A literature review should be structured like any other essay: it should have an introduction, main body, and a conclusion.
Introduction (300 words)
Start your work from a provisional title explaining your review of literature direction and an introduction to the area/problem you intend to research, including aspects of it that are relevant to the following discussion. Try and define a research question.
The introduction should:
- Define your topic, a research question and the area/problem you intend to research;
- Provide an appropriate context for reviewing the literature;
- Explain the organisation – i.e. sequence of the review;
- State the scope of the review – i.e. what is included and what isn’t included in this literature review. For example, if you were reviewing the literature on the motivations of Chinese foreign direct investment in the UK you might say something like: There are a large number of studies of FDI trends in the world. However, since the focus of this research is only on the motivations of Chinese FDI in the UK, these will not be reviewed in detail and will only be referred to as appropriate.
Main body (1,900 words)
- Reviewing key literature and theoretical background of the topic of investigation (1,900 words)
The main body should:
- Include the literature that are already known on your topic (for example, you give adequate consideration to the classics in your topic area, the landmarks, and the most recent developments);
- Organise the literature according to common themes (Remember, your job is not to just list what each author says one by one but to read through the literature to find
common themes rather than listing the authors ideas as ‘he said’ she said’);
- Provide insight into the relation between your chosen topic and the wider subject area e.g. between Chinese FDI in the UK and FDI in general;
- Move from a general, wider view of the literature being reviewed to the specific focus of your research.
- Within your literature review you should also reviewing the research methods used in the literature (this should make up approximately 500 words)
- Describe and review methodologies and research designs that previous research has used, for example, case study, qualitative, quantitative or mixed methodologies.Conclusion (300 words)
The conclusion should:
- Summarise the important aspects of the existing body of literature;
- Evaluate the current state and major agreements and disagreements of the literature reviewed;
- Identify significant flaws or gaps in the literature reviewed (for example, to explain what gaps in knowledge remain to be addressed?);
- Outline areas for future study;
- Link your research to existing knowledge/literature reviewed (for example, to justify your own research by explaining how your dissertation project may address the gap in existing knowledge).
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