A literature review is a survey of the existing scholarly work in a given field. It may be a standalone assignment or one of the preliminary tasks for conducting a larger research project. This guide provides an overview of how to write a literature review, with tips and examples.
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What is a literature review?
A literature review is a survey of existing publications (such as books, journal articles, and theses) on a given topic. It is typically used in research papers to situate the current study within the larger conversation on that topic. By doing so, the literature review allows the researcher to justifying his or her study in light of what has come before.
A literature review does not simply summarise existing publications, but critically analyses them to identify trends, disagreements, and gaps. For example, if you were researching teenage pregnancy, you might look for trends in rates of teenage pregnancy over time, differences between rates in different countries or states, or disagreements among researchers about the best way to measure teen pregnancy.
Literature reviews can take many different forms. In some disciplines (e.g., sciences), they are often structured very rigidly and are only a couple of pages long. In other disciplines (e.g., humanities), they can be much longer and more flexible in structure. The important thing is that your literature review serves your research purpose.
Here is an example of a literature review on teenage pregnancy that situates the current study within the larger conversation about teen pregnancy rates:
Teenage pregnancy remains a significant problem in many developed countries despite falling rates in recent years (Smith & Jones, 2016). In the United States, for example, the teenage birth rate was 24 births per 1,000 women aged 15-19 in 2015, which was down from 61 births per 1,000 women in 1991 (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC], 2016). Nevertheless, this still represents a substantial number of teenage pregnancies given that there were nearly 4 million pregnancies among women aged 15-19 in 2015 ( CDC, 2016).
The problem of teenage pregnancy has been widely researched and studied by scholars across a variety of disciplines such as psychology, sociology and public health. However, there remains disagreement about the best way to measure teen pregnancy rates (e.g., Smith & Jones argue that rates should be measured by the number of births per 1,000 women aged 15-19 while Jones et al. believe that rates should be measured by the number of pregnancies per 1 thousand women aged 15-19) as well as about what factors contribute to high rates of teenage pregnancy (e.g., poverty levels vs access to contraception).
The current study seeks to contribute to this conversation by providing [insert your research purpose here]. In order to do this [insert how you will be conducting your research – e.g., surveys with teenagers living in poverty], we will need to [insert what data you will be collecting – e.g., surveys measuring attitudes toward contraception use].
Why write a literature review?
A literature review is a comprehensive summary of previous research on a topic. Writing a literature review is an essential part of graduate and postgraduate study. It helps you to synthesize, critically evaluate and draw conclusions from existing knowledge on your topic. A literature review demonstrates that you are familiar with the relevant research on your topic, and that you understand its limitations. It also allows you to situate your research within the wider field of knowledge.
There are several reasons why you might write a literature review:
-To gain an overview of the state of current research on a topic
-To identify trends, debates and gaps in the existing research
-To critically evaluate the existing research on a topic
-To provide contextual background for new or emerging approaches to a topic
-To consolidate prior research findings to justify new hypotheses or approaches
-To contribute new findings to the existing body of knowledge on a topic
Tips for writing a literature review
A literature review is a written summary of research on a specific topic. It assesses the current state of knowledge in the field and identifies gaps or problems that need to be addressed. Literature reviews are an important part of research projects, as they provide an overview of previous work in the field and help to situate the project in its larger context.
Writing a literature review can be a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be. With a little planning and some careful editing, you can write a literature review that will be helpful to your readers and contribute to your field of study. Here are some tips for writing a literature review:
1. Start with an outline: Before you begin writing, it can be helpful to create an outline of your paper. This will give you a roadmap to follow as you write and will help keep your paper focused on the main points you want to make.
2. Be organized: A literature review is not just a list of summaries of articles; it should be organized so that it is easy for the reader to follow. One way to do this is to arrange your summaries by theme or topic; this will help your paper flow and make it easier for the reader to understand.
3. Use quotes sparingly: While quotes can be helpful in demonstrating what others have said about your topic, too many quotes can make your paper feel like one long string of other people’s thoughts. Use quotes only when they are absolutely necessary, and focus on paraphrasing and summarizing most of the time.
4. Edit carefully: Once you have drafted your literature review, take some time to edit it carefully for grammar and style errors. This will help ensure that your paper is clear and easy to read.
What to include in a literature review
The format of a literature review varies between fields, but most include an introduction, a body, and a conclusion. In the introduction, you set up your paper by giving background information and introducing your topic. The body of the paper explains the main points of your topic in more detail. In the conclusion, you wrap up your literature review by summarizing your main points and making suggestions for future research.
When writing a literature review, it is important to include both primary and secondary sources. Primary sources are original works of research that you conducting yourself. Secondary sources are interpretation or analyses of primary sources.
When looking for sources to include in your literature review, look for academic journal articles, books, and other reliable sources of information on your topic. Once you have found sources to include, read through them and take note of any important information that will help you write your literature review. When writing your literature review, be sure to synthesize (combine) the information from each source, rather than simply summarizing or paraphrasing each source individually.
By following these tips, you can be sure that your literature review will be both informative and well-written!
How to organize a literature review
A literature review is a comprehensive summary of previous research on a topic. The literature review surveys scholarly articles, books, and other sources relevant to a particular area of research. The aim of a literature review is to gain an overview of existing knowledge on a topic in order to inform future research.
Organizing a literature review can be a daunting task. However, there are some simple tips that can help you get the job done quickly and efficiently.
Here are some tips on how to organize a literature review:
1. Choose a topic
The first step is to choose a topic. Once you have chosen a topic, you can begin to identify relevant sources.
2. Identify relevant sources
The next step is to identify relevant sources of information on your topic. This can be done by searching for key terms and concepts in online databases or by consulting your professor or librarian.
3. critically analyze sources
After you have identified relevant sources, the next step is to critically analyze them. This means evaluating the strengths and weaknesses of each source and considering their relevance to your research question or topic.
Some questions you may want to consider when critically analyzing sources include:
-What are the main arguments presented in the source?
-Do the arguments support or refute each other?
-Is the evidence presented convincing?
-What are the implications of the findings?
4. Organize your thoughts and findings
Once you have critiqued each source, it is time to start organizing your thoughts and findings. This can be done by creating an outline of your paper or by using mind mapping software such as Inspiration or FreeMind.
5. Write your literature review
The final step is to write your literature review. This can be done by using one of several different organizational structures, such as chronological, thematic, or methodological order.
Examples of literature reviews
A literature review is a survey of scholarly knowledge on a topic. It is used to identify trends, debates, and gaps in the research. Literature reviews are a part of the research process and can be written either as part of a paper or as a separate paper.
There are two types of literature reviews you can write:
1. An empirical literature review is based on published data in order to assess whether current ideas are supported by empirical evidence.
2. A conceptual literature review is based on previously published literature in order to provide context for new ideas or arguments.
Here are some tips for writing a literature review:
1. Start with a broad search of the topic in order to get an overview of what has been published.
2. Narrow your focus to a specific area of interest within the topic.
3. Identify relevant theories, methods, and perspectives that are applicable to your topic.
4. Critically analyze and compare what others have written on your topic.
5. Synthesize the information and draw conclusions about what has been published on your topic
Frequently asked questions about literature reviews
A literature review is typically a survey of scholarly articles, books, dissertations, and other sources on a specific topic. In a research paper, the literature review provides contextual background for the reader. For example, it might discuss how a particular theory has been developed over time or how different researchers have approached a similar topic. It usually appears in the introduction of a research paper and can be anywhere from several paragraphs to several pages long.
There are several common questions that students have about literature reviews. This article will answer those questions and provide tips for writing a successful literature review.
What is the purpose of a literature review?
A literature review has several purposes:
-To situate your research within the broader field of study
-To provide an overview of the major theories and methods relevant to your topic
-To identify gaps in the existing research
-To evaluate different scholars’ opinions of your topic
-To synthesize existing research in order to develop new insights into your topic
-To help you create an argument for your research paper
What are the different types of literature reviews?
There are two common types of literature reviews: critical and survey. A critical literature review is more negative in tone and focuses on identifying flaws or limitations in existing research. A survey literature review is more positive in tone and focuses on summarizing and synthesizing existing research. In practice, most literature reviews will include both positive and negative evaluations.
How do I write a literature review?
The first step is to choose a broad topic area. Once you have done that, you will need to narrow your focus by finding a specific question or issue that you want to address in your paper. Once you have done that, you should start reading relevant scholarship to get an overview of the existing debates surrounding your topic. As you read, takeDetailed notes about what you think is important or compelling about each source. After you have finished reading, go back through your notes and identify themes or issues that seem especially important or interesting to you. Next, you should develop an argument about those themes or issues. Finally, you should use evidence from your reading to support your argument .
Further reading on literature reviews
This guide provides an overview of what a literature review is, how to write one and why they are important. The example below shows a literature review on the health effects of coffee.
Further reading on literature reviews:
How to Write a Literature Review: Example and Tips by Penlighten.com
What is a Literature Review? (and How Do I Write One?) by James Hayton, PhD
The Literature Review: A Step-by-Step Guide for Students by Diana Ridley
How to cite literature in a review
Citing literature in a review usually follows the same rules as citing other sources in a research paper. APA, MLA, and Chicago style are the most common citation styles for literature reviews.
The important thing to remember is that you need to be consistent with the style you use throughout your paper. If you mix and match styles, your reader will have a hard time following your paper.
Here are some general tips on how to cite literature in a literature review:
-Include the full reference for the source in your reference list.
-When you first cite a source in your review, include the full reference for the source.
-For subsequent citations of the same source, you can use a shortened form of the reference. Include the author’s last name and the publication year.
-If you are quoting directly from a source, include the page number in your citation.
-If you are paraphrasing or summarizing a source, you do not need to include a page number in your citation.
How to get started with writing your literature review
When you start writing a literature review, it’s important to have a few things in mind:
-Your literature review should be well organized and coherent.
-You should cover all the important aspects of the literature in your field.
-Your literature review should be unbiased and objective.
Here are some tips on how to get started with writing your literature review:
-Start by defining your topic and narrowing your focus.
-Next, identify the key concepts and ideas related to your topic.
-Then, find and read the most relevant and recent research on your topic.
-Finally, synthesize all of the information you’ve read and draw conclusions based on your findings.