How to Write a Literature Review - Writing Steps and More!

how to write a literature review

Writing a literature review for the first time? Check out this blog on how to write a literature review.

It is an important part of a research paper and you cannot proceed further without it. Therefore, it is important that you understand what a literature review is and how to write one properly.

Here is a complete blog that will guide you properly. Get started now!

What is a Literature Review?

A literature review is a compilation and critical evaluation of existing research on a particular topic. It provides and explains a detailed overview of the current state of knowledge on the topic and identifies any gaps in the research.

It helps to establish what is already known about the topic and how it has been studied so far.

Why Write a Literature Review?

A literature review is an important part of any research project. It helps to:

  • Show that you have thoroughly researched the topic and are familiar with the existing literature and its central themes
  • Identify any gaps in the research and suggest ways to fill these gaps
  • Demonstrate your understanding of the topic and your ability to critically evaluate the research
  • Make your project more robust by including a critical evaluation of the existing research

(back to top)

Literature Review Outline

There are several strategies to structure a literature review. Before you begin writing, have a general idea of how you want to approach the project.

You may mix and match a variety of instructional writing techniques provided what the length of your literature review is.

Chronological

Tracing the history of a subject is one of the most common approaches. However, if you use this method, keep in mind that simply listing and summarizing sources isn't enough.

Examine trends, turning points, and other major researches that have helped the field and its evolution. Make a statement regarding how and why particular developments occurred.

Thematic

If you've discovered a few main themes, you may arrange your literature review into divisions that focus on various aspects of the subject.

Key themes in this example could be healthcare policy, language barriers, cultural attitudes, legal status, and economic access when reading material on migrant health disparities.

Methodological

If you use different kinds of research techniques and sources, you may need to compare the results that are obtained through different methods.

Here is an example;

  • Notice what results you got from quantitative versus qualitative research.
  • Discuss how the subject has been researched using empirical or theoretical methods.
  • Divide the material into sociological, historical, and cultural sources.

Theoretical

A literature review is frequently the basis for a theoretical framework. It may be used to debate a variety of theories, models, and definitions of key terms.

You might defend the usefulness of a certain theoretical approach or a combination of various theoretical ideas to build a framework for your study.

(back to top)

How to Write a Literature Review?

There is no one formula for writing a literature review. Here are the steps to write a good and effective literature review;

  • 1. Look for relevant research

    Before you start looking for papers, you'll need to have a clear idea of what you're looking for.

    When preparing a literature review for a thesis, dissertation, or research paper, you'll search for sources relevant to your research question and problem.

    If you're doing a literature review as a standalone project, you'll have to pick a topic and come up with questions that are relevant and would give a proper direction to your research.

    This question must be answerable without gathering new data. You should be able to respond to it based on only existing publications.

  • 2. Make a List of Keywords

    Create a list of keywords that are relevant to your study question. Add each key idea or variable that is of interest, as well as any synonyms and related terms. If you find new keywords while conducting your research, add them to this list.

  • 3. Search for Reputable Sources

    To begin searching for sources, use your keywords. The following databases may be useful when looking for journal articles and papers:

  • 4. Examine and choose sources

    You won't be able to read everything that's been written about it, so you'll have to choose which sources are most important to your inquiries.

    For each publication, consider the following questions:

    • What is the author's goal in writing this essay?
    • What are the key ideas and how are they defined?
    • What are the most important concepts, theories, and techniques? Is the study conducted in a conventional way or with an innovative technique?
    • What were the findings and conclusions of the study?
    • What other publications have been cited? In what ways does this book or article strengthen or contradict established wisdom?
    • What are the essay's primary ideas and arguments? What is its significance in your professional development as a writer?
    • What are the strengths and limitations of the study?

    Make certain the sources you employ are genuine, and that you're familiar with significant research and key theories in your field of study.

    See how frequently a scholarly article or paper has been cited through Google Scholar, which is a good indication of its popularity and impact in the discipline.

    Your review will be based on your subject and field of study: in the sciences, you just look at contemporary research, but in the humanities, you may need to explain the historical aspect in detail.

  • 5. Identify the Issues, Themes, and Gaps

    You must first understand the relationships and connections between the sources you've looked at in order to properly structure your review’s arguments.

    You may find the following based on your readings and notes:

    • Trends and patterns (in theory, methodology, or results) - Is it true that some strategies become more or less popular over time?
    • Themes - What themes do the works have in common?
    • Debates, conflicts, and contradictions: where do the sources differ in theme and idea?
    • Significant Studies - Are there any major theories or studies that significantly influenced the field's progress?
    • Gaps: What are the strengths and weaknesses of this study? Are there any shortcomings that need to be addressed?

    This stage will assist you in determining the format of your literature review as well as the way your research will help expand field knowledge.

  • 6. Outline the structure of your literature review

    Outlining is an important writing step and one that you must not miss in any way. It helps you plan your paper ahead and work according to it.

    It also ensures that you do not miss any important details and complete your paper on time.

  • 7. Write your literature review

    Your literature review should consist of an introduction, the main body, and a conclusion in the same way that any other academic work does. The objective of your literature study will determine what you include in each section.

    • Introduction

      The introduction should describe the literature review's subject and goal in a single sentence. It should also provide a brief overview of the structure of the review.

    • Body

      You can divide the body of your essay into sections based on the length of your literature evaluation. For each topic, time period, or methodological approach you wish to address, use a subheading.

      You may use these guidelines while you write:

      • Summarize and synthesize - Distill the main ideas of each source into a cohesive whole.
      • Analyze and interpret - Don't just repeat what other people have said—add your own judgments where feasible, and discuss the significance of findings in light of the rest of the literature.
      • Examine critically - Identify the strengths and limitations of your sources.
      • Write in clearly organized paragraphs - Use transition words to tie ideas together, compare and contrast them, convey comparisons or contrasts.
    • Conclusion

      Finally, in the conclusion, summarize the main findings that you have discovered from the literature, as well as their importance.

      You can also use this section to discuss any gaps in the literature that your study will address.

    Related: Easy to Understand Steps on How To Write A Conclusion

  • 8. Cite your sources

    Whenever you refer to, quote, or paraphrase from another author's work, you must include a citation.

    There are a variety of ways to do this, but the most common is to use an in-text citation followed by a full bibliography at the end of your work. Sometimes teachers ask for an annotated bibliography before you work on your paper.

    Include an in-text citation whenever you refer to, quote, or paraphrase from another author's work.

    The basic format for an in-text citation is the author's last name and the year of publication.

    If you use more than one source by the same author in a single paragraph, you can abbreviate the author's name by using only the first letter of the surname and adding "et al." after it.

    Here's an example:

    “Research shows that there is a significant correlation between immigration and crime rates (Smith 2016; Brown et al. 2017).”

(back to top)

Literature Review Examples

Learning by examples is a great way to learn something in less time. Here are some examples to help you get started;

How to Write a Literature Review for a Research Paper

How to Write a Literature Review for a Research Paper

How to Write a Literature Review for a Dissertation

How to Write a Literature Review for a Dissertation

(back to top)

Tips to Write a Good Literature Review

Here are the tips to write a good and impressive literature review;

  • Follow the instructions - This is the most important step of writing a literature review. Make sure to read the instructions carefully and understand them before you start writing.
  • Take your time - Do not rush through the process of writing your literature review. Rushing will only lead to mistakes and poor quality work.
  • Start with an outline - An outline will help you to stay organized and ensure that your review is cohesive.
  • Write in your own words - Do not simply copy and paste information from the sources you are reviewing. This will not only be plagiarism, but it will also be ineffective in demonstrating your understanding of the material.
  • Be critical - Evaluate the sources you are reviewing and think critically about their strengths and weaknesses.
  • Use examples - Examples will help to illustrate your points and make your review more engaging.
  • Proofread - Make sure to proofread your work for errors before submitting it.

By following these tips, you can write a good literature review that will impress your instructor.

If you need some help with your work, you can always rely on our writing service. YourEssayWriter.net is an expert essay writer help that has professional and dedicated writers. Once you place the order, one of our experts will contact and work with you.