9. Make sure your proposal has a comprehensive review of the literatureincluded. Now this idea, at first thought, may not seem to make sense.I have heard many students tell me that "This is only the proposal.I'll do a complete literature search for the dissertation. I don't wantto waste the time now." But, this is the time to do it. The rationalebehind the literature review consists of an argument with two lines of analysis: 1) this research is needed, and 2) the methodology I have chosen is most appropriate for the question that is being asked. Now, why would you want to wait? Now is the time to get informed and to learn from others who havepreceded you! If you wait until you are writing the dissertation it is toolate. You've got to do it some time so you might as well get on with itand do it now. Plus, you will probably want to add to the literature reviewwhen you're writing the final dissertation.
10. With the ready availability of photocopy machines you should beable to bypass many of the hardships that previous dissertation researchershad to deal with in developing their literature review. When you read somethingthat is important to your study, photocopy the relevant articleor section. Keep your photocopies organized according to categories andsections. And, most importantly, photocopy the bibliographic citation sothat you can easily reference the material in your bibliography. Then, whenyou decide to sit down and actually write the literature review, bring out yourphotocopied sections, put them into logical and sequential order, and thenbegin your writing.
11. What is a proposal anyway? A good proposal should consist of thefirst three chapters of the dissertation. It should begin with a statementof the problem/background information (typically Chapter I of the dissertation),then move on to a review of the literature (Chapter 2), and conclude witha defining of the research methodology (Chapter 3). Of course, it shouldbe written in a future tense since it is a proposal. To turn a good proposalinto the first three chapters of the dissertation consists of changingthe tense from future tense to past tense (from "This is what I wouldlike to do" to "This is what I did") and making any changesbased on the way you actually carried out the research when compared tohow you proposed to do it. Often the intentions we state in our proposalturn out different in reality and we then have to make appropriate editorialchanges to move it from proposal to dissertation.
Before you emulate what you have read, be aware that plagiarism extends to copying the structure of others' work, so please acknowledge any influences appropriately. In addition, to assist you in organising your review, see your supervisor or department to identify the format of your thesis, as this can impact the organisation of the literature review (Mauch & Birch, 1998).
The information in the literature review is synthesised, or brought together to form a cohesive whole. Those who read the review should clearly understand the reasons for selecting your research area or question, its relationship to past work, and the central procedures that have been employed by past investigations. In addition, they should know the weaknesses of past studies and how your research contributes to this field in the advancement of knowledge.
b. Choose your methodology wisely. Don't be too quick in running awayfrom using a quantitative methodology because you fear the use of statistics.A qualitative approach to research can yield new and exciting understandings,but it should not be undertaken because of a fear of quantitative research.A well designed quantitative research study can often be accomplished invery clear and direct ways. A similar study of a qualitative nature usuallyrequires considerably more time and a tremendous burden to create new pathsfor analysis where previously no path had existed. Choose your methodologywisely!
The following is a guide to structuring your literature review based on Newman, Benz, Weis, and McNeil (1997). It is recommended that the literature review forms one separate chapter of your thesis. This is most common when the research problem is defined early on and remains relatively unchanged. However, if the direction of the study changes due to new research findings, then new literature may need to be included in subsequent sections or chapters. Each sub-section of the suggested review structure will be expanded upon separately.
You may find it difficult to find information for this section, especially in new fields of research. Still, even in ground-breaking research, there should be some theoretical foundation upon which your work rests. There may not be a strong link in this case, but it does help if there is some basis for your work, albeit indirect. Whatever topics you include in your review, they must bear some relationship to your focus. Though you may not find literature that specifically relates to your topic you should integrate key points from related studies that to allow you to make inferences and indicate what you expect to happen in your study.
You need to present evidence that supports your choice of instrument over those not chosen. This section should be focused on relevant literature specific to the study. One suggestion is to examine the most current instruments first and work back from there. You need to include reliability and validity estimates and a description of the samples that have received the instrument. When dealing with many variables, it is useful to write a separate section on each variable in the review (Cone & Foster, 1993; Newman et al., 1997).
Your review will not only synthesise the literature, but it must present the literature in a logical sequence or order. Your aim is to indicate to the reader an understanding of the problem under investigation. However you organise it, your review should highlight important aspects of the literature; especially areas that you wish to address or improve on. You can organise your review by:
There are other way to organise your review if you find the above suggestions unhelpful. If your thesis is a two-topic thesis, you can use these two variables as your guide for the organisation of the literature review. If your thesis examines many variables, then the funnel-format is the other way to organise your review.
As you review books and journals, write down the topic words that you have selected. It is suggested that you create a mind map of the all of the terms that apply to your topic before conducting a literature search. This mind map can then be used to guide your literature search as well as making sure that you discuss pertinent concepts in the review itself. See an .