How to Do a Literature Review
Writing a literature review may seem quite easy for the majority of students because this is a type of assignment they face every now and then. However, some of them may still experience serious difficulties and, therefore, are in dire need of practical help. There are various reasons for this phenomenon, the most important one being that first-year students lack experience writing academic papers and oftentimes do not quite understand how to write a literature review paper. Professors, on their part, are not always ready to answer their questions, because they feel they are too primitive and, therefore, can be disregarded. It is, therefore, critically important to provide help to students by elucidating things they do not fully understand, and thus boosting their motivation to write academic papers. There is, however, another important reason behind the phenomenon, which is lack of time. Students are often very busy doing other academic assignments, participating in numerous conferences, and attending lectures and practical classes. And this is precisely why it is extremely important that the information on how to write their papers is provided in an easy-to-comprehend manner. It is with such students in mind that we have come up with a comprehensive guide to writing a literature review. It will help them learn all the intricacies involved in writing literature reviews quickly and effectively.
What Is a Literature Review?
Before we move any further, let's provide the literature review definition: it is a structured review of a certain amount of academic literature on a specific topic. This section of the academic paper, which can be included in the coursework or thesis paper, serves as a precursor to an experiment or a bigger and more significant paper. Before writing a literature review, it is important to do some research and read the available materials, taking notes as you familiarize yourself with it. Then, you should determine which sources are the most important for your paper, analyzing each of them in detail. You may designate a separate paragraph for each of your entries in your literature review body or dedicate each of the body paragraphs to a certain viewpoint regarding the problem analyzed.
Addressing the Structure of a Literature Review
The structure of the literature review is more or less typical for academic papers and comprises three major parts: the introduction, body paragraphs, and conclusion. However, students often wonder as to what to include in a literature review besides these traditional elements. These are all necessary components of a literature review, but depending on the citation style, the length of your paper and the requirements of your professor, you may have to include other components, such as:
- Annotated bibliography.
- Various appendices.
In some cases, you may even have to include some visual elements in your paper, such as graphs or diagrams, to make it look more informative.
When to Write the Abstract for a Literature Review?
Though not a compulsory element of the literature review, the abstract is still a must for all APA papers which are longer than four pages. Therefore, if your review is written in APA style and exceeds this length, the question of how to write an abstract for a literature review ceases to be merely theoretical for you. In your abstract, you should include brief information about the topic and purpose of your literature review, stating the thesis and outlining the most important aspects of your literature review. It should look more like an announcement of your body paragraphs, so consider dedicating a sentence to each of them. One more important thing to remember is that APA guidelines also require you to keep your abstract brief by making sure it doesn't exceed a maximum word count of 150 words.
Writing the introduction to a literature review
Knowing that the introduction is an opening paragraph of their paper, many students make the common mistake of writing it first. However, it makes more sense to do that after you're finished with the body paragraphs because otherwise, you risk having to rewrite your introduction over and over again. Now that we've covered the basics let's move on to the core question of how to write a literature review introduction. This is important because a good introduction should have a few very specific elements which help make it compelling enough to arouse interest in your readers. So, let's begin with the so-called "hook" that is supposed to be a strong motivator, attracting your audience's attention and making them keep on reading. In your first sentence, you need to say something about your topic, results, or viewpoint to persuade your readers to read your paper all the way through, no matter how long it may be. Emphasize the uniqueness of your work, making sure to focus on your strongest point and announce it in your first sentence.
Another important part of your introduction is the thesis. Unlike the rest of your introductory paragraphs, the thesis needs to be taken care of before you embark on the body paragraphs. This is the first sentence of your paper which you need to articulate, so make it strong and arguable. Make sure that the evidence you've found is sufficient to support your thesis, and if not, consider doing extra research or changing your thesis.
Paragraphs in the body of a literature review
As mentioned above, you can dedicate each of your body paragraphs to the analysis of a particular literary source or do the same with various viewpoints relevant to the topic. If the latter is the case, you should dedicate your first paragraph to point A, citing all sources supporting it, before moving on to a second paragraph and dedicating it to point B, supplying all respective literary evidence in its support. Lastly, your third body paragraph should be dedicated to alternative viewpoints, so be sure to back it up by citing your sources as well. Surely, you're not restricted to only these two frequently used patterns and free to consider other options.
What is a good conclusion for a literature review?
For some students, this is the most challenging step. Before embarking on the conclusion, keep in mind one very important rule: never present new information or cite new sources in the conclusion of your literature review.
At a glance, it may seem that the subject has been covered so extensively that there's hardly anything left to say. However, there are strict requirements to comply with as far as the structure of the literature review is concerned. The conclusion is an absolute must for any literature review, so even if there is nothing new you can state or present in your conclusion, try summarizing the most important points of your essay, stating your thesis once again, and showing how the cited literary sources effectively support your thesis.
Literature review format explored
Once you're done writing your literature review, it's time to take care of the proper formatting for your paper. But do you know how to format a literature review? Well, there's nothing to worry about in that regard because the formatting requirements are pretty similar to those applicable to other academic papers. You should have your review double-spaced and typed in an easily readable font (12 points Times New Roman is a universal solution), citing all your sources properly. Make sure to use one-inch margins on all sides and indent each paragraph half an inch from the left margin. As far as the bibliography entries are concerned, your best bet would be to use hanging indention. However, you need to make sure that there are no special requirements provided by your professor which may conflict with these general guidelines. You should also look up the requirements for in-text citations and reference page formatting in the citation style guideline required or recommended by your professor. For instance, an APA format literature review is required to have a title page, while an MLA one should not have any.
Literature Review Outline Example
To help you visualize the structure of your future paper, we have come up with a typical literature review outline, which should look something like this:
- Attention Getter.
- Thesis Statement.
- Transition to body paragraphs.
- Overview of literature in support of your thesis statement.
- Overview of literature which opposes your thesis statement.
- Overview of literature which offers alternative viewpoints.
- Summarizing the literature analyzed.
- Addressing each of your body paragraphs in a separate sentence.
- Restating your thesis and showing in which way body paragraphs support it.
- Recommendations for further research.
- 5. References
Other Helpful Literature Review Tips
Have a look at a few more helpful tips which will allow you to further improve your writing. The one thing you should avoid at all costs in your literature review is giving opinions, so forget about using "I" or "to me" and try not to address your reader as "you". The passive voice is not welcome, either. Keep the tone neutral and refrain from showing your preferences for this or that literature source.
Now that you know how to write a good literature review, you are well equipped to tackle the challenge effectively. But do you feel like it? Many of our readers would rather have someone else do their literature review for them because they feel that's a good way of saving time and receiving good grades. So, if you would like to have your literature review written by our professionals, consider contacting our support team that will provide you with all the info you need and help you place your order.back to all posts