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Literature Review Chapter


Theses may at times include literature review chapters of leading works on the subject at hand. In order to gain the best possible benefit from a literature review chapter, the student should follow a few guidelines.

First, the student should write a literature review chapter on truly compelling works with which the thesis prominently interacts. He or she should avoid reviewing works that have little or no impact on either the field or the implications of the thesis. Instead, the student should choose to write a literature review chapter on a famous work within the field or on a new work that few people have had the opportunity to read; either choice can provide the basis for some intensive discussion between the thesis idea and other important ideas in the field.

Second, students who are writing literature review chapters should briefly summarize the works they have chosen and should then analyze them. They may choose to compare and contrast two seminal works, or they may choose to analyze one work of literature based on the evidence provided by other research sources. For example, if the student has found a flaw in the data a work provides, he or she may point out that flaw by citing several other sources that provide the correct information. Students who are writing literature review chapters should be hesitant to praise or condemn a work without having done some outside research on the subject, because they run the risk of writing analyses driven by false assumptions. However, the student will already have a solid foundation of knowledge on the subject by virtue of having performed a great deal of thesis research; therefore, he or she may be able to write an excellent literature review chapter that depends solely on previously gathered research.

Third, students should relate their literature review chapters to the larger goal of the thesis. They can accomplish this task by introducing and concluding the chapter with phrases that link the work of literature with the thesis objectives and with the surrounding chapters.


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