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In the introduction, you should: Define or identify the general topic, issue, or area of concern, thus providing an appropriate context for reviewing the literature.
Summarize individual studies or articles with as much or as little detail as each merits according to its comparative importance in the literature, remembering that space (length) denotes significance.
Provide the reader with strong “umbrella” sentences at beginnings of paragraphs, “signposts” throughout, and brief “so what” summary sentences at intermediate points in the review to aid in understanding comparisons and analyses.
Moreover, if you find that the literature available is too sparse, or conversely, insurmountable; it is worth reconsidering your research questions to develop a more constrained focus on the topic at hand.
Do not begin analysing the literature before clarifying in your own mind the research questions that will guide your dissertation.
It must provide a critique of each work, not simply a summary of the books and articles to which you refer.
Furthermore, this should be done using authoritative works written by experts – you'll need to evaluate each relevant book or article you discover to ensure it has been written by an academic.
To learn more about literature reviews, take a look at our workshop on Writing Literature Reviews of Published Research.
An important strategy for learning how to compose literature reviews in your field or within a specific genre is to locate and analyze representative examples.
You need to give a strong idea of how the field lies, so don’t just mention each writer individually, but try to relate them to one another and compare their views to give an overview of the current arguments and which bodies of literature belong together.
It might be helpful to use subheadings or bullet points in your dissertation writing to clarify the different areas of theory and the positions of each writer.