What is a literature review?
A literature review is an integral part of any research conducted on the selected topic. By the process of literature review, it is intended to draft a critical summary of the scholarly works published on the selected topic. All the current advancements in the relevant theories of the selected topics could be determined by conducting a literature review. Without knowing how to write a literature review, the research would be considered incomplete. The elementary components of a literature review are: –
Purpose of drafting a relevant literature review
By drafting a literature review, the real position of the research presented by the author could be assessed. At the same time, the reader would get a review of the significant publications on a particular topic. The current advancement in the selected theme or issue until the date could be assessed by conducting a valid literature review. The choice of the sources in the literature review would also give an idea regarding the real intention of doing the research.
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Literature review comes handy for the people who have less time to research a particular topic. Literature reviews provide a brief but thorough overview of the sources compiled regarding a theme. The arguments made by all the relevant scholars regarding a particular subject could be understood by just referring to the literature review. However, the literature review compiled in an academic task signifies the in-depth knowledge of the author in the respective discipline. It is based on the literature reviews that the new insight put forward in the research paper depends upon. It is mostly in the science and social science research papers that the literature review is included as an integral component. Hence students from such disciplinary background must know how to write a literature review.
Factors to be noted before learning how to write a literature review
Before moving on to the discussion of how to write a literature review, we should discuss some essential steps to be taken before it.
Confirm that your sources are not very old and obsolete
The majority of the disciplines all around the world are changing on a very constant basis because of frequent researches. It is the discipline related to science that is developing very rapidly. In the discipline like Information and Technology, the sources older than two years are considered to be obsolete. If considered the disciplines of social studies, extensive research is to be needed along with a sequence of sources. However, the concepts and perspective regarding a historical event keep on changing with a period of time. You could refer to other similar literature reviews and bibliographies to devise out how to write a literature review in your selected discipline. Referring to another literature review would also provide you with an idea about the frequently discussed themes in the discipline.
Seek for clarity
You should approach your tutor or professor if you face any sort of confusion or lack of clarification regarding the assigned task of the literature review. We have listed down some of the obvious doubts faced by the students before drafting a literature review.
Streamline or narrow down your selected topic
If searched online, you could find a plethora of sources regarding a single theme. It would be hard to research a topic that is very wide in scope. It would be easier and effective if the keywords regarding the research would be made a little specific. It would filter out the irrelevant sources out of your search list. Only by surveying a good list of sources, you could bring quality to the literature review. The task of the literature review doesn’t expect the reader to explore all the sources related to the assigned topic. Try to select only relevant and prominent sources.
Refer to other literature review models
By reading similar literature review in the same discipline, you could determine the level to which the selected topic would create an impact over your submission. Referring to other sample literature review papers would also give an idea regarding the standard format to be followed in such papers. You could also refer to the bibliography section of the sources you are referring to for your research. They are also an excellent example of literature reviews.
We anticipate that you are now ready to learn how to write a literature review. Let’s check some essential tips.
How to write a literature review?
>Create a central theme for the paper: Unlike an annotated bibliography, where the sources are just listed down and elaborated specifically, the literature review requires the content to be organized around a single idea. The abstract description of the content mentioned in random sources is not expected in the task of the literature review. Try to select the sources which are relevant to your selected topic and contribute highly to the drafted literature review. If the selected sources are contradictory to each other, then arriving at a common conclusion would be difficult for the author. Try to check the below parameters before selecting the sources for the literature review.
Try to convey the intended idea to the audience: Though the flow of a generic academic paper could not be observed in a literature review, the audience should be introduced with the content to be mentioned in the presented paper. You could draft a simple statement in the initial section of the paper, which represents the below-provided content.
Generic format on how to write a literature review: It is after drafting the introductory sentence that you have thought the basic format and structure to be followed in the whole paper. The tutor would not take the paper with poor format seriously. The written paper should satisfy the generic academic format for the literature review.
Focus on the basics: The basic format of all the academic papers (Introduction, Body, and Conclusion) should be followed in the task of literature review. The initial section of the paper should discuss the background of the selected topic or issue, the body section should discuss the common argument developed by referring to the sources, and the concluding section should provide the core observation and recommendation to solve the issue.
Introduction – Briefly mention the basic idea of the subject to be discussed in the literature review. The section should be utilized by the author to present the central theme and the contextual sequence followed in the paper.
Body – The discussion by relying on the referred sources should be conducted in this section. The student is expected to follow the exact format mentioned by the tutor in this section.
Conclusion – The major conclusion that you have arrived by conducting the literature review should be mentioned in this section of the paper. Try to provide some valid recommendations which could be referred by the juniors for future studies.
Format to be followed in the body section: The formatting of the body section is very crucial in the literature review. As per the academic conventions, the body sections of the literature review could be organized in various formats. Below are listed down some of the conventional formats on how to write a literature review.
Chronological – In this approach, the sources referred to in the literature review are listed as per the date of their publications. There is a strong chance that the author would struggle to maintain the contextual continuity in this format. The point of interest in a particular subject changes significantly with the course of time. The author is required to maintain the focus of the discussion while maintaining the chronological format in the body section of the paper.
Thematic – The arrangement of the sources is done as per the basic theme of the paper rather than following the chronology in this approach. However, the factor of time could not be negated in the case of the thematic approach. The progress of theme with respect to time is very important, but it is the actual evolution process that is majorly stressed upon rather than the period in which it had happened.
Trend – As per this approach, the sources in the literature review could be organized by a particular trend followed in a particular decade or era. The author is required to provide the required subsections in this approach.
Methodological – In this approach, the method by which the scholars have conducted the research is taken as a parameter to organize the literature review. The classification of the sources on the methodological basis would divide the referred documents in various genres. This approach could also affect the way of discussion done in the literature reviews in a way that would bring more clarity to the readers.
The subsections to be included in the body section of the literature review could only be determined after the author chooses the appropriate framework for his paper. It depends on the writing style and approach of the writer towards the topic that the selection of the formatting style depends upon. Whereas the thematic approach demands separate sections for the sources with different themes, the chronological format demands subtopics in a separate period.
Composing tips on how to write a literature review
Appropriate use of evidence: This is one of the crucial factors on how to write a literature review. The writers are expected to back all their subjective arguments by using valid references. This would add value and reliability to the presented literature review.
Be selective: Don’t try to cover all the points in your paper. Try to include the highlighted sections of the selected work in the literature review. Every data you include in the paper should be in focus with the main theme of the literature review.
Appropriate use of quotes: Noting down the direct quotes in a literature review is not entertained as per the academic parameters. However, authors could use some short and crucial quotes by the scholars in the discussion section. Some quotes are impossible to rephrase, and it would be better to include them as direct quotes. Please determine the stance of your tutors regarding this issue on a prior basis.
Try to draft the literature review in your own writing style: The author has to represent the idea conveyed in several sources in his literature review. By reporting the multitude of ideas, authors sometimes lose their own style of narration. The evaluator checks whether the students can put forward their own voice in the presented paper. Try to write your subjective vision at the end of each paragraph while describing the sources.
Better paraphrasing technique to avoid the risk of plagiarism: There is a strong chance of being accused of plagiarism while restating the arguments made by other scholars in a similar field. Try to restructure the statements made by the researchers and entail them with proper credit by giving intext citations.
Use well-structured paragraphs: Students often make the mistake of drafting the body section of the literature review by using secluded paragraphs. This approach would just resemble the format of an annotated bibliography. In a literature review, the author is required to provide appropriate transition statements in between different contexts.
Write a conclusion which justifies the whole effort made in the literature review: Write down the common conclusion at which you have arrived by discussing various arguments made in the mentioned sources. The audience should be made aware of the conclusion you have put forward in the paper. Provide some recommendations so that your colleagues could refer to it for further studies.
Need help with your literature review paper?
Though after understanding how to write a literature review, it is quite possible that you would find it difficult to draft a quality paper. Drafting a literature review is very different from that of writing a generic assignment. It requires advanced writing skills to maintain the focal theme of the paper while reviewing multiple academic works.
You could avail the online academic help of totalassignmenthelp.com to get top-notch solutions for literature assignments. The expert panel of totalassignmenthelp.com is very vast and is always diligent in providing quality solutions to its clients. To assess the quality of papers delivered by totalassignmenthelp.com, you can check our sample papers.
We hope this article on how to write a literature review was helpful for you. Please go through our other blogs for further academic tips. Thank You.
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