Key themes provide a natural structuring principle in a literature review, as do categories based on relevance to research questions, academic position, theoretical paradigm, chronology, and so on.
Categorising reviewed material into ‘for’ and ‘against’ classes for certain controversies is one useful way to present findings.
Remember – a good literature review not only provides important background to your own dissertation writing, but also helps to show where your dissertation will fit into the field.
Paragraphs giving the title of each book and then summarising their contents do not constitute a literature review.
Beyond the identification of key themes and issues, it will be necessary to reach certain findings in light of your analysis of the relevant literature.
Try to draw working conclusions about the current balance of opinion concerning certain controversies, suggest what you believe to be the emergent or future trends in the field, identify deficiencies in current knowledge and relate your own position to that of others.
Relate only the directly relevant content, and spend as much time analysing the comparative significance of various sources for your own purposes.
It will be necessary to identify, draw out, explain, interpret and evaluate key themes that emerge from the literature you have been studying.
Moreover, if you find that the literature available is too sparse, or conversely, insurmountable; it is worth reconsidering your research questions to develop a more constrained focus on the topic at hand.
Do not begin analysing the literature before clarifying in your own mind the research questions that will guide your dissertation.