Writing a Literature Review

21 May 2023

You will likely write a literature review when writing a dissertation or a research paper. A literature review is an evaluation of major writings and sources on a given topic. Such sources may include books, scholarly articles, websites, government reports, etc. Sometimes literature review can be written as a stand-alone piece, as a class assignment, or as a publication. 
When it is part of a dissertation or research paper, it usually comes after the introduction and before the research methods part. If you are tasked with such assignments, you are expected to write a description, summary, and evaluation of a source. A well-written literature review summarizes the source and critically evaluates and analyses it to inform the reader of the state of knowledge on the topic. This article will teach you everything you need to write excellent literature reviews.
Importance of a Literature Review
Literature reviews are essential tools for learning. When given as class assignments, they help students learn about a particular topic. At the same time, they allow them to know about other researchers working or have worked on the same research topics.
Additionally, literature reviews enable students to identify gaps in the available research to propose new projects. In addition to proposing new projects, they can also develop methodologies for future research. When a literature review is written as a publication, it lightens the work for scholars as it collects existing information on a research topic and summarises and analyses it. It may also direct a group of scholars toward problematic questions that haven't been solved.

When would I write a literature review?
A literature review is a part of writing an academic paper. The primary purpose of writing an article review is to showcase the sources you have used in your research. When you write a literature review, you are showcasing the following:
Theoretical framework: This is simply a roadmap showing how you started doing your literature review, the concepts you chose to delve into, and where the concepts guide you in your research. These are the models and research theories set forth by previous researchers. 
Research methodology:  You are explaining the kind of research you connected, how you did it, why you chose the particular sources you are using, and how you analyzed the data you collected. 
Where your work fits into the puzzle: You explain how your findings fit into the body of your research topic. You are supposed to show how your paper finding relates to other existing gaps, previous research, current debates, and where it falls among further research in your field. 
Writing a literature review is no child's play. You will be required to write a literature review proposal and submit it to your instructor before getting started on the paper; this gives the instructor time to see what you intend to research on the methodology you plan on using. If needed, they will provide more feedback on what you should do, like new sources or methods to approach the topic of study. 
An abstract and the literature review are not the same. However, the literature review and the abstract are critical sections for your academic paper. The main goal of an abstract is to help you engage readers and the researcher to understand if your work is suitable for their research or academic objectives. The literature review aims to look at the behind-the-scenes of how you did your research.
Strategies For Writing the Literature Review
Here are quick tips for writing an outstanding literature review. 
Find A Focal Point
A literature review is always built upon ideas and not sources. Therefore, you are not just required to list the sources. Instead, you are required to delve into more details about each of the sources you used. As you read through the sources in your study area, be specific and only go for topics related to your study objectives.
What are the issues or themes that are reconnected? Is there any part or aspect that I am missing? What are the various viable solutions to the problems at hand?  How well has the existing literature presented tackled the issue in question?  Is there a new trend or debate in the field? Ask yourself the questions mentioned earlier and choose a focal point to settle on. 
Make It Clear To Your Reader
A literature review does not have a typical thesis statement; however, you must tell the reader what to expect in your paper. Make it clear to the reader what your main objective or principle is.
Organize Your Literature Review Logically 
You have a logical organization in your paper and be clear and direct. What are essential readings and subheadings that must appear in your documents? How and in what order are you going to present them? 
Begin By Covering the Basic Sections
Like most academic assignments, your literature review must contain three basic elements, introduction, body and conclusion. You can divide your paper into the following categories. 
·         Introduction: Provides a brief overview of the literature review's theme, such as the core concept or organizing pattern.
·         Body: Organizes your consideration of sources chronologically, thematically, or methodologically.
·         Conclusions/Recommendations: Discuss your findings from your literature review. How can the debate progress?

Organizing The Body Section
Once you've established the fundamental sections, you must determine how you'll present the sources individually within the body of your research. Create an organizational system to help you focus this section even more. Consider common approaches to organizing sources in a review, for example, by publication, chronological, trend, methodological, and thematic. 
Sometimes the literature review requires that you add some crucial sections that are into the body's typical sections.  Some of the other sections you could include in your literature review such as:
Methods and Standards: You can include the methods or criteria you used to choose sources in your literature review and how you have presented them. You can explain why you only used peer-reviewed journals or articles. 
History:  You can give step by step progress in your field of study, or that might be necessary to understand the topic in hand or an idea you need to understand the literature review. 
Current Situation: You can explain what is happening in the field or debates around your central theme that will help the reader understand the focus of your literature review. 
When Writing Your Literature Review 
In the body section, after you have settled on a general organization part, you should get done writing each section. Use these tips when writing the body section of your paper. 
Choose wisely
Only focus on the most relevant points from each source in the review. The information you include should be directly related to the review's subject, whether it be thematic, methodological, or chronological.
Back Your Evidence
When making your case, you should cite various sources. In this way, a literature review is similar to any other academic research work. Your understanding of the sources available must be supported by evidence to demonstrate that what you are stating is correct.
Be Careful When Paraphrasing
Ensure you provide the author's information or views accurately and provide the information of the original author. 
Synthesize and Summarize 
Always synthesize and summarize the sources you have used in each paragraph  in your literature review
Keep Your Voice
Although the literature review offers the thoughts of others, your voice should be distinguishable and central.
Use Quotes Sparingly
Some short quotes are OK, but if you want to stress a  point or can't write whatever the author said in your own words. You can quote phrases or terms that are not general knowledge coined by the authors or retrieved directly from the sources. If you need to add more quotes, speak to your instructor. 
Edit And Proofread 
With a draft in hand? You are now ready to revise. A significant rewriting is a good idea since your primary objective is to provide the material, not the argument. Review your review to ensure it adheres to the task and outline. Then, as with most other academic types of writing, revise or tweak the wording of your review to ensure that you've conveyed your findings succinctly.
Always use terminologies that are relative to your audience. Remove any redundant phrases or slang. Double-check your sources and formatting to ensure they are per the required instructions. 

Literature Review APA Format Guidelines
Some basic rules of APA format apply to any APA paper. These include:
Type on standard-size (8.5-inch by 11-inch) paper.
Have a 1-inch margin on all sides.
Have a title page, a reference list, and a byline.
Use an easy-to-read font such as Calibri or Times New Roman.
Double-space the whole paper.
Align text to the left-hand side.
Indent the first line of each paragraph by 0.5 inches.

The APA formatting style provides a few guidelines for writing a  literature review.  The literature review should:
Consist of four major sections: a title page, an abstract, the main body, and references
Find linkages, discrepancies, gaps, and contradictions in the present literature, which may include qualitative, quantitative, or other types of study.
give summaries and evaluations of research findings/theories from a specific discipline or field's research literature, recap prior research to inform readers of where research is today about the problem, explain and clarify the problem being reviewed, recommend next steps or additional research needed to solve the problem

MLA Literature Review Format
The MLA Handbook provides guidelines for creating MLA citations and formatting literature review papers.  Start by applying these MLA format guidelines to your document:
Times New Roman 12
1″ page margins
Double line spacing
½" indent for new paragraphs
Title case capitalization for headings
Writing a literature review Checklist
Here is a literature review checklist. Ensure that you have done the following:
Uncovered relevant and reliable (academic/scholarly) literature?
written an introduction, a body, and a conclusion
documented the sources' bibliographical information
discussed the various points of view
defined the goal and scope
recognized research and literature gaps
Research on theories / techniques / hypotheses / models
Have you analyzed and evaluated your readings
checked your spelling and punctuation?

Literature review topics 
Now that you understand how to write a literature review, it is time to roll your sleeves and get down to writing. Here is a list of literature review topics you can choose from. 
·         Examine racism in the 1960s and 1970s books.
·         Fiber's health benefits: study results
·         Eastern Europe's legal enforcement issues
·         Frederick Winslow, a scientist and inventor, was a contemporary of Benjamin Franklin. Taylor and scientific management principles
·         The impact of charity on the growth of brand loyalty
·         Central Venous Line (CVL) and Central Venous Access Device (CVAD) Importance (CVAD)
·         The impact of the European Court of Human Rights on law enforcement by local governments is examined.
·         Discuss the study methods applied to 3D technology in modern civil engineering and construction.
·         What you should know about the blood donation process before you donate
·         Discuss the literary representations of the American dream.
·         What do you believe has contributed to the success of "Harry Potter"?
·         Discuss Shakespeare's work.
·         The major charity's socioeconomic effects
·         Bulimia and anorexia: are these eating disorders caused by psychological problems?
·         Marketing campaign efficacy in IT startups: evaluation and analysis
·         Provide arguments for and against the primary issue.
·         Important writers and works on the chosen topic.
·         Examine the novel and science of the nineteenth century.
·         Is it appropriate to gender literature?
·         What stops people from getting out of poverty in developed nations
·         Ideas employed to make up for deficiencies.
·         Transplanting organs grown in a laboratory
·         Compare and contrast Ethics portrayed in different works of fiction.
·         How will jobs change in the future?
·         Fair distribution of economic resources and social needs
·         Possible relief from dry mouth caused by xylitol
·         Is There a Connection Between College Leadership and Professional Achievement?
·         The intersection of faith and writing.
·         How does music affect a person's mood, and how healthy are they psychologically?
·         Discuss the literature that makes use of made-up languages.
·         How healthcare reforms will help the national budget
·         How the public views modern American literature
·          Safeguarding a nation's ecosystem;
·         Analyze contemporary fiction and psychological fiction.
·         Describe how literature contributes to the cultural milieu of today.
·         Paid political ads versus unrestricted campaigning;
·         Examine the differences and similarities between utopian and dystopian works.
·         Wealth redistribution in times of economic hardship
·         Organizational culture's impact on productivity
·         problems with environmental law in Asian countries
·         Contemporary society, science fiction, and virtual reality
·         Improving nurses' educational and training standards
·         The implications for young people of legalizing medical marijuana use
·         Indicators of economic health and joblessness.
·         Theories in the realm of science and technology
·         The effects of welfare reform on neighborhood companies
·         A comparison of Eastern and Western literary traditions.
·         Discuss the limits of archaeology and English literature as disciplines that overlap.
·         Important phrases that were used in the studies.
·         Talk about works written in a "stream of consciousness" format.
·         How does disability appear in books for young adults?
·         Explain both sides of the argument that have been made about the issue.
·         Machine learning subtypes
·         Is there a gender that's right for books?
·         Talk about the top juvenile books published in the year 1900.
·         The academic study of the intersection of science, technology, and society
·         Explain the significance of philosophy in literature.
·         The Connection Between Organic Foods and Heart Disease
·         Digital libraries and the outcomes of their adoption
·         Analyze the relevance of past events to understanding contemporary writing.
·         C.S. Lewis's "The Abolition of Man" and the effects of technology on humanity and the natural world.
·         Why getting solar panels is a good idea.
·         In what ways have Latina authors contributed to culture?
·         The effect that reading has on young minds.
·         Reasons for Harry Potter's meteoric rise to fame.
·         Analyze Ernest Hemingway's renowned body of work.
·         Economic analysis of the evolution of corporate culture
·         In what ways do the worlds of faith and words intersect?
·         The United States Copyright Agency and its digital policies and procedures
·         The development of procedures and resources utilized by international criminal courts
·         The use of data mining to improve organizational operations.
·         Lawmaking and the Role of the Media;
·         What literary term best describes mythology?
·         Consider the literary portrayal of death as a character.
·         Guidelines for Working with Transgender People;
·         Is there a specific way to encourage bonding and creativity in children under five through reading?
·         Outsourcing has many benefits for large businesses.
·         Analyze works that feature made-up languages.
·         The evolution of the studied subject over time.
·         The role of literature in promoting male chauvinism
How to Write a Literature Review
Writing a literature review becomes easy with suitable sources and sufficient information. Make sure you choose the sources well and take your time to conduct research. Follow these steps to create an impressive literature review.
1.        Look for the Literature
Begin by searching for literature that is related to your research topic. You can brainstorm and list keywords that are related to the research questions. Use these keywords to search for sources. To find journals, explore databases such as JSTOR, EBSCO, Google Scholar, Medline, Inspec, etc. Read the abstract to know if the article is relevant to your topic. Also, read bibliographies in books to try and spot other sources.
2.        Evaluate Sources 
You probably have found many sources. Now it's time to select only the relevant ones. As you cannot read everything about the topic, ask yourself the following questions to help narrow down the sources. 

Ø  What problem is being addressed?
Ø  What are the main concepts, theories, models, and methods?
Ø  Does the author use an innovative approach or an established framework?
Ø  What are the findings?
Ø  What do the studies conclude?
Ø  Do the studies add, confirm or dispute existing knowledge?
Ø  What strengths and weaknesses can you find in the studies?

Take notes as you read the literature. You will later include these notes in your work. Also, begin compiling your citations onto your reference page. 
3.        Identify Gaps, Themes, and Conflicts
Look for trends over time, in theory, methodology and findings. Also, identify questions that keep appearing in the texts. Be keen to note areas where sources contradict. At the same time, check for issues the studies miss to address. 
4.        Identify the Organizational Pattern
Identify the way to organize your literature review. There are several ways you can arrange a literature review. You can organize it chronologically, thematically, theoretically, or methodologically. Sometimes you can use a combination of strategies depending on their length and purpose.
l  Chronological
The chronological approach presents the development of a subject over time. If you use this strategy, analyze the trends, the turning point, and any significant arguments that have significantly impacted the topic.
l  Methodological
This approach is best used when sources come from disciplines that use varying research methods. Compare the findings and the conclusion that comes from the different techniques.
l  Thematic
Sometimes, you will notice that your topic has some recurring themes. Where this is the case, subdivide the review into sections that discuss different aspects of the subject. 
l  Theoretical
You can use a literature review to discuss theories and define concepts. You could support a specific theoretical approach or put together various concepts to form a basis for your research.
5.       Write 
All forms of literature reviews are composed of an introduction, body, and conclusion. The introduction and the conclusion are short for literature reviews that are part of a research paper or dissertation. The ones that stand alone have a more detailed introduction and conclusion. At the same time, they allow you to have separate sections to write the goals and research methods.

The introduction paragraph discusses your topic and thesis. It also mentions the main literature pieces that will be reviewed. In stand-alone literature reviews, you can describe how you found the sources and analyzed them to include them in the review.

The body paragraphs consist of a summary of the key points of each source. This part allows you to interpret the texts and discuss the significance of the findings. Also, assess the strengths and weaknesses of the source. To create a good review flow, use transitions to link ideas and show comparison.
l  Conclusion
Finish the review by summarizing the articles' main findings and explaining their significance. Make sure to tie this summary back to the research problem. 

6.       Proofread and Edit
The last step is to proofread your work to check for any errors. You can use online tools such as Grammarly to identify and correct errors in grammar and spelling. Remove unnecessary information and include any missing information. Your literature is now ready for submission.


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