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Writing A Literature Review: General Guidelines

29 Jan 2018Literature Review Writing Guides

It is not a secret that every student of a college or university usually has a harsh time coping with all those academic papers assigned in modern educational institutions. Some papers are simple, while others are quite difficult to handle. However, there are also tasks that are not too complicated but yet cause too much confusion and writing a literature review is among them.

What is a literature review? Essentially, this is a broad overview of the available literature and other sources of information related to a specific subject matter completed in written form. Usually, this paper is a part of a larger project like a dissertation or thesis. The overview can include all sorts of information sources including books, magazines, articles, scientific journals, reports, online resources, and others. As a rule, it has to describe, conclude, and summarize every listed source.

Why is this an important section of a dissertation? The goal of a literature review is to give the reader a critical assessment of the factual state of the investigation conducted on a particular topic. Such an overview should complete the following functions:

  • List all available resources in the order of their value and investment in the understanding of the studied problem, object or theory;
  • State the existing knowledge on a particular topic;
  • Explain how different resources are related to each other;
  • Interpret and analyze the available information in order to identify any errors or gaps that other researchers have left;
  • Highlight the necessity for further investigation.

How does one draft a literature review? It is not as difficult as it appears. A standard literature review format requires including the following components to your overview: the reasons for creating this review, a brief discussion of the studied matter, a list of sources organized in a clear manner, and a discussion and evaluation of every source. This is a standard structure that you can follow. And to make the writing process carefree and simple for you, below we have gathered some of the most effective literature review guidelines that should come in handy for you.

Steps To Writing An Effective Literature Review

Follow these guidelines for writing to create a high-quality overview with ease.

  1. Select a topic

As a rule, you should be allowed to select any topic that you would like for the review but if you select a topic that is similar (or related) to the topic of your final project, this will greatly save you time and make things easier.

  1. Start your research in a library

Although today, information is freely available on the Internet, a book still is the best source of valid data and that is why you should start your investigation in a library.

  1. Complete the list of sources

You should include as many resources as possible and it will be a big advantage if you list different kinds of sources instead of listing only books.

  1. Restate your topic if it is needed

Often, in the course of the investigation, a student can realize that the topic he selected was too specific or, on the contrary, too broad – in this case, you should adjust it.

  1. Analyze the obtained information

This step requires you to make a critical assessment of every source and take notes on all important aspects and ideas.

  1. Evaluate your findings

This is one of the final stages before the actual writing process – you need to evaluate and organize the literature in a proper manner (organize it thematically or chronologically).

  1. Summarize what you have so far

At this stage, you can make a table or a short outline to help you store everything you have so far including a summary of each source.

  1. Create an outline

Create a detailed outline before you start writing your literature review – use the notes and the table that you have made previously to sketch out all parts of your text.

  1. Write a review

Based on your outline, step-by-step start writing your literature review; start with an introduction that defines the problem area, highlights the objectives of making an overview, discusses the methods that you will be using, etc. Then work on the main part of the text. Provide all sources in the previously defined sequence, making a short explanation and discussion of each, and do not forget to make logical subheadings for each group and explain their relationship. Finish your text with a strong conclusion that brings together all significant aspects, once more highlights the relevance and significance of your investigation, and gives a clear suggestion on how your study contributes to existing knowledge and specify what other aspects can be further investigated.

  1. Proofread your review to make the necessary corrections

Take a fresh look at your text to identify and eliminate any errors that you may have done or adjust any aspects that you have previously missed.

Just like any written task, creating a quality literature review requires some planning and can take some time. However, our guidelines should come in handy! Following the step-by-step guide that we provided above and you should not face any major problems in the course of fulfilling your task. Most importantly – always make sure that you are aware of all the requirements that your teacher has for such assignments and keep them in mind during the whole process. Now you have the key to success! We guarantee that with these simple but effective tips you will not fail!

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