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Dissertation Success

Specialist subject resources for your literature review

Most dissertations will have a literature review. Sometimes the entire project will be based on the literature (e.g. a critical literature review), but mainly the review will provide the reader with the context for your research project.

There are a few key questions worth bearing in mind as you embark on your literature review:

  • What has been written or created on this topic before, if anything?
  • What has been published in linked areas?
  • What does your research add to the existing works?

When you are getting started, don't forget to check for recommended reading from your tutors on the general concepts of carrying out research in your subject area. There are reading lists linked to your dissertation modules.

You will have used the library catalogue to find books, journal articles and other resources in previous work. The Library offers access to lots of other information resources, and tools to help find specific types of information – check out our specialist resources and filter by subject area or type of resource. You may also find types of information you have never used before – two very common ones are theses and conference papers.


When researchers do postgraduate degrees, their resulting work is published. If you find a thesis on your topic, or linked to it, it can be a valuable source for both its own research and conclusions, and in studying the works they used in their own literature review. It is common to find these works online, via specialist subject search tools, through the researcher's university website, or through the British Library's dedicated thesis service, EThOS.

Conference papers

Whereas a lot of research is published as journal articles once the project has finished, it is common for researchers to present their research in progress at conferences and these are often written up. You generally find these in the subject specific search tools, and they are found on Google Scholar too.

Don't forget that there is a guide to referencing these sources and more; this is available from the Library.

We have hints and tips for establishing what you want to find and where to go to find them in the keeping track of your search section of Dissertation Success.

Students who use these resources report that it has improved their research experience...

"I will be more likely to use a wider range of materials from different sources, as I know how to access them more easily."


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