Last updated on: Jan 15, 2024
By: Donna C.
13 min read
Reviewed By: Barbara P.
Published on: Jan 4, 2024
Think about spending hours in front of a screen, surrounded by tons of information, and feeling like the pieces of the research are all over the web.
There's this pressure to create a literature review that not only meets the academic rules but also sets the stage for your own research idea – and it can be a bit too much.
If you can relate to this situation, just know that you are not alone!
To tackle this universal problem, we're here to help students and researchers.
We'll give you practical tips on searching and gathering literature along with organizing it. By the end of this blog, you will have a clear understanding of writing a captivating literature review.
Let's get started!
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A literature review serves as a comprehensive survey and analysis of scholarly works relevant to a particular subject or research topic.
It's a critical examination of existing scholarly works, such as articles, books, and studies, relevant to your research paper.
The purpose of writing a literature review extends beyond just summarizing sources.
Different types of literature reviews have specific purposes, and each adds depth to academic exploration.
Before learning how to start a literature review, it's crucial to know these types to match research goals.
Now let’s move on to learn how you can craft a perfect literature review section of a research paper!
Starting your literature review as part of research might feel overwhelming, but don't worry! We'll walk you through seven easy steps to make it simple for you.
Defining your scope right at the beginning helps you stay focused and ensures your literature review is both comprehensive and manageable.
It means being clear about what you want to explore and what you don't. Here's how to do it:
Start by asking yourself, "What exactly am I researching?" Be specific about your topic.
Decide the timeframe you're interested in and the types of sources you'll include.
Are you focusing on recent studies, or do you want historical context? Will you only look at academic journals, or are books and reports also relevant?
You are conducting research about the impact of social media on mental health in teenagers. Then, your scope could be limited to studies published in the last five years, focusing on peer-reviewed articles and excluding popular magazines.
Now that you've defined your scope, it's time to hunt for valuable information. Here's how to search for relevant literature:
Look at the reference section, simply listing the articles you need. This can lead you to other relevant sources that you might have missed during your initial search.
Many databases have filters to refine your search. You can filter by publication date, study type, or other criteria to ensure you're getting the most relevant results.
Now that you've gathered your sources, it's time to make sure they're solid and reliable. Here's how to evaluate them:
See if the author is an expert in the field. Look at their qualifications and experience.
For example, someone with a Ph.D. in psychology is likely more credible for a study on mental health.
Where was the study published? Peer-reviewed journals and reputable publishers often ensure higher quality.
Be cautious with information from personal blogs or non-academic sources.
Is the information up-to-date? Depending on your topic, older sources might still be relevant, but it's essential to know if there are more recent findings.
Now, let's make sense of all the information you've collected.
Now that your sources are organized let's dig deeper. Here's how to identify central themes, debates, and gaps in your literature:
Look for recurring ideas or topics across your sources. These are your themes. It could be something everyone agrees on or an aspect that's widely discussed.
Check if there are differing opinions or debates among the sources. Note where researchers have different viewpoints or conflicting findings.
Identify areas where there's not much information. These are your research gaps.
Knowing what hasn't been studied or explored thoroughly helps you see where your research can make a valuable contribution.
If your literature is about the impact of social media on mental health,
Now that you understand the themes and debates of literature review in research methodology, let's structure it.
Here's how to create an outline for your literature review:
Begin with a brief overview of your research problem. State the purpose of your literature review and highlight the key themes or questions you'll explore.
Use the themes and debates you've identified to structure your main sections. Each section should focus on a specific theme or aspect related to your research.
Break down each main section into subheadings. This adds further organization and clarity to your review, making it easier for readers to follow.
Consider organizing your sections chronologically or by methodology, depending on what best suits your research. This helps create a logical flow in your literature review.
Now that you have a solid outline, let's bring your literature review to life. Here's how to write it:
3. Critical Analysis
4. Address Debates and Gaps
You can also watch this descriptive video about how to write your outstanding literature review!
Crafting an effective literature review for your research paper involves more than summarizing articles.
Learn how to synthesize information, analyze critically, and contribute meaningfully to your field through the following sample literature review pdfs for research papers.
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Understanding and writing the literature review requires skill. Here are specific tips you can follow to conduct literature research and write an outstanding review:
To sum it up, a literature review isn't just about summarizing. It is important to connect ideas, analyze methodologies critically, and contribute meaningfully. This guide helps you in creating a meaningful and outstanding literature review.
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A good literature review in a research paper is clear, organized, and connects different studies. It explains what is already known, highlights gaps, and shows the significance of the research.
To begin a literature review, start broadly by briefly discussing the general topics related to your research. Think of it like an inverted triangle—initially touching on the wide aspects of your subject to show you understand its breadth.
Donna writes on a broad range of topics, but she is mostly passionate about social issues, current events, and human-interest stories. She has received high praise for her writing from both colleagues and readers alike. Donna is known in her field for creating content that is not only professional but also captivating.
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