It is best before we start dealing with the nuts and bolts of the issue, to discuss what exactly constitutes a literature review in a dissertation. The point of a literature review is to explore and examine the literature that is associated with the subject of your dissertation and to examine how it relates to your specific question. Therefore, a literature review is often key to the success of a dissertation as it can provide evidence to support your argument and demonstrate your ability to assess and interpret what other writers in the field of your research have stated.
A Literature Review is thus highly important to understanding the core of your dissertation. Whilst it might just seem as if your dissertation is simply like any other essay or exam, it is part of a much wider and more diverse field of research. The aim of your dissertation is not simply to contribute to your degree but also to add to the wider field of study for the area in which your dissertation is written. Your work should be about helping develop the intellectual coherence of the area you are studying, therefore being able to not only analyse but also being able to create a conversation between your work and the work of previous academics. At its core, your literature review can help to provide a new perspective and insight into the particular area that you are studying in – it can help change the direction of an entire area of academic learning.
What is also important to understand about both your literature review and the other elements of your dissertation is that to function properly, you must understand them as though they are part of a wider whole. Ultimately, all the elements of your dissertation will be reviewed as one piece of work and it is wise to understand that this means that your dissertation shouldn’t feel too disconnected. Some students feel that it is appropriate to treat the various elements of a dissertation as almost entirely separate as they find it easier to understand them. They then bring the various elements together at the end and hope that it will be perceived as one whole object. This won’t be the case and it is wrong to consider your literature review in isolation. It is not simply a review of the literature of your dissertation – it is a vital part of your dissertation that you must ensure is thoroughly connected to the rest of your piece. This doesn’t mean that you should try to write all elements of your dissertation at once – rather, that you should try to consider them as all part of one unit that you must ensure is written to the highest possible standard.