Please read our guidance on this page to help you research and write your dissertation. You can also book an appointment with your Academic Librarians who can help you find resources including journal articles, statistics and more.
Use the Skills for Learning website for step by step guidance on how to plan and manage your workload, and how to structure your dissertation:
Before deciding upon a topic, it is a good idea to conduct a 'scoping' or formative search in Discover, just to make sure that there is enough relevant material for you to consider, read and analyse.
Also, remember that conducting a literature review is your opportunity to find out more about a topic that interests you. If you cannot think of a topic:
A literature review is a review of the existing literature, journal articles, books and evidence published on a given topic. It is a critical and evaluative account of any published work around your research field, including a description and analysis of existing knowledge of the topic, the identification of any gaps in the existing body of knowledge, and an explanation of how your research might contribute to and further develop current understanding of the subject.
A literature review is not simply a description or summary of each individual paper. It should instead be organised around the findings of the articles considered, and is therefore an opportunity to identify common themes and issues as well as highlighting opposing arguments.
You should consult your Tutor or module handbook regarding exactly how to organise your literature review. However, a literature review would normally have the following basic structure:
Introduction. This is where you introduce your research topic: what it is, why it is important and how it fills any gaps in the available knowledge. The introduction should outline any main themes or chronological developments and also outline the organisational structure of the review.
Body. This is where you discuss the sources and articles used, as well as any controversies and points of debate. The body of your review can be arranged chronologically if you want to illustrate how arguments and views have changed over a given time period, or it can be arranged thematically by themes and subtopics. Another way in which your review can be organised is by theoretical arguments e.g. positivist, anti-positivst, and sociocultural evolutionists, or rational choice theory vs social learning theory.
Conclusion. This is where you summarise what you have learnt from your literature review and highlight any suggested areas for further research.
Discover is an excellent starting point when conducting a literature review as it searches through the vast majority of our electronic resources. However, it is also a good idea to search relevant individual databases for a more subject-specific perspective.
When you find a relevant article, you should then follow the trails from it to other useful information:
Remember that searching is not a linear process. The more reading that you do, the more additional keywords, authors, topics and questions you are likely to encounter with which you can expand or refine your original list of search terms. This is a positive sign, as it shows you are expanding your knowledge of your subject and it is a key part of the process of conducting a comprehensive literature review.
A Reference Librarian at Kishwaukee College Library has produced this helpful video on how to read a scholarly article:
Your search strategy is your plan of action for searching. It is important to ensure that your searching is systematic, and does not omit any potentially useful results. To achieve this, you should consider the following points when forming a search strategy and devising a list of terms to search for:
Then, when conducting searches, remember that:
Finally, record the databases you have searched, the search terms you have used and any limits applied - you will need this information to ensure that your searching is systematic and methodical, and then also for writing up your methodology!
Remember, a crucial stage of any research is evaluating the quality. If you are evaluating free resources you can use the REVIEW method:
This service allows you to recommend resource purchases for addition to our Library stock. This could be particularly useful to you if you are currently working on your dissertation and require books on a subject area we don't have in stock. To suggest a title, please click on Recommend below and fill in the online form with as much information as you can:
To find out more information on Beckett Books Extra, see the guide here.
If you would like to read a book that we don't have here at Leeds Beckett, you could try one of the following options:
1. If you are a final year undergraduate, postgraduate student, researcher or member of staff you could apply for an interlibrary loan. You can make your request online on MyBeckett (go to the Library tab and find the 'Interlibrary Loan Request Service' box). Most books will arrive for you to collect from the Library within 20 working days.
2. Search on Library Hub Discover to see if there is another university library that has the book. Library Hub Discover enables you to search over 110 UK and Irish library catalogues to help you identify resources held elsewhere.
3. Apply for SCONUL Access to borrow the book from another UK or Irish university library (full-time undergraduate students can't borrow, but can still have reference access). Apply online and register with your Leeds Beckett email address. You should contact the library you wish to visit beforehand to check opening hours, access policies, accessibility and any documentation you may need to take with you.
4. You could visit the British Library Reading Room at the Document Supply Centre, Boston Spa, near Leeds. You can't borrow from this library, but you can consult millions of items. You can pre-register for a Reading Room pass and order your material online before visiting on the Library's website.
Here are some suggestions to help with writing your literature review:
All of the sources you use in your work have to be referenced using the Leeds Beckett Harvard style. For example, a book you use needs to have a citation in the text:
and a corresponding reference at the end of your work:
Badiou, A. (2019) Happiness. London: Bloomsbury Academic.
You can find guidelines and lots of examples on the Skills for Learning website:
Search the Library Catalogue for other books to help you write your dissertation: