Role of the Literature Review:
Your dissertation should be based on the established body of knowledge appropriate to the problem or issue you select. You will be familiar with at least some of this knowledge from your previous studies, but the requirements of this piece of work go beyond that. You need to survey and report upon a reasonably large number of documentary sources, such that you can provide a clear academic context to your consideration of the topic.
There are three main objectives to this:
¨ to locate your preliminary ideas about the selected topic within a wider body of knowledge;
¨ to identify relevant concepts, methods, techniques and facts as a means of positioning your study and helping you to frame the issue or problem; and
¨ to give meaning, structure and purpose to your research.
This, then, requires a systematic approach to identifying appropriate sources of information. It is important, though, to note at the outset that this is not something that can be carried out as an afterthought. It is a key element of the early stages of planning your dissertation. It helps you explore the existing knowledge about the topic and the approach you plan to take to analyse it.
You must establish clearly your familiarity with the relevant literature and your ability to apply it in defining the problem or issue at the heart of the project and the approach you will take in its analysis. The literature review is, then, the first step in developing your dissertation. Note, though, that you should continue the review process - although not, perhaps, so intensively - throughout the project, in order both to investigate additional topics as they arise and to keep the whole review up-to-date. Do not consider it to be finished when you first write it up.