How to Write a Literature Review for Dissertation

A dissertation paper has several sections that present varied content. In this guide, we highlight the literature review, highlighting the details to include in the section, how to present the details, and some measures to take to ensure your dissertation literature review stands out. Keep reading for a better understanding.

What is literature review in dissertation?

When writing academic papers, doing academic research is a must process to ensure you get to content relevant to the topic you are handling.

During the research process, you will use varied scholarly sources to get ideas and content for your academic paper. Now, the literature review is simply a survey of all the sources you’ve used in your paper when doing the research.

Note: the literature review section is often applicable to significant academic papers like a thesis paper, research paper, or dissertation. With other academic papers, citations are always sufficient to present a well-written essay.

Types of literature review

We have varied forms of literature reviews. Choosing a certain literature review style depends on the type of research you are handling. Therefore, the common types of literature reviews include the following:

  • Narrative literature review

A narrative literature review sums up all ideas about the topic and identifies inconsistencies knowledge-wise. Therefore, to use a narrative literature review, you must need a narrowed research topic to focus on. This form of the literature review is also called the traditional literature review style.

  • Systematic literature review

Like the name, this form of literature review highlights the details and timeframes based on how the literature was selected.

  • Scoping literature review

Scoping literature review helps in analyzing the potential scope of the research on a specific subject or topic matter while trying to establish possible gaps in the research.

  • Argumentative literature review

An argumentative literature review simply supports or refutes an argument that is already established in the literature.

  • Integrative literature review

This form of literature review analyzes and synthesizes secondary data on a given research topic in an integrated manner to give room for new perspectives and frameworks about the topic concept. An integrated literature review is mostly applicable when your research involves primary data collection and analysis.

  • Theoretical literature review

This one mainly focuses on the theories regarding an issue that has been developed. Therefore, this style helps establish existing theories and their relationships to the topic in question.

How to write a good literature review for dissertation

Once you know the appropriate style for your literature review, next is to learn how to structure a literature review.

Like any other essay, the literature review takes the same structure, starting from the introduction, the body paragraphs, and finally, a compelling conclusion.

Note: the literature review length usually depends on the nature and requirements of the research. Therefore, it can be shorter or longer. However, a literature review template will have the details described in this section. 

The following is a step-by-step guide on how to do a literature review.

  1. Define the research scope

Before you find sources, make sure you answer all research questions to have a well-defined thesis to help you through the writing process.

  1. Find relevant literature

Use keywords from your topic to find relevant sources from the library or other databases.

  1. Analyze the themes and gaps within your sources

Review your sources while taking notes while posing possible questions regarding the sources.

  1. Create the literature review outline

When you have all your sources and defined the themes and patterns, you now need to create a literature review outline following the literature review structure to simplify the writing process.

  1. Write the literature review

At this point, you have all details in place. Now, follow the structured outline and write a compelling literature review. Remember to format your paper based on the guidelines (APA, MLA, or Chicago).


Have you been struggling, especially when writing the literature review section of a dissertation? With this guide, you will realize how simple it is to write the literature section and make your whole dissertation stand out.

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