How To Write a Literature Review – Part 2 – Am I Done?



everybody this is doctor guy white of this dissertation mentor calm and I am sitting outside my favorite coffee shop hustling for time and if you're anything like me when it comes to dissertation relay at work you know time is of the essence so this is a short video that I want to honor your time with really how do I know when I'm done with my literature review this is the the number one question related a literature review that I get from candidates that have been writing it for some time and perhaps you're curious I mean you're you're tired you've been writing this for a long time so in this video we're going to just briefly talk about what are the five signposts of knowing when your literature review is done and the nice thing is if you have not finished your literature review yet or if you're nowhere even near it knowing these five signposts will allow you to quickly get done in a meaningful way and not get to that into that horrid situation where you find yourself in where you know you think you're done and then you're your chair tells you you're not so chances are if you're watching this video you have this feeling that if you just have the right steps and guidance you'd be able to finish this literature review quite quickly and like most candidates experience they don't feel like they have that guidance ahead of time so this video is about giving you that guidance and you know the literature review is not a never-ending process like some people suggest in fact there are specific ways of knowing that you're done so if my hope is that if you're here you've seen my previous video and if you have not seen my previous video I recommend that that is my previous video called how to write a literature review a dissertation literature review which you can get directly from the dissertation mentor com if you haven't seen that I highly recommend you do that because this is a this is building off of that video which is gosh a more lengthy video that's an hour-long video so this is the short follow-up version to that these are course my kids the people that I want to spend the most time with in my life and you know if you're what takes you away from what's being taken away from your life because of the time you're spending on this literature review so my hope is that by going through this you all this video you'll have some you know more time on your hands hopefully in the near future so I'm very just as I'm just showing the slide one more time just to emphasize that my experience is I've worked with many many many candidates on this process which is why I can sit here in my vehicle outside of a local coffee shop and talk to you about this because this is what I do this is something I really enjoy and my hope is that you'll benefit from this now hopefully this slide doesn't look doesn't look strange to you this is of course a synthesis matrix and this is where this all starts and this is what we discussed in our last video is how do you create a synthesis matrix and apply it in writing your dissertation literature reviews so if you have not you know created your dissertation cave entered the cave been there for many weeks and months looking through books and studies and all sources of all different kinds and created something insane like a massive synthesis matrix then you really should stop this video go back you know sign up for the dissertation mentor com or just go into YouTube and find my other videos and look for that hour-long video about how to write a literature review start there instead of starting with this video so with that let's jump straight in shall we so how do you know when you're done and and this is really based off a very – two very simple ideas number one is you want to get done you want to be done with this process and I want to give you the way to do that but really the biggest concern that I have whenever our candidate hands over unfinished work to me is that when they hand over unfinished work what that means is they're taking a huge risk they're telling me that you know dr. guy here is my literature review and if they're not done I might have to make a suggestion that is going to cause a massive revision to their work versus if they had handed me a more complete draft I really wouldn't have seen an opening or a chance for a massive revision so I wouldn't have requested it so it's almost like choosing your own destiny would you rather choose your dissertation destiny or would you rather have your chair or your committee members make that decision for you I have a feeling you want to make that decision so whenever we're handing things over to our chair typically we want to always make that a final draft as much as a final draft as possible not really these check-in drafts these check-in emails which are good to a certain extent but but often are just simply time wasters spend less time checking in with your chair and more time finishing and creating final draft quality work and so that's a that's a place to start with so what's getting to the signpost your five signposts how do I know when my dissertation literature review is done number one is that the first lines of your literature review should be able to tell a story if you were to go out and bold or highlight every single line in your literature every single first line of every paragraph in your literature review and then you copy and paste adjust the first lines of your dissertation literature review into a new document you should be able to sit there stare at another person in their eyes and tell them the story of your literature review just using those first sentences which means that your literature review should be able to speak for itself just using those first sentences a lot of candidates are very surprised by this and the reason this is so important is that your dissertation literature review needs to tell a logical story and the way that it tells that logical story is using the first lines of your literature review so start there and just read those first lines see what story if any your literature review is telling the second success signpost is that paragraphs should always open with at least three synthesized authors a lot of candidates get should get really shocked by that they're like really every first sentence of each paragraph should have at least three authors absolutely that tells us that you've synthesized that is you've gathered together the multiple voices of many authors at a very high level so every single first sentence should look something like the example you're seeing on your screen you should see at least three authors if not four or five six authors pulled into a single statement at the beginning of each paragraph that makes a logical point and if you don't this means that you probably haven't gathered enough expert voices into your discussion yet about your topic and so you need to go back build more on your synthesis matrix create more of the logical flow and and and add more voices right the whole point of the literature review is to discuss all available literature about the various variables and theory areas discussed in your study so a lot of candidates get stuck on you know they found one or two authors that spoke about something so they think they're done you need to synthesize many and all means really all available many many many many so go back and check out those first sentences again and make sure they have at least three authors there that's a great way of knowing whether or not we've synthesized at a high level signpost number three is that the citations themselves should be so should be conversations between authors that is what do the author's the the researchers together say one of the most common mistakes you see when a novice writes a literature review is that you'll see a majority of the citations being from single individual authors you know stuff like Jones 1935 said that you know X Y Z and that's okay for some of the the citations in your literature review but really that misses a point what you want to do is you want to tell us what many authors said about the individual points in your literature review so that way you're you're you're showing the conversation as a whole developing you know look at the percentage of multiple authors that are represented within your study well you should clearly see and this is not a hard-and-fast number this is this is more of a of an approximation is seventy percent of your citations should be from multiple authors whereas about thirty percent of them could be from single author so really the way to look at it is for every three times or so that you do multiple authors you can do one single author citation really what you want to do is tell us what authors are saying together as opposed to what they're saying individually one of the biggest mistakes I see in this success signpost is that candidates talk about what studies did you know they surveyed X number of participants they they did this type of research method and such that's an okay part of the conversation but that's really not the most important part the most important part is what did each study contribute to the larger building body of knowledge and that's what you're trying to synthesize this tell us what did the researchers find together during this time period do you see how synthesis works it's about the conversation together not just what an individual study did success signpost number four each section should end with a summary statement so you should see something like at the end of each heading like for example you might have a heading called you know the postmodern era and you'll end it by saying so therefore researchers in the post modern period discovered that ABC whatever they discovered and then you cite all of them together you're summarizing what all of them said together so again at the end of each section you should see this sort of thing happening because just like every paragraph should have a point a logical point each section should have a logical point too so look at just the sections themselves what do each section contribute how do they contribute to the larger conversation happening in your literature review what are the sections saying together and that really brings us to our last point which is that the lit review needs to have a therefore at the end now in my chair way back when told me this my head sort of spun because it's like oh I finally get it the whole purpose of your literature review is to in a way justify that your purpose statement makes sense that your study makes sense so at the end of your literature review when the last lines should sound something like so therefore a study and then you fill in your purpose statement you know a study that examines the leadership characteristics of activities directors in high schools in Southern California is well supported by the literature and then you can even cite a couple authors there the point is in the end to show that your literature review as a whole led to a final point and that's what it's doing your literature review as a whole is saying a series of logical statements you know the first sentences of each paragraph and the last sentences of each section leading up to this final sentence at the end of your literature review so what's the final point of your literature view what does it say now what I want you to do is just remember that the whole point of this is to take it and apply it so go and apply these five signposts look at this video rewind see how each of your signposts applies sharing this video with someone else and have them be in a conversation with you I mean if your chair hasn't seen this video they need to see this video to make sure they're on the same page with you about what success looks like maybe they don't know what a great literature view looks like if you have questions leave a comment at the bottom I'd love to respond and I'll share this with a friend get someone else involved in your literature review conversation so that way you're not working alone anyways I'm late for an appointment and I hope you have a fantastic day Cheers check out the dissertation mentor com if you have not already you

28 thoughts on “How To Write a Literature Review – Part 2 – Am I Done?

  1. I'm doing my masters program on the effects of mobile applications on pupils academic performance in literacy and I received a response to my initial work a few weeks ago with corrections on about 70% of the pages and I haven't been able to make any corrections for over a month.

    Been taking care of my mom. Seeing this video has made EVERYTHING look so simplistic and straight forward. I very thankful I found your clips as it has handed me a map to success.

    Thank you.

  2. is this on full paper on literature review or those just part of a full research / research proposal ?

  3. thanks ..just wonder will this applicable to other field like health sciences?

  4. Upload videos how to find articles, thesis, how to download books and other materials relevant to your topics.

  5. Upload complete videos lecturers of research methodology for graduate and postgraduate classes.also thesis and proposal writing .

  6. Hi there Dr. Guy. This is Edgar from Malaysia. I am truly grateful for the 2-part videos on literature review. Now – time for me to take action and speed up! Cheers and God bless.

  7. Dr. Guy,

    Bad question alert- I know but I am going to ask anyway- how long is the lit review? I know the background section was 8 paragraphs so how long is the lit review section…. I am watching your videos as I "significantly rewrite my comp exam" Thank you for your help. Wish my program had shown your videos to us prior to failing, rewriting and seriously hating the program!!

  8. Dear Dr. Guy, your advice can benefit to my writing Chapter 2. But I would like you to focus how to have new idea to creat literature review efficiently. As I watched three video three lecturer including you, I gain more idea. So I'd you to add some part like theoretical framework is in Chapter 2 too. How to write theoretical framework and literature review in the same chapter. And please give us some tips how to write literature review by looking at abstract and a few lines of introduction and jump to the conclusion.
    I realize that the tips are more helpful for me. Thank you in advance.

  9. Thank you, Dr. Guy. I'm going to write a 10,000 MA thesis in linguistics next academic year. Your suggestion is professional, informative, and above all boosts my confidence of writing a paper!

  10. Thank you very much Dr.Guy for the beneficial episode ,I'm glade i found it..well done and i learnt how to get the ball rolling for my LR.

  11. Hi Dr Guy! I followed your advice for my Lit Review and just received it back from my supervisor with NO (YEP, NONE, ZERO, ZILTCH!) changes to it – only a huge thumbs-up! First draft went straight through! Thank you sssooo very much for your videos and step-by-step instructions – I really and truly appreciate your work tremendously!

  12. Watched the video a second time. The 5 signposts are very significant. The review makes a lot more sense and I'm looking forward to the actual writing. I freak out every time the picture is shown of the synthesis matrix. I understand that method is the foundation of the paper. A five minute presentation on the matrix would be really helpful. The task that is so meaningful and timely, some guidelines might be beneficial.

  13. I am a Civil Engineering student and I'm just about to start my second year at Loughborough University in England. I found this video extremely useful and the way you approach these videos with complete honesty and enthusiasm, makes me motivated and proud to be a full-time University student. God bless your heart and hard work. 🙂

  14. I think your statement "what did each study contribute" helped me tremendously. I got the 70% rule, but it didn't click until the contribution statement. Your videos are a great help. The informal environment helps your down to earth approach. Thanks.

  15. Excellent video, Dr. Guy. I'm doing a Masters thesis over 2 semesters (which is the norm here in Australia). My guess is that the process for a thesis of ~15k words is that I follow the same overall process you recommend for setting up a dissertation but with regards to the lit. review, rather than the suggested 400-500 refs for a dissertation, I aim for something less for my thesis. My guess is that the number will depend when I meet the criteria you set out here rather than a linear equation based on the number of words that the thesis must be. What is your informed view here?

  16. Thank you so much for very practical and good advice. It really benefit me and very appreciate your sharing and time to upload many great videos that are great.
    Best wishes to you and your family:)

  17. Dr. Guy E White, I am currently in the process of preparing/applying for a PhD/doctorate, and discovered your videos right as I'm applying – a blessing, in other words! Your videos are very informative, straight to the point, and engaging. I feel so motivated and excited before, during and after watching them! I'm also curious as to whether you offer the slides that are shown in the videos, too? =)

  18. Brilliant tips !!! You make it sound so easy!! Thank you very much.

  19. Always on point….you seem to know EXACTLY what to say, where the challenges are, how they can be addressed, etc. Eight months gone already and I am just finding you! Thank you for 'watering' others; for giving of yourself so freely. Thank you so much. You may never know, on this side of eternity, what you have done for me.

  20. Hi Dr Guy, am quite pleased to have been opportune to have listened  your presentation. I quite achieved a lot even from your friendliness and selflessness. Dr Guy , I heard you saying review should be centered on ALL VARIABLES AND AVAILABLE  THEORIES .Do you mean as am writing on women political participation and socio economic development, I have got to dwell on all literatures on  these variables in my topic? Please I would want to know what constitute my sub heading. Thank you so much

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