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- How to Write a Literature Review | Guide, Examples, & Templates
How to Write a Literature Review | Guide, Examples, & Templates
Published on January 2, 2023 by Shona McCombes . Revised on September 11, 2023.
What is a literature review? A literature review is a survey of scholarly sources on a specific topic. It provides an overview of current knowledge, allowing you to identify relevant theories, methods, and gaps in the existing research that you can later apply to your paper, thesis, or dissertation topic .
There are five key steps to writing a literature review:
- Search for relevant literature
- Evaluate sources
- Identify themes, debates, and gaps
- Outline the structure
- Write your literature review
A good literature review doesn’t just summarize sources—it analyzes, synthesizes , and critically evaluates to give a clear picture of the state of knowledge on the subject.
Table of contents
What is the purpose of a literature review, examples of literature reviews, step 1 – search for relevant literature, step 2 – evaluate and select sources, step 3 – identify themes, debates, and gaps, step 4 – outline your literature review’s structure, step 5 – write your literature review, free lecture slides, other interesting articles, frequently asked questions, introduction.
- Quick Run-through
- Step 1 & 2
When you write a thesis , dissertation , or research paper , you will likely have to conduct a literature review to situate your research within existing knowledge. The literature review gives you a chance to:
- Demonstrate your familiarity with the topic and its scholarly context
- Develop a theoretical framework and methodology for your research
- Position your work in relation to other researchers and theorists
- Show how your research addresses a gap or contributes to a debate
- Evaluate the current state of research and demonstrate your knowledge of the scholarly debates around your topic.
Writing literature reviews is a particularly important skill if you want to apply for graduate school or pursue a career in research. We’ve written a step-by-step guide that you can follow below.
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Writing literature reviews can be quite challenging! A good starting point could be to look at some examples, depending on what kind of literature review you’d like to write.
- Example literature review #1: “Why Do People Migrate? A Review of the Theoretical Literature” ( Theoretical literature review about the development of economic migration theory from the 1950s to today.)
- Example literature review #2: “Literature review as a research methodology: An overview and guidelines” ( Methodological literature review about interdisciplinary knowledge acquisition and production.)
- Example literature review #3: “The Use of Technology in English Language Learning: A Literature Review” ( Thematic literature review about the effects of technology on language acquisition.)
- Example literature review #4: “Learners’ Listening Comprehension Difficulties in English Language Learning: A Literature Review” ( Chronological literature review about how the concept of listening skills has changed over time.)
You can also check out our templates with literature review examples and sample outlines at the links below.
Download Word doc Download Google doc
Before you begin searching for literature, you need a clearly defined topic .
If you are writing the literature review section of a dissertation or research paper, you will search for literature related to your research problem and questions .
Make a list of keywords
Start by creating a list of keywords related to your research question. Include each of the key concepts or variables you’re interested in, and list any synonyms and related terms. You can add to this list as you discover new keywords in the process of your literature search.
- Social media, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, TikTok
- Body image, self-perception, self-esteem, mental health
- Generation Z, teenagers, adolescents, youth
Search for relevant sources
Use your keywords to begin searching for sources. Some useful databases to search for journals and articles include:
- Your university’s library catalogue
- Google Scholar
- Project Muse (humanities and social sciences)
- Medline (life sciences and biomedicine)
- EconLit (economics)
- Inspec (physics, engineering and computer science)
You can also use boolean operators to help narrow down your search.
Make sure to read the abstract to find out whether an article is relevant to your question. When you find a useful book or article, you can check the bibliography to find other relevant sources.
You likely won’t be able to read absolutely everything that has been written on your topic, so it will be necessary to evaluate which sources are most relevant to your research question.
For each publication, ask yourself:
- What question or problem is the author addressing?
- What are the key concepts and how are they defined?
- What are the key theories, models, and methods?
- Does the research use established frameworks or take an innovative approach?
- What are the results and conclusions of the study?
- How does the publication relate to other literature in the field? Does it confirm, add to, or challenge established knowledge?
- What are the strengths and weaknesses of the research?
Make sure the sources you use are credible , and make sure you read any landmark studies and major theories in your field of research.
You can use our template to summarize and evaluate sources you’re thinking about using. Click on either button below to download.
Take notes and cite your sources
As you read, you should also begin the writing process. Take notes that you can later incorporate into the text of your literature review.
It is important to keep track of your sources with citations to avoid plagiarism . It can be helpful to make an annotated bibliography , where you compile full citation information and write a paragraph of summary and analysis for each source. This helps you remember what you read and saves time later in the process.
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To begin organizing your literature review’s argument and structure, be sure you understand the connections and relationships between the sources you’ve read. Based on your reading and notes, you can look for:
- Trends and patterns (in theory, method or results): do certain approaches become more or less popular over time?
- Themes: what questions or concepts recur across the literature?
- Debates, conflicts and contradictions: where do sources disagree?
- Pivotal publications: are there any influential theories or studies that changed the direction of the field?
- Gaps: what is missing from the literature? Are there weaknesses that need to be addressed?
This step will help you work out the structure of your literature review and (if applicable) show how your own research will contribute to existing knowledge.
- Most research has focused on young women.
- There is an increasing interest in the visual aspects of social media.
- But there is still a lack of robust research on highly visual platforms like Instagram and Snapchat—this is a gap that you could address in your own research.
There are various approaches to organizing the body of a literature review. Depending on the length of your literature review, you can combine several of these strategies (for example, your overall structure might be thematic, but each theme is discussed chronologically).
The simplest approach is to trace the development of the topic over time. However, if you choose this strategy, be careful to avoid simply listing and summarizing sources in order.
Try to analyze patterns, turning points and key debates that have shaped the direction of the field. Give your interpretation of how and why certain developments occurred.
If you have found some recurring central themes, you can organize your literature review into subsections that address different aspects of the topic.
For example, if you are reviewing literature about inequalities in migrant health outcomes, key themes might include healthcare policy, language barriers, cultural attitudes, legal status, and economic access.
If you draw your sources from different disciplines or fields that use a variety of research methods , you might want to compare the results and conclusions that emerge from different approaches. For example:
- Look at what results have emerged in qualitative versus quantitative research
- Discuss how the topic has been approached by empirical versus theoretical scholarship
- Divide the literature into sociological, historical, and cultural sources
A literature review is often the foundation for a theoretical framework . You can use it to discuss various theories, models, and definitions of key concepts.
You might argue for the relevance of a specific theoretical approach, or combine various theoretical concepts to create a framework for your research.
Like any other academic text , your literature review should have an introduction , a main body, and a conclusion . What you include in each depends on the objective of your literature review.
The introduction should clearly establish the focus and purpose of the literature review.
Depending on the length of your literature review, you might want to divide the body into subsections. You can use a subheading for each theme, time period, or methodological approach.
As you write, you can follow these tips:
- Summarize and synthesize: give an overview of the main points of each source and combine them into a coherent whole
- Analyze and interpret: don’t just paraphrase other researchers — add your own interpretations where possible, discussing the significance of findings in relation to the literature as a whole
- Critically evaluate: mention the strengths and weaknesses of your sources
- Write in well-structured paragraphs: use transition words and topic sentences to draw connections, comparisons and contrasts
In the conclusion, you should summarize the key findings you have taken from the literature and emphasize their significance.
When you’ve finished writing and revising your literature review, don’t forget to proofread thoroughly before submitting. Not a language expert? Check out Scribbr’s professional proofreading services !
This article has been adapted into lecture slides that you can use to teach your students about writing a literature review.
Scribbr slides are free to use, customize, and distribute for educational purposes.
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If you want to know more about the research process , methodology , research bias , or statistics , make sure to check out some of our other articles with explanations and examples.
- Sampling methods
- Simple random sampling
- Stratified sampling
- Cluster sampling
- Likert scales
- Null hypothesis
- Statistical power
- Probability distribution
- Effect size
- Poisson distribution
- Optimism bias
- Cognitive bias
- Implicit bias
- Hawthorne effect
- Anchoring bias
- Explicit bias
A literature review is a survey of scholarly sources (such as books, journal articles, and theses) related to a specific topic or research question .
It is often written as part of a thesis, dissertation , or research paper , in order to situate your work in relation to existing knowledge.
There are several reasons to conduct a literature review at the beginning of a research project:
- To familiarize yourself with the current state of knowledge on your topic
- To ensure that you’re not just repeating what others have already done
- To identify gaps in knowledge and unresolved problems that your research can address
- To develop your theoretical framework and methodology
- To provide an overview of the key findings and debates on the topic
Writing the literature review shows your reader how your work relates to existing research and what new insights it will contribute.
The literature review usually comes near the beginning of your thesis or dissertation . After the introduction , it grounds your research in a scholarly field and leads directly to your theoretical framework or methodology .
A literature review is a survey of credible sources on a topic, often used in dissertations , theses, and research papers . Literature reviews give an overview of knowledge on a subject, helping you identify relevant theories and methods, as well as gaps in existing research. Literature reviews are set up similarly to other academic texts , with an introduction , a main body, and a conclusion .
An annotated bibliography is a list of source references that has a short description (called an annotation ) for each of the sources. It is often assigned as part of the research process for a paper .
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A literature review is a document or section of a document that collects key sources on a topic and discusses those sources in conversation with each other (also called synthesis ). The lit review is an important genre in many disciplines, not just literature (i.e., the study of works of literature such as novels and plays). When we say “literature review” or refer to “the literature,” we are talking about the research ( scholarship ) in a given field. You will often see the terms “the research,” “the scholarship,” and “the literature” used mostly interchangeably.
Where, when, and why would I write a lit review?
There are a number of different situations where you might write a literature review, each with slightly different expectations; different disciplines, too, have field-specific expectations for what a literature review is and does. For instance, in the humanities, authors might include more overt argumentation and interpretation of source material in their literature reviews, whereas in the sciences, authors are more likely to report study designs and results in their literature reviews; these differences reflect these disciplines’ purposes and conventions in scholarship. You should always look at examples from your own discipline and talk to professors or mentors in your field to be sure you understand your discipline’s conventions, for literature reviews as well as for any other genre.
A literature review can be a part of a research paper or scholarly article, usually falling after the introduction and before the research methods sections. In these cases, the lit review just needs to cover scholarship that is important to the issue you are writing about; sometimes it will also cover key sources that informed your research methodology.
Lit reviews can also be standalone pieces, either as assignments in a class or as publications. In a class, a lit review may be assigned to help students familiarize themselves with a topic and with scholarship in their field, get an idea of the other researchers working on the topic they’re interested in, find gaps in existing research in order to propose new projects, and/or develop a theoretical framework and methodology for later research. As a publication, a lit review usually is meant to help make other scholars’ lives easier by collecting and summarizing, synthesizing, and analyzing existing research on a topic. This can be especially helpful for students or scholars getting into a new research area, or for directing an entire community of scholars toward questions that have not yet been answered.
What are the parts of a lit review?
Most lit reviews use a basic introduction-body-conclusion structure; if your lit review is part of a larger paper, the introduction and conclusion pieces may be just a few sentences while you focus most of your attention on the body. If your lit review is a standalone piece, the introduction and conclusion take up more space and give you a place to discuss your goals, research methods, and conclusions separately from where you discuss the literature itself.
- An introductory paragraph that explains what your working topic and thesis is
- A forecast of key topics or texts that will appear in the review
- Potentially, a description of how you found sources and how you analyzed them for inclusion and discussion in the review (more often found in published, standalone literature reviews than in lit review sections in an article or research paper)
- Summarize and synthesize: Give an overview of the main points of each source and combine them into a coherent whole
- Analyze and interpret: Don’t just paraphrase other researchers – add your own interpretations where possible, discussing the significance of findings in relation to the literature as a whole
- Critically Evaluate: Mention the strengths and weaknesses of your sources
- Write in well-structured paragraphs: Use transition words and topic sentence to draw connections, comparisons, and contrasts.
- Summarize the key findings you have taken from the literature and emphasize their significance
- Connect it back to your primary research question
How should I organize my lit review?
Lit reviews can take many different organizational patterns depending on what you are trying to accomplish with the review. Here are some examples:
- Chronological : The simplest approach is to trace the development of the topic over time, which helps familiarize the audience with the topic (for instance if you are introducing something that is not commonly known in your field). If you choose this strategy, be careful to avoid simply listing and summarizing sources in order. Try to analyze the patterns, turning points, and key debates that have shaped the direction of the field. Give your interpretation of how and why certain developments occurred (as mentioned previously, this may not be appropriate in your discipline — check with a teacher or mentor if you’re unsure).
- Thematic : If you have found some recurring central themes that you will continue working with throughout your piece, you can organize your literature review into subsections that address different aspects of the topic. For example, if you are reviewing literature about women and religion, key themes can include the role of women in churches and the religious attitude towards women.
- Qualitative versus quantitative research
- Empirical versus theoretical scholarship
- Divide the research by sociological, historical, or cultural sources
- Theoretical : In many humanities articles, the literature review is the foundation for the theoretical framework. You can use it to discuss various theories, models, and definitions of key concepts. You can argue for the relevance of a specific theoretical approach or combine various theorical concepts to create a framework for your research.
What are some strategies or tips I can use while writing my lit review?
Any lit review is only as good as the research it discusses; make sure your sources are well-chosen and your research is thorough. Don’t be afraid to do more research if you discover a new thread as you’re writing. More info on the research process is available in our "Conducting Research" resources .
As you’re doing your research, create an annotated bibliography ( see our page on the this type of document ). Much of the information used in an annotated bibliography can be used also in a literature review, so you’ll be not only partially drafting your lit review as you research, but also developing your sense of the larger conversation going on among scholars, professionals, and any other stakeholders in your topic.
Usually you will need to synthesize research rather than just summarizing it. This means drawing connections between sources to create a picture of the scholarly conversation on a topic over time. Many student writers struggle to synthesize because they feel they don’t have anything to add to the scholars they are citing; here are some strategies to help you:
- It often helps to remember that the point of these kinds of syntheses is to show your readers how you understand your research, to help them read the rest of your paper.
- Writing teachers often say synthesis is like hosting a dinner party: imagine all your sources are together in a room, discussing your topic. What are they saying to each other?
- Look at the in-text citations in each paragraph. Are you citing just one source for each paragraph? This usually indicates summary only. When you have multiple sources cited in a paragraph, you are more likely to be synthesizing them (not always, but often
- Read more about synthesis here.
The most interesting literature reviews are often written as arguments (again, as mentioned at the beginning of the page, this is discipline-specific and doesn’t work for all situations). Often, the literature review is where you can establish your research as filling a particular gap or as relevant in a particular way. You have some chance to do this in your introduction in an article, but the literature review section gives a more extended opportunity to establish the conversation in the way you would like your readers to see it. You can choose the intellectual lineage you would like to be part of and whose definitions matter most to your thinking (mostly humanities-specific, but this goes for sciences as well). In addressing these points, you argue for your place in the conversation, which tends to make the lit review more compelling than a simple reporting of other sources.
- Steps for Conducting a Lit Review
- Finding "The Literature"
- Sample Literature Reviews
- FAMU Writing Center
Sample Lit Reviews from Communication Arts
- Literature Review Sample 1
- Literature Review Sample 2
- Literature Review Sample 3
- << Previous: MLA Style
- Next: FAMU Writing Center >>
- Last Updated: Oct 20, 2022 11:24 AM
- URL: https://library.famu.edu/literaturereview
Evidence-Based Practice (EBP)
- The EBP Process
- Forming a Clinical Question
- Inclusion & Exclusion Criteria
- Acquiring Evidence
- Appraising the Quality of the Evidence
- Writing a Literature Review
- NEW! Finding Psychological Tests & Assessment Instruments
What Is a Literature Review?
A literature review is an integrated analysis of scholarly writings that are related directly to your research question. Put simply, it's a critical evaluation of what's already been written on a particular topic . It represents the literature that provides background information on your topic and shows a connection between those writings and your research question.
A literature review may be a stand-alone work or the introduction to a larger research paper, depending on the assignment. Rely heavily on the guidelines your instructor has given you.
What a Literature Review Is Not:
- A list or summary of sources
- An annotated bibliography
- A grouping of broad, unrelated sources
- A compilation of everything that has been written on a particular topic
- Literary criticism (think English) or a book review
Why Literature Reviews Are Important
- They explain the background of research on a topic
- They demonstrate why a topic is significant to a subject area
- They discover relationships between research studies/ideas
- They identify major themes, concepts, and researchers on a topic
- They identify critical gaps and points of disagreement
- They discuss further research questions that logically come out of the previous studies
To Learn More about Conducting and Writing a Lit Review . . .
Monash University (in Australia) has created several extremely helpful, interactive tutorials.
- The Stand-Alone Literature Review, https://www.monash.edu/rlo/assignment-samples/science/stand-alone-literature-review
- Researching for Your Literature Review, https://guides.lib.monash.edu/researching-for-your-literature-review/home
- Writing a Literature Review, https://www.monash.edu/rlo/graduate-research-writing/write-the-thesis/writing-a-literature-review
Keep Track of Your Sources!
A citation manager can be helpful way to work with large numbers of citations. See UMSL Libraries' Citing Sources guide for more information. Personally, I highly recommend Zotero —it's free, easy to use, and versatile. If you need help getting started with Zotero or one of the other citation managers, please contact a librarian.
- << Previous: Appraising the Quality of the Evidence
- Next: NEW! Finding Psychological Tests & Assessment Instruments >>
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A literature review may form an assignment by itself, in which case the aim is to summarise the key research relating to your topic. Alternatively, it may form part of a larger paper, such as a thesis or a research report, in which case the aim is to explain why more research needs to be done on your chosen topic.
Process of a literature review
click on each process for more information
1. Deciding on a research question or topic
Whether you’ve been given a topic by your teacher, or you’ve been asked to decide upon your own topic or research question, it’s best to rephrase the topic as a specific question that you’re attempting to answer.
If your purpose is to summarise the existing research on the topic, it may be quite appropriate to have a very broad question, such as the example below.
If your purpose is to justify the need to conduct further primary research, you will need a more specific research question which takes into account how the existing research has failed to adequately answer the question you’re planning to address.
This question allows the writer to narrow the focus of their literature review and, hopefully, find gaps in the amount or type of research conducted into this very specific topic. Sometimes you may start with a broader topic or question, then conduct some initial research into the existing literature, and then narrow the focus of your research question based on what you find.
2. Searching the literature
When searching for relevant sources, it’s important to first decide the criteria you will use when trying to find existing research. This includes setting the scope of your research to decide what is important and why.
- your discipline
- the purpose of your research
- the amount of research that has been conducted on that topic
- the speed with which findings are considered no longer valid
- Which databases will you use? What types of journals are considered acceptable? Speaking with your teacher, and with a Librarian from UTS Library, can help you make these decisions.
- Are you focusing on research relating to a particular country, and if so, why?
- Are you focusing on particular research methods or specific theoretical approaches? If so, you need to explain to the reader what they are and why you have made these decisions.
3. Taking notes
What notes you take depends on your research question. Knowing what you’re trying to achieve or what question you’re trying to answer will help you choose what to focus on when reading the literature. Common aspects to look out for when reading include:
- the main research findings
- the researchers’ claims (usually based on their interpretation of the findings)
- where, when and how the research was conducted
- the scope and/or limitations of the research being reviewed
Remember to also take notes about your own response to the literature. If you see weaknesses in a particular study, or assumptions being made when interpreting the findings of a study, make a note of it, as your critical analysis of the literature is a key aspect of a literature review.
4. Grouping your materials
Before drafting your literature review, it’s useful to group together your sources according to theme. A good literature review is not structured based on having one paragraph for each paper that you review. Instead, paragraphs are based on topics or themes that have been identified when conducting your research, with various sources synthesised within each paragraph.
How you decide on your groupings will depend on the purpose of your literature review. You may be clear on this before you begin researching, or your themes may emerge during the research process. Examples can include:
- the methodology used to conduct the research
- the theoretical perspective used by the researchers
- themes identified when analysing the various research findings
- opinions presented by the researchers based on their analysis of the findings
5. Writing the review
Your literature review should tell some sort of story. After reading the various studies published on your topic, are you able to clearly answer your initial research question? If so, was it an answer you were expecting, and what evidence was most useful in helping you answer the question. If there is no clear answer to your question, is that because:
- not enough research has been conducted on the topic?
- the findings of the various studies are contradictory or inconclusive?
- the results are too dependent on a specific context?
- there are too many variables to consider?
Whatever you decide, you need to explain this clearly to your reader, guiding them through how you got to your answer by explaining what you were looking for and what connections you found when looking through the existing literature.
Structure of a literature review
The introduction is usually one paragraph in a short literature review, or series of paragraphs in a longer review, outlining:
- the content being covered,
- the structure (or how the review is organised), and
- the scope of what will be covered.
- Literature reviews are usually organised so that each paragraph or section covers one theme or sub-topic.
- Each section ends with a brief summary which relates this theme to the main focus of the research area.
The conclusion summarises the main themes that were identified when reviewing the literature.
Click on each component for more information and some examples
- the limits of what will be covered.
Example introduction to a literature review
 Education is one aspect of society that everyone has experienced, and that everyone therefore has an opinion about. However, despite decades of research into pedagogical approaches to education, there is still surprisingly little consensus regarding how learning and teaching should be conducted in order to be most effective. This is especially true with regards to critical pedagogy, which can be defined as the theory and practice of helping students achieve critical consciousness about what they are learning, how they are learning it, and the context which shapes both of these aspects (Windsor, 2018).  The purpose of this literature review is to demonstrate the lack of analytical approaches to teaching in the higher education sphere, and the importance of critical pedagogy in enhancing curriculum development, teacher training and classroom practice. When reviewing the literature, it soon becomes clear that research studies in the ESL field are dominated by language instruction techniques, with less attention given to ways teachers can adopt a more critical stance with their learners (Pennycook 1999; Saroub & Quadros 2015).  For the purposes of this review , respected ESL and Adult Education journals, online publications, unpublished theses and academic books from the late 1980s to 2016 will be examined, with a coverage of sources from Australia, the US, Asia, the Middle East and South America. Pennycook (1994, 1999), Giroux (1988) and Freire (1970) are commonly cited in these research studies. It is rare to find authors or research questioning the value of critical pedagogy; Ellsworth (1989) and Johnson (1999) are notable exceptions.  This literature review covers two main areas. Firstly, research into what pre-service and existing teachers know and think about critical pedagogy is examined. The second area investigates teacher and student resistance to some critical teaching practices.
Rather than writing one paragraph for each piece of research being discussed, literature reviews are usually organised so that each paragraph (or section) covers one theme or sub-topic. These themes will differ depending on your topic and your purpose, but may relate to:
- different theoretical perspectives on your topic
- different ways of conducting research on the topic
- different sub-topics within the broader topic
Each section ends with a brief summary which relates this theme to the main focus of the research area. It may do this by focusing on parts of the topic where the literature agrees or disagrees. The body paragraphs should be well organised and structured. See our resources on effective paragraph writing .
Example body paragraph from a literature review
 Resistance to change is another area that was found to restrict the adoption of critical teaching practices in the ESL area.  Canh and Barnard’s small case study (2009) of Vietnamese teachers’ capacity to take on a national curriculum change directed by the Vietnamese government found implementation was different from the ‘idealised world of innovation designers’ (p. 30). While also recommending better teacher training, they cited the need for an adjustment of teachers’ belief systems to make change happen, since an individual’s practice ‘behind the closed doors of their classroom’ (p. 21) is a largely unobserved space, despite mandated curriculum changes.  Similarly, resistance and avoidance among EFL teachers was noted by Cox & De Assis–Peterson’s Brazilian study (1999). They found that teachers often avoided political language questions from students, for example, ‘Why should we learn English if we’re Brazilian?’  This suggests that any uptake of critical practices may be more dependent on teacher attitudes, reflecting their internal reality, than on external factors.
Example conclusion from a literature review
 This review of relevant literature has quite clearly shown a lack of understanding of critical pedagogy among a range of teachers, despite the strong likelihood of it being included in their training.  It also demonstrated that many teachers used avoidance when faced with difficult topics or situations related to critical language education.  Calls for curriculum changes, better training and more teaching materials were common in research recommendations, and it may be that teachers’ personal attitudes also play an important role in changing classroom practice.
If the literature review is part of a larger research project, the conclusion should also summarise any gaps in the existing literature, and use this to justify the need for your own proposed research project. The types of gaps in the existing literature may relate to:
- a lack of research into a particular aspect of the topic, or
- the fact that existing evidence is conflicting or inconclusive, and therefore more evidence is required to help provide conclusive evidence, or
- problems in the methodology used in previous research, meaning that a different research method is required.
Literature review as an individual assignment
If the purpose of your literature review is to summarise the existing literature on a topic, you will be expected to:
- summarise the most important (or most recent) literature on your specified topic
- discuss any common themes that emerge in the literature, such as similar types of research that have been conducted, similar findings from the research, or similar interpretations of the findings
- discuss any differences in the research findings or interpretation of evidence from the literature
- Does the author make any assumptions that weaken their claims?
- Are the author’s claims supported by adequate evidence?
- Was the research conducted in a way that is valid and credible?
- Is there anything missing from their discussion of the topic?
Literature review as part of a thesis or research report
If your literature review is part of a thesis or research report, as well as doing everything listed above, you will also need to:
- discuss ‘gaps’ in the current literature, which means finding important areas of research that have not yet been adequately covered, or for which further evidence is still required
- explain the significance of your research
- show how your work builds on previous research
- show how your work can be differentiated from previous research (i.e. what makes your research different from previous studies that have been done on this topic?)
Verb tense in literature Reviews
Always consider the verb tense when presenting a review of previously published work. There are three main verb tenses used in literature reviews. Please click on each occasion to check which verb tense is appropriate.
1. Describing a particular study
When describing a particular study or piece of research (or the researchers who conducted it), it is common to use past tense .
After conducting a meta-review of studies on effective exam preparation techniques, Wang & Li (2016) concluded that ….
2. Giving opinions about a study
If you are sharing your own views about a previous study, or conveying the views of other experts, then present tense is more common.
Although the research conducted by Lopez et al. (2017) was an important contribution to the field, their claims are too strong given the lack of supporting evidence.
3. Making generalisations
If you are making generalisations about past research, present perfect tense is used.
Several researchers have studied the effects of stress on very young children (Baggio, 2014; Suarez, 2017; Van Djik et al., 2020).
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What this handout is about.
This handout will explain what literature reviews are and offer insights into the form and construction of literature reviews in the humanities, social sciences, and sciences.
OK. You’ve got to write a literature review. You dust off a novel and a book of poetry, settle down in your chair, and get ready to issue a “thumbs up” or “thumbs down” as you leaf through the pages. “Literature review” done. Right?
Wrong! The “literature” of a literature review refers to any collection of materials on a topic, not necessarily the great literary texts of the world. “Literature” could be anything from a set of government pamphlets on British colonial methods in Africa to scholarly articles on the treatment of a torn ACL. And a review does not necessarily mean that your reader wants you to give your personal opinion on whether or not you liked these sources.
What is a literature review, then?
A literature review discusses published information in a particular subject area, and sometimes information in a particular subject area within a certain time period.
A literature review can be just a simple summary of the sources, but it usually has an organizational pattern and combines both summary and synthesis. A summary is a recap of the important information of the source, but a synthesis is a re-organization, or a reshuffling, of that information. It might give a new interpretation of old material or combine new with old interpretations. Or it might trace the intellectual progression of the field, including major debates. And depending on the situation, the literature review may evaluate the sources and advise the reader on the most pertinent or relevant.
But how is a literature review different from an academic research paper?
The main focus of an academic research paper is to develop a new argument, and a research paper is likely to contain a literature review as one of its parts. In a research paper, you use the literature as a foundation and as support for a new insight that you contribute. The focus of a literature review, however, is to summarize and synthesize the arguments and ideas of others without adding new contributions.
Why do we write literature reviews?
Literature reviews provide you with a handy guide to a particular topic. If you have limited time to conduct research, literature reviews can give you an overview or act as a stepping stone. For professionals, they are useful reports that keep them up to date with what is current in the field. For scholars, the depth and breadth of the literature review emphasizes the credibility of the writer in his or her field. Literature reviews also provide a solid background for a research paper’s investigation. Comprehensive knowledge of the literature of the field is essential to most research papers.
Who writes these things, anyway?
Literature reviews are written occasionally in the humanities, but mostly in the sciences and social sciences; in experiment and lab reports, they constitute a section of the paper. Sometimes a literature review is written as a paper in itself.
Let’s get to it! What should I do before writing the literature review?
If your assignment is not very specific, seek clarification from your instructor:
- Roughly how many sources should you include?
- What types of sources (books, journal articles, websites)?
- Should you summarize, synthesize, or critique your sources by discussing a common theme or issue?
- Should you evaluate your sources?
- Should you provide subheadings and other background information, such as definitions and/or a history?
Look for other literature reviews in your area of interest or in the discipline and read them to get a sense of the types of themes you might want to look for in your own research or ways to organize your final review. You can simply put the word “review” in your search engine along with your other topic terms to find articles of this type on the Internet or in an electronic database. The bibliography or reference section of sources you’ve already read are also excellent entry points into your own research.
Narrow your topic
There are hundreds or even thousands of articles and books on most areas of study. The narrower your topic, the easier it will be to limit the number of sources you need to read in order to get a good survey of the material. Your instructor will probably not expect you to read everything that’s out there on the topic, but you’ll make your job easier if you first limit your scope.
Keep in mind that UNC Libraries have research guides and to databases relevant to many fields of study. You can reach out to the subject librarian for a consultation: https://library.unc.edu/support/consultations/ .
And don’t forget to tap into your professor’s (or other professors’) knowledge in the field. Ask your professor questions such as: “If you had to read only one book from the 90’s on topic X, what would it be?” Questions such as this help you to find and determine quickly the most seminal pieces in the field.
Consider whether your sources are current
Some disciplines require that you use information that is as current as possible. In the sciences, for instance, treatments for medical problems are constantly changing according to the latest studies. Information even two years old could be obsolete. However, if you are writing a review in the humanities, history, or social sciences, a survey of the history of the literature may be what is needed, because what is important is how perspectives have changed through the years or within a certain time period. Try sorting through some other current bibliographies or literature reviews in the field to get a sense of what your discipline expects. You can also use this method to consider what is currently of interest to scholars in this field and what is not.
Strategies for writing the literature review
Find a focus.
A literature review, like a term paper, is usually organized around ideas, not the sources themselves as an annotated bibliography would be organized. This means that you will not just simply list your sources and go into detail about each one of them, one at a time. No. As you read widely but selectively in your topic area, consider instead what themes or issues connect your sources together. Do they present one or different solutions? Is there an aspect of the field that is missing? How well do they present the material and do they portray it according to an appropriate theory? Do they reveal a trend in the field? A raging debate? Pick one of these themes to focus the organization of your review.
Convey it to your reader
A literature review may not have a traditional thesis statement (one that makes an argument), but you do need to tell readers what to expect. Try writing a simple statement that lets the reader know what is your main organizing principle. Here are a couple of examples:
The current trend in treatment for congestive heart failure combines surgery and medicine. More and more cultural studies scholars are accepting popular media as a subject worthy of academic consideration.
You’ve got a focus, and you’ve stated it clearly and directly. Now what is the most effective way of presenting the information? What are the most important topics, subtopics, etc., that your review needs to include? And in what order should you present them? Develop an organization for your review at both a global and local level:
First, cover the basic categories
Just like most academic papers, literature reviews also must contain at least three basic elements: an introduction or background information section; the body of the review containing the discussion of sources; and, finally, a conclusion and/or recommendations section to end the paper. The following provides a brief description of the content of each:
- Introduction: Gives a quick idea of the topic of the literature review, such as the central theme or organizational pattern.
- Body: Contains your discussion of sources and is organized either chronologically, thematically, or methodologically (see below for more information on each).
- Conclusions/Recommendations: Discuss what you have drawn from reviewing literature so far. Where might the discussion proceed?
Organizing the body
Once you have the basic categories in place, then you must consider how you will present the sources themselves within the body of your paper. Create an organizational method to focus this section even further.
To help you come up with an overall organizational framework for your review, consider the following scenario:
You’ve decided to focus your literature review on materials dealing with sperm whales. This is because you’ve just finished reading Moby Dick, and you wonder if that whale’s portrayal is really real. You start with some articles about the physiology of sperm whales in biology journals written in the 1980’s. But these articles refer to some British biological studies performed on whales in the early 18th century. So you check those out. Then you look up a book written in 1968 with information on how sperm whales have been portrayed in other forms of art, such as in Alaskan poetry, in French painting, or on whale bone, as the whale hunters in the late 19th century used to do. This makes you wonder about American whaling methods during the time portrayed in Moby Dick, so you find some academic articles published in the last five years on how accurately Herman Melville portrayed the whaling scene in his novel.
Now consider some typical ways of organizing the sources into a review:
- Chronological: If your review follows the chronological method, you could write about the materials above according to when they were published. For instance, first you would talk about the British biological studies of the 18th century, then about Moby Dick, published in 1851, then the book on sperm whales in other art (1968), and finally the biology articles (1980s) and the recent articles on American whaling of the 19th century. But there is relatively no continuity among subjects here. And notice that even though the sources on sperm whales in other art and on American whaling are written recently, they are about other subjects/objects that were created much earlier. Thus, the review loses its chronological focus.
- By publication: Order your sources by publication chronology, then, only if the order demonstrates a more important trend. For instance, you could order a review of literature on biological studies of sperm whales if the progression revealed a change in dissection practices of the researchers who wrote and/or conducted the studies.
- By trend: A better way to organize the above sources chronologically is to examine the sources under another trend, such as the history of whaling. Then your review would have subsections according to eras within this period. For instance, the review might examine whaling from pre-1600-1699, 1700-1799, and 1800-1899. Under this method, you would combine the recent studies on American whaling in the 19th century with Moby Dick itself in the 1800-1899 category, even though the authors wrote a century apart.
- Thematic: Thematic reviews of literature are organized around a topic or issue, rather than the progression of time. However, progression of time may still be an important factor in a thematic review. For instance, the sperm whale review could focus on the development of the harpoon for whale hunting. While the study focuses on one topic, harpoon technology, it will still be organized chronologically. The only difference here between a “chronological” and a “thematic” approach is what is emphasized the most: the development of the harpoon or the harpoon technology.But more authentic thematic reviews tend to break away from chronological order. For instance, a thematic review of material on sperm whales might examine how they are portrayed as “evil” in cultural documents. The subsections might include how they are personified, how their proportions are exaggerated, and their behaviors misunderstood. A review organized in this manner would shift between time periods within each section according to the point made.
- Methodological: A methodological approach differs from the two above in that the focusing factor usually does not have to do with the content of the material. Instead, it focuses on the “methods” of the researcher or writer. For the sperm whale project, one methodological approach would be to look at cultural differences between the portrayal of whales in American, British, and French art work. Or the review might focus on the economic impact of whaling on a community. A methodological scope will influence either the types of documents in the review or the way in which these documents are discussed. Once you’ve decided on the organizational method for the body of the review, the sections you need to include in the paper should be easy to figure out. They should arise out of your organizational strategy. In other words, a chronological review would have subsections for each vital time period. A thematic review would have subtopics based upon factors that relate to the theme or issue.
Sometimes, though, you might need to add additional sections that are necessary for your study, but do not fit in the organizational strategy of the body. What other sections you include in the body is up to you. Put in only what is necessary. Here are a few other sections you might want to consider:
- Current Situation: Information necessary to understand the topic or focus of the literature review.
- History: The chronological progression of the field, the literature, or an idea that is necessary to understand the literature review, if the body of the literature review is not already a chronology.
- Methods and/or Standards: The criteria you used to select the sources in your literature review or the way in which you present your information. For instance, you might explain that your review includes only peer-reviewed articles and journals.
Questions for Further Research: What questions about the field has the review sparked? How will you further your research as a result of the review?
Once you’ve settled on a general pattern of organization, you’re ready to write each section. There are a few guidelines you should follow during the writing stage as well. Here is a sample paragraph from a literature review about sexism and language to illuminate the following discussion:
However, other studies have shown that even gender-neutral antecedents are more likely to produce masculine images than feminine ones (Gastil, 1990). Hamilton (1988) asked students to complete sentences that required them to fill in pronouns that agreed with gender-neutral antecedents such as “writer,” “pedestrian,” and “persons.” The students were asked to describe any image they had when writing the sentence. Hamilton found that people imagined 3.3 men to each woman in the masculine “generic” condition and 1.5 men per woman in the unbiased condition. Thus, while ambient sexism accounted for some of the masculine bias, sexist language amplified the effect. (Source: Erika Falk and Jordan Mills, “Why Sexist Language Affects Persuasion: The Role of Homophily, Intended Audience, and Offense,” Women and Language19:2).
In the example above, the writers refer to several other sources when making their point. A literature review in this sense is just like any other academic research paper. Your interpretation of the available sources must be backed up with evidence to show that what you are saying is valid.
Select only the most important points in each source to highlight in the review. The type of information you choose to mention should relate directly to the review’s focus, whether it is thematic, methodological, or chronological.
Use quotes sparingly
Falk and Mills do not use any direct quotes. That is because the survey nature of the literature review does not allow for in-depth discussion or detailed quotes from the text. Some short quotes here and there are okay, though, if you want to emphasize a point, or if what the author said just cannot be rewritten in your own words. Notice that Falk and Mills do quote certain terms that were coined by the author, not common knowledge, or taken directly from the study. But if you find yourself wanting to put in more quotes, check with your instructor.
Summarize and synthesize
Remember to summarize and synthesize your sources within each paragraph as well as throughout the review. The authors here recapitulate important features of Hamilton’s study, but then synthesize it by rephrasing the study’s significance and relating it to their own work.
Keep your own voice
While the literature review presents others’ ideas, your voice (the writer’s) should remain front and center. Notice that Falk and Mills weave references to other sources into their own text, but they still maintain their own voice by starting and ending the paragraph with their own ideas and their own words. The sources support what Falk and Mills are saying.
Use caution when paraphrasing
When paraphrasing a source that is not your own, be sure to represent the author’s information or opinions accurately and in your own words. In the preceding example, Falk and Mills either directly refer in the text to the author of their source, such as Hamilton, or they provide ample notation in the text when the ideas they are mentioning are not their own, for example, Gastil’s. For more information, please see our handout on plagiarism .
Revise, revise, revise
Draft in hand? Now you’re ready to revise. Spending a lot of time revising is a wise idea, because your main objective is to present the material, not the argument. So check over your review again to make sure it follows the assignment and/or your outline. Then, just as you would for most other academic forms of writing, rewrite or rework the language of your review so that you’ve presented your information in the most concise manner possible. Be sure to use terminology familiar to your audience; get rid of unnecessary jargon or slang. Finally, double check that you’ve documented your sources and formatted the review appropriately for your discipline. For tips on the revising and editing process, see our handout on revising drafts .
We consulted these works while writing this handout. This is not a comprehensive list of resources on the handout’s topic, and we encourage you to do your own research to find additional publications. Please do not use this list as a model for the format of your own reference list, as it may not match the citation style you are using. For guidance on formatting citations, please see the UNC Libraries citation tutorial . We revise these tips periodically and welcome feedback.
Anson, Chris M., and Robert A. Schwegler. 2010. The Longman Handbook for Writers and Readers , 6th ed. New York: Longman.
Jones, Robert, Patrick Bizzaro, and Cynthia Selfe. 1997. The Harcourt Brace Guide to Writing in the Disciplines . New York: Harcourt Brace.
Lamb, Sandra E. 1998. How to Write It: A Complete Guide to Everything You’ll Ever Write . Berkeley: Ten Speed Press.
Rosen, Leonard J., and Laurence Behrens. 2003. The Allyn & Bacon Handbook , 5th ed. New York: Longman.
Troyka, Lynn Quittman, and Doug Hesse. 2016. Simon and Schuster Handbook for Writers , 11th ed. London: Pearson.
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Literature Review: Outline, Strategies, and Examples 
Writing a literature review might be easier than you think. You should understand its basic rules, and that’s it! This article is just about that.
Why is the literature review important? What are its types? We will uncover these and other possible questions.
Whether you are an experienced researcher or a student, this article will come in handy. Keep reading!
What Is a Literature Review?
- Step-by-Step Strategy
Let’s start with the literature review definition.
Literature review outlooks the existing sources on a given topic. Its primary goal is to provide an overall picture of the study object. It clears up the context and showcases the analysis of the paper’s theoretical methodology.
In case you want to see the examples of this type of work, check out our collection of free student essays .
Importance of Literature Review
In most cases, you need to write a literature review as a part of an academic project. Those can be dissertations , theses, or research papers.
Why is it important?
Imagine your final research as a 100% bar. Let’s recall Pareto law: 20% of efforts make 80% of the result. In our case, 20% is preparing a literature review. Writing itself is less important than an in-depth analysis of current literature. Do you want to avoid possible frustration in academic writing? Make a confident start with a literature review.
Sure, it’s impossible to find a topic that hasn’t been discussed or cited. That is why we cannot but use the works of other authors. You don’t have to agree with them. Discuss, criticize, analyze, and debate.
So, the purpose of the literature review is to give the knowledge foundation for the topic and establish its understanding. Abstracting from personal opinions and judgments is a crucial attribute.
Types of Literature Review
You can reach the purpose we have discussed above in several ways, which means there are several types of literature review.
What sets them apart?
In short, it’s their research methods and structure. Let’s break down each type:
- Meta-analysis implies the deductive approach. At first, you gather several related research papers. Then, you carry out its statistical analysis. As a result, you answer a formulated question.
- Meta-synthesis goes along with the inductive approach. It bases qualitative data assessment.
- Theoretical literature review implies gathering theories. Those theories apply to studied ideas or concepts. Links between theories become more explicit and clear. Why is it useful? It confirms that the theoretical framework is valid. On top of that, it assists in new hypothesis-making.
- Argumentative literature review starts with a problem statement. Then, you select and study the topic-related literature to confirm or deny the stated question. There is one sufficient problem in this type, by the way. The author may write the text with a grain of bias.
- Narrative literature review focuses on literature mismatches. It indicates possible gaps and concludes the body of literature. The primary step here is stating a focused research question. Another name for this type — a traditional literature review.
- Integrative literature review drives scientific novelty. It generates new statements around the existing research. The primary tool for that is secondary data . The thing you need is to review and criticize it. When is the best option to write an integrative literature review? It’s when you lack primary data analysis.
Remember: before writing a literature review, specify its type . Another step you should take is to argue your choice. Make sure it fits the research framework. It will save your time as you won’t need to figure out fitting strategies and methods.
Annotated Bibliography vs. Literature Review
Some would ask: isn’t what you are writing about is just an annotated bibliography ? Sure, both annotated bibliography and literature review list the research topic-related sources. But no more than that. Such contextual attributes as goal, structure, and components differ a lot.
For a more visual illustration of its difference, we made a table:
To sum up: an annotated bibliography is more referral. It does not require reading all the sources in the list. On the contrary, you won’t reach the literature review purpose without examining all the sources cited.
Literature Review: Step-by-Step Strategy
Now it’s time for a step-by-step guide. We are getting closer to a perfect literature review!
✔️ Step 1. Select the Topic
Selecting a topic requires looking from two perspectives. They are the following:
- Stand-alone paper . Choose an engaging topic and state a central problem. Then, investigate the trusted literature sources in scholarly databases.
- Part of a dissertation or thesis . In this case, you should dig around the thesis topic, research objectives, and purpose.
Regardless of the situation, you should not just list several literature items. On the contrary, build a decent logical connection and analysis. Only that way, you’ll answer the research question .
✔️ Step 2. Identify the Review Scope
One more essential thing to do is to define the research boundaries: don’t make them too broad or too narrow.
Push back on the chosen topic and define the number and level of comprehensiveness of your paper. Define the historical period as well. After that, select a pool of credible sources for further synthesis and analysis.
✔️ Step 3. Work with Sources
Investigate each chosen source. Note each important insight you come across. Learn how to cite a literature review to avoid plagiarism.
✔️ Step 4. Write a Literature Review Outline
No matter what the writing purpose is: research, informative, promotional, etc. The power of your future text is in the proper planning. If you start with a well-defined structure, there’s a much higher chance that you’ll reach exceptional results.
✔️ Step 5. Review the Literature
Once you’ve outlined your literature review, you’re ready for a writing part. While writing, try to be selective, thinking critically, and don’t forget to stay to the point. In the end, make a compelling literature review conclusion.
On top of the above five steps, explore some other working tips to make your literature review as informative as possible.
Literature Review Outline
We’ve already discussed the importance of a literature review outline. Now, it’s time to understand how to create it.
An outline for literature review has a bit different structure comparing with other types of paper works. It includes:
- Selected topic
- Research question
- Related research question trends and prospects
- Research methods
- Expected research results
- Overview of literature core areas
- Research problem consideration through the prism of this piece of literature
- Methods, controversial points, gaps
- Cumulative list of arguments around the research question
- Links to existing literature and a place of your paper in the existing system of knowledge.
It can be a plus if you clarify the applicability of your literature review in further research.
Once you outline your literature review, you can slightly shorten your writing path. Let’s move on to actual samples of literature review.
Literature Review Examples
How does a well-prepared literature review look like? Check these three StudyCorgi samples to understand. Follow the table:
Take your time and read literature review examples to solidify knowledge and sharpen your skills. You’ll get a more definite picture of the literature review length, methods, and topics.
Do you still have any questions? Don’t hesitate to contact us! Our writing experts are ready to help you with your paper on time.
❓ What Is the Purpose of a Literature Review?
Literature review solves several problems at once. Its purpose is to identify and gather the top insights, gaps, and answers to research questions. Those help to get a general idea of the degree of topic exploration. As a result, it forms a basis for further research. Or vice versa: it reveals a lack of need for additional studies.
❓ How Do You Structure a Literature Review?
Like any other academic paper, a literature review consists of three parts: introduction, main body, and the conclusion. Each of them needs full disclosure and logical interconnection
The introduction contains the topic overview, its problematics, research methods, and other general attributes of academic papers.
The body reveals how each of the selected literature sources answers the formulated questions from the introduction.
The conclusion summarizes the key findings from the body, connects the research to existing studies, and outlines the need for further investigation.
To ensure the success of your analysis, you should equally uphold all of these parts.
❓ What Must a Literature Review Include?
A basic literature review includes the introduction with the research topic definition, its arguments, and problems. Then, it has a synthesis of the picked pieces of literature. It may describe the possible gaps and contradictions in existing research. The practical relevance and contribution to new studies are also welcome.
❓ What Are the 5 C's of Writing a Literature Review?
Don’t forget about these five C’s to make things easier in writing a literature review:
Cite. Make a list of references for research you’ve used and apply proper citation rules. Use Google Scholar for this.
Compare. Make a comparison of such literature attributes as theories, insights, trends, arguments, etc. It’s better to use tables or diagrams to make your content visual.
Contrast. Use listings to categorize particular approaches, themes, and so on.
Critique. Critical thinking is a must in any scientific research. Don’t take individual formulations as truth. Explore controversial points of view.
Connect. Find a place of your research between existing studies. Propose new possible areas to dig further.
❓ How Long Should a Literature Review Be?
In most cases, professors or educational establishment guidelines determine the length of a literature review. Study them and stick to their requirements, so you don’t get it wrong.
If there are no specific rules, make sure it is no more than 30% of the whole research paper.
If your literature review is not a part of the thesis and goes as a stand-alone paper — be concise but explore the research area in-depth.
- Literature Reviews – The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
- What is a literature review? – The Royal Literary Fund
- Literature Review: Purpose of a Literature Review – University of South Carolina
- The Literature Review: A Few Tips On Conducting It – University of Toronto
- Steps for Conducting a Lit Review – Florida A&M University Libraries
- Types of Literature Review – Business Research Methodology
- How to Conduct a Literature Review: Types of Literature Reviews – University Libraries
- Annotated bibliography VS. Literature Review – UNT Dallas Learning Commons
- Literature Review: Conducting & Writing – University of West Florida
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Learn how to write a review of literature
What is a review of literature.
The format of a review of literature may vary from discipline to discipline and from assignment to assignment.
A review may be a self-contained unit — an end in itself — or a preface to and rationale for engaging in primary research. A review is a required part of grant and research proposals and often a chapter in theses and dissertations.
Generally, the purpose of a review is to analyze critically a segment of a published body of knowledge through summary, classification, and comparison of prior research studies, reviews of literature, and theoretical articles.
Writing the introduction
In the introduction, you should:
Define or identify the general topic, issue, or area of concern, thus providing an appropriate context for reviewing the literature.
Point out overall trends in what has been published about the topic; or conflicts in theory, methodology, evidence, and conclusions; or gaps in research and scholarship; or a single problem or new perspective of immediate interest.
Establish the writer’s reason (point of view) for reviewing the literature; explain the criteria to be used in analyzing and comparing literature and the organization of the review (sequence); and, when necessary, state why certain literature is or is not included (scope).
Writing the body
In the body, you should:
Group research studies and other types of literature (reviews, theoretical articles, case studies, etc.) according to common denominators such as qualitative versus quantitative approaches, conclusions of authors, specific purpose or objective, chronology, etc.
Summarize individual studies or articles with as much or as little detail as each merits according to its comparative importance in the literature, remembering that space (length) denotes significance.
Provide the reader with strong “umbrella” sentences at beginnings of paragraphs, “signposts” throughout, and brief “so what” summary sentences at intermediate points in the review to aid in understanding comparisons and analyses.
Writing the conclusion
In the conclusion, you should:
Summarize major contributions of significant studies and articles to the body of knowledge under review, maintaining the focus established in the introduction.
Evaluate the current “state of the art” for the body of knowledge reviewed, pointing out major methodological flaws or gaps in research, inconsistencies in theory and findings, and areas or issues pertinent to future study.
Conclude by providing some insight into the relationship between the central topic of the literature review and a larger area of study such as a discipline, a scientific endeavor, or a profession.
For further information see our handouts on Writing a Critical Review of a Nonfiction Book or Article or Reading a Book to Review It .
To learn more about literature reviews, take a look at our workshop on Writing Literature Reviews of Published Research.
Sample Literature Reviews
An important strategy for learning how to compose literature reviews in your field or within a specific genre is to locate and analyze representative examples. The following collection of annotated sample literature reviews written and co-written by colleagues associated with UW-Madison showcases how these reviews can do different kind of work for different purposes. Use these successful examples as a starting point for understanding how other writers have approached the challenging and important task of situating their idea in the context of established research.
- Sample 1 (PDF) A brief literature review within a political scientists’ National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship grant
- Sample 2 (PDF) A several-page literature review at the beginning of a published, academic article about philosophy
- Sample 3 (PDF) A brief literature review at the beginning of a published, academic article about photochemistry
Academic and Professional Writing
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Using Literary Quotations
Writing a Rhetorical Précis to Analyze Nonfiction Texts
Incorporating Interview Data
Planning and Writing a Grant Proposal: The Basics
Additional Resources for Grants and Proposal Writing
Job Materials and Application Essays
Writing Personal Statements for Ph.D. Programs
- Before you begin: useful tips for writing your essay
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Literature Review: Conducting & Writing
What is a literature review, what is a literature review: a tutorial, literature reviews: an overview for graduate students.
- Steps for Conducting a Lit Review
- Finding "The Literature"
- Chicago: Notes Bibliography
- Sample Literature Reviews
A Literature Review Is Not:
- just a summary of sources
- a grouping of broad, unrelated sources
- a compilation of everything that has been written on a particular topic
- literature criticism (think English) or a book review
So, what is it then?
A literature review is an integrated analysis-- not just a summary-- of scholarly writings that are related directly to your research question. That is, it represents the literature that provides background information on your topic and shows a correspondence between those writings and your research question.
A literature review may be a stand alone work or the introduction to a larger research paper, depending on the assignment. Rely heavily on the guidelines your instructor has given you.
Why is it important?
A literature review is important because it:
- Explains the background of research on a topic.
- Demonstrates why a topic is significant to a subject area.
- Discovers relationships between research studies/ideas.
- Identifies major themes, concepts, and researchers on a topic.
- Identifies critical gaps and points of disagreement.
- Discusses further research questions that logically come out of the previous studies.
Literature Reviews: An Overview for Graduate Students (by North Caroline State University Libraries)
- Next: Steps for Conducting a Lit Review >>
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Writing Research Papers
- Writing a Literature Review
When writing a research paper on a specific topic, you will often need to include an overview of any prior research that has been conducted on that topic. For example, if your research paper is describing an experiment on fear conditioning, then you will probably need to provide an overview of prior research on fear conditioning. That overview is typically known as a literature review.
Please note that a full-length literature review article may be suitable for fulfilling the requirements for the Psychology B.S. Degree Research Paper . For further details, please check with your faculty advisor.
Different Types of Literature Reviews
Literature reviews come in many forms. They can be part of a research paper, for example as part of the Introduction section. They can be one chapter of a doctoral dissertation. Literature reviews can also “stand alone” as separate articles by themselves. For instance, some journals such as Annual Review of Psychology , Psychological Bulletin , and others typically publish full-length review articles. Similarly, in courses at UCSD, you may be asked to write a research paper that is itself a literature review (such as, with an instructor’s permission, in fulfillment of the B.S. Degree Research Paper requirement). Alternatively, you may be expected to include a literature review as part of a larger research paper (such as part of an Honors Thesis).
Literature reviews can be written using a variety of different styles. These may differ in the way prior research is reviewed as well as the way in which the literature review is organized. Examples of stylistic variations in literature reviews include:
- Summarization of prior work vs. critical evaluation. In some cases, prior research is simply described and summarized; in other cases, the writer compares, contrasts, and may even critique prior research (for example, discusses their strengths and weaknesses).
- Chronological vs. categorical and other types of organization. In some cases, the literature review begins with the oldest research and advances until it concludes with the latest research. In other cases, research is discussed by category (such as in groupings of closely related studies) without regard for chronological order. In yet other cases, research is discussed in terms of opposing views (such as when different research studies or researchers disagree with one another).
Overall, all literature reviews, whether they are written as a part of a larger work or as separate articles unto themselves, have a common feature: they do not present new research; rather, they provide an overview of prior research on a specific topic .
How to Write a Literature Review
When writing a literature review, it can be helpful to rely on the following steps. Please note that these procedures are not necessarily only for writing a literature review that becomes part of a larger article; they can also be used for writing a full-length article that is itself a literature review (although such reviews are typically more detailed and exhaustive; for more information please refer to the Further Resources section of this page).
Steps for Writing a Literature Review
1. Identify and define the topic that you will be reviewing.
The topic, which is commonly a research question (or problem) of some kind, needs to be identified and defined as clearly as possible. You need to have an idea of what you will be reviewing in order to effectively search for references and to write a coherent summary of the research on it. At this stage it can be helpful to write down a description of the research question, area, or topic that you will be reviewing, as well as to identify any keywords that you will be using to search for relevant research.
2. Conduct a literature search.
Use a range of keywords to search databases such as PsycINFO and any others that may contain relevant articles. You should focus on peer-reviewed, scholarly articles. Published books may also be helpful, but keep in mind that peer-reviewed articles are widely considered to be the “gold standard” of scientific research. Read through titles and abstracts, select and obtain articles (that is, download, copy, or print them out), and save your searches as needed. For more information about this step, please see the Using Databases and Finding Scholarly References section of this website.
3. Read through the research that you have found and take notes.
Absorb as much information as you can. Read through the articles and books that you have found, and as you do, take notes. The notes should include anything that will be helpful in advancing your own thinking about the topic and in helping you write the literature review (such as key points, ideas, or even page numbers that index key information). Some references may turn out to be more helpful than others; you may notice patterns or striking contrasts between different sources ; and some sources may refer to yet other sources of potential interest. This is often the most time-consuming part of the review process. However, it is also where you get to learn about the topic in great detail. For more details about taking notes, please see the “Reading Sources and Taking Notes” section of the Finding Scholarly References page of this website.
4. Organize your notes and thoughts; create an outline.
At this stage, you are close to writing the review itself. However, it is often helpful to first reflect on all the reading that you have done. What patterns stand out? Do the different sources converge on a consensus? Or not? What unresolved questions still remain? You should look over your notes (it may also be helpful to reorganize them), and as you do, to think about how you will present this research in your literature review. Are you going to summarize or critically evaluate? Are you going to use a chronological or other type of organizational structure? It can also be helpful to create an outline of how your literature review will be structured.
5. Write the literature review itself and edit and revise as needed.
The final stage involves writing. When writing, keep in mind that literature reviews are generally characterized by a summary style in which prior research is described sufficiently to explain critical findings but does not include a high level of detail (if readers want to learn about all the specific details of a study, then they can look up the references that you cite and read the original articles themselves). However, the degree of emphasis that is given to individual studies may vary (more or less detail may be warranted depending on how critical or unique a given study was). After you have written a first draft, you should read it carefully and then edit and revise as needed. You may need to repeat this process more than once. It may be helpful to have another person read through your draft(s) and provide feedback.
6. Incorporate the literature review into your research paper draft.
After the literature review is complete, you should incorporate it into your research paper (if you are writing the review as one component of a larger paper). Depending on the stage at which your paper is at, this may involve merging your literature review into a partially complete Introduction section, writing the rest of the paper around the literature review, or other processes.
Further Tips for Writing a Literature Review
Full-length literature reviews
- Many full-length literature review articles use a three-part structure: Introduction (where the topic is identified and any trends or major problems in the literature are introduced), Body (where the studies that comprise the literature on that topic are discussed), and Discussion or Conclusion (where major patterns and points are discussed and the general state of what is known about the topic is summarized)
Literature reviews as part of a larger paper
- An “express method” of writing a literature review for a research paper is as follows: first, write a one paragraph description of each article that you read. Second, choose how you will order all the paragraphs and combine them in one document. Third, add transitions between the paragraphs, as well as an introductory and concluding paragraph. 1
- A literature review that is part of a larger research paper typically does not have to be exhaustive. Rather, it should contain most or all of the significant studies about a research topic but not tangential or loosely related ones. 2 Generally, literature reviews should be sufficient for the reader to understand the major issues and key findings about a research topic. You may however need to confer with your instructor or editor to determine how comprehensive you need to be.
Benefits of Literature Reviews
By summarizing prior research on a topic, literature reviews have multiple benefits. These include:
- Literature reviews help readers understand what is known about a topic without having to find and read through multiple sources.
- Literature reviews help “set the stage” for later reading about new research on a given topic (such as if they are placed in the Introduction of a larger research paper). In other words, they provide helpful background and context.
- Literature reviews can also help the writer learn about a given topic while in the process of preparing the review itself. In the act of research and writing the literature review, the writer gains expertise on the topic .
- How to Write APA Style Research Papers (a comprehensive guide) [ PDF ]
- Tips for Writing APA Style Research Papers (a brief summary) [ PDF ]
- Example APA Style Research Paper (for B.S. Degree – literature review) [ PDF ]
- Writing Research Paper Videos
- UCSD Library Psychology Research Guide: Literature Reviews
- Developing and Writing a Literature Review from N Carolina A&T State University
- Example of a Short Literature Review from York College CUNY
- How to Write a Review of Literature from UW-Madison
- Writing a Literature Review from UC Santa Cruz
- Pautasso, M. (2013). Ten Simple Rules for Writing a Literature Review. PLoS Computational Biology, 9 (7), e1003149. doi : 1371/journal.pcbi.1003149
1 Ashton, W. Writing a short literature review . [PDF]
2 carver, l. (2014). writing the research paper [workshop]. , prepared by s. c. pan for ucsd psychology.
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14+ Literature Review Examples
A literature review reveals the in-depth knowledge of your subject. But hold on! Don’t quickly jump to the conclusion of a Book review. The title of the article discusses umpteen things. It (Literature Review), in fact, sample survey and survives on scholarly articles and other sources such as dissertations and conference proceedings. In other words, it is the process of searching and evaluating the available literature on your chosen topic. There are many literature review sample outline examples available online, and many of them have to do with whatever subject you’re handling. You can find both long and short APA simple report content on health, science, history, and so much more. You can even incorporate complementary materials like an itinerary printable chart or data table for your literature review.
Outline Literature Review Template
Dissertation Literature Review Example
Short Research Literature Review Example
Literature Review Examples
- The title of your thesis.
- Introduction to your thesis. You can elaborate more on the topic of your thesis.
- The theoretical framework of your study. The literature review of your study should contain the theoretical frameworks you are following in your research study.
Project Management Literature Review Example
Traditional or Narrative Literature Review Example
Systematic Student Literature Review Example
Theoretical Literature Review with Introduction
Methodological Literature Critical Review Example
Historical Literature Review Report Example
Health Integrative Literature Review Example
Argumentative Literature To D0 Review Example
Sample APA Literature Review
Literature Review with Itinerary Charts
Literature Summary Tables for Review
Why do a Literature Review?
How to write a literature review.
- A ball-park figure for an average review would be around 10,000 words
- Make sure that your review is unbiased
- Your review should try to motivate the next part of the research
- Make sure that the content moves logically from one topic to another and all the paragraphs are linked together
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How to Write a Dissertation Literature Review – Steps & Tips
Published by Anastasia Lois at August 12th, 2021 , Revised On October 17, 2023
From an academic standpoint, a dissertation literature review can be defined as a survey of the thesis, journal articles, books, and other academic resources on any given research title . This article provides comprehensive guidelines on how to write a dissertation literature review.
A literature review in a dissertation is of critical importance primarily because it provides insight into the key concepts, advancements, theories, and results of your research questions or research problem .
However, it is essential to note that; a first-class dissertation literature review focuses on summarizing the academic sources used for research and analysing, interpreting, and assessing them to determine the gaps and differences in opinions, judgments, themes, and developments.
A good literature review will further elaborate on existing knowledge concerning the research hypothesis or questions.
View dissertation literature review examples here.
When do you Write a Dissertation Literature Review?
Depending on your university’s guidelines, you might be required to include a literature review in the theoretical framework or the introduction.
Or you could also be asked to develop a standalone literature review chapter that appears before the methodology and the findings chapters of the dissertation.
In either case, your primary aim will be to review the available literature and develop a link between your research and the existing literature on your chosen topic.
Sometimes, you might be designated a literature review as a separate assignment . Regardless of whether you need to write a literature review for your dissertation or as a standalone project, some general guidelines for conducting literature will remain unchanged.
Here are the steps you need to take to write the literature review for a dissertation if you cannot write the literature review.
Steps of Writing a Literature Review
1. gather, assess, and choose relevant literature.
The first seed to take when writing your dissertation or thesis is to choose a fascinating and manageable research topic . Once a topic has been selected, you can begin searching for relevant academic sources.
If you are writing a literature review for your dissertation, one way to do this is to find academic sources relevant to your research problem or questions.
Without fully understanding current knowledge in the chosen study area, giving the correct direction to your research aim and objectives will be hard.
On the other hand, you will be expected to guide your research by developing a central question if you are writing a literature review as an individual assignment.
A notable difference here compared to the dissertation literature review is that you must answer this central question without conducting primary research (questionnaires, surveys, interviews). You will be expected to address the question using only the existing literature.
Dissertation Literature Review Research Question
How can company “A” improve its brand value through social media marketing?
Literature Review Research Question
What is the connection between social media marketing and brand value?
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Use Keywords and References to Find Relevant Literature
Create a list of keywords that are relevant to the topic of research. Find journals, articles, and books using these keywords. Here are links to some recognised online academic libraries and databases;
- Inspec, (Computer science, engineering, physics, chemistry)
- EconLit, (Economics)
- Google Scholar
- Your university’s online research database
Finding relevant academic sources from “the reference list” of an article you have already found in a research database effectively discovers relevant studies.
Consider noting frequently appearing references as they are likely to be highly authentic and important publications even though they didn’t appear in the keyword search.
Journal articles or books that keep appearing with different keywords and phrases are the ones you should manually look out for.
The more times an article has been referenced, the more influential it is likely to be in any research field. Google Scholar lets users quickly determine how often a particular article has been referenced.
Also Read: How to Best Use References in a Dissertation
2. Weighing and Selecting Academic Sources
It won’t be possible for you to read every publication related to your topic. An excellent way to select academic sources for your dissertation literature review is to read the abstract , which will help you decide whether the source is supportive and relevant to your research hypothesis or research questions.
To help you select sources relevant to your study, here are some questions for you to consider before making the decision.
- What research questions has the author answered with their research work?
- What fundamental concepts have been defined by the author?
- Did the researcher use an innovative methodology or existing frameworks to define fundamental methods, models, and theories?
- What are the findings, conclusion, and recommendations in the source book or paper?
- What is the relevance between the existing literature and the academic sources you are evaluating?
- Does the source article challenge, confirm, or add to existing knowledge on the topic?
- How does the publication contribute to your understanding of the topic? What are its key insights and arguments?
- What are the strengths and weaknesses of the research?
Any breakthrough studies and key theories relevant to your research topic should be recorded as you search for highly credible and authentic academic sources.
The method of your review of literature depends on your academic subject. If your research topic is in the sciences, you must find and review up-to-date academic sources.
On the other hand, you might look into old and historical literature and recent literature if your research topic is in the humanities field.
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Recording Information and Referencing Sources
It is recommended that you start to write your literature review as you read articles, journals, and books. Take notes which can be later merged into the text of the literature review. Avoid plagiarism and record all sources used along with references.
A good way of recording information is to analyse each source, summarise the key concepts or theories and compile a complete list of references in the form of an annotated bibliography.
This is a beneficial practice as it helps to remember the key points in each academic source and saves you valuable time as you start the literature review write-up.
3. Identify Key Themes and Patterns
The next step is to look for themes and patterns in the chosen sources that would enable you to establish similarities and differences between their results and interpretations .
This exercise will help you to determine the structure and argument for your literature review. Here are some questions that you can think of when reading and recording information;
- Are any gaps in the existing literature?
- What are the weaknesses of the current literature that should be addressed?
- Were you able to identify any landmark research work and theories that resulted in the topic’s change of direction?
- What are the similarities and disagreements between these sources? Were you able to identify any contradictions and conflicts?
- What trends and themes were you able to identify? Are there any results, methods, or theories that lost credibility over time?
Also Read: How to Write a Dissertation – Step-by-Step Guide
4. Structure of Literature Review
There is no acclaimed literature review structure , which means that you can choose from a range of approaches (thematic, chronological, methodological, and theoretical) when deciding on the structure of the literature review .
However, before you begin to write the literature review , it is important to figure out the strategy that would work best for you. For long literature reviews, you might decide to use a combination of these strategies. For example, you could discuss each of the themes chronologically.
You can discuss various significant concepts, models, and theories in your literature review to form the basis of a theoretical framework . You could also combine a range of theoretical approaches to develop your theoretical framework or debate the significance of a particular theoretical framework.
The methodological approach will require you to relate the findings of studies conducted in different research areas and use different research methods .
- You might discover that results from the quantitative research approach are not the same as qualitative research.
- You might split the selected academic sources based on their discipline – engineering, and sciences.
You may also deploy a thematic approach, especially if you identified repeating key themes and patterns. If that is the case, you will be expected to put each aspect of the topic into different subsections within your literature review.
For example, if your research topic is “employment issues in the UK for international students,” you can divide the key themes into subsections; legal status, poor language skills, immigration policy, and economic turmoil.
The most straightforward approach is to trace the development of the topic over time. However, if you choose this strategy, avoid simply listing and summarizing sources in order.
Try to analyze patterns, turning points, and critical debates that have shaped the direction of the field. Give your interpretation of how and why certain developments occurred.
5. Writing your Literature Review
Whether it’s a dissertation literature review or a standalone literature review assignment you have been assigned, you will be expected to divide your literature review into three larger sections – introduction, main body, and a conclusion.
What you write under these three segments will depend on the aim of your study.
Section 1 – Introduction
Here you will be required to state the objectives of the literature review clearly;
Introduction to Dissertation Literature Review Recapitulate your research problem or questions with a summary of the sources you reviewed when the literature review is for your thesis or dissertation. Consider highlighting gaps in existing knowledge and stress the suitability of your topic.
Research problem A has been debated in many recent studies.
While the topic has been explored concerning A, the B aspect has not yet been explored.
Individual Literature Review Project When reviewing literature for an individual literature review assignment, make sure that you clearly state the purpose of the research and debate the scope of the literature (how recent or old are the academic sources you are reviewing).
Section 2 – Main Body
As previously mentioned, you can divide this section into further subsections depending on your literature review’s length. You can also have a separate heading for each research method, theme, or theory to help your readers better understand your research.
Here are some tips for you to write a flawless main body of literature review;
- Summarize and Combine ; Highlight the main findings from each academic source and organise them into one whole piece without losing coherence.
- Evaluate and interpret; Make sure you are giving opinions and arguments of your own where possible. Simply rephrasing what others have said will undermine your work. You will be expected to debate and discuss other studies’ results about your research questions or aim.
- Analytical Evaluation; It is essential to unmistakably present the literature you have reviewed and the merits and weaknesses of the literature.
- Make Use of Topic Sentences and Transitions; in organized subsections within the literature review to establish conflicts, differences, similarities, and relationships.
Example of How to Write a Dissertation Literature Review
The below example belongs to the body of a literature review on the effectiveness of e-recruitment in small and medium-sized enterprises in the United Kingdom’s IT sector.
E-recruitment means explicitly using digital technologies to recruit, select, and orient employees. The benefits of e-recruitment in the literature have been studied: increased access to a pool of candidates, time and cost savings, and greater flexibility for the organisation.
In contrast, the literature states that e-recruitment might not properly achieve the goal of retaining the workforce with the required skills to participate in the work environment (Lad & Das, 2016). Also, e-recruitment might be based on a flawed website design or poor application process, which might deter potential employees (Anand & Devi, 2016) .
This section of the study will focus on the existing studies linked to the effectiveness of e-recruitment. Human resource management is an essential function of business organisations because it manages the workforce.
The goal of HR should be to develop a strategic approach in which the organisation’s strategic goals can be attained efficiently and effectively. The advent of digital technologies has helped transform human resource management’s nature concerning recruiting and selecting employees for organisations.
The Internet’s benefits have reduced search time for candidates and significant cost savings for organisations. Finally, it offers a transparent method for obtaining information about specific candidates. E-recruitment helps organisations hire people from any part of the world as it promotes opportunities and benefits the organisation efficiently.
Sharma (2014) argues that 75% of human resource professionals in developed countries are now using e-recruitment to hire employees for their organisations. Additionally, some 2 out of 4 job seekers will use the Internet to source job opportunities.
Another evidence to support the rise of e-recruitment is a study by Holm (2014), which found that all Fortune 100 companies will be using some form of e-recruitment to advertise vacant positions.
The implications are that e-recruitment is a popular strategy for various positions, from blue-collar roles to white-collar and professional positions. The benefits of e-recruitment have been identified in the literature. Girard & Fallery (2009) argues that e-recruitment helps to save time for organisations and employees.
Employers can use several methods to post jobs in as little as 20 minutes. There are no limits to ad size, and they can receive resumes immediately. In contrast, the traditional methods require some time to appear, for example, in a newspaper, and might be there for a limited period.
Section 3 – Conclusion
When writing the dissertation literature review conclusion, you should always include a summary of the key findings which emerged from the literature and their relevance and significance to your research objectives.
Literature Review for Dissertation
If you are writing a dissertation literature review, you will be required to demonstrate how your research helped to fill an evident gap in research and contributed to the current knowledge in the field. Similarly, you can explain how you used the existing patterns, themes, and theories to develop your research framework.
Literature Review as an Individual Assignment
You can summarize your review of your literature’s significance and implications and provide recommendations for future work based on the gaps in existing knowledge you acknowledged.
Finally, thoroughly proofread your literature review for grammatical, structural, spelling, and factual errors before submitting it to your university.
If you are unable to proofread and edit your paper, then you could take advantage of our editing and proofreading service , which is designed to ensure that your completed literature review satisfies each of your module or project’s requirements. We have Masters and PhD qualified writers in all academic subjects, so you can be confident that they will edit and improve the quality of your to 2:1 or First Class standard, as required.
Valuable Tips for Writing Dissertation Literature Review
Your literature review must systematically comply with your research area. Underneath, we are stating some essential guidelines for a compact literature review.
Contribute to the Literature
After carefully reviewing the literature, search for the gaps in knowledge and state how you have analysed the literature with a different perspective and contributed to your research area.
Keep your Argument Systematic & Consistent
Your arguments must be consistent and systematic while discussing theories and controversial and debatable content. Be logical in your review and avoid vague statements, not to make it complex for the readers.
Provide Adequate References
Don’t forget to provide references, as they are the soul of the dissertation. While discussing different aspects of the research, provide a reasonable number of references, as your discussion and interpretations must be backed up by relevant evidence. You can see an example provided in the sample paragraph above.
Be Precise While Writing a Review
You aren’t required to write every inch of information you have studied while reviewing the literature. You will be able to find tons of information that will correlate with your research area.
Be precise while writing the review, as writing unnecessary, irrelevant information won’t give a good impression. State the most reliable sources in your review without jumping into every possible source.
Don’t go Excessively for Direct Quotes
Direct quoting is required to make a point more impactful, but you should opt for it to a specific limit. Making excessive use of it won’t be a good idea.
The direct quote is mainly used when you think that the words being used by the actual author are so authentic in their meaning that you can’t replace or rephrase them. Try to avoid relying too much on a single author/s work.
Discussing their contributions and keeping the review going briefly would be better. While mentioning the points discussed by the prior researchers – link your arguments with their discussion. Don’t write the crux of their discussion, yet tell if your argument goes along with them.
Express your Analysis
The literature review is written to summarize your perspective, which should be backed up in light of the literature. Critically analyze literature with a rational approach and express your opinion on it.
Use the Correct Referencing Style
While referencing, one must use proper referencing styles, i.e., Harvard reference style, etc. Different referencing styles are used for in-text citations, while different for end-text citations.
Feeling overwhelmed by your literature review? Still unsure about how to write a dissertation literature review? There is no need to panic. Whether you are an undergraduate, postgraduate, or PhD student, our literature review writing service can help you have your literature review to the highest academic quality.
All papers completed by our writers are delivered along with a free anti-plagiarism report. We will amend your paper for free as many times as needed until you are delighted with the contents and the works’ quality as long as your original instructions and requirements remain unchanged.
FAQs About Dissertation Literature Review
How to find relevant literature for reference in a dissertation.
You must note down keywords related to the title of your dissertation and search journals, articles, and books using them.
How to select academic sources?
If you have found plenty of academic resources, you can select a few of them by reading the abstract of all the papers and separating the most relevant ones.
How to quote academic references?
It is recommended that you start to write your literature review as you read articles, journals and books. Take notes which can be later merged into the text of the literature review.
How should a literature review dissertation be written?
You should divide your literature review into three sections:
Introduction, main body, and conclusion.
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