How to Compose a Solid Literature Review for Your Master's Dissertation: 9 Useful Hints

Depending on your major, you may be asked to write a literature review for your master’s dissertation. With so much hinging on the nature of this assignment, writing a solid and effective dissertation is key to succeeding and graduating.

But how can you compose an effective one? Let’s take a look at a few hints to get you along your way.

  1. Ensure You Have a Solid Understanding of the Material
  2. When selecting relevant material to focus your review on, ensure that you have a solid understanding of the novel or play you’re writing about. Can you explain the plot of the story in two sentences? Do you understand the themes addressed by the author throughout the text? The key to an effective review is knowing what you’re talking about.

  3. Brainstorm
  4. This is an important step for any paper. Collect your thoughts and think about what elements you want to address in your paper. Write down any ideas that come to you. You may find it helpful to keep a notebook handy. Your main focus is to consider how you’ll be approaching this review.

  5. Research
  6. The key to writing an effective paper of this nature is to have a good understanding for the circumstances that surround the particular piece of literature you’re examining. Study up on the life of the author, the time that this piece was written in, what other scholars have concluded about the piece and so on. Always take careful notes and, like always, ensure that you’re carefully citing all potential sources. You may wish to quote a source in your paper, after all.

  7. Return to the Book
  8. But the main focus of this paper is the book itself. Return to the novel, play, or so on that you’re examining. Read carefully and make notes of moments in the text that catch your interest or support any point you are trying to make. If possible, it may be helpful to highlight or leave sticky notes in your own personal copy of the text- the better for quickly referencing later.

  9. Outline
  10. Outlines are imperative for many writing assignments. This is no different. Determine the points you’re looking to make and organize them carefully. You’ll want a space for an introduction, your body paragraphs, and conclusion. Outlines typically follow the same structure. But since chances are likely that you won’t be turning it in, use a style that works for you.

  11. Introduction
  12. Now it’s time to write your paper. Your introduction is what needs to capture your readers’ attention. Identify what you’re writing about, put your thesis or main idea forward, and give your readers an idea of what to expect.

  13. Supporting Ideas
  14. Throughout your review, you’ll be making a number of points about the literature you’re examining. Use the majority of your essay to support these ideas. This is usually an excellent time to quote your sources. But your main focus should be on the novel or other piece of fiction you’re reviewing.

  15. Conclusion
  16. Your conclusion is a time to wrap everything up and summarize your main points. Never neglect your conclusion. Spend a few paragraphs on it. Make sure you can leave your reader with a good idea of the points you made throughout your dissertation.

  17. Pay Attention to Formatting
  18. Formatting is key when it comes to writing an effective dissertation. No background colors or odd special formatting techniques. 12-point font is advised. The easier your dissertation is to read, the easier it will be to understand.

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