to discuss at different points.
  5. Write the literature review. This is the final step that involves putting down the findings that you found after analyzing different resources.

Why is Literature Review for Thesis Important?

When you are working on your graduate thesis, one of the core components needed to make it complete is a literature review. Here is a demonstration of the main benefits of carrying a literature review for your thesis.

  • Allows you to show how familiar you are with the topic of study.
  • Offers you an opportunity to develop a comprehensive methodology.
  • Demonstrate how your research will address the existing gap in your topic of study.
  • Make your contribution to your area of the study felt.

Thesis Literature Review Example

To help you craft a good literature review for thesis, here are the main steps that you should follow.

Step 1: Look for the Relevant Scholarly Resources

By the time you get to writing the thesis for your literature, you will have worked on chapter one (introduction) that clearly defines the topic. But you can still relook at it before setting off to look for the relevant resources. By defining the problem, you will be able to look at the resources that are closely related to the study questions and problems.

Another method of looking for relevant studies is searching using the keyword. Consider using the main databases for the latest journals, books and articles. Some of these databases include:

After pulling out different resources, check whether it is relevant by going through the abstract. If the resource is relevant, peruse to the last section, the bibliography, for additional resources. When you find a specific resource recurring in the resources, it means it is very relevant.

Step 2: Evaluate the Resources

Once you have gathered an assortment of resources, the chances are that not all of them will be used during the study. So you will need to evaluate them further to determine which ones to use in the study. So here is how to evaluate every resource:

  • What problem is addressed in the resource?
  • How has the author defined the main concepts?
  • What theories and methods are used in the resource?
  • What is the conclusion of the resource?
  • What is the relationship between the resource and other resources?
  • How does the resource contribute to knowledge about the topic?

You should only pick the most relevant resources. Also, it is important to appreciate that if you are in the sciences, the review has to be focused on the latest resources. But if your thesis is in humanities, it might be necessary to check older resources to bring out the historical perspectives. As you read through, keep track of the resources by taking notes, capturing the pages, and citing them properly.

Step 3: Identify Gaps in Current Resources

Before you can organize the arguments in the literature, it is prudent to comprehend how the resources are related. So what should you look for?

  • Patterns and trends, especially in theories, methods, and results.
  • Debates, major conflicts, and contradictions.
  • Themes.
  • Gaps on what is missing in the literature.
  • Pivotal publications.

Step 4: Develop the Outline of the Master Thesis Literature Review

The outline of your literature provides you with a breakdown of what you should discuss at what different stages. There are a number of strategies that you can use to prepare your literature review.

Types Of Literature Review

  • Chronological. This approach involves tracing the development based on the topic occurrence over time. It is the simplest strategy.
  • Thematic. This strategy involves presenting the review based on different themes.
  • Methodological. If the resources you use for the review have varying methods, a methodological presentation can helps you to compare the results as well as conclusions.
  • Theoretical. This approach involves exploring the theories, definitions, concepts, and models used in the resources. You might also want to focus on particular theories depending on the topic of study.

Note that you can opt to use one or combine several of them to make your literature review more articulate.

Step 5: Write Your Literature Review

Like other forms of academic writing, your literature review should take this format: introduction, body, and conclusion. Here is what to include in every section:

  • Introduction: This should be used to give the focus of the literature review.
  • Body: In the body of the literature review, you get into the finer details of the review. Here you should do the following:
  1. Summarize, analyze, and interpret.
  2. Evaluate comprehensively.
  3. Write carefully in properly structured and easy to read paragraphs.

Literature Review Example

To help you craft a great literature review thesis, it is important to also have the entire project in mind. This means that although you are reviewing literature, the methods you will use should be clear the back of your mind. Here is a thesis literature review example paragraph. The paragraph is borrowed from literature review of a thesis on the effects of cyberbullying.

Cyberbullying gives the bully a much larger spectrum to choose from when it comes to how exactly they want to intimidate their victims, which may be why it is often easier for them to carry out the act. Of all the different ways to cyberbully Faucher et al. (2014) found the most common platforms for cyberbullying to be social media, text messaging, and email, which were used to bully students about half of the time followed up by blogs forums and chat rooms which were 25 percent. This is no surprise that social media is the most common platform for cyberbullying because it can allow for the bully to remain completely anonymous to your average victim. This allows people who may not fit the mold of your average bully to create a fake account and build their own persona in order to bully others.”

  • Conclusion.

Once you have written the body of the literature review, you still need to conclude it. This is a summary of the literature review that captures the main points that you have discussed.

Step 7: Write Your Bibliography

This guide on how to write literature review for thesis cannot be complete without including a bibliography. This is a complete list of all the resources that you have used during the review. It is important to ensure that you follow the method that your supervisor recommends for formatting and referencing. See two reference examples presented below.

Abeele, M., & Cock, R. (2013). Cyberbullying by mobile phone among adolescents: The role of gender and peer group status. Communications: The European Journal of Communication Research, 38(1), 107-118. Doi:10.1515/commun-2013-0006

Arntfield, M. (2015). Toward a Cybervictimology: Cyberbullying, Routine Activities Theory, and the Anti-Sociality of Social Media. Canadian Journal Of Communication, 40(3), 371-388

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