Time to a literature review?

Time to write your dissertation or thesis?

Do you know how to write a literature review?

Do you have the requisite skills?

Note that literature review is a necessity when writing different papers.

So, what does it entail?


Literature review usually comes after writing an annotated bibliography.

This demands and understanding of the importance of a literature review as well as the process of conducting a literature review for research.

Literature review entails an overview of key writings such as books, scholarly articles, government publications, conference proceedings, and dissertations on a particular issue, a certain theory, or within a certain research area.

The review seeks to provide a summary, a description, and critical analysis of each writing.

In this, literature review could involve a basic summary of entailed sources or a collection of well-organized, summarized and synthesized sources.

While the summary focuses on restating key information in the source, synthesis looks at re-organizing the information with the intention of acquiring new interpretations or outlining advancements in a field.

Purpose of Literature Review

When it comes to how to write a literature review, a clear understanding of the entailed purpose comes in handy. You are usually required to demonstrate an in-depth understanding of previous written works on a particular topic area.

In doing so, you should be guided by the below purposes:

1. Identifying areas covered by previous scholars

In this, the literature should seek to clearly explore different and key areas of a topic covered by previous studies.

2. Highlighting the contribution of the source

This entails contextualizing the source within a particular research area, topic, or theory.

Per se, you should relate each source to the phenomenon you intend to explore.

3. Establishing the relationship between the sources under review

When conducting a literature review, it is important to illustrate how all the sources that have been selected relate to each other.

This relationship is very essential as it defines different patterns and processes.

4. Identifying novel ways to deduce and pinpoint gaps in previous studies

This is a critical objective of literature review as it helps make the impending study more focused.

5. Identifying avenues for further research

Accordingly, literature review should act as a guide on new research areas to focus on with the intention of addressing the identified research gaps.

Tips on how to Write a Literature Review

There are various measures that you should take to help develop a top quality literature review.

These measures are essential in ensuring that the intended purpose is realized.

Such measures may include:

1. Ensuring clarity of the entailed requirements

This is an important measure on how to write a literature review.

Accordingly, it is essential that you clearly understand what is expected from the literature review.

This requires you to seek clarifications on vague or unspecific issues. Issues that require clarification may encompass:

-Type of sources to be used.

-Number of sources required.

-Whether to evaluate the sources.

-Nature of the review (whether it is a synthesis, summary, or critique).

-Whether to divide the review into categories using subheadings.

-Whether to include background information like history or definitions. [nbsp]

2. Establishing models

When it comes to how to write a literature review with superior qualities, it is critical that you establish different themes within literature in the topic area you seek to study.

This requires expansive reading of materials in the identified topic area guided by the intention to find similarities and patterns.

These themes should determine how you organize the final review.

Notably, the models define the specific areas you need to explore more, or less in the study of a particular topic.

They give you the idea on what to look for in the literature.

3. Narrowing down the topic

You should note that the scope of your topic determines the number of sources required to adequately cover a particular topic area.

This is with the understanding that there are a myriad of sources that are closely or loosely related to a topic area.

It is therefore your duty to identify the boundaries of the phenomenon under study.

As such, before embarking on the review, you should clearly define and narrow your scope.

This should be done in consultation with your instructor.

4. Embracing a particular focus

On the subject of how to write a literature review that captures the interest of the instructor, it is critical to adopt a specific focus in your literature review.

This entails organizing your work around particular ideas rather than the sources.

The core of the work should be specific themes in the area under study.

Accordingly, you should not analyze sources independently, and instead, you should combine content with similar themes, patterns, or issues from the different sources.

In so doing, you should examine whether the sources advocate for similar or different solutions or approaches to the concerned phenomenon, the presence of potential gaps, their application of theory, how they reflect trends, or how they view the particular arguments.

5. Adopting a good organization

Organization looks at how you present your ideas. In this, you should establish the different areas, topics, and subtopics you need to cover, their level of significance, and their correct sequence.

Usually, a literature review should have an introduction, a body, and a conclusion.

The introduction should encompass a brief highlight of the review, including the main theme or entailed organization.

The body should contain an analysis of the sources in a methodical, thematic, or chronological manner.

Lastly, the conclusion should be constituted of the summary on what was learned from the review and potential direction of the topic under study.

Steps on how to Write a Literature Review

Writing a literature review should be a systematic process.

This requires you to observe numerous steps and measures to help adequately addressed the topic area in question.

Per se, the entailed steps are as discussed below.

1. Establishing the purpose of the literature review

This should be the first step and it looks at the issue(s) you intend to address.

In light of how to write a literature review that leaves the right impression, it is important to clearly identify the prevailing purpose.

You should re-examine the requirements for your work and the entailed criteria rubric to identify what you should focus on.

Herein, you should ask yourself questions on what you are required to do and what you should intend to discover in the review.

This should be combined with knowledge in areas related to the topic under study.

Note that the purpose can only be established after clearly determining the topic and narrowing it down.

For more advanced works, you should work closely with your instructor to help define the purpose.

2. Gathering the sources

This step entails conducting an in-depth search for appropriate literature on the topic.

When it comes to how to write a literature review with superior characteristics, you should aim for different current, relevant, and authoritative scholarly or academic sources.

As earlier mentioned, this requires the inclusion of different categories of materials like journal articles, books, conference proceedings, government publications, and organizations’ websites.

The search should start from your local library then extend to other resource centers like online libraries and government data bases. Importantly, you should establish the number of sources considered adequate for your work. Such a number varies with the nature of the study.

Note that college and undergraduate level works usually demand fewer sources compared to graduate and postgraduate thesis papers, dissertations, and capstone projects.

3. Reading and evaluating the sources

This step entails going through the sources gathered to establish their relevancy and suitability. The sources need to be reliable and current.

You should understand that although in some cases old sources are equally good as new, fields like sciences require up to date sources.

For instance, medications and practices in fields like nursing, medicine, or psychology are bound to keep on changing due to new research.

It is therefore important to ensure that the content of your sources is current and in tandem with the present advancements in the field.

Note that sources could be obsolete within less than two years based on the rate of new research.

However, in fields such as social sciences, history, and humanities, old sources may be appropriate.

This is particularly in cases where you are required to review changes in perspectives over time.

You should take notes as you read the sources to help organize encompassed ideas and themes.

It is advisable to use a table, concept map, or matrix to help build relationships between the different sources.

4. Analyzing the sources

Rules on how to write a literature review requires you conduct an effective analysis.

In this, the analysis process involves a critical evaluation of the sources.

To help realize such an evaluation, you should consider the following areas:

-The relevance of the source to the topic under study.

-Key concepts and terms.

-Fundamental patterns, trends, and relationships.

-Credibility and authority of the source.

-The structure of the arguments.

-Similarities and difference between the sources.

-Gaps that may require further study.