Of all the chapters in a dissertation, the literature review is the most tasking of all. This probably because it involves many steps and difficulties. Very few doctorate student or undergraduate students have a breeze writing their reviews. The truth is that most students will struggle to complete their literature reviews. The easiest way to finish writing your review is by first knowing what mistakes to avoid.

The common mistakes people make when writing a literature review divided into five basic categories.

  1. Writing and Stylistic Problems
  2. Issues with Literature Review Structure & Elements
  3. Credibility/Validity Issues
  4. Not Going Over The Methodology Section Of A Reviewed Article
  5. Refusing To Seek Help When You Need It

In this article, I will explain how each of these common mistakes of literature review and how each of these can be avoided.

Mistake #1: Writing And Stylistic Problems

A literature review is supposed to be a body of text of an academic paper. The text should be current knowledge, practical research findings, and theoretic and procedural contributions on your chosen research topic. You are not expected to report new and original experiments.

One common mistake doctoral students make is stating their personal opinions in their literature review. Avoid this error. Be careful to avoid emotional phrases in your literature review. Be objective. The literature review should not contain emotional phrases. Stick to the existing facts.

The second writing and stylistic error students often make is practising one or all aspects of plagiarism.  Some of the major mistakes that exist in the review chapter of the dissertation or thesis include unjustified claims and a lack of referenced page numbers for direct quotations. State the source of your claims and remember to properly reference the source of your information.

The stylistic mistake doctoral students often make is inserting long URLs to display links to mentioned research studies or articles in their literature review. The best way to go about this is to cite the source with the last name(s) of the author(s) and then add the publication year of the work.  You can insert the link to the website in the references section of your paper. Ensure that the link appears right under the particular reference to the citation in question.

Mistake #2: Structural Problems in The Literature Review

Your literature review must contain an overview of the background of the topic. Also, you must include a definition of relevant terms. These can be done in the pre-literature review section. Providing background information will help your readers better understand the dissertation.

Another structural mistake commonly seen in literature reviews is bad organization and poor structuring. Smart doctoral students avoid this problem by using sub-headings and arranging the contents of the literature reviews under each of the sub-headings. This will help you avoid one of the most prevalent structural and organizational problems.

Resist the temptation to include studies or points that aren’t relevant to your topic and thesis statement. Your literature review should only focus on mentioning studies that are very relevant to your study, your sub-headings and research question or hypothesis.

Mistake #3 Do Forget The Methodology Section of Your Literature Review

While it is wonderful to focus on specific parts (e.g. abstract, results etc) of the articles they review, you should also remember to pay attention to the methodology section of every reviewed article. Reading the methodologies can provide profound insight into areas of the research you might not have encountered.

The research methodology, if properly reviewed, can help you write an outstanding PhD dissertation.

Mistake #4: Avoid Credibility and Validity Problems

Don’t write when you’re tired. Instead, take a break. Your literature review will require a lot of energy, time and resources. When you’re tired, chances are that you will write a narrowly focused review that glosses over general categories.

A great literature review focuses on topics (with sub-headings) that are properly fleshed out. Avoid writing a literature review that doesn’t directly address your research question. As much as you can, choose topics that won’t require a lot of pages to sufficiently exhaust. The studies you cite must be written in terms of your research question. They must be related to your thesis statement. Don’t forget to utilize subheadings in your literature review. Ensure that each subtopic is closely-related to your research topic.

In addition, you can insert direct quotations but do so sparingly.  Your review will fare a lot better without too many direct quotations in your study. Your professors will get the impression that you are too lazy to employ your critical thinking skills. When writing your review, analyze, synthesize, and evaluate the studies that you have added. Don’t neglect to choose authoritative or scholarly sources over professional ones. Authority sources will make your review stand out. Don’t cite only support sources. Mention some dissenting studies and demonstrate how and why they differ from your own thinking.

Mistake #5 Don’t Refuse To Seek Assistance If You Need It

Most doctoral students are often too proud to follow guidelines or even seek advice. If at some point you find that you are frustrated, don’t be ashamed to seek help from professionals. See your dissertation advisor or academic mentor. And if they are reluctant to help or simply unavailable, you can meet some reliable colleagues. The problem is that your classmates might be too busy to help. They might be incapable of explaining the topic to you.

Alternatively, you can reach out to professional dissertation consultants for the entire expert assistance you require. If you don’t want a custom review, you can benefit from a professional guide who can help you write your literature review by yourself. There are several resources online. https://domyreview.net/  is a good place to find reliable consultants. Take your dissertation seriously. You never know what opportunities it might help you get. So seek help if you need it.