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Dissertation and Final Project Support

Covered on this page: 

  • What is a literature review?
  • Finding sources of literature
  • Selecting resources and reading
  • Keeping notes
  • Writing and the structure of the literature review

What is a literature review?

A dissertation or a final project usually includes a chapter where the relevant literature is reviewed. A literature review is a piece of academic writing that critically evaluates knowledge and understanding of the academic literature on a topic in a particular context.

Finding sources of literature

In a literature review, your arguments and criticism should focus on the academic literature. Therefore, you would be using academic resources such as Journal articles and books as the foundation of your literature review. In addition to these, information from magazines, newspapers, organisational and institutional reports, other relevant materials from government and institutions could be helpful and be part of your literature review. For example, if you are looking at a social or business topic, you might give a real-life example from a newspaper or magazine. 

Academic Resources Type of Publications Access
LSBU Discovery Search Tool Books, journal articles, magazines, newspapers, reports... Most of the materials found on the discovery can be accessed fully with your LSBU login credentials via the Library Home Page or Subject Guides.
Journal Databases  Journal articles 

At LSBU you can access many journal databases where resources are mostly available with full-text access.  

To access your subject specific journal databases and specialist databases  go yo your  subject guide.

To find all LSBU databases go to A-Z Database List.

Google Scholar Journal articles and books

There will be partial access to books you find in Google Scholar and can access full-text journal articles only if they are made available on the internet whether via open access or privately by the author. 

You could also connect your google scholar with LSBU Discovery Service. This way you would see the link Access Full Text @ LSBU where there is an article available via LSBU. 

Using databases and search engines effectively and efficiently requires your search skills to be up to scratch. To get more confident with your search skills, look at the previous section about searching.

Selecting resources and reading

It isn't possible to read everything you find, develop selection criteria to look at the articles you want to look into further. Although your keywords and filters in the search engines/databases will help you make your search results more relevant, you might still be left with many search results to review. So, identifying  parameters of inclusion and exclusion would help you to make decision on what articles to read. 

Title and abstract can help you gain more insight into the articles and collect those which meet your selection criteria. When reading and analysing those selected articles look for:

  • Patterns, similarities, differences
  • New trends, findings
  • Debates, contradictions
  • Gaps in the field

When reading, keep your research question/s and objectives in mind to remain focused.

Keeping notes

During your literature reading and throughout your research keeping notes are helpful to: 

  • Identify and remember key points
  • Make connections between sources 
  • Aid your writing: 
  • Avoid plagiarism
    • Note the source and the page number
    • When printing, add the cover page of the source to have the details for referencing.

Writing and the structure of the literature review


A quick overview of the literature review


Your discussion of selected resources.

Literature review


Discuss what is gained from reviewing the literature. Where might this discussion might proceed?

You might have already organised your discussion from your reading and taking notes.  If not, you would have a good idea by this stage to do that.  Identifying your headings and subheadings would be helpful to structure your discussion in the body.

Make sure that each of your sections has a logical connection to before and after.

Your literature review should critique the topic and the resources you are investigating. To achieve this:

  • Analyse ideas and findings
  • Compare and contrast opinions and different points of view to create a synthesis

To learn more about writing and improve your skills see the material and links on Academic Writing and Critical Thinking section.