how to write a literature review

How to Write a Literature Review: The A2Z You Must Know (2022)

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What is a literature review?

Before understanding how to write a literature review, one must learn what is a literature review. A literature review is a summary of published work on a subject of study. This may be a section of a bigger paper or article or maybe the focus of a whole paper. Literature reviews show that you have tested the breadth of knowledge and can justify your thesis or research questions. They also are valuable tools for different researchers who need to find a summary of that subject of knowledge. Unlike an annotated bibliography, which is a listing of sources with short descriptions, a literature review synthesizes sources right into a summary that has a thesis or statement of the purpose stated or implied at its core.

In other words, while writing a research paper on a particular topic, you’ll often need to include an overview of any prior research that has been conducted on that topic. This is the answer to those asking what is a literature review. For example, in case your research paper is describing an experiment on fear conditioning, then you’ll possibly need to offer an overview of previous research on fear conditioning. That overview is usually referred to as a literature review. Now before getting to know how to write a literature review, we’ll discuss the fundamentals of literature review.

The fundamental components of a literature review include:

  • A description of the publication;
  • The publication’s contribution to the topic’s assessment.
  • A summary of the publication’s major points;
  • A discussion of gaps in research;


How to Write a Literature Review

The following steps will answer the question – How to write a literature review. So let’s get started!


1. Identify and define the subject that you’ll be reviewing.

The subject matter, which is generally a research question (or problem) of a few kinds, needs to be identified and described as clearly as possible. You need to have an idea of what you’ll be reviewing in order to correctly search for references and to write a coherent summary of the research on it. At this level, it can be useful to write down a description of the research question, area, or subject matter that you’ll be reviewing, in addition to identifying any keywords that you’ll be using to look for relevant research. This is step one on how to write a literature review.


2. Conduct a literature search.

Use various keywords to search databases that can comprise relevant articles. You must focus on peer-reviewed, scholarly articles. Published books will also be useful, but keep in mind that peer-reviewed articles are broadly considered to be the “gold standard” of scientific research. Read through titles and abstracts, choose and obtain articles (that is, download, copy, or print them out), and save your searches as needed. This is the second step on how to write a literature review.


3. Take notes while you read through the research that you have found.

Absorb as much information as you may. Read through the articles and books which you have found, and as you do, take notes. The notes must consist of anything that will be beneficial in advancing your own thinking about the topic and in helping you write the literature review (which includes key points, ideas, or maybe page numbers that index key data). Some references may also become more useful than others; you can notice patterns or striking contrasts between distinctive sources, and a few sources may also refer to other sources of potential interest. This is often the most time-taking part of the review procedure. However, it’s also where you get to find out about the topic in great detail. This is the third step on how to write a literature review.


4. Create an outline, and organize your notes and thoughts.

At this stage, you’re near writing the review itself. However, it is often useful to first reflect on all of the reading that you have performed. What patterns stand out? Do any other that are available sources converge on a consensus? Or not? What unresolved questions still remain? You must look over your notes (it can additionally be useful to reorganize them), and as you do, consider how you’ll present this research in your literature review. Will you be summarized or critically evaluate it? Do you wish to apply a chronological or another form of organizational structure? It also can be useful to create an outline of how your literature review could be structured. This is the fourth step on how to write a literature review.


5. Edit and revise as needed when you write the literature review itself.

The very last stage includes writing. When writing literature review, keep in mind that literature reviews are generally characterized by a summary style in which previous research is described sufficiently to explain important findings but does not include a high level of detail (if readers want to find out about all of the specific details of a study, then they could look up the references that you cite and read the authentic articles themselves). However, the degree of emphasis that is given to individual research may also vary (more or less detail can be warranted depending on how important or unique a given study was).

It is one of the most essential steps on how to write a literature review. After you’ve got written the first draft, you must read it cautiously and then edit and revise as needed. It is possible that you might have to repeat this process more than once. It can be useful to have another person read through your draft(s) and offer feedback. This is the fifth step on how to write a literature review.


6. Include the literature review in your research paper draft.

After the literature review is complete, you must incorporate it into your research paper (in case you are writing the review as one component of a bigger paper). Depending on the stage at which your paper is, this will involve merging your literature review into a partially complete Introduction phase, writing the rest of the paper across the literature review, or different processes. This is the sixth and final step on how to write a literature review. These have been the steps on how to write a literature review that you can follow while writing. If you find trouble writing literature review on your own, take help from content writing services.


Further Tips On How To Write A Literature Review

After you have gone through the steps on how to write a literature review, let’s go through a few tips.


Full-length literature reviews

  • Many full-length literature review articles use a three-part structure: Introduction (where the subject is identified and any trends or major issues in the literature are introduced), Body (wherein the research that contains the literature on that topic is mentioned), and Discussion or Conclusion (wherein major patterns and points are mentioned and the general state of what is known about the subject is summarized)


Literature reviews as a part of a bigger paper

  • An “express method” of writing a literature review for a research paper is as follows: first, write a one-paragraph description of every article that you read. Second, select how you’ll order all the paragraphs and integrate them into a single document. Third, add transitions between the paragraphs, in addition to an introductory and concluding paragraph.
  • A literature review that is a part of a bigger research paper usually does not have to be exhaustive. Rather, it must incorporate most or all the considerable research about a research topic, but not tangential or loosely associated ones.2 Generally, literature reviews must be enough for the reader to understand the main issues and key findings about a research topic. You may also, however need to consult with your teacher or editor to determine how comprehensive you need to be.


Benefits Of Knowing How To Write A Literature Review

The importance of a literature review and understanding how to write a literature review can not be overstated. This is because it offers direction, structure, focus, and coherence to academic writing on a specific topic. It additionally allows for effective communication among researchers by helping them to decide which issues are significant. Moreover, it allows the researcher to situate his or her work in the current body of knowledge.

There are 4 major features of literature review; convey clarity and focus to the research problem, enhance research methodology, increase understanding regarding the research topic, and build on your findings. After certainly understanding how to write a literature review, let’s look at why a literature review is essential in research:


1. Helps Establish A Context For Research

One of the main goals of the literature review is to offer a context for the research. It puts modern research in perspective and suggests how it relates to what has been performed before. It additionally identifies the gaps in the present body of knowledge and facilitates the formulation of new research questions.


2. Helps Identify The Theoretical Framework

The theoretical framework presents the conceptual underpinnings of the research and a literature review is a key element in identifying it. It facilitates clarifying the intent of the study and suggests how the research is connected to existing theory.


3. Helps Clarify Research Questions

One of the main features of the literature review is to help researchers formulate clear and concise research questions. By reading significantly about a subject matter, researchers can develop well-defined questions that may be addressed through their research.


4. Helps Assess The Quality Of Previous Research

A literature review permits researchers to significantly check the quality of previous research on the subject. It permits them to decide the strengths and weaknesses of the previous research and to determine whether they must build upon or replace them.


5. Helps Comparing Different Studies

A literature review helps researchers to compare and contrast existing research on a specific subject matter to draw better conclusions from it. It additionally suggests how different studies are associated and explains why a few questions have received more interest than others.


6. Gives Context To The Research Study

The literature review presents a context for the research study that follows by showing its reference to what has already been published on the subject. It lays out the most substantial issues in the area, describes them simply, and explains why they are vital. This permits readers to understand all subsequent research inside this context, consequently giving it greater impact.


Summing Up

A literature review must not be an insignificant recounting of all the available information. It must be an important and analytical summary of the chosen literature that guides the readers through the imperative theme of the research. We hope from this article, you simply understood how to write a literature review. If you want Review Writing Services, feel free to contact us.