Advice on literature review for dissertation

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Anonymous #1
#1
Report Thread starter 7 months ago
#1
Firstly, what is a literature review?

I am in my third year currently doing my dissertation and I am honestly stressed. I am emotionally and intellectually challenged by this dissertation.

My topic area is focused on social media and gender.
It's included in my dissertation to write a literature review and how do I start this process?
I have gathered all of my relevant sources together and read them thoroughly so I know what they are about. Some of the sources mention similar issues within social media for example, (types of mental health issues; anxiety etc, representation; adolescents, types of applications; Facebook + more). What is next?
How do prepare to write this information in the review?

For example, do I Introduce the article and article title, Article 1 is about social media and the impact it has on adolescents, Author 1 says that social media is dangerous for kids.... in contrast, Article 2 is about.... Author 2 agrees that social media is dangerous for kids because it exposes them etc....? Is this how I'm supposed todo it?

I just need a precise and clear structure and guidance to follow. My university's guidance sheets and presentations are seriously not helping. My family aren't much help either they just agree that literature reviews are hard.
I'm really close into filling up an extension form because of the challenges and I just need some help, I don't have much time and it's due around May. Any advice would be so much helpful. Please and thanks.
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University of Portsmouth Student Rep
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#2
Report 7 months ago
#2
(Original post by Anonymous)
Firstly, what is a literature review?

I am in my third year currently doing my dissertation and I am honestly stressed. I am emotionally and intellectually challenged by this dissertation.

My topic area is focused on social media and gender.
It's included in my dissertation to write a literature review and how do I start this process?
I have gathered all of my relevant sources together and read them thoroughly so I know what they are about. Some of the sources mention similar issues within social media for example, (types of mental health issues; anxiety etc, representation; adolescents, types of applications; Facebook + more). What is next?
How do prepare to write this information in the review?

For example, do I Introduce the article and article title, Article 1 is about social media and the impact it has on adolescents, Author 1 says that social media is dangerous for kids.... in contrast, Article 2 is about.... Author 2 agrees that social media is dangerous for kids because it exposes them etc....? Is this how I'm supposed todo it?

I just need a precise and clear structure and guidance to follow. My university's guidance sheets and presentations are seriously not helping. My family aren't much help either they just agree that literature reviews are hard.
I'm really close into filling up an extension form because of the challenges and I just need some help, I don't have much time and it's due around May. Any advice would be so much helpful. Please and thanks.
Hiya!

It sounds like you have done a lot of research so far and have focused on a topic. Every dissertation will differ depending on the course and university, for example, some dissertations are 5,000, 8,000 or even 10,000 so the length of your dissertation will affect how long your lit review should be. For my literature review, I have been advised (i'm a student in the business faculty) to aim for around 25-30 references for my 1,500 lit review and my overall dissertation is 5,000 words. This will vary depending on the size of your diss.

Sometimes writing just a sentence down is the hardest thing to do! It's great that you have been researching in the topic area as that's the best place to start. I would advise going through your research papers and putting them into a literature review table. This is what I have done to categorise my research, where you can have headings such as title, what you learnt, what was a limitation, what their methodology was etc. This can help categorise the research that you have found in an easy to view format.

After looking at your research papers you may find one that has a structure you like and can be inspired from it. So, one may have three themes of interest so in your lit review you can do an introduction and then expand on three themes relevant to your research.

My first step was to find as many necessary journal papers (that are credible and from journal articles) and downloaded them onto a Google Drive which I shared with my tutor who can review the articles i've chosen to see if they are acceptable or not. This may be a good idea so that your supervisor can review the work you are doing

I have then highlighted relevant research and information from these papers to start writing my literature review. I am writing my literature review thematically, grouping research into two relevant themes. You can be inspired from previous research and how they structured their lit review, so the more papers you look at the better! The more articles you have the better as you can support your research problem and aims/objectives. Your supervisor is there to help you so perhaps email them with your queries as they can provide advice on how to start and specific recommendations for your diss!

Sam- Official Student Rep
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Anonymous #1
#3
Report Thread starter 7 months ago
#3
(Original post by University of Portsmouth Student Rep)
Hiya!

It sounds like you have done a lot of research so far and have focused on a topic. Every dissertation will differ depending on the course and university, for example, some dissertations are 5,000, 8,000 or even 10,000 so the length of your dissertation will affect how long your lit review should be. For my literature review, I have been advised (i'm a student in the business faculty) to aim for around 25-30 references for my 1,500 lit review and my overall dissertation is 5,000 words. This will vary depending on the size of your diss.

Sometimes writing just a sentence down is the hardest thing to do! It's great that you have been researching in the topic area as that's the best place to start. I would advise going through your research papers and putting them into a literature review table. This is what I have done to categorise my research, where you can have headings such as title, what you learnt, what was a limitation, what their methodology was etc. This can help categorise the research that you have found in an easy to view format.

After looking at your research papers you may find one that has a structure you like and can be inspired from it. So, one may have three themes of interest so in your lit review you can do an introduction and then expand on three themes relevant to your research.

My first step was to find as many necessary journal papers (that are credible and from journal articles) and downloaded them onto a Google Drive which I shared with my tutor who can review the articles i've chosen to see if they are acceptable or not. This may be a good idea so that your supervisor can review the work you are doing

I have then highlighted relevant research and information from these papers to start writing my literature review. I am writing my literature review thematically, grouping research into two relevant themes. You can be inspired from previous research and how they structured their lit review, so the more papers you look at the better! The more articles you have the better as you can support your research problem and aims/objectives. Your supervisor is there to help you so perhaps email them with your queries as they can provide advice on how to start and specific recommendations for your diss!

Sam- Official Student Rep
Hi thank you so much for getting in touch with me!
Yes, my dissertation is required to have 10,000 words so I need to ensure it fills to that goal. I'm assuming I'll need more references as my piece is much larger than yours.

Thank you for suggesting a literature review table. I have found that it has been insightful and less complicated when assigning the research papers in the correct columns! But after I've completed this how do I start writing?

So if I notice any relevant information in regards to social media like mental health would I start by saying that social media affects an individuals mental health and refer to my literature on what they have studied and said about the area? Would I draw upon another article that said an individuals mental health was not affect due to social media.. etc and the explain their judgment?

Ok I'll try and use your guidance and write it thematically.
How would I group research into themes / what are themes? - key concepts?

I've been researching previous research and looking at the structures and I just become so lost because I can' differentiate, the lit review sections look like a normal essay with authors reference side by side to the info. It looks like a normal assignment. I thought it was going to be structured like P.E.E.L (point, evidence, explain and link).

Thank you anyway. Sorry if I sound confusing :/
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Anonymous #2
#4
Report 7 months ago
#4
(Original post by Anonymous)
Hi thank you so much for getting in touch with me!
Yes, my dissertation is required to have 10,000 words so I need to ensure it fills to that goal. I'm assuming I'll need more references as my piece is much larger than yours.

Thank you for suggesting a literature review table. I have found that it has been insightful and less complicated when assigning the research papers in the correct columns! But after I've completed this how do I start writing?

So if I notice any relevant information in regards to social media like mental health would I start by saying that social media affects an individuals mental health and refer to my literature on what they have studied and said about the area? Would I draw upon another article that said an individuals mental health was not affect due to social media.. etc and the explain their judgment?

Ok I'll try and use your guidance and write it thematically.
How would I group research into themes / what are themes? - key concepts?

I've been researching previous research and looking at the structures and I just become so lost because I can' differentiate, the lit review sections look like a normal essay with authors reference side by side to the info. It looks like a normal assignment. I thought it was going to be structured like P.E.E.L (point, evidence, explain and link).

Thank you anyway. Sorry if I sound confusing :/
I agree with Portsmouth Rep.

The idea of a literature review (see examples in research journal articles) is to highlight the research done in the topic you are going to write about. It gives the reader a more thorough introduction into what you're doing and why you're doing what you are doing. What are the themes and ideas brought about the research, and what are the relevant ones to your dissertation that you need to be aware of, what significant issues you need to be aware of, and how would the research you are doing be building on top of what has already been done before?

Yes, you're right in the sense a literature review is like a mini essay, but it's more of a summary highlighting the main themes and pointers than going into thorough discussions.

As literature reviews can be long, and you're restricted to a 10k word dissertation, I'd recommend allocating 1500-2000 words for this. It's not really enough, but you don't have the luxury doing a longer piece of writing.

My literature reviews kind of start with what has been the general research history of the topic, and why the topic was raised in research. I then move onto the noteworthy articles and research that have been written, methodology, criticisms. I wil try to stick ot the relevant points where possible.
As you build your case for your research, you should come to a close on the lit review and move into your section on your methodology based on what you have analysed and noted down so far.
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