Literature review: what is it?
Research literature reviews provide an overview of a specific topic by surveying academic sources. An analysis of literature reviews tells us what has been written about a particular topic and by whom, as well as where the materials are from. Basically, a literature review involves searching and assessing the available literature on the topic or topic area you choose. It documents the state of the art for the subject or topic you have chosen.
Literature reviews include the following elements:
- The publication’s description;
- An overview of the points in the publication;
- A discussion of the research gaps;
- Evaluating the contribution of the publication
Why are literature reviews necessary?
A literature review is designed to examine writings on a given subject in order to establish a reviewer’s own point of view within the field of scholarship on the subject. Readers can benefit from literature reviews by getting a comprehensive overview of previous discussions before they embark on their own research or dissertation. In short, a literature review shows readers where the reviewer fits into the academic conversation on a particular topic in relation to existing scholarship.
What is the process for writing a literature review?
Depending on the length of your project, the depth and length of your literature review will vary. You may decide to include 5-6 sources to review if you are writing a 9-10 page paper that also includes your argument; however, the number of sources or how much you should include is not finite. It is important to consult your instructor/supervisor for expectations about how to proceed.
Here’s how you can write your literature review by following these steps:
- Identify your goal
Make sure the thesis statement clearly explains your aim if you are writing an argumentative paper. However, you must develop a hypothesis before you can evaluate a scientific theory. The purpose of your project should be started if you are providing a self-contained review of a topic. Any paper should begin with a clear statement of purpose so that the literature review is aligned with a particular point of view.
- Research Your Topic
You should review a few studies that directly relate to your topic and argument, as well as those written by scholars you believe are credible. Be sure to include the most pertinent publications of the top scholars who are experts on your topic’s academic field.
- Summarize each publication in relation to your research
In your summary of each publication, including the significance of that publication’s main points by relating its data to your thesis, hypothesis, or project statement. Is there a connection between these? Incorporate this information into the discussion.
- Analyze Literature Logically
How have the earliest ideas on the topic evolved and grown in the academic discussion of these publications? Think of your literature review as a development of a critical argument. Start with the basics and put things into perspective.
- Referencing/Works Citation
In writing your literature review, you will include the author names and the dates of publications; however, you must provide a detailed reference section at the end of each entry.