When it comes to reformulating/revising/building or cutting up a doctoral dissertation into a more accessible book, how one handles the review of the literature is not so straightforward – so I am finding.
The Literature Review chapter of a PhD serves a certain purpose. It situates your research focus within the context of a wider academic community in your field, and is the foundational basis upon which you build your rationale. It also reports your critical review of other work, among other things. But how do you turn that into a chapter of a more accessible book?
I asked a few well-established academics, and below are their responses:
You are no longer writing for the nit-picking examiner – now it is aimed at interested fellow colleagues and enthusiastic students.
A discussion of the literature relevant to the theme of the book, not an exhaustive study of everything done in the field.
Overview the main debates, but without the pressure to argue from first principles.
Plan it round the key themes needed to situate the book.
Often thesis reviews are a bit turgid in style giving the fine details of methodology or significance levels to back up the studies covered and demonstrate they are valid.
You can afford to be a bit bolder in a book and you don’t have to go back and justify everything from first principles.
How has the field got to this point? Talk about the different perspectives on the topic and the logics that they draw from – in a manner that would be useful to a new, more general audience.
This is a shift in position, and allows you to be more selective, and leave things out if something doesn’t fit the story-line that you’re aiming for.
Keep it theory grounded, but less theorist grounded.