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How to Write Literature Review

how to write a literature review

As a literature review is a typical academic task, students ought to know how to complete it. Before we familiarize you with how to write literature review, you need to find out what makes this writing piece different from others. In its essence, a literature review is an overview of scholarly sources on a particular topic. In accordance with a common literature review definition, the following paper aims to provide an overview of current knowledge, theories, and methods, which is necessary for studying the specific subject.

Why Write a Literature Review?

A literature review is a part of a lengthy academic paper, including a thesis or a dissertation. This chapter is to demonstrate the author`s understanding of the existing knowledge. When working on this chapter, you will need to give credit to all authors showing their contributions to the investigation of your topic.

What Is the Aim of a Paper?

A literature review chapter plays an important role as it:

  • Develops a theoretical framework for your methodology;
  • Demonstrates your familiarity with the context;
  • Positions your work in regard to other theorists and scholars;
  • Fills in the gap in existing research;
  • Evaluates the current research state.

As you can see, this chapter is very important. If you lack appropriate literature review writing skills, you will definitely take advantage of studying our efficient tips and practices.

Find Efficient Examples Online

There are various types of literature reviews. Before you start working on your paper, you need to understand what kind of review you are to write. For instance, you may have to complete an annotated bibliography. Basically, it is a compilation of the summaries in which you need to mention the main issues of the sources under study. If you are unsure what this document looks like, you may search for the well-written examples of annotated bibliographies on the web.

If you have to write a literature review section of a lengthy project such as a dissertation, you will need not only to provide the main issues of the sources but also to show the relationships between the materials and key themes.

Please note that a literature review is an evidence-based document that follows a standard protocol. This means that you need to support your statements with appropriate text-based evidence. When writing your document, you need to pay attention to the following:

  • The search parameters;
  • Databases used;
  • Methodology;
  • Key criteria for choosing the sources.

When working on your document, you need to follow the literature review format mentioned in your prompt. Thus, we strongly recommend you familiarize yourself with the guidelines and instructions provided by your tutor. In particular, it will help you find clear answers to such questions as: how long should a literature review be, how many sources ought it to include, etc.

Literature Review Writing Guide

Step 1. Identify the problem. First and foremost, it is necessary to define the problem to work with. Please note that the choice of the problem will influence the entire writing process. Thus, you need to choose a neither too broad nor too narrow subject. If you experience any difficulties with choosing a topic for your paper, you may ask your tutor for assistance. The best topics for literature review are always relevant, engaging, and informative.

Step 2. Find appropriate sources. Next, you need to go to a library or find an online datable and locate academic sources. To add accuracy to your work, you need to select the most credible, up-to-date, and authoritative sources. Make sure to note reference information of these sources as it will help you create an accurate reference list. When looking for sources, make sure to use the methods indicated below:

  • Metadata. Find the necessary material by author, date of publication, or location;
  • Semantic. Make sure to remove the words that differ by their meaning but are spelled the same;
  • Evidence-grading. Apply a quality filter. For instance, look for opinion-based, peer-reviewed, or rhetorical sources;
  • Accessibility. Locate the articles that you can easily access.

Let us have a closer look at what sources you may use for writing your literature review:

  • Books;
  • Journal articles;
  • Governmental reports;
  • Historical records
  • Statistical information;
  • Dissertations;
  • Newspaper articles.

Step 3. Analyze your sources. Once you have located the necessary sources, you will need to investigate them. This means that you need to study them in a proper way paying attention to the similarities and differences of the approaches taken.

When analyzing the sources, make sure to answer the following questions:

  • What are the specific features of the source under study?
  • Are there any gaps in the approaches taken by the authors?
  • What are the most significant research results you have obtained?
  • What methodological approaches work better than others?

Structure Your Literature Review

There are many different ways to structure your document. Let`s have a closer look at the traditional literature review structure used by many scholars:

  1. Introduction. In the introductory part, you need to define your subject and explain the reasons why you have chosen it. You can also include some background information to help your audience understand your subject better;
  2. Body. You may organize the main body of your paper in accordance with one of the methods mentioned below:
  • Chronologically. You may analyze the theories and approaches depending on their date of appearance;
  • Thematically. You may group the theories by their themes;
  • Methodologically. You may organize your sources in accordance with the methods used by researchers;

As well as in any other lengthy paper, you will need to include appropriate headings and subheadings to make your paper easy to navigate.

  1. Conclusion. In the final part of your literature review, you will need to summarize the contributions of other researchers evaluating their main benefits and shortcomings. Pay attention that you do not need to add new information in the final part of your paper.

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