“A literature review is an essential part of academic research that involves the analysis, synthesis, and evaluation of existing literature on a specific topic.” If this piece of information is hard to understand, read this post to learn how to write a literature review that checks all the boxes.What is a Literature Review?
Think of a literature review as a recap of the existing knowledge about your research topic. Like a recap at the start of your favorite TV show, it catches the reader up on the existing knowledge. But it does more than that.
Since it’s academic, it also points out the loopholes or gaps in previous research. Then, it explains how the new research plans to fill those gaps. So, a literature review is like a summary of what’s been studied before, focusing on what’s missing and how the new research aims to contribute.
But how does this part of the paper unpack all of that knowledge to the reader? Every literature review has the following elements to help unfold the relevant information to the reader.
The overview contains a survey of scholarly sources. A bird’s-eye view of the entire data, including analysis of relevant theories, methods, points of view and gaps in the existing literature.
A research question is a specific problem or inquiry a researcher aims to investigate. It guides the entire research process. The research question shapes the literature review, focusing on relevant studies.
The literature review informs and supports the research question by providing context, theories, methodologies, and empirical findings. Together, they form a symbiotic relationship in the research process.
Discussion entails presenting key findings, methodologies, and theories to substantiate your argument. It establishes the credibility of your research and its contribution to the existing literature.
By highlighting these, your research can address specific knowledge deficiencies. This discussion strengthens your research rationale by providing supporting evidence, addressing gaps, and situating your study within the academic discourse.
For many students, the length of a literature review is a real head-scratcher. But it’s nothing to be worried about. The length of a literature review depends on the length of the research paper itself.
Suppose you’re working on a 10-page research paper; having around 5 to 7 sources for your literature review is generally recommended. However, the most accurate way to determine the required number of sources is by consulting your instructor or professor or reviewing the guidelines provided in your paper prompt.
Another way to ensure the appropriate length of a literature review is to plan. Use your research paper outline to assign a word count or a number of sources.
Writing a strong literature review benefits the reader and the writer in several ways. Following is a detailed note on the common advantages of writing a solid literature review in a research.
A well-conducted literature review demonstrates the researcher’s command and familiarity with the subject matter. It also helps ensure that their research is grounded in a solid understanding of the current state of knowledge on the topic.
A solid literature review helps develop a theoretical framework for the research project. These are the foundation upon which the research is built, providing a lens through which the research questions, hypotheses, and methodology are developed and interpreted.
By identifying the key theories and models in the existing literature, the researcher can establish a coherent and robust theoretical framework that guides their study and informs their analysis and interpretation of the findings.
A literature review allows the researcher to position themselves within the academic community by comparing and contrasting their work with that of other scholars and writers. By critically evaluating the strengths and weaknesses of existing studies.
This not only demonstrates the researcher’s awareness of the broader scholarly conversation but also helps situate their work within the context of existing knowledge and debates.
One of the primary goals of a literature review is to ensure that the researcher’s study is original and contributes to the advancement of knowledge in the field. A thorough review of the existing literature, can identify any duplication and avoid unnecessary repetition.
By investing the time and effort to conduct a comprehensive and insightful literature review, researchers can lay the foundation for a successful research project that advances knowledge in their field.
Like many other parts of a research paper, a literature review also has types. Each of these types has its unique focus and approach. Below we have discussed the 6 main forms of literature review.
A historical review focuses on the development of a particular subject or field over time. The aim of a historical review is to;
A methodological review examines the research methodology used in previous studies on a specific topic. The goal of this literature review is to;
A systematic review is a structured approach to reviewing the literature on a specific research question. It involves;
Systematic reviews are often used in evidence-based practice and policy-making, as they provide a full summary of current knowledge on a given topic.
A theoretical review focuses on analyzing and synthesizing existing theories, models, or frameworks related to a specific topic. When learning how to write a literature review, focus on this form as it aims to;
An argumentative review critically evaluates the existing literature on a specific topic to support or refute a particular argument or hypothesis. It involves;
This review is helpful for researchers who want to question widely accepted theories or ideas in their field. It’s also useful for suggesting different explanations for a specific thing happening.
An integrative review is important to understand when learning how to write a literature review. This form of review aims to;
This type of review is useful for researchers who want to develop a holistic understanding of a complex issue or explore the interconnections between different aspects of a subject.
By choosing the appropriate type of literature review, researchers can effectively address their research question, contribute to advancing knowledge in their field, and inform future research and practice.
Writing a literature review while composing the rest of the paper can become confusing. Experts suggest that before you even start a research paper, learn how to write a literature review properly. Below is a thorough guide on composing a literature review, outlining the key steps and offering practical tips for success.
The first step in writing a literature review is to search for relevant literature on your topic. Begin by conducting a comprehensive search of electronic databases, such as;
Look for appropriate journals, books, and articles. You must use relevant keywords and phrases. Consult your library’s catalog and reference lists of related articles to identify additional sources. Keep track of the sources you find, as you will need to reference them in your review.
Once you have gathered a list of sources, carefully analyze each to determine its relevance and quality. Consider the following criteria when evaluating sources:
Select the most relevant, authentic, high-quality sources for your literature review. Take detailed notes on their key findings, arguments, and implications. Ideally, focusing on citing a paper at this stage is the most convenient.
Unlike fiction or literary writing, academic paper readers prefer clear and explicit articulation. After analyzing the sources, look for connections and relationships between them. Identify common themes, patterns, or trends in the literature and areas of disagreement or controversy.
Consider how different perspectives or approaches can be integrated to address your research question and how your study can build on or contribute to the existing knowledge on the topic. This will help you in organizing a paper that is digestible for any level of reader. .
Before you start writing, decide on the structure of your literature review. This will depend on the nature of your research question and the connections you have identified between your sources. Common structures for literature reviews include:
With your structure in mind, begin writing your literature review. Start with an introduction that provides an overview of your research question and the purpose of your review. The body of your review must have the following;
Conclude your review with a summary of the main points, a discussion of the gaps or limitations in the existing literature, and the potential avenues for future research.
Finally, carefully edit and proofread your literature review to ensure it is clear, coherent, and error-free. Check your grammar, punctuation, and spelling, and ensure your writing is well-organized and flows logically. Ensure all sources are properly cited and referenced according to your chosen citation style.
By following these steps and tips on writing a literature review, you can create a comprehensive and insightful review of the existing literature on your topic, demonstrating your understanding of the subject and contributing to advancing knowledge in your field.
It is always tricky to tackle literature reviews, so our writers have compiled this list of additional tips to help polish your research. Furthermore, you research our experts to get paper writing help for a quick fix.
A literature review is a crucial academic research component, requiring careful planning, organization, and analysis. However, students often make mistakes during the process that can undermine the quality and effectiveness of their review. Here are ten common mistakes to avoid when writing a literature review:
By avoiding these common mistakes, students can improve the quality and effectiveness of their literature review, ensuring that it provides a solid foundation for their research project and contributes to advancing knowledge in their field.
This was one of our takes on literature reviews. If you liked this post, check out our detailed tutorials on research paper writing. However, we understand that learning to write a literature review can take a while.
But you can always find a good platform to get a research paper writer. If you’re dealing with a lot of academic stress due to your research paper, turn your luck around. Experience the power of our unparalleled writing assistance, tailored to meet your needs of striving for academic excellence.
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