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Research for Dissertation Authors: Questions to ask

Ask your advisor

  • Is a particular format for the literature review preferred by your advisor? Will an annotated bibliographybe required as an appendix to the review?
  • Are there a maximum or minimum number of sources that your review should include?
  • Does your advisor have a particular bias against particular types of resources?
  • Does s/he prefer journal articles to books, or would s/he prefer that you NOT use web sites?
  • Can your advisor suggest some good examples of literature reviews written by other persons s/he has advised in the past that you could examine?
  • Does your advisor think that your topic is a worthwhile one, and will the degree-conferring department approve it?

If you've got your topic and need assistance, you can contact the library for help. Our subject librarians can help you search more effectively in databases and may be able to suggest resources that you haven't considered. 

Critical Analysis

​A few questions to ask yourself as you review the research for your literature review - there may be other questions that you need to ask in your field, and some of these may not be relevant. 

  • Who is/are the authors? How are they qualified to write on this topic? 
  • What is the publication date?  Is it up to date or has it been superseded by someone else's work? 
  • Who is the publisher?
  • If based on surveys, is the survey instrument available for you to review and evaluate? 
  • How was the research designed? 
  • Is there an obvious bias in the research? 
  • Who funded the research?