Writing a PhD dissertation is like swimming in an ocean-size pool full with a variety of different marine life

Your literature review must be based on:

  • Credible research sources
  • A minimum of one quantitative and one qualitative research study
  • One or two seminal or foundational sources
  • At least five peer-reviewed journals and two websites
  • Current sources from within the past five years (with the exception of the seminal or foundational source mentioned above)

In addition, your literature review must:

  • Synthesize the research and provide a summary of how the selected literature helps support the research question.
  • Discuss common themes found in the literature related to the topic.
  • Compare and contrast the typical research methodologies found in the literature you reviewed—qualitative, qualitative, and mixed-methods.

Submission Details:

  • Compile your research question and literature review in an 8-page Microsoft Word document. Include a title page and a reference page and apply APA standards to citation of sources, including use of in-text citations and full references.

Here’s the guide and resources to guide you in writing this assignment down below!!
The literature review process
As emphasized in both Chapters 1 and 6, the literature review process is a continuous one which begins when you first start to develop an idea for your research and does not end until the final draft of the dissertation or thesis is complete. Throughout the book, we have highlighted that the ongoing nature of the literature review is an integral part of the research process, because your work is always interconnected with that of others. For this reason, it is important that you are continually exploring the related developments in your field and that you keep reading as new publications appear which may be relevant to your research. As time goes by, it is possible that you will come across different theories, methodologies and ideas which cause you to see your own research in a different light. These references will then need to be integrated into your writing in later drafts of your literature review.
You may also wish to revise your literature review in the light of your own research findings. It may be that your research generates certain results which cause you to change the focus of your literature review or even to introduce and discuss an area of reading that you had not included previously. Finally, it is important to mention again that it is through the redrafting of your literature review that you are able to fine-tune your arguments, and clarify and articulate the focus of your research and the research questions.
The following quotes are from the writers of some of the dissertations and theses from which extracts have appeared throughout this book. They describe what the literature review process means to them.
My reading gradually broadened out from a narrow base, as I looked up references in articles/books I read. Sometimes I returned to original sources for more in-depth information. The more I read, the better it all fitted together, and it linked back to undergraduate research on other topics so gradually, it became part of my ‘overall world view’. In terms of writing the dissertation, the lit review took longer than anything else! As I read more, I could edit out bits no longer necessary/relevant. This took a long time, and I found it quite challenging. However, the benefits of having done all the reading paid off in my dissertation, as well as in my working life. I feel I have a serious understanding of the subject, and it has built my confidence enormously. My research was based on educational e-learning projects, so I had the ‘working knowledge’ of the subject before I had the literature ‘underpinning’. It helped validate what I had learned in practice.
Claire Allam, MEd Education
Given the primarily practical nature of my dissertation, the original focus of the literature review did not change greatly during the writing process. At the onset, I focused on three main areas: a general background to the position of pronunciation in English Language teaching, the effects of instruction on learning and the specific features of pronunciation under consideration in the study.
The most obvious change in focus came from the fairly general reading which accompanies early research to the more specific reading which becomes necessary as ideas and focus are refined. For example, while reading about the position of pronunciation within language teaching, it quickly became apparent that I needed more information on what kind of pronunciation model was desirable for students. This in turn led to needing information on the notion of ‘comfortable intelligibility’ and accepted definitions of the concept.
With respect to the effects of instruction on learning, I began by reading easily available books about general theories of Second Language Acquisition (SLA). This helped me to provide evidence that instruction appears to facilitate learning. The majority of research, however, focused on general learning rather than the specific learning of pronunciation. Through some of the reading I did, I found references to articles about other studies which were of interest. In addition I used ERIC and ATHENS extensively to search for relevant articles which were ordered from the British Library (I was working in Germany at the time and had limited access to libraries).
As a result of the reading on SLA, I was able to refine the questionnaire given to all students to try and measure factors which affect the learning process such as motivation, attitude and exposure to the target language. This was extremely important as without considering these factors the research would have been seriously flawed.
Analeen Moore, Education and Applied Linguistics
Writing a PhD dissertation is like swimming in an ocean-size pool full with a variety of different marine life. You need to sort out them in accordance with the differences and similarities. Most of all, it is important to find a niche habitat for your own PhD or restructure the whole ecosystem of the pool, if you can. Since a student starts from scratch, it is normal to revise the original literature review in the course of doing research. In many cases, the aims and objectives are shifting over time, a development which makes the student change the focus of his or her literature review. At the end of the day, it is just a process of building a solid and coherent foundation prior to making the main arguments in the next chapters.
Key-young Son, PhD East Asian Studies
I must confess that my literature review was written in the final few months of my PhD. My PhD was done before the requirement that students write a literature review in the first year. Thus, I focused my time on writing papers (with specific literature reviews to complement the data being presented) and then wrote the overall literature review for the thesis by drawing from these.
Having said this, I agree with the argument that the literature review is often revised in the light of data collection. In fact, so much so that I have given up trying to write an introduction to a paper before I have the data. I usually start with the method and results sections, then write the introduction, then the discussion.
Tom Webb, PhD Psychology
Referring to the literature in your discussion chapter
When reaching the ‘Discussion’ sections or chapter/s of your dissertation or thesis where you interpret your research findings, it is important to revisit the literature to contextualize your work again within the wider field of study. At both the beginning and end of your thesis or dissertation, your reader must be able to see how your research is rooted in and contributes to the ongoing development of knowledge in your field.
At this point in your thesis or dissertation, it is helpful to remind your reader about the content of your literature review. This could entail a summary of the main points or you could refer back to the literature discussed in earlier sections and chapters, providing cross references for your readers.
When interpreting your own research findings, citations can be integrated to compare and contrast your findings with those of previous studies. It is important to point out how your work either supports or contradicts related previous work in your field. The literature may also provide a way for you to interpret your findings. A particular theory might provide a framework for your data analysis and interpretation. Alternatively, your data analysis may enable you to propose an amendment or development of a theory in your field.
Examples 10.1 to 10.6 illustrate these purposes for including references to the work of others in the discussion chapter/s of the dissertation or thesis. The underlined parts of the texts indicate where the writers make connections and show relationships between their research findings and the related literature.
Findings support an existing theory
In Example 10.1, taken from the masters dissertation on the relationship between pronunciation instruction and learning of pronunciation among English as a Foreign Language students, Analeen discusses the extent to which her results support Krashen’s hypotheses on language learning and acquisition. Note the first sentence of the section which reminds the reader about the purpose of the study.
Example 10.1 Findings support an existing theory
Effect of Instruction on Specific Features of Pronunciation and General Intelligibility
This study was designed to investigate the effect of instruction on pronunciation performance for learners at an elementary level of English. Given the time restrictions on the study, an elementary level was chosen so that there was not too much phonological fossilisation present in the sample and greater improvement could be expected from each learner than with a more advanced level sample where phonological fossilisation may have been greater.
It is interesting to note that both groups displayed improved pronunciation skills at the end of the study. Given that the control group received no instruction, this suggests that pronunciation skills are improved by exposure to the target language in the classroom. The control group appears to have noticed features of the phonological system and this has produced improvement. This would seem to support Krashen’s theory (1982) of exposure to TL at a level of (i + 1) producing acquisition because in the classroom a teacher monitors their use of language and new items introduced. Therefore it would be hoped that a large amount of input is provided at a level suitable for the students to acquire it. The findings of the t-tests on the posttest results indicate that there was a positive relationship between instruction and the production of specific features of pronunciation but not between instruction and overall general intelligibility. This would seem to confirm Krashen’s hypothesis that instruction produces learning but not acquisition since the learners were able to use what they had learnt when focusing on form, but they did not transfer it to their spontaneous speech when the focus was on meaning.
It is important to consider the listener-raters in relation to the results here. Despite the fact that the correlations between raters were very high indicating reliability, it may be the case that rating sentences is easier than assessing general intelligibility. When rating a sentence the rater is looking for a particular feature and the number of possible errors is limited. Spontaneous speech, in contrast, may contain many errors in areas such as grammar, phonology, fluency and discourse. The rater may be affected by a combination of these errors when making a judgment and thus not fairly represent just the subject’s phonological intelligibility. A further complication may have arisen due to the fact that all raters are used to German learners’ pronunciation of English, which may have influenced their perception of pronunciation performance. The raters may have penalised the subjects for making typical German pronunciation errors which did not impede intelligibility, or they may have not penalised the subjects for errors which could cause problems with intelligibility for those not used to German learners pronunciation of English. It might have been better to include some non-specialist raters so that any possible influence could have been controlled for. For these reasons, it is not possible from this study to provide clear evidence supporting Krashen’s hypotheses of instruction only producing learning and not acquisition.
Source: Moore, 2001: 31–2
End of Example
Comparing a new model and an existing theory
In Example 10.2, taken from a discussion section of a Psychology PhD thesis, Tom describes a theory (the factor model) which he has developed from his data analysis and compares it with a theory (model of action phases) previously discussed in his literature review. As in Example 10.1, observe the way the introductory sentence in the section reminds the reader of the focus of the research studies.
Example 10.2 A comparison between a new model and existing theory
General Discussion
Studies 2 and 3 provide an important analysis of both the conceptual structure of constructs from goal theories and their relative importance in predicting goal attainment. Both retrospective (Study 2) and prospective (Study 3) designs provided evidence that five factors – motivation,