How to Write a Literature Review

December25

A flawed literature review could derail your thesis/dissertation. It is a demonstration of your understanding of previous research, its limitations as well as your field of study. A literature review is usually dismissed when it actually shows important facts related to your topic and is a critical analysis of works that justify what is done or known which in turn determines the value of your research. Your research topic is deemed justifiable or credible if it either resolves conflict among previous works or identifies better/new methods to interpret gaps in previous research. This makes a literature review a critical point in your PhD research proposal.

How to Prepare Before Writing a Literature Review

  • Seek clarification concerning the number of sources you require, types of sources and whether to summarize, synthesize, evaluate or critique your sources.
  • Find literature review examples that are related to your research topic to help you familiarize with themes and structure that you may want to use for your own review.
  • Limit the scope of the literature you want to review to gain a deeper understanding and survey of your area of interest.
  • Look for recent or current sources for your review to avoid research duplication. Choose sources based on author’s credentials, neutrality, credibility and value to your own research.
  • Read your source while making critical notes and find a focus upon which you can base the structure of your literature review as related to your PhD proposal.

Writing the Review

Your review should consist of an introduction which has a main theme, a body in which you discuss your sources and a conclusion which is a summary and recommendations based on your discussions in the body. The review there should clearly show major achievements with regard to the topic chosen, the debate areas and research questions. Follow the following steps to write a good literature review:

  1. Tips to analyzing literature effectively
  • Establish early on the importance of the topic you have settled on for your research proposal.
  • Describe the studies and time frame of the topic involved.
  • Identify any landmark studies.
  • Cite all specific references.
  • State your point of view and ensure the review is coherent in its flow of argument.
  1. Choose a way to organize your review such as by publication chronology, trend such as detailing the history of a certain medical practice, theme/issue affecting the topic, researcher’s methodologies or by current information.
  2. Use evidence in making your point and showing the validity of your arguments.
  3. Select the most important themes or points in each source that affect your research.
  4. Relate each source’s significance to your topic by summarizing and synthesizing them.
  5. Present ideas while keeping your voice and avoiding plagiarism.
  6. Revise your draft until you get a clean copy that presents your arguments coherently while following the outline and rules as per your discipline’s requirements.
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