How To Write An Outstanding Literature Review- Guidelines & Examples

You have been tasked with writing the literature review of an academic paper. It’s a simple and trivial endeavor; you just need to wipe the dust off your books, sit down on a chair with coffee in hand, all prepared to jot down quick summaries of readings as you skim through the pages. And, your literature review will be done just like that- Not quite simple, we afraid.

To deliver an exemplary literature review, it is vital to provide a review of writings on the given topic to establish the position of the reviewer in the existing field of scholarship on the topic. It needs to offer readers a solid look at previous discussions before the reviewer makes in his/her research paper.

If you are also one of those million students who is baffled by ‘how to write an amazing literature review?” then you are in luck. We will walk you through certain significant guidelines along with literature review examples that would enable you to nail your literature review writing tasks like a champion.

Literature Review: A Brief Overview

Now, before learning ‘how to write an impeccable literature review’, it is vital to comprehend and develop an in-depth understanding of what is a perfect literature review.

While drafting a thesis, dissertation, or research paper, it is significant to conduct a literature review that can situate your research within the existing knowledge. An exemplary literature review provides you with a brilliant opportunity to-

  • Demonstrate remarkable familiarity with the topic and scholarly context
  • Establish a theoretical framework and methodology for the research
  • Position yourself in relation to other theorists and other researchers

You might also need to pen down a literature review as a stand-alone academic paper. Undeniably the content will tend to look slightly different in each case; however, the process of conducting the process will follow the same steps.

The Importance Of Writing A Literature Review

Like it or not, a literature review is truly a critical part of any academic piece of writing, as it demonstrates clearly to your professors or readers that you possess a nuanced understanding of the sources concerning the research area or question. The importance of including a literature review in an academic paper is as follows-

  • Determine areas of prior scholarship
  • Place each source in the context of its contribution to the comprehension of the specific issue, area of research, or theory under review
  • Discuss the relationship of each source to the others that you have chosen
  • Determine new ways to interpret and shed light on any gaps in the prior research

How To Write A Literature Review: A Step-By-Step Guide

To help our readers craft the best literature review possible, we have provided certain critical steps that can definitely answer your question of how to write a brilliant and exemplary literature review?” Not only that, but it would also take your literature review to the next level. Have a look-

  • Clarify The Requirements Of Your Professors

Your professors may ask you to incorporate a literature review in the paper and not get more specific on that. However, knowing precisely what your professors are looking for is the first vital step to getting that right. Try to answer the following questions-

  • How many sources should you incorporate in the paper? Do your professors want a specific number of each kind? Can they be at least semi-current?
  • Should you just summarise or criticize while discussing the themes?
  • Should you offer an opinion on the resources?

Narrow Down The Topic

Try to narrow down the topic as much as you can to have the correct amount of sources essential. Like, researching on the birth order may lead you to go through hundreds of books, but conducting research on same-sex siblings will make your research for sources much more manageable.

Again, you need to be current. If you are crafting a review on the humanities, history, or social sciences, you can afford to be less concerned with the timing. However, if you are drafting the literary review for a science paper, like treating hypertension, including research from 5 years old can be obsolete.

  • Look For A Focus

 If you go through literature review samples, you will understand that unfortunately, you are not just simply gathering resources and summing up what they require you to say. It is also crucial to consider what themes and ideas connect the sources together. Consider these books as your group of friends all debating on the same topic. Try to think- What are they all presuming? How do you think they are the same and different?”

  • Locate The Key Literature

It’s crucial to be systematic- whether you follow a list of database references or jump to the citations of  a popular article directly- you must keep the records. These should not only be bibliographic (date, author, title of article, publication, volume and issue number, etc.) but focus on the content too.

  • Search Extensively And Thoroughly

Know that keywords are a brilliant search strategy, and it helps if you become specific (do not rely on phrases and general keywords). If you think too many results are often returned, make it a point to filter using the following methods-

  • Metadata– Make it a point to refine the sources by the author, geographic location, or the year of the publication.
  • Semantic- Try removing terms or words that are spelt in the same way but have a different meaning.
  • Accessibility- Understand if the full-text article is available or simply the abstract.
  • Evidence-Grading- Try to apply a quality filter. Like, you can sift out opinion-based, rhetorical, peer-reviewed and non-conclusive materials.

Evaluate The Sources

It is vital to evaluate your sources on a different number of levels like-
The credentials of the author
Ways used to support the arguments of the author
Whether the author’s perspective is unbiased and objective
Do their work lead to a greater understanding of the subject?

Begin With A Solid Introduction

Remember, your introduction should provide the readers with a quick idea of the topic of the review, whether it is thematically or by organizational pattern. You can also point out the overall trends, gaps, and specific themes that emerge, and the likes.
  • Draft Informative Body Paragraphs

In this section of the literature review, you start discussing your sources. Here are some of the remarkable ways where you can organize the discussion-

  • Chronologically- Like, if the views of the writers are seen to change over time. There is little point in conducting the review by order of publication unless it demonstrates a clear trend.
  • Thematically- Determine a series of themes
  • Dialectical- Compare different perspectives or theoretical debates
  • Research- Like, academic versus practitioner
  • Methodologically- In this process, the focus should be on the methods of the researcher, like, qualitative vs. quantitative approaches.
  • Conclude On A Strong Note

Know that the closing paragraph needs to wrap up your papers, reiterate what was stated in the introduction, and explain what you have drawn so far from the studies. Also, you can make your conclusion suggestive.

Wrapping Up,

With this lucid ‘how to write a strong literature review’ guide, you can nail that task like never before. You can also take a look at the literature review samples to connect the relevant theory to the practice! Take the help of this guide, follow the steps, and draw inspiration from examples to sail through your literature review writing process like a champion.

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