You start with what was published first and work your way through the literature until you reach the work published most recently. Pretty straightforward. The benefit of this option is that it makes it easy to discuss the developments and debates in the field as they emerged over time.
Organising your literature chronologically also allows you to highlight how specific articles or pieces of work might have changed the course of the field — in other words, which research has had the most impact. Therefore, this approach is very useful when your research is aimed at understanding how the topic has unfolded over time and is often used by scholars in the field of history.
That said, this approach can be utilised by anyone that wants to explore change over time. For example , if a student of politics is investigating how the understanding of democracy has evolved over time, they could use the chronological approach to provide a narrative that demonstrates how this understanding has changed through the ages. Here are some questions you can ask yourself to help you structure your literature review chronologically. In some ways, chronology plays a part whichever way you decide to structure your literature review, because you will always, to a certain extent, be analysing how the literature has developed.
The thematic approach to structuring a literature review means organising your literature by theme or category — for example, by independent variables i. You can then use these themes or patterns as a structure for your body discussion. The thematic approach is the most common approach and is useful for structuring literature reviews in most fields.
Here are some questions to ask yourself when structuring your literature review by themes:. The methodological option is a way of structuring your literature review by the research methodologies used. In other words, organising your discussion based on the angle from which each piece of research was approached — for example, qualitative , quantitative or mixed methodologies. Structuring your literature review by methodology can be useful if you are drawing research from a variety of disciplines and are critiquing different methodologies.
For example, a sociologist might centre their research around critiquing specific fieldwork practices. Their literature review will then be a summary of the fieldwork methodologies used by different studies. Here are some questions you can ask yourself when structuring your literature review according to methodology:. In this section, you should emphasise the research that is especially important to your research questions and highlight the gaps that exist in the literature.
Based on this, you need to make it clear what you will add to the literature — in other words, justify your own research by showing how it will help fill one or more of the gaps you just identified. Great work. This is exactly what I was looking for and helps a lot together with your previous post on literature review. One last thing is missing: a link to a great literature chapter of an journal article maybe with comments of the different sections in this review chapter.
Do you know any great literature review chapters? Your email address will not be published. Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment. But wait — is this the right time? Need a helping hand? Book A Free Consultation. How To Structure Your Literature Review Like any other chapter in your thesis or dissertation, your literature review needs to have a clear, logical structure.
Option 1: Chronological according to date Organising the literature chronologically is one of the simplest ways to structure your literature review. What is the earliest literature published relating to this topic? Write an annotated bibliography to keep your sources organized.
For each source that you read, include a citation, a descriptive paragraph of the source, and a brief evaluation of the content. Having this information for each of your sources will make it easy for you to refresh your memory on what a source was about and quickly find the citation details as needed. Do not try to write several annotations at once. Part 2 of Include 4—6 subheadings in your lit review to increase readability.
These will break the content into smaller, more readable sections. For organizational purposes, label different subheadings with descriptive titles. Each of your subheadings will begin a section of your lit review that contains methodologically or chronologically similar lit sources. You could have 1 subheading about online-based teaching, another about uses of technology in the classroom, and another about experience-based teaching. Organize sources around the most influential article in each subsection.
Within each of the 4—6 subheading categories, select 1 or 2 works that are the most important e. When synthesizing the other sources within the subsection, relate them back to these crucial 1—2 sources. Organizing sources will allow you to enumerate the ways in which other sources agree with, disagree with, or otherwise modify the sources of highest importance.
Present the sources chronologically within each section. Summarize and discuss the sources according to their date of publication, to show how trends and concepts in your field have evolved and changed with time. Part 3 of Tie the lit review to the body of your dissertation in the introduction.
The introduction of your review needs to do 3 things. The intro should also 2 identify important recent research and any recent controversies in the field. Write each entry in a way that blends summary and analysis. Your dissertation committee will probably be disappointed if your lit review does nothing more than summarize 40—50 different sources. Synthesize different sources that take a similar approach to a topic. It would be impractical to devote a paragraph in your lit review to each individual source.
So, find ways to group sources together within paragraphs. There are various ways to synthesize sources that include:  X Trustworthy Source University of North Carolina Writing Center UNC's on-campus and online instructional service that provides assistance to students, faculty, and others during the writing process Go to source Synthesizing sources by method by comparing different academic works that follow a similar operating method this is especially prevalent in the hard sciences Synthesizing sources by topic, since your lit review should be broad enough to cover at least 4—5 different subfields within your area of study.
Maintain your own writing voice when composing the lit review. Aim to create a conversation between yourself and the sources you have read. Proofread your lit review before moving on with your dissertation. Once you have written the review, it is important to check the entire chapter before moving ahead. Reread your review to catch mistakes in sentence mechanics, grammar, and spelling. Reviewing your work will also give you a chance to expand on any sections that seem short or underdeveloped.
Include your email address to get a message when this question is answered. Give yourself at least months to write the literature review. Helpful 0 Not Helpful 0. If you're seriously struggling to write your literature review, you can consult a professional editorial company to help you write your review. Related wikiHows How to. How to. About This Article. Co-authored by:. Christopher Taylor, PhD. Co-authors: 8. Updated: May 6, Categories: Theses and Dissertations Literature Reviews.