How to write a strong literature review
A literature review is a summary of the current research on a topic. It gives an overview of previous research and presents a rationale for your own study. A literature review is not just a list of references; it should be organized with an explicit purpose statement, thesis statement, and an outline of what will be discussed in each section.
1. Narrow your topic and select papers accordingly.
It’s important to start out with a clear idea of what you want to accomplish with your literature review. If you’re writing a paper on the effects of climate change on animal populations, for example, you’ll need to find research that has investigated those effects.
The first step in writing a literature review is to narrow your topic and select papers accordingly. For example, if you are writing about the effects of stress on cardiovascular disease, you would start by narrowing your topic to just cardiovascular disease, or narrowing it further to just heart disease. You could also narrow using subtopics like “the effects of stress on cardiovascular disease in men” or “the effects of stress on cardiovascular disease in women.” You can then go through your list and select papers that relate to those topics.
2. Search for literature.
There are many different databases available online that contain scholarly articles and other types of academic writing—you just have to know where to look! You should also search through any print indexes or journals that are relevant to your topic.
3. Read the selected articles thoroughly and evaluate them.
After you’ve found some sources that seem like they might be relevant, make sure you read them carefully and critically evaluate them before deciding whether or not they’re worth including in your paper. Look at their purpose statement(s) and introduction; read through the paragraphs carefully; consider what conclusions have been made by their authors; etc.
Make sure that they are relevant to your subject matter and that they are published within the past five years (or whatever timeframe is appropriate for your paper). Read the selected articles thoroughly and evaluate them critically by asking yourself questions such as:
- Did this article help me understand my topic more clearly?
- Did this article introduce me to new concepts that I did not know about before?
- Did this article provide any new evidence or information that will help me develop my own argument?
If the answer to these questions is yes, then keep reading! If not, move on. You don’t need every piece of information from every article
4. Organise the selected papers by looking for patterns and by developing subtopics
- Start with a thesis or purpose statement. This should be a sentence or two that tells you exactly what you’re going to be writing about. To write one, you must begin by deciding what your thesis or purpose statement will be. You can use the following as examples:
- “The purpose of this paper is to examine the effectiveness of [research method] in testing [hypothesis]. “
- “The purpose of this paper is to investigate the relationship between [independent variable] and [dependent variable].”
- Next, start writing the paper. When you’re done, review your work and make sure it meets all of the following criteria:
- a) It is well-organized, with sections clearly marked and subheadings used where necessary
- b) It includes direct quotes from relevant sources as well as summaries of those sources
- c) It has no spelling or grammatical errors – use our services at The Page Doctor for the final check
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