The literature review is a key component of a dissertation. As noted in Chapter 6, it serves to contextualise the aims and objectives of the project. This chapter is important as it creates the ‘knowledge gap’ and provides the foundation for the research questions.
There are different styles and forms of literature review and the decision on which approach you take should be discussed with your supervisor before you begin. Undergraduate dissertations tend to employ narrative reviews which ‘set the scene’ for you to tell the story of your research. The example provided below is in the narrative style. As noted in the book, the literature review is where you describe key research within the field, but also provide some critical commentary in relation to that literature.
In these examples we provide a small section from a larger literature review in order to demonstrate the style of writing and structure required in a literature review chapter. Each example is a segment of a literature review from a project which explored masculinity in sporting sites. The main research aim was to understand men’s perceptions of masculinity and the role of banter (joking) in this process. There is a bad example of a literature review, a better example, and a best example:
Remember, before writing your literature review you need to:
- Have a meeting with your supervisor to plan a strategy and style. You can also discuss the structure and content in this meeting.
- Think carefully about what sort of researcher you are, and what sort of approach you are taking in your research. Theory is an important part of the whole dissertation and informs the way you write the literature review too (see Chapter 6 for more details).
Here are some further tips about conducting a literature search and reviewing the literature: