When asked how to write a literature review, a lot of students get stuck on how they can put together a write-up from the various scholarly sources that make sense; A compilation that shows a gap in the already existing research.
This is further, not helped by the fact that there are the different types of literature reviews that the scholar needs to learn and understand; from the narrative review to the systematic quantitative review, the Cochrane review and even the Campbell collaboration.
Again, identifying if you are conducting a stand-alone review or a dissertation review adds to the confusion.
This does not have to be the case. Writing a literature review is easy when you know what the important components are, as well as how to outline your paper correctly.
How Do You Begin a Literature Review?
In order to write a proper literature review, you need to do or have a few things ready. To start with, you need to identify the sources that relate to your research question. You will need to collect, evaluate and analyze these publications so as to prepare the final acceptable and viable review.
Secondly, you need to identify the type of review that you wish to write. With the guidance of your tutor, you should have an idea of the type needed for your specific case. Again, be clear whether the review is a dissertation literature review, or it’s a stand-alone literature review as the approach you use for these two is different.
With this, you can now create an outline of your paper so that you present your problem, argument and solution in the perfect order.
Literature Review Outline
As a general rule, and as is common with most scholarly papers, a literature review consists of an introduction, a body and a conclusion.
The introduction should outline, in very clear terms, what the purpose and focus of your paper is all about. The body then follows with an expansion of this purpose, summarizing and synthesizing the main points as outlined in your sources.
It should also show your interpretation and analysis of the findings in those sources while also critically evaluating them by showing the strengths and weaknesses thereof. You can structure the body in paragraphs while also using subheadings where applicable.
Finally, you should have a good conclusion that highlights and summarizes the main findings that you identified from the literature sources while also showing their significance strongly.
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Remember, the purpose of this review is to position you side by side with other researchers of the same topic while also showing your different approach to the same research topic that other researchers might have missed, or have not put a lot of emphasis on.
Importance of Literature Review
Whenever you are required to write a research paper or even a dissertation, it is important to position your research within the already existing knowledge. You do this by conducting a literature review.
This allows you to demonstrate how well you understand the topic, help you develop the right methodology and theoretical framework to build your research on, align yourself with other researchers and also demonstrate how your research finds and fills a gap in the topic at hand.
In summary, your literature review qualifies you to stand amongst other scholars as a peer and an authority in that topic. It allows you to show a different view of the same research result. This is why it is imperative to learn how to write a literature review in the right way so that you can easily project your different view of the same topic right to your audience.