What is a Literature Review
A literature review is an overview of the other research available on a specific topic. An ideal literature review example can help you create your own study design or list useful project sources.
A literature review assignment is a type of formal writing assignment in which you are given the task of reviewing and summarizing original research articles on a specific research area. The construction of literature reviews can take many different forms but must focus on a limited academic subject and provide an evaluation of the current literature on that subject.
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Tactics for Writing the Literature Review
The following are some tactics of writing a review:
Focus on an idea
Good literature reviews focus on an idea. That is to say, you need to read and understand your sources and ideas of others, then find a central idea that connects them.
For instance, you could focus on:
- How well your sources present a given topic
- A trend your sources reveal
- Something that is missing from all your sources
Have a thesis statement
The typical lit review does not have a thesis statement.
However, it is advisable to tell the reader the idea, concept, or principle behind the compilation of the review. In other words, try and inform a reader what they should expect.
The following are two samples of excerpts from reviews:
- The contemporary treatment for kidney failure is a combination of medicine and surgery.
- Should social media be considered in courses in the field of society and culture?
Pick an organizational format for your sources.
This is a question of how you will present your review. What topics or subheadings will you include, and how will you arrange them?
The basic components of a Literature review are three. That is the basic introduction-body-conclusion structure:
- Body (the lit review section that offers a list of sources. It is also a piece of discursive prose of different sources)
- Recommendations or conclusion
Before writing a lit review body, you need to consider how you will organize the sources. The following are the methods you can use to organize your sources:
In a chronological organization, you arrange your sources according to their date of publication. In a literature review, you start with the earliest source and end with the latest source.
Tracing the development of topics over time is a simple way to organize your paper. You should not just provide a descriptive list of the material and summarize the sources. Instead, analyze patterns that shape the field, such as turning points or key debates. Make sure to interpret how certain things occurred since they are all interconnected with each other.
2) Trend or theme
If you have found recurring themes, organizing the depth of your literature review into subsections that address different aspects of the topic can help.
It is a concise overview of what has been studied, argued, and established about a topic, and it is usually organized chronologically or thematically. It is not a form of an annotated bibliography because it groups related works and discusses trends and developments rather than focusing on one item at a time.
For instance, let’s say your review’s topic is cervical cancer treatment. You could use a thematic organization to organize your sources for types of cervical cancer. Therefore, you will have a section of sources covering squamous cell carcinomas and another on adenocarcinomas.
It’s always useful to draw from different fields of study and research methods when conducting your own personal project. Compare the findings you get, close look for any contradictions or differences in opinion on certain topics or issues.
You can use a lit review to build your theoretical framework and discuss various theories or models of key concepts.
Once you pick an organizational structure, it will be easy to deduce the segments you need to include in the body of your literature review.
At times your study requires additional information that you cannot incorporate in the organizational approach you picked. Such segments include:
- History: this segment explains the chronological progression of the field or the sources included in the review. It can also explain something necessary to understand the review. This segment is mostly included if the organizational approach is not chronological.
- Methods or standards: include this statement t explain the criterion you used to choose sources for your review. For example, you could use this subheading to explain to your readers that your review only includes only peer-reviewed good quality journal articles.
- Questions for further research: if your review sparks questions or needs further research, include this segment.
- Current situation: This section includes information that a reader requires to understand the idea behind your review.
The Dos And Don’ts Of Literature Reviews Writing
At this point, you have decided on a focus for your review, you have your sources, and you have decided on an organizational structure and the additional segments to include. The next key steps are to start writing your review.
When writing your review, consider the following guidelines.
The Dos of literature reviews writing
1 Back up your content with evidence
Whatever you are writing in your lit review has to be legitimate. Therefore, like any other academic paper, the content of your lit review has to be backed up with evidence. That is especially true when making a point or elucidating an argument in your introduction.
2. Include only important points
From your sources, you can deduce very many points. But, you only need to include the points that are relevant to the focus of your review.
3. Summarize and synthesize your sources
Take the important points from a source and summarize them. Then, include information on how the texts change your thinking and their significance to your research. The point is to connect your sources to the focus of your review.
4. Limit the judicious use of direct quotes
A good literature review looks into several sources. Therefore, it does not accommodate the detailed discussion of quotes from a single source. So, it makes more sense to rephrase what the writer said rather than include a direct quote.
5. Be careful when paraphrasing
Often, you will have to paraphrase. But, when rewording, your final phrase should represent the writer’s idea accurately. To have an easy time when paraphrasing, refer to the writer of the source in your text.
After finishing your work, could you go through it? Check that:
- You have followed all the instructions from your lecturer
- You have used language that is easy for your readers to understand
- There are no grammar and typing errors
- Your sources are documented
- There is no jargon and fluff
- Your sentences and ideas flow smoothly
The Don’ts of literature reviews writing
When writing your stellar literature review, don’t:
- Include sources whose research is based on assumptions and disregard or contradict the findings of your review.
- Leave out a segment explaining the search criteria used in picking your sources.
- Write an isolated research paper that is not based on the focus of your review.
How To Format A Literature Review
A literature review is a type of writing that examines published literature within a given topic.
As such, a literature review will require you to read and analyze different sources.
After that, you are required to present your understanding of the literature.
In essence, you are supposed to summarize different sources and write your synthesis.
Also, you are required to present the information in a specific order and follow a specific format when presenting the assignment.
In this article, you will find useful information on how to format a literature review.
Structure and Format A Literature Review
Like most academic papers, a literature review should have an introduction, a body, and a conclusion.
But the content of these sections is different in literature reviews.
The introduction of a literature review should clearly indicate the main organizing principle.
The first thing you need to do is introduce the general topic (women’s reproductive rights).
Then, inform the reader of the main criterion used to select the sources, which could be chronological history in the example above.
Finalize the introduction by linking the main organizing principle to your sources.
The body of the literature reviews provides a summary and synthesis of each source.
But, first, you have to choose a method to organize your sources.
There are three main ways of organizing sources in a literature review:
- Chronologically: organizing sources chronologically means maintaining the right historical timeline. Therefore, if you choose this organizing principle, you start with the earliest source and end with the latest source.
- Methodologically: this organizing principle focuses on the methods used by the authors to present critical concepts. For instance, one way to methodologically organize sources on women’s reproductive rights is to look at how cultural bias affects how authors depict the exercising of women’s rights.
- Thematically: this refers to organizing sources in terms of a theme, trend, topic, or theoretical concepts you deem necessary to understand a given topic. Let’s say you are looking at sources on cervical cancer treatments; you could thematically organize the sources according to the type of treatments they cover, i.e., radiation and non-radiation treatments.
The conclusion should provide a summary of your findings.
In a literature review, you should relate your findings to the real world.
In other words, try to make your reader understand why your literature review was important.
It is also advisable to leave your readers with something to think about by ending with a rhetorical question or posing questions for further research.
Format a Literature review in APA
The instructions given by the instructor will help you determine the format and outline to use.
So before you start writing, seek clarity on:
- The review format to be utilized in citations
- The number and types of sources to include
- The expected length
- The headings, subheadings, and any other background information to include
In most cases, you will present your literature review in the APA format.
If that’s the case, consider the following rules:
1) Insert a page header, and type the page number aligned right and the literature review title in caps left-aligned.
Note that the review title should be shortened to 50 characters or less (including spaces and punctuation).
Also, the header of the first page should have the phrase ‘running head.’
2) On the title page, type the title of the review, the name of the student, and institutional affiliation.
This information should be centre-aligned and should appear in the middle of the page.
The review title on the title page should not exceed 12 words.
3) Type the paper in Time New Roman font and font size 12.
The whole document should have double-spaced paragraphs.
Literature Review Examples
Literature Review Example 1Literature_Review_Sample_1
Literature Review Example 2Literature_Review_Sample_2