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How to Write a Literature Review for IR Thesis

Writing a literature review for a dissertation in the field of International Relations involves critically analyzing and synthesizing existing research, theories, and perspectives relevant to your research topic. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to write a literature review for International Relations dissertations:

1. Define Your Scope:

  • Clearly define the scope of your literature review. What specific aspect of International Relations are you focusing on? What research questions or themes will you address?

2. Identify Relevant Sources:

  • Conduct a comprehensive search for academic sources. Utilize databases, libraries, and online journals to find scholarly articles, books, reports, and other academic publications.
  • Ensure that your sources are recent and relevant to your research topic.

3. Organize Your Sources:

  • Create a system for organizing your sources, such as using citation management software or creating an annotated bibliography.
  • Categorize sources based on themes, theories, or key concepts related to your research.

4. Evaluate and Analyze Sources:

  • Critically evaluate the quality and credibility of each source. Consider the author’s credentials, methodology, and the source’s relevance to your research.
  • Analyze the key findings, arguments, and theoretical frameworks presented in each source.

5. Synthesize the Literature:

  • Begin by summarizing the main points and findings of each source. Provide a brief overview of the research.
  • Identify common themes, debates, or gaps in the existing literature.
  • Discuss how each source contributes to the understanding of your research topic.

6. Highlight Theoretical Frameworks:

  • Discuss the theoretical frameworks or approaches used in the literature. Explain how these theories are relevant to your research and its theoretical underpinnings.

7. Identify Debates and Controversies:

  • Explore any ongoing debates or controversies in the field of International Relations related to your topic.
  • Present various perspectives and viewpoints, highlighting differing opinions among scholars.

8. Discuss Gaps in the Literature:

  • Identify gaps, limitations, or areas where further research is needed. Explain why these gaps are significant and how your research will address them.

9. Create a Logical Structure:

  • Organize your literature review in a clear and logical structure. You can arrange it chronologically, thematically, or based on theoretical approaches.
  • Use subheadings to guide the reader through different sections.

10. Provide Critical Analysis:
– Throughout your literature review, maintain a critical and objective tone. Avoid making unsupported claims or judgments.
– Compare and contrast different sources and theories, highlighting strengths and weaknesses.

11. Citations and References:
– Properly cite all sources using the appropriate citation style (e.g., APA, MLA, Chicago).
– Include a reference list at the end of your literature review, following the same citation style.

12. Revise and Edit:
– Review and revise your literature review for clarity, coherence, and conciseness.
– Proofread for grammar, spelling, and formatting errors.

13. Connect to Your Research:
– In the conclusion of your literature review, bridge the gap between the existing literature and your research. Explain how your study builds upon or contributes to the field of International Relations.

Remember that a well-structured and well-written literature review is crucial for establishing the theoretical and research context for your dissertation in International Relations. It should demonstrate your knowledge of the field, highlight the significance of your research, and guide the reader toward a clear understanding of your dissertation’s objectives.

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