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DBA 701 Doctoral Success Lab: Literature Review

Doctoral Success Lab is the first course in the DBA program.


A Literature Review establishes the connection between your proposed research and existing research; it surveys for the reader the scope of existing research, and then explains how the proposed dissertation research expands upon or adds new information  to the knowledge base. It reviews previous studies, analyzes gaps, and outlines a research agenda. " A literature review therefore helps us to appreciate something of the sequence and growth of knowledge. As we survey the previous research on a subject, we may be able to identify areas which have not yet been investigated. These might suggest topics for future research projects, and also might suggest a particular focus or train of thought for our present dissertation" (Oliver, Paul, 2012).

Recommended Resources

Keep in Mind

A literature review is not simply a survey of one author or researcher after another; there needs to be a selection process with some criteria in place to determine which articles, dissertations, thesis, etc., to include and exclude in the review.

  • Your Literature review should have a planned structure to it; one which is clearly evident to the reader, whether the structure is topical, date-oriented, or uses some other framework
  • It should NOT strictly consist of summaries

  • It should reflect your ability to analyze and discuss others' research

  • It will probably need to be organized using sections and subheadings

  • It will usually cover key research and areas which have been important, as well as trends indicating future importance in the field of study


Different kinds of literature reviews

Literature Review Section of a Research Article

Every research article has a section dedicated to describing the background of the topic and how the research ties in with previous studies. 

See the pdf file labeled servant leadership article for an example.  


Literature Review Article

An article that has been written that reviews or systematically organizes all of the literature on a certain topic within certain limitations is called a literature review.  These articles are sometimes labeled as a review of the literature or other ways. These articles can be great resources for locating information and more resources but are not considered empirical research. 

See the example labeled literature review article. 

Literature Review Chapter in a Dissertation

From the ProQuest Dissertation database search for a dissertation on a topic that interests you and read the literature review chapter.