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Doctoral dissertation writing is always connected with pressure and anxiety. To submit a high-quality document free from logical flaws and inconsistencies, one has to spend at least a couple of months. At the same time, one cannot underestimate the importance of a dissertation project. This document is a significant milestone in the student`s academic career. Are you unsure whether you can create a dissertation your supervisor will approve? Please, note that you can always outsource this assignment to our professional writing team working at Our company is a trusted provider of custom dissertation writing help to students worldwide. No matter what discipline you are studying, our professional writers will take care of your project. As a result of our cooperation, you will receive an exceptional document tailored to your guidelines. We have the best specialists on our team. Thus, we can cope with the most challenging and urgent assignments. So, if you are looking for professional help with writing a doctoral dissertation, feel free to rely on us and we will meet your expectations.

What Is a Doctoral Dissertation?

Our suggestions will you figure out how to write a high-quality doctoral dissertation. Yet, first, it is necessary to understand what makes this document different from other academic papers. To get a Doctor`s degree, students have to prove their familiarity with current scientific knowledge in the specific field. What is more, they ought to prove their ability to make new discoveries within the research field and report results in a clear and comprehensive manner. In a nutshell, a dissertation is a monograph written by a Ph.D. candidate. The doctoral dissertation is to prove the student`s ability to work with the available research materials, as well as fill in the gaps in the current study. By writing a doctoral dissertation, you will need to make an original contribution to the field. Also, you need to find a practical solution to the existing research problem.

When working on your doctoral dissertation, you will need to identify a research problem, state your methods, present your findings, and interpret them. Also, you need to use theoretical and practical knowledge to suggest a workable solution to the problem you are working with. To get approval from your supervisor, you need to present a completely original piece. It has to correspond to the latest standards of dissertation writing. Writing a dissertation requires conducting independent research and working with credible academic sources. If you are unsure what your project is to look like, you need to have a look at some samples available online. What is more, before you start working on a dissertation, you need to make sure the guidelines are clear. In case of any doubts about the prompt, you need to discuss everything with your supervisor. Such an approach will save you from revisions. Usually, the writing process takes a considerable amount of time since it contains many stages. If you are unaware whether you can cope with this task, you need to entrust it to our professional team. We will find a writer having the necessary expertise and background in your field. This approach will make our partnership fruitful and rewarding.

How to Write a Doctoral Dissertation? Follow the Traditional Structure

If you do not know the answer to the question: “How long is a doctoral dissertation to be”, read on our article. It has to include 4 to 6 main chapters. All of them are important. Below, you will find a brief description of the main parts you have to include in a dissertation:

As you can see, each of the doctoral dissertation chapters requires attention and effort. Do you lack appropriate expertise or cannot work on your project because of the time constraint? Feel free to order doctoral dissertation writing assistance at our trusted service. Our writers know everything about dissertation writing and can handle the most complicated projects.

Choose a Good Topic

Formulating a research problem to work with is a very important part of the dissertation writing process. To please the demanding supervisor, the topic has to be clear, relevant, and informative. A good dissertation topic provides the researcher with room for discussion. It ought to be neither too broad nor too narrow. By selecting a research problem that you are passionate about, you will enjoy the writing process. If you got stuck in the stage of choosing the topic for a dissertation, it is better to seek professional help online. By letting our company become your writing companion, you will be completely satisfied with your choice. For many years, we have been helping our customers achieve their academic goals by providing them with exclusive doctoral dissertation assistance.

Organize Your Work in a Proper Way

Proper organization of the writing process is key to getting a successful outcome. We recommend you create a working schedule and plan the amount of time you will spend on every stage. For instance, you may allow about a month for finding the appropriate sources. By leaving the dissertation project until the last moment, you will reduce your chances to succeed. Also, some professors ask students to present their projects in drafts to check their working progress.

Pay attention that you need to follow the standard protocols established in your educational institution. In particular, you need to figure out what your doctoral dissertation length is to be. As such, before you start working on your paper, make sure to spend some time planning your work. Such an approach will help you create a top-notch doctoral dissertation and get it approved.

Welcome to Our Reliable Doctoral Dissertation Writing Service!

Our company is a trusted provider of doctoral dissertations online to students. Are you experiencing difficulties with writing the dissertation or its separate chapters? Contact our team! Professional, experienced, and responsible, we will help you handle your project in the best way possible. We are taking care of our customers and their reputation. Thus, we have hired many seasoned academic writers specializing in creating high-quality dissertations. Once you place an order at our service, we will start looking for an expert who will uncover the research problem. We know that you may have many questions and concerns during our cooperation. As such, we provide you with an opportunity to talk to the writing assistant through our messaging system. Also, you are free to communicate with our support managers. We want you to know that our customer care representatives are working 24 hours per day. They are able to address all the inquiries and questions you may have about our doctoral dissertation help.

When working on your order, the writer will choose an important research problem. Then, he or she will carry out academic research to find the appropriate materials. Then, the writer will create an outline that will help them organize the writing process. Finally, after all the preparation stages, the writer will start working on the draft. We guarantee that the writing assistant will take into serious consideration your guidelines and recommendations. Thus, none of your comments and specifications will remain unaddressed. Finally, our editorial department will check your doctoral dissertation. . A professional quality assurance manager will make sure the document meets the guidelines provided and is free from any flaws.

All in all, many undergraduate students contact our service every day asking “please, write my doctoral dissertation.” They know that our company provides the best policies, terms, and conditions in the marketplace. If you were looking for a professional writing assistant, then you are in the right place. At a very affordable cost, we will provide you with dissertation help that will surpass your expectations. The deadline is approaching and you are unsure how to choose the topic? Hurry up and buy a doctoral dissertation writing help at our service! We will do our best to surpass your expectations!

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Format Review

What to submit and how to submit it

The format review is a chance for Office of Theses and Dissertations staff to take a preliminary look at your thesis or dissertation to check for formatting errors. The goal is to ensure that you are following the requirements set forth in the Thesis and Dissertation Guide .

Please submit as complete a draft as possible , including:

The draft submitted for format review does not have to be the final version, but you must submit more than just a few pages in order to complete the format review requirements. 

To submit your file for format review, go to eTD website . 

Format review deadlines and other information can be found on the Graduate School Thesis and Dissertation Information web page .


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PhD Dissertation Examples

Which study exemplifies qualitative research.

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PhD Dissertation: Review Examples, Critical Components, and Case Studies

The PhD dissertation is the final summit push in pursuit of a PhD Degree. It requires a great deal of hard work, dedication, and expertise to ensure that it meets the highest standards of excellence.

In this blog, we have listed successful PhD dissertation examples to help you understand the essential elements of a PhD dissertation.

Example: 1   Contribution of National Planning Policy Framework to Creating Sustainable Community

Example: 2   The Abuse of Corporate Veil: A Comparative Analysis of Corporate Veil Lifting Approaches

By providing you with access to PhD dissertation examples, we will explore the critical components of a successful PhD dissertation, including problem statements, literature reviews, research designs, data analysis and interpretation methods, and conclusions and recommendations.

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Definition of PhD Dissertation

A PhD dissertation is an extensive written document that presents and supports original research by the student. A PhD dissertation is;

It is a culminating project for coursework and research activities before students receive their doctoral degrees. Students present and submit their research.

Whether carried out in a broad field, like psychology or sociology, or in more specialised areas like chemistry, biology and mathematics, it requires intense dedication and effort to complete all the steps necessary for submission. Those pursuing a PhD program may benefit from PhD dissertation examples from seniors and experienced professionals.

Here is an excellent PhD Dissertation Sample if you are starting your PhD journey in marketing.

The Value of PhD Dissertation Examples for Research

A doctoral dissertation is one of the most important documents produced during the academic career of any doctoral candidate. As such, it is essential to ensure that it meets all expectations regarding quality and accuracy.

One of the best ways to do this is by referring to PhD dissertation examples from other graduates.

Existing research dissertations enable writers to access helpful information on various topics and fields, allowing them to compose a more articulate document that can guarantee successful results in their research. They also provide a means for researchers to explore the literature surrounding their chosen topic and gain a broader understanding of how previous work has contributed to their field.

Here are Seven Benefits of Studying PhD Dissertation Examples

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Critical components of a successful phd dissertation.

To make your dissertation a success, you will need to structure it properly. You should consult your university's policies and conventions to cite, format, and structure your dissertation correctly. However, here are the most important chapters of a dissertation.

I.            Abstract

The abstract is a dissertation summary that should be 300 words or less. It should provide an overview of the research question, methodology, findings, and conclusions.

II.            Introduction

The introduction sets the tone for the whole dissertation. In the introduction, you will provide background information on the topic and explain the research rationale. The introduction should be 5-10 % of the total dissertation length.

Follow the link below to learn how to write the introduction chapter of the dissertation.

How to Write an Introduction for Research. Dos, Don’ts and Practical Tips

III.            Literature Review

This is the part where you justify your research by sharing your analysis of available literature and data on the subject. You should critically evaluate the existing literature and identify gaps in knowledge. The literature review should be approximately 20-25% of the total dissertation length.

Note: Ensure proper citation and referencing when citing information from other scholars. Otherwise, you will be committing plagiarism.

Follow the link below to learn how to write a literature review chapter

IV.            Methodology

In this section, you describe the research design, data collection methods, and data analysis procedures. This section should also justify the choice of methods used. The methodology section should be 15-20 % of the total dissertation length.

Check this guide on how to write a methodology section.

V.            Finding

The findings section allows you to present the study's results clearly and concisely. It should discuss both the qualitative and quantitative data, as well as any limitations of the study. The findings section should be approximately 30-35% of the total dissertation length.

VI.            Discussion

The discussion section should interpret the findings in light of the literature review and state the implications of the research. You can discuss the study's limitations, challenges, and prospects here.

Check our guide on how to write a discussion section.

VII.            Conclusion

The conclusion should summarise the study's main findings and discuss their implications.

Check our guide on how to write a conclusion chapter.

Case Studies: Analysing Successful PhD Dissertation Examples

In this section, we will consider two PhD dissertation examples as case studies of writing a successful dissertation. It showcases how to define the problem statement and effectively write the title for the dissertation.

Case Study 1 : A Successful PhD Dissertation in Marketing

Title : The Effect of Brand Love on Consumer Buying Behaviour in the Dietary Supplement Sector

Problem Statement : In the competitive market of dietary supplements, understanding the impact of brand love on consumer buying behaviour is essential for companies to establish strong brand loyalty and increase sales. This study aimed to explore the relationship between brand love and consumer buying behaviour in the dietary supplement sector.

Literature Review : The literature review for this study reviewed existing research on brand love and consumer behaviour, including the concept of brand love, the effects of brand love on consumer behaviour, and the role of brand love in the dietary supplement sector.

Research Design : This study employed a quantitative research design, using a survey to gather data from a sample of 500 consumers who had purchased dietary supplements in the past year. The survey included questions on brand love, loyalty, and consumer buying behaviour.

Data Analysis and Interpretation : The survey data was analysed using regression analysis. The results showed a significant positive relationship between brand love and consumer buying behaviour in the dietary supplement sector. The results also showed that brand love was a significant predictor of consumer buying behaviour and had a more substantial impact on buying behaviour than other factors, such as brand loyalty and product quality.

Conclusions and Recommendations : The findings of this study showed that brand love significantly impacts consumer buying behaviour in the dietary supplement sector. The study concluded that companies could increase sales and establish strong brand loyalty by creating emotional connections with consumers and fostering brand love. The study also recommended that companies focus on creating positive brand experiences, developing strong brand identities, and building trust with consumers to increase brand love and drive consumer buying behaviour.

Here is the case study in table form:

In conclusion, this PhD dissertation provides valuable insights into the impact of brand love on consumer buying behaviour in the dietary supplement sector. It is a well-researched and well-written study that demonstrates the importance of brand love in driving consumer behaviour and provides practical recommendations for companies in the industry.

Now let’s consider a case study of Urban Planning PhD Dissertation from Premier Dissertation.

Case Study 2: A Successful PhD Dissertation in Urban Planning

Title : How the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) Can Contribute to Creating a Sustainable and Healthy Community

Problem Statement : The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) is an important policy document that guides planning and development in the United Kingdom. However, its impact on creating sustainable and healthy communities has yet to be fully explored. This study aimed to investigate the role of the NPPF in promoting sustainability and health in communities.

Literature Review : The literature review for this study examined existing research on sustainability and health in communities, the principles of the NPPF, and the relationship between planning policies and community health.

Research Design : This study adopted a qualitative research design, using semi-structured interviews to gather data from planners, policymakers, and community representatives. The interviews explored the role of the NPPF in promoting sustainability and health in communities and the challenges and opportunities associated with its implementation.

Data Analysis and Interpretation : The interview data were analysed using a thematic analysis approach, and the results showed that the NPPF has the potential to contribute to the creation of sustainable and healthy communities. The results also showed that the NPPF provides a flexible planning and development framework, allowing for local adaptation and integration of sustainability and health principles.

Conclusions and Recommendations : The findings of this study showed that the NPPF could play a critical role in promoting sustainability and health in communities. The study concluded that the NPPF provides a valuable planning and development framework and can create more sustainable and healthy communities. The study also recommended that the NPPF be reviewed and updated regularly to ensure that it remains relevant and effective in promoting sustainability and health.

In conclusion, this PhD dissertation provides valuable insights into the role of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) in creating sustainable and healthy communities. It is a well-researched and well-written study highlighting the importance of planning policies in promoting sustainability and health and providing practical recommendations for policymakers and planners.

Let's summarise this case study in a tabular form.

We hope this blog has provided you with the information and guidance you need to get the most out of your PhD dissertation and complete your research successfully. For more PhD dissertation samples, contact us now, and we will share tailored PhD dissertation pdfs to help you.

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Proposal Overview and Format

Proposal committee, proposal hearing or meeting.

Students are urged to begin thinking about a dissertation topic early in their degree program. Concentrated work on a dissertation proposal normally begins after successful completion of the Second-Year Review, which often includes a “mini” proposal, an extended literature review, or a theoretical essay, plus advancement to doctoral candidacy. In defining a dissertation topic, the student collaborates with her or his faculty advisor or dissertation advisor (if one is selected) in the choice of a topic for the dissertation.

The dissertation proposal is a comprehensive statement on the extent and nature of the student’s dissertation research interests. Students submit a draft of the proposal to their dissertation advisor between the end of the seventh and middle of the ninth quarters. The student must provide a written copy of the proposal to the faculty committee no later than two weeks prior to the date of the proposal hearing. Committee members could require an earlier deadline (e.g., four weeks before the hearing).

The major components of the proposal are as follows, with some variations across Areas and disciplines:

Registration (i.e., enrollment) is required for any quarter during which a degree requirement is completed, including the dissertation proposal. Refer to the Registration or Enrollment for Milestone Completion section for more details.

As students progress through the program, their interests may change. There is no commitment on the part of the student’s advisor to automatically serve as the dissertation chair. Based on the student’s interests and the dissertation topic, many students approach other GSE professors to serve as the dissertation advisor, if appropriate.

A dissertation proposal committee is comprised of three academic council faculty members, one of whom will serve as the major dissertation advisor. Whether or not the student’s general program advisor serves on the dissertation proposal committee and later the reading committee will depend on the relevance of that faculty member’s expertise to the topic of the dissertation, and his/her availability. There is no requirement that a program advisor serve, although very often he or she does. Members of the dissertation proposal committee may be drawn from other area committees within the GSE, from other departments in the University, or from emeriti faculty. At least one person serving on the proposal committee must be from the student’s area committee (CTE, DAPS, SHIPS). All three members must be on the Academic Council; if the student desires the expertise of a non-Academic Council member, it may be possible to petition. After the hearing, a memorandum listing the changes to be made will be written and submitted with the signed proposal cover sheet and a copy of the proposal itself to the Doctoral Programs Officer.

Review and approval of the dissertation proposal occurs normally during the third year. The proposal hearing seeks to review the quality and feasibility of the proposal. The Second-Year Review and the Proposal Hearing are separate milestones and may not occur as part of the same hearing or meeting.

The student and the dissertation advisor are responsible for scheduling a formal meeting or hearing to review the proposal; the student and proposal committee convene for this evaluative period. Normally, all must be present at the meeting either in person or via conference phone call.

At the end of this meeting, the dissertation proposal committee members should sign the Cover Sheet for Dissertation Proposal and indicate their approval or rejection of the proposal. This signed form should be submitted to the Doctoral Programs Officer. If the student is required to make revisions, an addendum is required with the written approval of each member of the committee stating that the proposal has been revised to their satisfaction.

After submitting the Proposal Hearing material to the Doctoral Programs Officer, the student should make arrangements with three faculty members to serve on her or his Dissertation Reading Committee. The Doctoral Dissertation Reading Committee form should be completed and given to the Doctoral Programs Officer to enter in the University student records system. Note: The proposal hearing committee and the reading committee do not have to be the same three faculty members. Normally, the proposal hearing precedes the designation of a Dissertation Reading Committee, and faculty on either committee may differ (except for the primary dissertation advisor). However, some students may advance to Terminal Graduate Registration (TGR) status before completing their dissertation proposal hearing if they have established a dissertation reading committee. In these cases, it is acceptable for the student to form a reading committee prior to the dissertation proposal hearing. The reading committee then serves as the proposal committee.

The proposal and reading committee forms and related instructions are on the GSE website, under current students>forms.

Printing Credit for Use in GSE Labs

Upon completion of their doctoral dissertation proposal, GSE students are eligible for a $300 printing credit redeemable in any of the GSE computer labs where students are normally charged for print jobs. Only one $300 credit per student will be issued, but it is usable throughout the remainder of her or his doctoral program until the balance is exhausted. The print credit can be used only at the printers in Cubberley basement and CERAS, and cannot be used toward copying.

After submitting the signed dissertation proposal cover sheet to the Doctoral Programs Officer indicating approval (see above), students can submit a HELP SU ticket online at to request the credit. When submitting the help ticket, the following should be selected from the drop-down menus for HELP SU:

Request Category :  Computer, Handhelds (PDAs), Printers, Servers Request Type :  Printer Operating System : (whatever system is used by the student, e.g., Windows XP.)

The help ticket will be routed to the GSE's IT Group for processing; they will in turn notify the student via email when the credit is available.

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How to Write a Literature Review | Guide, Examples, & Templates

Published on January 2, 2023 by Shona McCombes .

What is a literature review? A literature review is a survey of scholarly sources on a specific topic. It provides an overview of current knowledge, allowing you to identify relevant theories, methods, and gaps in the existing research that you can later apply to your paper, thesis, or dissertation topic .

There are five key steps to writing a literature review:

A good literature review doesn’t just summarize sources—it analyzes, synthesizes , and critically evaluates to give a clear picture of the state of knowledge on the subject.

Table of contents

What is the purpose of a literature review, examples of literature reviews, step 1 – search for relevant literature, step 2 – evaluate and select sources, step 3 – identify themes, debates, and gaps, step 4 – outline your literature review’s structure, step 5 – write your literature review, free lecture slides, frequently asked questions, introduction.

When you write a thesis , dissertation , or research paper , you will likely have to conduct a literature review to situate your research within existing knowledge. The literature review gives you a chance to:

Writing literature reviews is a particularly important skill if you want to apply for graduate school or pursue a career in research. We’ve written a step-by-step guide that you can follow below.

Literature review guide

Writing literature reviews can be quite challenging! A good starting point could be to look at some examples, depending on what kind of literature review you’d like to write.

You can also check out our templates with literature review examples and sample outlines at the links below.

Download Word doc Download Google doc

Prevent plagiarism. Run a free check.

Before you begin searching for literature, you need a clearly defined topic .

If you are writing the literature review section of a dissertation or research paper, you will search for literature related to your research problem and questions .

Make a list of keywords

Start by creating a list of keywords related to your research question. Include each of the key concepts or variables you’re interested in, and list any synonyms and related terms. You can add to this list as you discover new keywords in the process of your literature search.

Search for relevant sources

Use your keywords to begin searching for sources. Some useful databases to search for journals and articles include:

You can also use boolean operators to help narrow down your search.

Make sure to read the abstract to find out whether an article is relevant to your question. When you find a useful book or article, you can check the bibliography to find other relevant sources.

You likely won’t be able to read absolutely everything that has been written on your topic, so it will be necessary to evaluate which sources are most relevant to your research question.

For each publication, ask yourself:

Make sure the sources you use are credible , and make sure you read any landmark studies and major theories in your field of research.

You can use our template to summarize and evaluate sources you’re thinking about using. Click on either button below to download.

Take notes and cite your sources

As you read, you should also begin the writing process. Take notes that you can later incorporate into the text of your literature review.

It is important to keep track of your sources with citations to avoid plagiarism . It can be helpful to make an annotated bibliography , where you compile full citation information and write a paragraph of summary and analysis for each source. This helps you remember what you read and saves time later in the process.

To begin organizing your literature review’s argument and structure, be sure you understand the connections and relationships between the sources you’ve read. Based on your reading and notes, you can look for:

This step will help you work out the structure of your literature review and (if applicable) show how your own research will contribute to existing knowledge.

There are various approaches to organizing the body of a literature review. Depending on the length of your literature review, you can combine several of these strategies (for example, your overall structure might be thematic, but each theme is discussed chronologically).


The simplest approach is to trace the development of the topic over time. However, if you choose this strategy, be careful to avoid simply listing and summarizing sources in order.

Try to analyze patterns, turning points and key debates that have shaped the direction of the field. Give your interpretation of how and why certain developments occurred.

If you have found some recurring central themes, you can organize your literature review into subsections that address different aspects of the topic.

For example, if you are reviewing literature about inequalities in migrant health outcomes, key themes might include healthcare policy, language barriers, cultural attitudes, legal status, and economic access.


If you draw your sources from different disciplines or fields that use a variety of research methods , you might want to compare the results and conclusions that emerge from different approaches. For example:


A literature review is often the foundation for a theoretical framework . You can use it to discuss various theories, models, and definitions of key concepts.

You might argue for the relevance of a specific theoretical approach, or combine various theoretical concepts to create a framework for your research.

Like any other academic text , your literature review should have an introduction , a main body, and a conclusion . What you include in each depends on the objective of your literature review.

The introduction should clearly establish the focus and purpose of the literature review.

Depending on the length of your literature review, you might want to divide the body into subsections. You can use a subheading for each theme, time period, or methodological approach.

As you write, you can follow these tips:

In the conclusion, you should summarize the key findings you have taken from the literature and emphasize their significance.

When you’ve finished writing and revising your literature review, don’t forget to proofread thoroughly before submitting. Not a language expert? Check out Scribbr’s professional proofreading services !

This article has been adapted into lecture slides that you can use to teach your students about writing a literature review.

Scribbr slides are free to use, customize, and distribute for educational purposes.

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A literature review is a survey of scholarly sources (such as books, journal articles, and theses) related to a specific topic or research question .

It is often written as part of a thesis, dissertation , or research paper , in order to situate your work in relation to existing knowledge.

There are several reasons to conduct a literature review at the beginning of a research project:

Writing the literature review shows your reader how your work relates to existing research and what new insights it will contribute.

The literature review usually comes near the beginning of your thesis or dissertation . After the introduction , it grounds your research in a scholarly field and leads directly to your theoretical framework or methodology .

A literature review is a survey of credible sources on a topic, often used in dissertations , theses, and research papers . Literature reviews give an overview of knowledge on a subject, helping you identify relevant theories and methods, as well as gaps in existing research. Literature reviews are set up similarly to other  academic texts , with an introduction , a main body, and a conclusion .

An  annotated bibliography is a list of  source references that has a short description (called an annotation ) for each of the sources. It is often assigned as part of the research process for a  paper .  

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doctoral dissertation review

A literature review is a critical analysis of published academic literature, mainly peer-reviewed papers and books, on a specific topic. This isn’t just a list of published studies but is a document summarising and critically appraising the main work by researchers in the field, the key findings, limitations and gaps identified in the knowledge.

What Is the Purpose of a Literature Review?

First, to be clear on what a PhD literature review is NOT: it is not a ‘paper by paper’ summary of what others have done in your field. All you’re doing here is listing out all the papers and book chapters you’ve found with some text joining things together. This is a common mistake made by PhD students early on in their research project. This is a sign of poor academic writing and if it’s not picked up by your supervisor, it’ll definitely be by your examiners.

The biggest issue your examiners will have here is that you won’t have demonstrated an application of critical thinking when examining existing knowledge from previous research. This is an important part of the research process as a PhD student. It’s needed to show where the gaps in knowledge were, and how then you were able to identify the novelty of each research question and subsequent work.

The five main outcomes from carrying out a good literature review should be:

When assessing the academic papers or books that you’ve come across, you must think about the strengths and weaknesses of them; what was novel about their work and what were the limitations? Are different sources of relevant literature coming to similar conclusions and complementing each other, or are you seeing different outcomes on the same topic by different researchers?

When Should I Write My Literature Review?

In the structure of your PhD thesis , your literature review is effectively your first main chapter. It’s at the start of your thesis and should, therefore, be a task you perform at the start of your research. After all, you need to have reviewed the literature to work out how your research can contribute novel findings to your area of research. Sometimes, however, in particular when you apply for a PhD project with a pre-defined research title and research questions, your supervisor may already know where the gaps in knowledge are.

You may be tempted to skip the literature review and dive straight into tackling the set questions (then completing the review at the end before thesis submission) but we strongly advise against this. Whilst your supervisor will be very familiar with the area, you as a doctoral student will not be and so it is essential that you gain this understanding before getting into the research.

How Long Should the Literature Review Be?

As your literature review will be one of your main thesis chapters, it needs to be a substantial body of work. It’s not a good strategy to have a thesis writing process here based on a specific word count, but know that most reviews are typically between 6,000 and 12,000 words. The length will depend on how much relevant material has previously been published in your field.

A point to remember though is that the review needs to be easy to read and avoid being filled with unnecessary information; in your search of selected literature, consider filtering out publications that don’t appear to add anything novel to the discussion – this might be useful in fields with hundreds of papers.

How Do I Write the Literature Review?

Before you start writing your literature review, you need to be clear on the topic you are researching.

1. Evaluating and Selecting the Publications

After completing your literature search and downloading all the papers you find, you may find that you have a lot of papers to read through ! You may find that you have so many papers that it’s unreasonable to read through all of them in their entirety, so you need to find a way to understand what they’re about and decide if they’re important quickly.

A good starting point is to read the abstract of the paper to gauge if it is useful and, as you do so, consider the following questions in your mind:

2. Identifying Themes

To put together the structure of your literature review you need to identify the common themes that emerge from the collective papers and books that you have read. Key things to think about are:

Structuring and Writing Your Literature Review

There are several ways in which you can structure a literature review and this may depend on if, for example, your project is a science or non-science based PhD.

One approach may be to tell a story about how your research area has developed over time. You need to be careful here that you don’t just describe the different papers published in chronological order but that you discuss how different studies have motivated subsequent studies, how the knowledge has developed over time in your field, concluding with what is currently known, and what is currently not understood.

Alternatively, you may find from reading your papers that common themes emerge and it may be easier to develop your review around these, i.e. a thematic review. For example, if you are writing up about bridge design, you may structure the review around the themes of regulation, analysis, and sustainability.

As another approach, you might want to talk about the different research methodologies that have been used. You could then compare and contrast the results and ultimate conclusions that have been drawn from each.

As with all your chapters in your thesis, your literature review will be broken up into three key headings, with the basic structure being the introduction, the main body and conclusion. Within the main body, you will use several subheadings to separate out the topics depending on if you’re structuring it by the time period, the methods used or the common themes that have emerged.

The important thing to think about as you write your main body of text is to summarise the key takeaway messages from each research paper and how they come together to give one or more conclusions. Don’t just stop at summarising the papers though, instead continue on to give your analysis and your opinion on how these previous publications fit into the wider research field and where they have an impact. Emphasise the strengths of the studies you have evaluated also be clear on the limitations of previous work how these may have influenced the results and conclusions of the studies.

In your concluding paragraphs focus your discussion on how your critical evaluation of literature has helped you identify unanswered research questions and how you plan to address these in your PhD project. State the research problem you’re going to address and end with the overarching aim and key objectives of your work .

When writing at a graduate level, you have to take a critical approach when reading existing literature in your field to determine if and how it added value to existing knowledge. You may find that a large number of the papers on your reference list have the right academic context but are essentially saying the same thing. As a graduate student, you’ll need to take a methodological approach to work through this existing research to identify what is relevant literature and what is not.

You then need to go one step further to interpret and articulate the current state of what is known, based on existing theories, and where the research gaps are. It is these gaps in the literature that you will address in your own research project.

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Thesis Vs. Dissertation — Know the difference and similarities!

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The academic world is filled with many different types of writing assignments, each with its own unique set of requirements and expectations. One common source of confusion for students is the distinction between a thesis and a dissertation. Both are long-form academic works, but there are several key differences between the two that are important to understand.

In Shakespeare’s day, a candidate for a master’s degree would write a thesis, an original paper in which he maintained a certain proposition. Whereas, completion of a doctoral program required submission and defense of a dissertation. He would read his thesis to his committee, after which he sat in silence while two faculty members gave point-by-point refutations of everything the candidate said.

The focus here was on the student’s ideas and his ability to arrange and express them clearly. If a student wished to advance further in academia he could pursue a dissertation. This was more of a  literature review . He would read widely in a particular area and write up his findings, discussing the various authorities and their opinions. The point was to demonstrate that he was well-versed in the literature of the field. While the confusion between the two terms is understandable, we shall tackle the dissertation vs. thesis topic in this article and provide unambiguous insights on it.

Table of Contents

What Is a Thesis?

A thesis is a critically written scholarly piece of research work. Typically, it is submitted by students graduating from a master’s program. The purpose of a thesis is to allow students to showcase their knowledge and expertise within the subject matter they have been studying as part of the program.

What Is a Dissertation?

A dissertation is a comparatively lengthier piece of scholarly writing that accounts for your research work throughout the doctoral program. A researcher earns the Ph.D. after submitting and defending his/her dissertation. It includes all information about the original research or expanded research on a new or existing topic conducted by the Ph.D. candidate.

Dissertation vs. Thesis: Differences

Dissertation vs. Thesis: Similarities

Dissertation vs. Thesis: Europe

In Europe, the original distinction between a thesis and a dissertation has been largely retained. A doctoral thesis is a focused piece of original research that is performed to obtain a Ph.D. A dissertation is part of a broader post-graduate research project.


However, the thesis has evolved since original research nowadays requires plenty of background research . So, a thesis will contain extensive citations and references to earlier work, although the focus remains on the original work that comes out of it.

Dissertation vs. Thesis: USA

In the United States, the definition of a thesis is almost the opposite of that in Europe. Because a thesis is shorter than a dissertation it gradually came to mean a preliminary degree on the way to a doctorate. A thesis is now performed to earn a Master’s degree. In scientific fields, a master’s candidate takes advanced coursework and gains hands-on experience in a research project but does not direct the project to the same extent that he would in a doctoral program. In a master’s project, the student’s ideas are welcomed and expected but the focus is on obtaining technical expertise, not doing original research. Engineering students commonly obtain Master’s degrees and seldom go on to get PhDs. In other fields such as Chemistry, the opposite is true, with a Master’s degree no longer being required as the first step for a doctorate. Almost everyone I know who received a Master’s degree in Chemistry got one because they dropped out of graduate school and wrote their truncated research as a Master’s project.

In a Nutshell

Needless to say, the dissertation vs. thesis facts are real. Therefore, using one term instead of another is not acceptable as an academic. One must remember the purpose of each and use them accordingly. However, one is not undermined by the other. Whether you are writing a thesis or a dissertation, both must be done with the same seriousness. Both require critical technical and soft skills. Improving your time management and academic writing skills plays a major role in acing both forms of scholarly writing.

How do you decipher dissertation vs. thesis? Should the interchanged usage of these terms be acceptable? How is your approach to writing a thesis different from that of a dissertation? What are the other differences associated with the thesis and dissertation? Let us know in the comments section below!

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