The Secrets to Writing a Stellar Literature Review – Actionable Tips

Literature Review Writing

So you are planning to prepare a literature review for your research paper? Writing a literature review is usual for students conducting their academic research. Although, for beginners, it deters them from moving forward with their literature review.

Let’s have a look at the few questions that arise in students’ minds:

  • What is a literature review?
  • How lengthy should it be?
  • How should we frame the structure?

This article includes a detailed survey of the literature resources you must conduct in your research paper. To make this journey more convenient and serene for you, our team of experts has listed a few guidelines and crucial aspects to frame a flawless literature review.

Let’s get started.

What is a Literature Review?

A literature review definition can be summarized in a simple abstract of the resources. It is a comprehensive review, information analysis, and a comprehensive explanation of literature on a selected subject area and a topic available in journal articles or academic books. However, unlike other papers, it must be presented in a systematic and organized manner. A literature review must perform an equal balance between showcasing both a summary and a synthesis.

A summary is a brief abstract of the entire crucial information on the subject, whereas synthesis is a detailed reshuffling or re-organizing of the data. It involves providing new aspects to the old information or combining advanced solutions to prior interpretations.

Major Components of the Literature Review

Irrespective of the types, a fine piece of literature review must consist of these major components:

  • Introduction: This part of your literature review must provide a short detail of your upcoming topic. Mention the type of sources to be used in your literature review and the background structure of your topic. Elaborate on the purpose of your literature review and the questions in your literature review.
  • Definition: In this section, define the prior purpose of your literature review, and describe the specific terms that you have used in your literature review.
  • Theories:  Define what theories you have presented in your paper. After that, explain the framework you want to use to structure your literature review report. Lastly, include the theories and the paradigms you have conducted in your literature review.
  • Key concepts: This section must conclude with the necessary themes and sub-themes that emerged in your paper. Synchronize the research findings into an organized framework.
  • Gaps in the literature: Provide a different aspect to your paper by finding and adding missing pieces and loopholes in the previous research. Mention them in your literature review. These pieces of information always carry additional unexplored research; mention those loopholes. It would be an excellent way to make your paper different from others. Open unexplored questions and arguments. Cover the aspects that you omitted earlier.
  • Conclusion: Here, give a thorough hint to your readers. Where is this topic heading? What is upcoming for the readers in your research paper etc.
  • References:  Here, list down all the sources and references that you have used in your research paper.

Purpose of a Literature Review

The sole purpose of creating a literature review is to manifest your authority and credibility in your research. Without providing prior credibility, your research findings are considered nothing but your outlooks based on existential methodologies or assumptions.

A literature review is more than just a chronological index of the data. Rather it must:

  • Identify and outline the major issues you are studying
  • Manifests the critical overview of the sources on the selected subject or topic
  • Provide a delivered explanation of the arguments
  • Provide the background and discoveries of the research topic in an organized way.

It mainly evaluates current information by:-

  • Finding unexplored aspects in the known information
  • Showing drawbacks and limitations of the proposed arguments and theories
  • Specify suggestions for additional establishments.

Types of the Literature Review

The structure depends on your discipline and whether you are a student or a researcher conducting a PhD. Literature reviews for an undergraduate degree vary comprehensively with a PhD student.

Based on the formations and structures, professors ask students to write four types of literature review:

Scoping Review – A kind of research that aims on mapping the interpretations of a selected research area. It allows identifying the gaps in the research, and the sources included in the shreds of evidence, key concepts, etc.

Narrative Review – This literature review, analyses only publishes literature on a broad subject. It employs a narrative framework to conduct the review findings.

Rapid review – This method assesses the issue by engaging a systematic methodology to appraise and search the evidence and analyze the effective practice.

Systematic Review – It is a systematic method that evaluates synthesis and appraising the research evidence to ensure best and optimum practices. This method varies in approach and is often specific to the type of subject.

Brief Comparison Between All Types of Literature Reviews
Scoping Review Narrative Review Rapid Review Systematic Review
Risk of Bias Moderate risk of bias. Includes high risk of bias. Decreased risk of bias. Extreme low risk of bias.
Approx Time Frame 3 months to 8 weeks. 2 to 4 weeks. 3 to 7 months. 9 months to 2 years.
Comprehensiveness Comprehensiveness is possibly incomplete. It depends on the writer. Moderate comprehensiveness Extremely comprehensive.
No. of Reviewers  1-2 reviewers 1 reviewer 2 reviewer 2 or more reviewers

How to Write a Literature Review for a Research Paper

Now that you have thoroughly understood the concepts of literature review, let us dive deeper into the simple and easy steps for writing a literature review:

Step 1: The First Step First, To Review the Format

Before writing your literature review, get acquainted with the literature review formatand guidelines. Let’s understand several reasons why you should do this:

  • To have a piece of comprehensive knowledge about the author(s) of the sources you are operating in your study.
  • Enhance the credibility of your research paper.
  • Authorize your audience to find detailed information if required.

Make sure you provide sufficient credit to the authors’ work whenever you:

  • Quote directly
  • Make summary
  • Paraphrase
  • Include relatively unexplored points
  • Includes evidence that relates to your arguments

Step 2: Define Your Goals

If you are drafting a research paper, create an outline with a clear structure. Before moving forward with discovering resources, narrow down your research focus to a specific question. If you are evaluating scientific arguments and theses, develop a hypothesis for them. Before initiating your research paper, embroider a proper background and the purpose of your project. Once you have pointed clear and specific thesis, write down a list of keywords related to your thesis so that you can use them to ensure your source-gathering process is more compelling.

Step 3: Execute a Proper Research

Using the keywords lists, search for major sources through your library or from databases such as Google Scholar, EBSCO, JSTOR, etc. When you find authentic sources, read the abstracts to ensure they pertain to your research topic and are written by authentic writers. This quick preview would enable you to narrow down a collection of data, insights, and additional authentic content required in your research. It includes books, articles, dissertations, conferences, etc.

Step 4: Pinpoint Structured Themes within Your Literature

Read every source that you have narrowed down. When you are conducting our research, take a prior note of the themes present in the sources, and ask relevant questions like:

  • What is the point of the disagreement?
  • How is each author sustaining their argument?
  • Do more or more than two authors agree on the identical theme? If no, then mention the grounds.

Carefully examine the research method that each author has utilized. Note the critical insights and how each reference contributes to the existing research or hypothesis. Explore where the theories agree or expand upon each other or where the results were recreated. If you have been involved in any experimentation, outline whether the results were replicated or not.

Step 5: Draft a Synopsis or Outline

Once you have understood the themes, patter, and their relevance to each other, it is time to organize a precise structure about how to operate them in your content. Outlining is one of the most important parts of a literature review.

There are a few different aspects that you can employ to organize your review. You can structure it chronologically. It comprises sequencing and discussing the oldest and current data you have enclosed.

You can consider arranging your sources according to an illustrative theme. In it, you are supposed to create a different section for the themes you have included in your review. Another way to organize your data would be to categorize them according to the methodologies used by distinct authors.

The most effective way to structure your literature review depends on your subject area. In humanities, offering sources chronologically or according to the patterns can strongly influence your readers. It showcases how the existing research has evolved from your paper.

Whereas in science, it’s persuasive to organize your sources as per their research methods would guide you to understand why the present scholarly consensus is the way it is.

Step 6: It’s Finally Time to Pen Down Your Literature Review

Once you have outlined the significant aspects of your literature review, it’s time to begin your writing. In almost all cases, a literature review uses in third-person cases. For instance, you might articulate an article referring to “this article argue….” Or “in this work, the author…..”

However, when you are referring to your research, writing in the first person is deemed appropriate. For instance, if you are referring to a study or source from the aforementioned research that you have conducted, you would use a phrase like “I want to cite “I plead”, “through my paper, I discovered…”

Don’t forget to utilize a distinctive technique for your research paper. Likewise, use the same scholarly technique you will use later in your research paper. Do not restrict the information by only list down. Try to describe, interpret and provide critical arguments for your paper. Do not restrict your paper by settling down on every source. If you have essential arguments related to them, imply them and mention your outlooks. It enables a powerful foothold for your literature review and later for your research paper as a whole.

Lastly! Don’t forget to mention an annotated bibliography for all your included sources. If you failed to mention sources, it would be conducted as plagiarized content. It might even disqualify your whole composition.

Literature Review Examples

Reading a former literature review, especially in your significant field, would extensively help you. It would guide you in understanding the concepts about how you accomplished it and what you ought to include in your paper. You can even find some literature review samples on your university website.

Length of a Literature Review

The length of a literature review relies on the number of sources, facts, and concepts cited in the literature review. The report’s length depends on how vast your topic is, the rank of agreement and disagreement in it, and at last, the precise depth of the subject analysis.

If the area of research is specific, only limited sources would be available for the assessment. However, if the topic is selectively vast, it would require variable sources to frame a bigger picture for your potential readers.

Nevertheless, if your topic includes disagreements, it would require more relevant sources and data to showcase the varying arguments.

An Exceptional Literature Review Doesn’t –

  • Only list down the unauthentic sources in your paper.
  • Present sources that are not relevant to your paper. It would frustrate the readers, and they would end you losing track of the designated topic.
  • Establish a literature review with sentences such as “several researchers have deeply analyzed this relation”,…..and simply listing down what each of the scholars has added in their paper is not going to enhance your research paper.

An Excellent Literature Review Does-

  • Showcase a brief typology that classifies the articles and books to enable readers to focus on unresolved arguments, tensions, and new suggestions or topics about the topic.
  • Summarize the crucial aspects related to your research area.
  • Synthesize the previous research. Identify crucial loopholes in the previous research and areas of errors and disagreements in the selected areas.
  • Provides the readers with a thorough understanding of the topic’s background structure, showcases the important studies, and highlights common errors in the previous studies.

Final Thoughts

After finalizing your paper, don’t omit to proofread your paper once or twice if necessary. If you find this task difficult, you can seek our assistance with paper help services. We assist in variable writing styles with competent proofreading services and editing services, including thesis proposals, research papers, thesis statements, dissertation papers, etc.

Thank you for giving your precious time and reading our article. We hope this article has helped make your horrendous writing journey easy and effective.

By Alex Brown

I'm an ambitious, seasoned, and versatile author. I am experienced in proposing, outlining, and writing engaging assignments. Developing contagious academic work is always my top priority. I have a keen eye for detail and diligence in producing exceptional academic writing work. I work hard daily to help students with their assignments and projects. Experimenting with creative writing styles while maintaining a solid and informative voice is what I enjoy the most.