Dissertation Writing Help

Literature Reviews

Literature reviews provide an invaluable service for academia because they perform the function of the peer review, in which one expert in the field analyzes the work of another expert and evaluates the validity and reputability of that work. This function allows people who know less about the field to feel comfortable trusting or ignoring major works of literature based on the reviewer's educated, disinterested opinion.

Students who write literature reviews, then, assume the role of the peer reviewer. In order to write a good literature review, one should try to learn as much as possible about the work, its subject area, and the ideological persuasions of the author (if they are important within the work). One should identify all doubtful areas within the work but should not immediately assume that they are flaws; rather, he or she should conduct enough research to determine whether or not those areas of doubt actually are flaws. One should also carefully withhold praise until the work of literature clearly warrants it; one who writes a good literature review does not praise the work's author simply because the ideas sound good but rather investigates the strength of the argument and, using the best critical thinking skills, offers praise or disapproval in as evidence-based a way as possible.

Students who are producing any type of academic research project, such as literature reviews, theses, or term papers, may benefit from reading literature reviews that others have written. These outside reviews will tell students which works they should trust and which works they should dismiss, and they will tell students whether or not to disbelieve certain points of a writer's argument. These outside reviews can save students a great deal of time by immediately rejecting the disreputable works of literature in the field.

A good literature review hinges upon strong investigative and critical thinking skills and strong argumentation. Students may contribute greatly to their field by writing careful literature reviews, and they may benefit very much from reading the reviews of others.