Thematic Literature Review Example by Dissertation Writers

Thematic Literature Review Example by Dissertation Writers

Let’s get to it! What should I do before writing the literature review?

Before tackling a Thematic Literature Review Example, it’s crucial to establish a clear research question and determine the methodology for your literature search. Consider both chronological and thematic approaches when deciding how to structure your literature review.

Thoroughly synthesize the relevant literature and related literature from your review of literature. You need to read and critically analyze the key sources to accurately represent the author’s information. 

An effective thematic approach helps identify recurring themes across different sources. For instance, you might group literature from the 90s on to topic x to 2000s under one theme if an author said something noteworthy. Ultimately, a well-structured thematic review that skillfully blends the literature review with your research paper will strengthen your argument. You can learn more skills and information from our article on how to do a thematic literature review.

Factors to Consider When Choosing a Literature Review Structure

The factors to consider when choosing a literature review structure are listed and explained. All these factors are outlined and explained in the presented Thematic Literature Review Example. You can learn more on how to structure your thematic literature review on our article on Thematic Literature Review Outline.

When writing a Thematic Literature Review Example, there are several key factors to consider when organizing a literature review and determining the structure of your literature review. These factors are clearly outlined in our thematic literature review outline:

  • 1. Review Needs: What is the purpose of your literature review? A Thematic Literature Review Example may be better suited if you need to identify themes across existing research rather than provide an exhaustive review of literature on biological studies.
  • 2. Cohesion: A Thematic Literature Review Example allows you to write a literature review as one coherent narrative rather than a disjointed survey nature of the literature.
  • 3. Themes: The ability to identify themes is a major advantage of a thematic approach when organizing a literature review. You can structure your Thematic Literature Review Example around 2-3 key themes that emerge from the literature on biological studies.
  • 4. Academic Research: For many academic research papers, a Thematic Literature Review Example is an important tool to synthesize the existing research in your field coherently.
  • 5. Literature Review Order: You could order a review of literature chronologically, methodologically, or by other logical groupings depending on the nature of the literature review. A Thematic Literature Review Example does not allow for a simple chronological structure, but you can incorporate chronological elements while focusing on themes.
  • 6. Field of Study: The field or topic may dictate how you structure your literature review. A review of literature on biological studies may lend itself better to a Thematic Literature Review Example compared to a narrative literature review.
  • 7. Organization Flexibility: A Thematic Literature Review Example affords more flexibility in terms of the organization of your review. You can interweave different strands of literature on biological studies based on unifying concepts.
  • 8. Literature Volume: If you are dealing with a large volume of existing research, a Thematic Literature Review Example can help condense and focus your literature review effectively.

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By considering factors like your review needs, ability to identify themes, academic discipline norms, literature volume, and more, you can determine if a Thematic Literature Review Example is the optimal approach for organizing a literature review for your purposes.

How to structure and write a Thematic Literature Review

Here are some key points on how to structure and write a Thematic Literature Review Example:

A Thematic Literature Review Example involves grouping the literature by theme or topics, rather than a strict chronological approach. To begin, thoroughly review the literature available on your particular topic to identify potential themes within the existing knowledge.

When structuring a Thematic Literature Review Example, consider instead what themes or issues connect the various sources you’ve reviewed. These could be theoretical approaches, aspects of the research methods, gaps in current knowledge, or other common themes that emerged. Pick one of these themes to focus the organization of your review.

For example, if you noticed an author said a concept coined by the author kept appearing across 90’s literature on topic x, you could use that as a theme for your Thematic Literature Review Example. Or you might group the literature by differing perspectives on an aspect of the field that is missing comprehensive analysis.

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The body of this Thematic Literature Review Example is structured to create an organizational method to focus this section around your chosen theme(s), rather than trying to summarize and synthesize the entirety of knowledge in the field. Even with even thousands of articles and books on most areas of study, this focused thematic approach allows you to get a good survey and present one or different vital perspectives. Detailed description of the thematic analysis process is presented in the Thematic Analysis A Practical Guide.

A Thematically Literature Review differs from other ways to structure your literature review in that it does not follow a chronological timeline nor does it attempt to capture all available knowledge. Rather, it uses the literature selectively to craft a novel perspective around specific themes that are important to your research.

When done well, a Thematic Literature Review Example provides an insightful conceptual framework by which to understand the current literature and identify underexplored areas for further study.

Thematic literature review example

This thematic literature review example is based on the topic: “The Role of Social Media in Political Movements and Protests”. The example follows a 6-step thematic literature review process discussed in the Thematic Literature Review.

Step 1: Define your research area and identify key themes

  • For the topic “The Role of Social Media in Political Movements and Protests”, the first step is to clearly define the specific research area you want to focus on within this broader subject. Are you interested in the use of social media for organizing protests? Its impact on the spread of ideologies and misinformation? Governmental responses? Or demographic differences in usage? Narrow it down to a particular angle or question you want to explore in-depth.
  • Once you’ve defined that research area, you need to identify the key themes that will form the organizing framework for your Thematic Literature Review Example. As you survey the existing literature, look for recurring topics, concepts, theories, or methodological approaches that appear frequently. These themes might include the use of social media for mobilization, the digital divide and inequalities, the changing dynamics of modern social movements, concerns around censorship/surveillance, or the psychological effects of online activism.
  • Thoroughly catalog and group these prominent themes – your review will likely focus on 2-3 core themes that are well-represented and can comprehensively cover your defined research area. Identifying themes is crucial, as it allows you to analyze the literature through an insightful conceptual lens rather than just summarizing study after study. With defined themes as your guiding framework, you’re ready for the next steps.

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Step 2: Conduct a comprehensive literature search

Here are some specific search terms and databases that could be utilized when conducting a comprehensive literature search for a Thematic Literature Review Example on “The Role of Social Media in Political Movements and Protests”:

  • Search Terms:
    • “Social media” AND “protests” OR “political movements”
    • “Online activism” OR “digital activism”
    • “Social networking sites” AND “collective action” OR “mobilization”
    • Specific platform names (Twitter, Facebook, etc.) AND “activism” OR “organizing”
    • Names of major protest movements (Arab Spring, Occupy, Black Lives Matter, etc.)
  • Databases:
    • Google Scholar
    • Academic Search Premier
    • Communication & Mass Media Complete
    • Political Science Complete
    • SocINDEX
    • ProQuest Dissertations & Theses
    • JSTOR
    • ScienceDirect
    • Web of Science
    • Scopus
  • Be sure to use a mix of broad terms like “social media protests” as well as more specific phrases related to particular platforms, movements, theories, or research methods. Explore general социological, political science, and communication databases, but also discipline-specific ones based on the key themes.
  • Additionally, check the reference lists of obtained articles and books for other potentially relevant sources. Set wide date ranges but focus on more recent studies from the last 5-10 years given the rapidly evolving nature of social media. This is explained in our Thematic Literature Review Sample.
  • The goal is to accumulate a comprehensive pool of high-quality peer-reviewed articles, books, reports, and other scholarly sources to fully survey the literature for your Thematic Literature Review Example. With thorough searching, you’ll be better equipped for the critical analysis required in the next steps.

Step 3: Critically analyze and group sources by theme

  • In Step 3 of a Thematic Literature Review Example, the sources gathered from the comprehensive literature search are critically analyzed and grouped by theme. Review each source, identifying the key themes, concepts, theories, or methodological approaches being addressed. Note areas of agreement, disagreement, and gaps across the different literature.
  • This is further described in our Example of Thematic Literature Review.
  • Then, organize the sources into thematic groups or categories based on these commonalities. For the social media and protests topic, potential themes could include online mobilization strategies, surveillance and censorship concerns, or theoretical frameworks like networked social movements.
  • Grouping allows you to synthesize and contrast how various studies present each core theme, rather than summarizing individually.

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Step 4: Identify gaps, conflicts, and trends

  • In Step 4 of a Thematic Literature Review Example, after grouping the sources by theme, you should critically identify any gaps, conflicts, or trends that emerge across the literature. Look for areas or perspectives that are underexplored or missing, such as a lack of research on specific social media platforms, demographic groups, or types of movements.
  • Note any contradictory findings or debates between studies on key issues. Additionally, analyze if there are overarching trends in how the research has evolved over time, such as shifting methodologies or new theoretical lenses being applied to the role of social media in protests.
  • Highlighting these gaps, conflicts, and trends demonstrates a comprehensive understanding of the state of knowledge and paves the way for future research directions.

Step 5: Create an organizational structure

  • In Step 5 of crafting a Thematic Literature Review Example, you need to create an organizational structure to logically sequence and present the grouped literature around the core themes identified earlier. One approach is to use a general-to-specific progression, starting with broader overview sections that introduce each theme, followed by more detailed analysis of the specific studies and debates within that thematic category.
  • For example, you may have one section focused on the role of social media in mobilizing and organizing protest movements. This could begin with an overview framing the importance of this theme, key definitions, and background context. Subsequent subsections then drill down into the different mobilization strategies covered in the literature, theoretical frameworks used, major case studies explored, etc.
  • Alternatively, you could structure it by theoretical or methodological lenses, examining how the literature on social media and protests is analyzed through each particular approach. Or organize it chronologically within each theme, tracing how perspectives have evolved over time.
  • The key is to thoughtfully create a coherent narrative flow that allows you to systematically examine the state of knowledge on your topic through the thematic lens, rather than just listing summarized sources one after another.

Step 6: Write and revise with examples and synthesis

This is an example of a thematic literature review organized around 3 core themes related to “The Role of Social Media in Political Movements and Protests.” Each theme contains 3 paragraphs that critically synthesize and analyze the literature with citations:

Theme 1: Social Media for Mobilization and Organizing

The ability to rapidly disseminate information and galvanize masses around a cause has been widely studied as a key function of social media in political movements. Seminal works by Castells (2012) introduced the concept of “networked social movements” enabled by digital communication technologies. Empirical studies have examined how platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Ushahidi have facilitated mobilization during events like the Arab Spring uprisings (Howard et al., 2011; Lotan et al., 2011). However, critiques highlight that social media alone does not cause protests, but rather amplifies existing grievances through new modes of citizen involvement (Agarwal et al., 2012).

A recurring debate centers on whether social media’s role is overstated, as offline interpersonal networks remain crucial (Ghonim, 2012). Wolfsfeld et al. (2013) found that while Facebook united Palestine’s protest base, it lacked organizational resources. Earl et al. (2013) note digital infrastructures do not inherently democratize organizing, as centralized leadership persists. Meanwhile, Tufekci (2017) posits emergent “adhocratic organizing” models and leaderless configurations. Overall, the literature reveals complex entanglements but affirms social media’s mobilizing capacity alongside traditional methods.

Underexplored gaps include analyzing mobilization processes across different movement types, geographies/cultures, and variable digital divides (Dencik & Leistert, 2015). As social media channels rapidly evolve, new research examining novel platform affordances is warranted (Poell & van Dijck, 2018). The field would benefit from longitudinal analyses tracing multi-wave mobilization processes (Steinert-Threlkeld, 2017).

Theme 2: Dissemination of Political Messaging and Ideologies

Alongside mobilization functions, social media has transformed how political ideologies are amplified and disseminated. Digital media ecologies have disrupted traditional information flows, allowing grassroots counternarratives to circumvent elite gatekeepers (Bennett & Segerberg, 2012; Meraz & Papacharissi, 2013). However, these same open channels enable widespread misinformation and polarizing rhetoric to proliferate rapidly (Bradshaw & Howard, 2017; Vargo et al., 2018).

Studies have mapped patterns of partisan “echo chambers” reinforcing shared worldviews and conspiracy theories, particularly during events like elections (Benkler et al., 2018; Starbird, 2017). Yet this insular dynamic is nuanced, as viral falsehoods frequently crossover between ideological silos (Grinberg et al., 2019). While authoritarian regimes leverage “patriotic trolling” (Cheng, 2019), other work shows how protestors creatively contest narratives and claim counter-hegemonic meaning (Yang, 2009).

There remains a need to quantify the actual influence and behavior impacts of exposure to particular messaging, beyond just diffusion metrics (Guess et al., 2020). More research connecting effects to algorithmic amplification processes is warranted (Gillespie, 2018). Novel visual analytics and qualitative work to elucidate the complex socio-technical ideological flows is an emerging frontier (Vis, 2013).

Theme 3: Governmental Responses – Regulation, Censorship, and Surveillance

As social media’s role in political movements has grown, governments have grappled with appropriate regulatory responses. A common tactic is restricting/censoring online spaces, justified as combating hate speech and maintaining order (Pearce, 2015). Case studies have analyzed service disruptions and informational blackouts during protest events, often enabled by cooperation between platforms and authorities (Deibert, 2015; Howard et al., 2011). Yet creative contention persists through encrypted circumvention tools (Gunitsky, 2015).

Authoritarian regimes utilize surveillance to monitor dissent, opening complex considerations around civil liberties (Marczak et al., 2014). But domestic intelligence practices for protest policing are also evident in democracies (Wilson & Serisier, 2010). Critical security studies problematize the “cyber-utopian” view, contending neither total control nor emancipation is inevincible (Deibert & Rohozinski, 2010). Activists’ “digital siege” tactics force accountability and visibility (Tufekci, 2017).

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Future directions include developing frameworks considering technological affordances and state capacity constraints holistically (Pearce & Kendzior, 2012). Comparative analyses across regime types and contextual factors are needed (Howard, 2010). Key knowledge gaps persist around private platform governance models and the impacts of algorithmic content curation (Gillespie, 2018).

This thematic review synthesizes how interdisciplinary scholarship unpacks social media’s multifaceted roles in the complex socio-technical processes surrounding modern political movements. While much insightful work has occurred, the rapidly evolving landscape necessitates continued theoretical and empirical investigation into emerging issues at the intersection of communication technology and collective action.

Frequently Asked Questions on Thematic Literature Review Example

What is a thematic literature review example?

A thematic literature review example is a type of literature review that synthesizes and organizes existing research around central themes or issues, rather than summarizing sources chronologically or comprehensively. It involves identifying recurring concepts, theories, or methodological approaches across the literature to create an insightful conceptual framework for analyzing the topic.

What is thematic analysis in a literature review?

Thematic analysis in a literature review involves carefully reading and analyzing the selected sources to identify prominent themes that connect and provide structure to the review. These themes could relate to theoretical underpinnings, research methods, findings and implications, gaps in knowledge, or other overarching patterns that emerge across the literature.

What is thematic approach in literature?

A thematic approach in literature refers to a way of analyzing literary works by exploring the major themes or central ideas that pervade the text. It involves identifying and examining recurring motifs, concepts, images, and symbols that communicate broader messages, viewpoints, or commentaries beyond just the surface-level narrative.

What is thematic structure in literature?

Thematic structure in literature describes how a piece of writing, like a book, play, or scholarly paper, is organized and structured around key themes. Rather than following a strictly chronological or sequential order, the content is presented and developed based on exploring prominent thematic elements that shape the overall work.

Dr. Robertson Prime, Research Fellow
Dr. Robertson Prime, Research Fellow