How to Write a Literature Review Assignment

Writing a literature review is an academic requirement for many university students.  If you must write an undergraduate dissertation, a literature review is needed to integrate and summarize resources linked to the subject. The literature review attempts to synthesize, analyze, and present information from the study by identifying gaps in the current knowledge. Not many students are familiar with and can write a perfect literature review for college submission. 

Below is a range of valuable tips and guidelines for undergraduate students who wants to write a good literature review. Do not hesitate to read and learn from it. However, you have the option of checking how to write research papers and asking our experts for additional help. 

What is a Literature Review?

A literature review is a piece of academic writing that systematically and comprehensively analyzes scholarly articles, books, and other sources relevant to a specific topic providing a base of knowledge on a topic. It also discusses published information in a particular subject area and sometimes information in one specific subject area within a certain period. It grounds your readers in the scholarly discourse around your research topic.

More importantly, a literature review should isolate and critique the existing works on the topic of interest to substantiate your study by exposing gaps in the current investigation. It is good to provide a description, summary, and critical evaluation of materials related to the research problem in a literature review. Besides, the investigation should add to the general understanding of the matter and establish how your inquiry will fit within a larger field of study.

Finally, it should offer critical scrutiny of the existing research on a subject and should direct your research objective. In addition to reading this article, we recommend you check and read a literature review example on our website sample page.

How is a Literature Review Different from an Academic Research Paper?

1. An academic research paper develops a new argument, and a research paper will contain a literature review as one of its parts.

2. In a research paper, you apply literature as a foundation and support for a new insight you contribute.

3. A literature review, however, focuses on summarizing and synthesizing the arguments and ideas of others without adding new contributions.

4. The academic research paper also covers a range of sources, but it is usually a select number of sources because the emphasis is on the argument.

5. A literature review can also have an “argument,” but it is not as crucial as covering many sources.

What is the Purpose of a Literature Review?

a)  It provides a solid background for a research paper’s investigation.

b)  The overall objective of a literature review is to provide a stepping stone to understanding the present study in a particular subject before carrying out new research. Specific goals include finding out what research has been done, thereby providing a foundation of knowledge on the topic of study.

c)  It is meant to pinpoint areas of prior scholarship to avoid replication and praise other investigators.

d)  It detects areas of dispute and opposed claims, gaps in research, and open questions left from other studies.

e)  A literature review recognizes the requirement for further research. Again, it finds the relationship of works in the perspective of their contribution to the topic and other works.

f)  A literature review places your investigation within the existing literature, explaining why additional research is desirable.

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What is the Format for A Literature Review?

The structure of a  literature review should be like any other essay. It contains at least three essential elements.

Introduction: Gives a quick idea of the literature review topic, like the central theme or organizational pattern.

Body: Contains your discussion of sources and is organized thematically.

Conclusions/Recommendations: Discuss what you have drawn from reviewing the literature. Where might the discussion proceed?

How Do I Write A Good Literature Review?

Write a Problem Statement

Your study is likely grounded in a real-world problem, and you need to align your literature review with this problem. A problem statement concisely describes the issues a study seeks to address. The problem statement identifies the current state, the desired future state, and the gaps between the two. Therefore, writing a draft of your research problem statement will help you focus on your literature review.

A good problem statement identifies the problem, what the ideal environment would look like without the problem, the current gaps, the consequences, and the progress toward attaining the perfect situation. Therefore, a problem statement pinpoints the objectives of completing the literature review. It also provides an overview of the subject, issue, or theory under consideration and what prompted it.

Search the Relevant Literature

After writing a good problem statement, the next step is researching related vital concepts and variables to review. In searching the relevant literature, limiting your search to peer-reviewed research articles published within the last five years is a good practice. Experts write peer-reviewed articles on the most recent research, findings, and news in particular fields for a specific area. The peer-review practice subjects an author’s concepts, study, or academic work to the inspection of peers and is considered essential to safeguard academic scientific quality.

Once you retrieve peer-review research articles, read the abstract to determine if they are worthy of deeper analysis. If they are, then analyze them and put the critical elements onto an annotation table. It is also important to group your scholarly sources historically, chronologically, or thematically. You can identify similarities and areas of controversy and contested claims.

Synthesize the Sources

The writing process synthesizes relevant literature at the heart of the literature review. In this section, you provide a breakdown of each source’s uniqueness and its comparisons with other sources. Besides, as you evaluate your scholarly sources in your annotation table, you look for emergent trends, inconsistencies, and gaps.

It is worth noting that synthesizing the relevant literature is a time-consuming yet integral part of the literature process. Doing well facilitates writing a critical analysis of the relevant literature rather than merely sharing study summaries. That is to say, this step makes or breaks a literature review. Therefore, it is vital to give this work due to writing outstanding literature.

Report your Synthesis

Now is the time to write about the similarities, discrepancies, and gaps you identified in the previous step. Each paragraph should begin with a synthesis statement, also known as the topic statement, which summarizes the main idea and provides the central focus of the entire paragraph. A topic sentence helps orient your readers and drive the main points home.

An example of a synthesis statement could be, “Whereas investigators approve that …………, there is an inconsistent proof concerning …………….” The middle sentences expand on the idea of the synthesis statement. The last sentence of the paragraph accomplishes the idea discussed and delivers a suitable switch to the next paragraph. Body paragraphs are the backbone of a literature review and they should follow a specific structure.

Write a Conclusion

Finally, write a summary of your analysis and evaluation of the reviewed works and how it is related to their parent discipline, scientific endeavor, or profession. A firm conclusion is an integral part of the literature review since it summarizes the main contents of the study.

The section also allows the writer to provide their observations and recommendations concerning their understanding of the topic. Understanding these steps can help anchor you in writing other assignments. We have distilled the steps, but we would like to offer you an opportunity to see each step modeled.

How Can Help You?

Now we are finally done with the steps of writing a good literature review, and it is not as hard as you thought. All you need is to follow the above guideline, and you are good to go. However, there’s always a way out if you are limited in time, energy, and inspiration.

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