How to Write a Literature Review Paper

How to Write a Literature Review Paper May 21, 2020

Learning How to Write a Literature Review Paper Professionally

The article below answers a popular question of many students, ‘How to write a literature review paper?’ It also discusses the mandatory components of a literature review and provides some helpful tips on writing a literature review effectively and quickly. After reading the article, you will know:

  • The purpose of a literature review and the roles of each of its components
  • Which information should be included in each section
  • How to use the Review Matrix to create a strong literature review

Parts of a Literature Review and Their Purpose

To write an effective literature review, a student should be familiar with the parts of a literature review and should know which information exactly should be included in each of them. Let us start by discussing by the first paragraph of a literature review paper – introduction.

 

Introduction

The primary purpose of an introduction is to provide the readers with the contextual knowledge of the topic of the discussion. This paragraph explains the scope of your research and states the specific focus of the discussion (aka thesis statement). Apart from that, the introduction should signpost the discussion as well as situate your research within the current scholarly conversation.

The following questions should help you understand which key points to include in the introduction and how to organize the information in the most effective way. Use the answers to these questions to develop the background of the introduction:

  • What background knowledge do your readers require to understand the conversation between scholars in your field of study?
  • What makes the research area you selected important, relevant, or problematic?
  • What can you tell the readers about how the topic has already been approached?
  • Which perspective has already been adopted to view this topic and how can you view it differently?

Helpful Strategies and Tips

  • Omit unnecessary details
  • State the problem as clearly as you can
  • Explain the significance and relevance of the topic

Main Body

What is a body paragraph? It is a unit of the discussion that explains in detail one aspect of the topic. Body paragraphs provide a detailed synthesis of the publications related to your research. The main body has to support your thesis statement and highlight your overall conclusions about the study.

 

Use the following questions to guide your discussion in the main body:

  • Is your organization method suitable for the literature review?
  • Which of the following arrangement methods are applicable to your information: chronological, debate, or along lines?
  • Do all paragraphs contribute to the logical development of your ideas?
  • Do the paragraphs create a cohesive argument and make the discussion easy to follow?

Helpful Strategies and Tips

  • Choose the best method of organization and do not deviate from it
  • Create a clear topic sentence for each paragraph
  • Make sure the paragraphs are organized in a logical sequence
  • The paragraphs should not only fit together but also integrate your findings, and you ca reverse outlining to achieve this goal.

Headings

Good choice of headings for your paper is essential because the headings will be the first thing the readers see, so, basically, they contribute to the first impression of your work.

Use these questions to make sure that your literature review essay has effective headings:

  • Do the headings reflect the content of the sections correctly?
  • Are the headings succinct?
  • Is there enough content in each section?
  • Do the headings match the literature review topics?

Helpful Strategies and Tips

  • If you plan to use headings, make sure you have more than one heading.
  • Use phrases instead of independent clauses
  • Eliminate wordiness
  • Consult the style guide to use correct formatting, e.g. bolding, italicizing, capitalization, etc.

How to Create Good Body Paragraphs: Tips for Writing a Literature Review

The questions below will guide your writing:

  • Do all paragraphs have topic sentences?
  • Is there enough back-up evidence?
  • Do you analyze the evidence?
  • Does each paragraph concentrate only on one topic?
  • Does all information belong in its respective paragraph?

Helpful Strategies and Tips

  • Body paragraphs should not include redundancies and repetitions.
  • Explain instead of restarting.
  • Use varying stylistic constructions when creating topic sentences.

How to Include Evidence

No matter how many sources for a literature review you have found, the research should be integrated and analyzed. Ask yourself these questions to understand how well you have coped with this task:

  • Do all your paragraphs have enough evidence to support your claims?
  • Is there an explanation of how exactly the evidence supports the claim?
  • Does the evidence you have included fit with the main point of the respective paragraph?

Helpful Strategies and Tips

  • Explain facts rather than list them
  • Try to achieve a balance between the amount of evidence and your own discussion
  • Do not rely too heavily on a few sources
  • Include evidence in a way that ensures logical progression

Conclusion

The conclusion is among the key elements of literature review writing. This part of your paper summarizes the central points of the discussion and the answers to your literature review questions. A well-written conclusion should include:

Summary of the Findings

  • What are the main discoveries of my study?
  • What are the main debatable points?
  • In what way are my findings similar and different from the rest that exists?
  • Have any patterns emerged?

Summation of the Overall Results

  • Which conclusions have you reached after analyzing your findings?
  • What does the combination of your findings tell you about your topic?
  • How would you answer the ‘so what’ question?

Future Research Suggestions

  • What research into your topic is still needed?
  • Is there a way to address the gaps you have discovered in your literature review, perhaps by using a different approach or overcoming the limitations?
  • What kind of research will be the most beneficial for your body of knowledge?

Research Limitations

  • Which constraints have influenced your study and its findings?
  • Are your findings valid in all contexts?
  • When will your findings not be applicable?

Helpful Strategies and Tips

  • Try to be realistic when thinking about the significance and relevance of your research to the existing scholarly discussion of your topic.
  • As you consider eh ways in which your findings can be used you may discover additional limitations.

Bibliography

Good literature review topics enable aspiring researchers to find an abundance of suitable publications but there is also a question of how the sources should be cited and formatted. This all, of course, depends on the chosen style, such as APA, MLA, Chicago, etc. Check out their manuals to see how the bibliography should be organized.

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