Writing guides10 May 2021

How to Write a Literature Review of Great Quality

If you are choosing a topic that already has a significant amount of previously published reviews, the prospect of creating a good literature review can seem like a daunting task: so many books and articles with so many references! However, with this guide on how to write a literature review, you can end up with a great paper.

What Is a Literature Review?

A literature review is usually the second section (after the introduction) in a thesis, research paper, or dissertation, in which the student is obliged to demonstrate deep familiarity with the existing scientific and theoretical base on the research topic.

Simply put, it is necessary to give a brief description and, if possible, analyze the scientific works that you use as a theoretical basis for your own work. It is important to understand that a literature review is an obligatory part of the research (unless the supervisor and the department in which you will defend your paper do not introduce other requirements).

How to Make a Literature Review Outline?

The task of preparing a literature review arises after the definition of the research topic and the preliminary formulation of goals and objectives for its disclosure. It is convenient to take them as the basis for the points of the outline. At the same time, the literature review should justify working on these tasks but not solving them.

Dissertations, theses, and research papers are written by people who maintain a certain level of knowledge in their specificity. It is quite natural for them to include a lot of facts in the text, but not all information is important for research. To avoid unnecessary detailing of the outline and, consequently, making the entire paper too lengthy, when formulating points, you should always ask yourself the question of their significance for the work.

The finished outline draft is shown to the supervisor, but it is not a fact that he or she will agree with the proposed ideas right away. Do not be upset when you hear criticism – your task is to end up with a great outline because it will influence the entire literature review. In practice, the work on the correction of the outline often helps to concretize the goals and objectives of the paper, which ultimately makes it easier to write. The outline should consist of the following:

  • introduction that defines your topics and provides context for literature reviewing
  • main body that provides insight into the relationship between the topic and bigger subject area
  • conclusion that summarizes the important aspect of the literature review

How to Structure a Literature Review

The selection of data sources for the theoretical chapter is carried out in accordance with the outline. Studying the found material, valuable information is recorded in the thesis form, and bibliographic data must be saved to facilitate further work on the preparation of a list of used sources. It must be remembered that it is necessary to save not only the title and author of the publication but also the page number.

In modern science, the logical principle of structuring a literary review is more common. According to it, the information found is presented in the order of describing the problem, its characteristics and factors, analyzing the location of the research object among similar ones, and identifying patterns or evaluating the applied value. Which of the methods will be applied in a particular dissertation, thesis, research paper, or article depends on the branch of knowledge and the topic of the research itself.

It is important to follow the logic of the narrative: first consider general issues, and then in subsections or paragraphs, the particulars. It is good if each subchapter has its own short conclusion. This approach contributes to a correct and comprehensive summing up of the results from the analytical activities of studying sources on the selected problem.

How to Write a Literature Review: Steps

When writing a literature review, the first step is to select the sources themselves. This does not mean that, at the time of writing the review, you need to have a complete list of sources used, since the review, as a rule, focuses on the most significant works of famous authors. In other words, if you know what works and the authors are highly trusted and considered fundamental in your research area, then they will be enough to write a literature review.

The selection of sources for the review should not be random – the literature should clearly correspond to the research topic. What exactly needs to be written about the sources is an individual question; it all depends on the research topic, chronological framework, purpose, subject, and object. Here is a list of what is recommended to pay attention to when writing a literature review:

  • the importance of work for the development of a field of knowledge
  • the degree of disclosure in the work of the problematic you have chosen
  • date of publication of the work and its relevance
  • the degree of trust of the scientific community in the author and his or her works

It will be a plus if you not only describe several sources but also compare some of them with each other and highlight the key ideas for your research. This will demonstrate that you actually have a theoretical background and are aware of what has been done in the particular area of knowledge before you.

What You Should Know About the Literature Review Format

The volume of a literature review depends on the type of paper: in a term paper, it can take only two or three paragraphs, while reviews of several pages are typical for dissertations. At the same time, despite the fact that the literature review, as a rule, is included after the introduction to the research work, a separate chapter should be distinguished for it. However, in this case, one should approach the study of sources more responsibly and include in the review a detailed description of the main theses contained in the works.

Once you have decided how you will include the literature review in your research, you need to determine the sequence in which you will describe the sources. Usually, they write first either about the authors whose work has made the most significant contribution to the development of your chosen topic or about the works that are most important in the context of your research.
The described works can be grouped according to various criteria: by content, time of writing, positions of authors, etc.

Literature Review Example

You can see a sample below. It is presented in order to give you a better understanding of how to deal with such writing correctly. Use it as a literature review template only. Do not copy it into your work, as this will be regarded as plagiarism.

Relationship between National Identity and Nature Conservation

Early work in the environmental humanities tended to take a sharply critical approach to wildlife, focusing on the cultural construction of supposedly “natural” landscapes. The rising awareness of climate change in the 2000s has been fueled by tales of “the end of nature” in which a once-untouched human wilderness degrades into extinction. In response to this popular environmental historian, Penelope Smith criticized the concept of pure, pristine nature that should be preserved from human influence, arguing that ideas such as “wilderness” are themselves the products of certain human cultures and stories. In her influential article “The Wildlife Problem”, Penelope traces the loss of the ideal of untouched wilderness and the disappearance of political will to preserve it for an American identity intertwined with religious motives (2006). Several scholars raised racial and class wildlife conservation policies in the late 2010s after Penelope. They investigated the material impact of conservation policies on indigenous and rural populations. The American national park system has become the dominant paradigm for analyzing the relationship between conservation, statehood, and nationalism. However, this approach sometimes fails to interact closely with the meanings and materiality of “wilderness” in different contexts.

New work challenges this perspective and demands more diverse approaches to understanding the social and political relationship between nation and nature.

In this article, we analyzed principles and rules for dissertations, theses, and other academic papers when writing a literature review. We have described all important features of writing it and presented a helpful literature review sample. If you still have problems with writing it, please get help from the specialists of the EssayBulls service, as they are always ready to provide you with high-quality help.

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