Providing a Strong Literature Review for Dissertation Proposal

A literature review is a vital element of any dissertation proposal. Essentially, the literature review will convince the reader that you have researched your field sufficiently well to determine whether or not your topic is unique, where it fits into the filed, and whether it has merit. So, get this right and it will make the proposal a strong, scholarly piece of writing. Get it wrong and it can be the end of the project. How do you go about providing a strong literature review? Follow these tips.

  • Refine
  • The literature review begins at the stage of deciding what your research will be about; when you choose a subject, be as specific as possible, because the narrower and more refined the field, the more you can be sure to cover all relevant material. So choose your subject very carefully, and try to find something that is new, that fits well into an existing field, but that has yet to be studied. An interesting idea is the best asset of any research project.

  • Read Everything
  • Of course, it is not possible to read everything on any topic, but it is possible to read all of the major, seminal, field defining papers. These will also lead you to more influential papers. A literature review is there to contextualise your paper, therefore it needs to be rigorous.

  • Carefully Discuss
  • A literature review is not a literature search; a literature review requires you to discuss the paper that exist in your area, and to discuss the salient points. Also, you need to relate these papers to one another, and finally to discuss how your research will advance the area, and in what relation it stands to the other papers.

  • Carefully Write
  • Do not leave any room for ambiguity in the review, because if you do not get this absolutely clear and let the reader know exactly where your research is going, then there is not much point to the rest of the paper. This element provides the framework for all that will come.

Try keeping these tips in mind when composing your literature review for your research paper; knowing what it is designed to do and making sure that it does this is fundamental to success.