How To Write A Literature Review

Content of this article

  1. How to write a literature review
  2. Things to avoid
  3. Types
  4. Structure
  5. Final checklist
  6. Example

1. How To Write A Literature Review

Writing a literature review is perhaps the best piece of literature that a student can work with. This is because writing a literature review only means that you are already near the end of your final requirement in your student life, which is either a thesis or even a dissertation. But basically, a literature review simply refers to a part of a much bigger literature and is designed to assess the student’s level of proficiency and grasp of the subject itself. Aside from the purpose of knowing how much you know, literature review writing is primarily aimed at researching and synthesizing previous works and researches done which are related to the field that you are trying to work on. However, because of its complexity, literature review writing is on of the most difficult types of a task because it also requires the writer to synthesize his/her own thesis statement with the works that he/she was able to find. Thus, because of the difficulty in writing these types of essays, here is some literature review writing help.

2. Things to Avoid in writing a Literature Review

Writing a literature review is not easy. There are many traps and pitfalls that any writer could fall on, and thus, here are some of the most important tips in writing a literature review.

  1. compiling all the works related to their topic and simply make a summary out of all of those works, should be avoided.
  2. In writing a literature review the works, opinions, and the findings of all of those other authors should be incorporated into a separated topic by topic, compared, and critically analyzed together.
  3. Literature reviews should be concise
  4. Every point, argument, and topic in your work should be coupled with a review of literature in relation to it
  5. Literature review should not include any topics that are not related to your main thesis

To further check on other tips and guides, here is one literature review writing guide to help you make that coherent synthesis for your work.

3. Types of literature review

Before you ask the most common question ‘how to start a literature review (?)’ you better have your own hooks for your literature review topics first. This is crucial especially when creating your own literature review structure because without your topic, you cannot proceed! But again, even before starting to work on your literature review, we need to look at some of the types of literature review to know what topic would fit to the type of methodology which you would be employing later on your work.

Evaluative

An evaluative type of literature review focuses more on collecting previous works which are related to your topic at hand and “evaluate” their findings. Employing the similar kind of review in your research might be very helpful especially if you’re working on fields which have an objective structure of a literature review.

Exploratory

As compared to the previous structure of a literature review, the exploratory type is more (as the term implies) “exploratory” or designed to survey previous works done in the field rather than evaluating them. The outline of literature review of this type is usually employed with topics/fields which lack previous works done before it.

Instrumental

As compared to other types, the literature review structure of instrumental ones focuses more on the methods used and the tools employed during the study. These types of literature review is usually used for both qualitative and quantitative works.

Systematic

One of the quickest and easiest way to conduct a literature review, a systematic type of literature review focuses on critically analyzing the works done by previous authors.

4. Review structure

Now that you already have a coherent topic in mind and knowledge of the different types of literature reviews, the next step is focusing on the structure of a literature review. Just as any other piece of literature out there, the process of literature review outlining is very important in order to help you gain the momentum to write. An outline for a literature review would also help you in making sure everything in your topic is already covered and all questions which you posed in your introduction is already covered before you finally proceed to the conclusion for your literature review.

When writing the outline of your literature review, any writer should take a note that unlike other papers, the literature review does not usually employ the use of subheadings which other papers use (e.g. introduction). This is because literature reviews are usually a part of a bigger paper with an introductory and conclusion part and not a separate paper in itself. Literature review outlining, on the other hand, simply uses the paragraphs in a logical and systematic manner, with which each thesis of the paragraphs works in conjunction with each other to support the main thesis of the article while the succeeding parts of each paragraph works to support the main thesis of a paragraph.

Provided below is an example of a literature review outline:

Review of Related Literature

Introduction

  • Context
  • Importance
  • Aims
  • Scope
  • Key themes

Body

  • Key themes expanded
  • Highlight importance
  • Draw conclusions
  • Expert views
  • Theories
  • Include all materials

Conclusion

  • Outline current knowledge
  • Ares not yet addressed

Introduction Writing

After finishing all of these steps, the literature review introduction marks the beginning but also is the most important parts of your main work. This is because of the fact that just like any other parts of this essay, the introduction for literature review should provide the “hook” for the readers to read more, but as compared to the main introduction, this one is more dedicated towards explaining the purpose of your literature review.

Here are some tips in writing your introduction.

  1. In writing your main paragraph, the general rule of a thumb is that the more concise your points are the better. Despite being an extensive piece of work, a literature review still needs to be concise and very well selected so the readers would not become easily bored.
  2. Make your introduction straight to the point
  3. Build your analysis starting from your introduction
  4. Use credible sources even in your introduction
  5. Make sure that the reader is well guided with what to expect in the succeeding paragraphs

Conclusion Writing

The last part of writing a literature review is the literature review conclusion. Most writers become dazed with answering the question, “how to end a literature review?” This is not surprising because most people commit the mistake of writing a literature review conclusion just as how they write the conclusion of the main paper. This is a thing which any writer should be aware of, because unlike the main conclusion, this part only tackles about the literature review itself and provides an avenue to proceed with the next parts of the paper. And, since we have already discussed the steps in writing a literature review, here is a checklist to help you start writing.

5. Final checklist

  1. Selection of Sources
    • Is the purpose of the review pointed out?
    • Are the parameters of the review justifiable?
    • What guided you in selecting your sources?
    • Have you employed more primary sources rather than secondary ones?
    • Is all of the literature which you have chosen relevant with your topic?
    • Do you have most of your sources already?
  2. Critical Evaluation of the Literature
    • Are all the materials already organized?
    • Do you already have a full understanding of the materials and the methodologies which you would use?
    • Have you already expounded on the relevance of each and every reference which you have?
  3. Interpretation
    • Is your literature review helpful to the readers to have a clear understanding of your issue?
    • Is your design compatible with the methodology and theoretical framework which you would be using?

6. Example

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