A major part of college and many job assignments require writing a literature review outline, where the information must be presented clearly and in a certain detailed way.
Typically, a literature review is part of a much important and relevant paper that analyzes more and deeper subjects that need a fact-checked literature background.
A literature review presents information on a specific topic that aims to inform readers about the current situation (or the latest data found) about the stated matter. This type of paper is a great way for authors to demonstrate their knowledge in a particular field as well as their writing and critical thinking skills.
For students and people who struggle with this task, below there’s a very informative and detailed article about how to write a literature review outline, which includes templates, writing tips, and the most important elements to consider when writing this kind of paper.
What are the Elements of Literature Review Outline
To write a literature review and properly present the piece it is important to know the elements involved in it. A literature review structure is very similar to a traditional essay and consists of an introduction, followed by the main body, and finally a conclusion. The paper is centered on an author’s interpretation of a literary piece, in various perspectives that can be backed up by different sources. It should include relevant aspects such as characters, illusions, scenes, etc.
Below you can find detailed information about each of these key elements to outline a literature review worthy of academic success.
- Introduction. The introduction is one of the most important elements that need to be very clear and straightforward. It plays a key role in presenting the topic and suitable literature review context for readers as well as giving a general idea of what your review will be about. It should also contain the reasons why you chose to review the literary piece.
- Body. The main part of the literature review will be presented in the main body, where students must organize each paragraph according to the different topics of the plot, structure, writing resources, and other things that they find important to mention. Insights should be included as well as a recommendation for readers on the topic including further studies in the field.
- Conclusion. This final part is very important as well, and it summarizes everything written in the paper as well as presents a final statement on the overall review. The conclusion should be short but filled with content, and it might lead readers to find other readings to pursue their knowledge on the topic just presented.
To properly structure, draft, and write a literature review it is important to address the different approaches students can base their papers in:
- Chronological approach: Where the topics presented are exposed in chronological order, typically by decades or periods where the most recognizable events happened and can be used as a form of timescale.
- Thematic approach: As the name states, this approach is focused on a theme or specific topic that students can write their reviews around. Adding depth by analyzing different perspectives and subtopics inside it, this approach is widely used among writers to create a centered review.
- Methodological approach: One way of writing a literature review that strikes readers is by using the methodological approach, where the paper is focused on explaining how the author obtained certain results, rather than just presenting them.
- Theoretical approach: This approach is ideal for authors who want to include or center their paper on different theories or hypothetical outcomes related to the literature used.
5 Steps to Outline a Literature Review
If you’re wondering how to write a literature review outline you should have in mind these 5 easy and simple steps to achieve a perfect literature review outline that will help you structure and write your piece without trouble.
Step 1: Find A Good Topic
A good topic means a subject that interests you and could possibly interest your readers. The outline for a literature review begins with brainstorming ideas and possible topics; popular ones tend to be easier because authors can find more information due to the demand.
Step 2: Spend Time Researching
The key to an award-winning literature review outline is to research the topic before writing anything. Checking multiple sources that have a checked background is essential to ensure only certified information is being used on your paper. It is also highly advisable that students explain why they chose their sources and spend some time connecting them into the text while they’re being mentioned.
Step 3: Logical Structure
When beginning a literature review outline things can get a bit confusing, so a good thing to do is to organize the paper by topics and proceed from the earliest to later introduce the final parts as well as the outcomes and conclusion. Here students can begin writing and spend time presenting facts, developing their argument, and adding things they think are relevant to the paper.
Step 4: Editing And Proofreading
Students must spend quality time proofreading, editing, and restructuring their literature review when needed, as well as making adjustments to properly finish the job.
Step 5: Cites/Bibliography
After finishing the review, it is essential to include the bibliography used and present it in the appropriate format. The outline for the literature review wouldn’t be complete without formatting in APA style.
How to Structure a Literature Review Outline
To showcase in detail the topics mentioned above, below there’s a literature review outline template that students can modify and use according to their requirements to ensure a perfect piece. It includes detailed information on how to structure a literature review as well as some general tips to have in mind to ensure a great-looking paper.
a. This part must include an introduction to the topic and investigation as well as the personal importance of writing about said subject. Include answers to the reader’s most frequent questions such as what you intend to solve with your review, the deep meaning of your writing, and other relevant information.
b. In this section, students should also include the methodology used and the results they want to achieve.
II. First Topic
a. The general subject in this part should be reviewed in general terms as well as the main aspects and details about it.
b. The next step is to select a characteristic about the subject to further analyze and narrow the topic down.
i. Present questions, methods, hypotheses, and participants to review the first study presented. Include the results achieved at the end of the research.
ii. When introducing the second study, students must address the importance and difference between this one and the one mentioned above.
iii. For study three and others presented if necessary, the procedure just explained should be followed. The most important factor is to explain why the different studies differ from each other, whether it's because of the outcomes, research approach, etc.
c. Repeat the analysis for other subtopics relevant to the review.
i. For the study presented, name the methodology, data collection, participants, results, and an overall explanation of the research.
ii. Continue repeating this procedure for every study conducted and make sure to properly present the information and make a distinction between the data presented.
iii.Students should invest time going deep into their research and dwell on their study’s questions, results, hypothesis, and relevant sources used.
d. Analyze more subtopics from this first topic and follow the structure and procedure described.
III. Second Topic
a. Mention all the necessary topics and subtopics while properly analyzing and presenting new information to give readers the full picture and different perspectives of your review.
a. This last part must contain the author’s final thoughts, common findings, pros and cons of the different studies and approaches as well as anything relevant.
b. Students should aim to answer every question they’ve mentioned, and if not, this part can be used to finish the task.
c. Lastly, the conclusion can include similar topic recommendations readers can use to deepen their knowledge about this topic as well as the author’s plans after writing this piece (what he or she intends to do with the information learned, how he or she will use this data in the future, etc).
This literature review outline sample can be modified to fit any student’s approach and requirements. An APA literature review outline is essential to present the information clearly and professionally; students tend to get confused by the number of studies and bibliography they have to include so it's always best to use an outline like the one mentioned above.
Literature Review Outline: Writing Tips
To write an award-winning literature review outline it is important to know what things are essential to include in the paper and what superiors expect from students. Below there’s a list of useful tips students should have in mind to ensure a flawless and less stressful writing process.
- Use fact-checked evidence, preferably sources that update their data frequently or studies conducted in recent years. There will be research papers that students must include that contain past information but are relevant to the investigation, but always aim to find the latest numbers possible.
- Select the appropriate information to avoid overloading your paper with hundreds of different perspectives or topics to analyze. Focus on the main subject and determine which parts of it you must explain and research in detail.
- Be mindful of quotes, although quotes and citations are always a good option to include certified information and relevant data in the paper, students who take advantage of this resource and end up flooding their review with them often end up with a poorly written assignment that only contains words written by others.
- Paraphrasing to explain others’ ideas. It is not wrong to use this tool to present information, in fact, most readers preferred to acquire knowledge on a topic this way just as if a teacher were explaining the subject to them.
- Look for gaps in your investigation. After writing your paper make sure to spend time proofreading and taking notes of your own progress to avoid any gaps. If a void is presented, you can either add it to the main body where it fits best or head to the conclusion and make a separate point explaining the issue.
- Summarize the literature sources used. This is important to find common points and different results that can add information and depth to your outline. Students should look for strengths, weaknesses, and other relevant characteristics to mention in their paper.
- Creativity is good. There's no better way to write a literature review outline than by being creative. Not only by adding professional and quality words but by being creative in the way you conduct research or present the information in the text.
- Don’t forget to draft and edit the piece as much as needed, no author worthy of an excellent grade or award has written their paper in one sitting, nor delivered the review without reading it and adjusting things.
Following the steps presented earlier, as well as adapting the outline template to your specific requirements and having in mind the writing tips just explained will ensure a pleasant and untroubled writing process, where students can present their information and findings clearly and straightforwardly, worthy of academic success.
If the above shocks you, you probably have not seen a scientific literature review outline. Though, in general terms, it is pretty much the same. You have to identify the problem, formulate the research questions, and find answers to them in relevant sources. You can always order a literature review at PapersOwl if you are afraid of the research process.