A raging debate? Pick one of these themes to focus the organization of your review. A literature review may not have a traditional thesis statement one that makes an argument , but you do need to tell readers what to expect. Try writing a simple statement that lets the reader know what is your main organizing principle.
Here are a couple of examples:. Now what is the most effective way of presenting the information? What are the most important topics, subtopics, etc. And in what order should you present them? Develop an organization for your review at both a global and local level:. The following provides a brief description of the content of each:. Once you have the basic categories in place, then you must consider how you will present the sources themselves within the body of your paper.
Create an organizational method to focus this section even further. To help you come up with an overall organizational framework for your review, consider the following scenario:. But these articles refer to some British biological studies performed on whales in the early 18th century.
So you check those out. Then you look up a book written in with information on how sperm whales have been portrayed in other forms of art, such as in Alaskan poetry, in French painting, or on whale bone, as the whale hunters in the late 19th century used to do. This makes you wonder about American whaling methods during the time portrayed in Moby Dick, so you find some academic articles published in the last five years on how accurately Herman Melville portrayed the whaling scene in his novel.
Sometimes, though, you might need to add additional sections that are necessary for your study, but do not fit in the organizational strategy of the body. What other sections you include in the body is up to you. Put in only what is necessary. Here are a few other sections you might want to consider:. Questions for Further Research: What questions about the field has the review sparked? How will you further your research as a result of the review?
There are a few guidelines you should follow during the writing stage as well. Here is a sample paragraph from a literature review about sexism and language to illuminate the following discussion:. In the example above, the writers refer to several other sources when making their point. A literature review in this sense is just like any other academic research paper. Your interpretation of the available sources must be backed up with evidence to show that what you are saying is valid.
Select only the most important points in each source to highlight in the review. Falk and Mills do not use any direct quotes. That is because the survey nature of the literature review does not allow for in-depth discussion or detailed quotes from the text. Some short quotes here and there are okay, though, if you want to emphasize a point, or if what the author said just cannot be rewritten in your own words.
Notice that Falk and Mills do quote certain terms that were coined by the author, not common knowledge, or taken directly from the study. But if you find yourself wanting to put in more quotes, check with your instructor. Remember to summarize and synthesize your sources within each paragraph as well as throughout the review. Notice that Falk and Mills weave references to other sources into their own text, but they still maintain their own voice by starting and ending the paragraph with their own ideas and their own words.
The sources support what Falk and Mills are saying. For more information, please see our handout on plagiarism. Draft in hand? Spending a lot of time revising is a wise idea, because your main objective is to present the material, not the argument. Be sure to use terminology familiar to your audience; get rid of unnecessary jargon or slang. For tips on the revising and editing process, see our handout on revising drafts. We consulted these works while writing this handout.
Please do not use this list as a model for the format of your own reference list, as it may not match the citation style you are using. For guidance on formatting citations, please see the UNC Libraries citation tutorial. We revise these tips periodically and welcome feedback.
Anson, Chris M. The goal is to deliberately document, critically evaluate, and summarize scientifically all of the research about a clearly defined research problem. Typically it focuses on a very specific empirical question, often posed in a cause-and-effect form, such as "To what extent does A contribute to B? Theoretical Review The purpose of this form is to examine the corpus of theory that has accumulated in regard to an issue, concept, theory, phenomena.
The theoretical literature review helps to establish what theories already exist, the relationships between them, to what degree the existing theories have been investigated, and to develop new hypotheses to be tested. Often this form is used to help establish a lack of appropriate theories or reveal that current theories are inadequate for explaining new or emerging research problems.
The unit of analysis can focus on a theoretical concept or a whole theory or framework. Baumeister, Roy F. Systematic Approaches to a Successful Literature Review. Thinking About Your Literature Review. The structure of a literature review should include the following :. The critical evaluation of each work should consider :.
Development of the Literature Review. Four Stages 1. Problem formulation -- which topic or field is being examined and what are its component issues? Literature search -- finding materials relevant to the subject being explored. Data evaluation -- determining which literature makes a significant contribution to the understanding of the topic.
Analysis and interpretation -- discussing the findings and conclusions of pertinent literature. Consider the following issues before writing the literature review: Clarify If your assignment is not very specific about what form your literature review should take, seek clarification from your professor by asking these questions: 1. Roughly how many sources should I include? What types of sources should I review books, journal articles, websites; scholarly versus popular sources?
Should I summarize, synthesize, or critique sources by discussing a common theme or issue? Should I evaluate the sources? Find Models Use the exercise of reviewing the literature to examine how authors in your discipline or area of interest have composed their literature review sections.
Read them to get a sense of the types of themes you might want to look for in your own research or to identify ways to organize your final review. The bibliography or reference section of sources you've already read are also excellent entry points into your own research. Narrow the Topic The narrower your topic, the easier it will be to limit the number of sources you need to read in order to obtain a good survey of relevant resources.
Your professor will probably not expect you to read everything that's available about the topic, but you'll make your job easier if you first limit scope of the research problem. A good strategy is to begin by searching the USC Libraries Catalog for books about the topic and review the table of contents for chapters that focuses on specific issues.
You can also review the indexes of books to find references to specific issues that can serve as the focus of your research. For example, a book surveying the history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict may include a chapter on the role Egypt has played in mediating the conflict, or look in the index for the pages where Egypt is mentioned in the text.
Consider Whether Your Sources are Current Some disciplines require that you use information that is as current as possible. This is particularly true in disciplines in medicine and the sciences where research conducted becomes obsolete very quickly as new discoveries are made. However, when writing a review in the social sciences, a survey of the history of the literature may be required. In other words, a complete understanding the research problem requires you to deliberately examine how knowledge and perspectives have changed over time.
Sort through other current bibliographies or literature reviews in the field to get a sense of what your discipline expects. You can also use this method to explore what is considered by scholars to be a "hot topic" and what is not. Ways to Organize Your Literature Review.
Chronology of Events If your review follows the chronological method, you could write about the materials according to when they were published. This approach should only be followed if a clear path of research building on previous research can be identified and that these trends follow a clear chronological order of development.
For example, a literature review that focuses on continuing research about the emergence of German economic power after the fall of the Soviet Union. By Publication Order your sources by publication chronology, then, only if the order demonstrates a more important trend. However, progression of time may still be an important factor in a thematic review. The only difference here between a "chronological" and a "thematic" approach is what is emphasized the most: the role of the Internet in presidential politics.
Note however that more authentic thematic reviews tend to break away from chronological order. A review organized in this manner would shift between time periods within each section according to the point made. Methodological A methodological approach focuses on the methods utilized by the researcher.
For the Internet in American presidential politics project, one methodological approach would be to look at cultural differences between the portrayal of American presidents on American, British, and French websites. Or the review might focus on the fundraising impact of the Internet on a particular political party. A methodological scope will influence either the types of documents in the review or the way in which these documents are discussed.
Other Sections of Your Literature Review Once you've decided on the organizational method for your literature review, the sections you need to include in the paper should be easy to figure out because they arise from your organizational strategy.
In other words, a chronological review would have subsections for each vital time period; a thematic review would have subtopics based upon factors that relate to the theme or issue. However, sometimes you may need to add additional sections that are necessary for your study, but do not fit in the organizational strategy of the body. What other sections you include in the body is up to you but include only what is necessary for the reader to locate your study within the larger scholarship framework.
Here are examples of other sections you may need to include depending on the type of review you write:. Writing Your Literature Review. Once you've settled on how to organize your literature review, you're ready to write each section. When writing your review, keep in mind these issues.
Use Evidence A literature review section is, in this sense, just like any other academic research paper. Your interpretation of the available sources must be backed up with evidence [citations] that demonstrates that what you are saying is valid. Be Selective Select only the most important points in each source to highlight in the review. The type of information you choose to mention should relate directly to the research problem, whether it is thematic, methodological, or chronological.
Related items that provide additional information but that are not key to understanding the research problem can be included in a list of further readings. Use Quotes Sparingly Some short quotes are okay if you want to emphasize a point, or if what an author stated cannot be easily paraphrased.
Sometimes you may need to quote certain terminology that was coined by the author, not common knowledge, or taken directly from the study. Do not use extensive quotes as a substitute for your own summary and interpretation of the literature. Summarize and Synthesize Remember to summarize and synthesize your sources within each thematic paragraph as well as throughout the review.
Recapitulate important features of a research study, but then synthesize it by rephrasing the study's significance and relating it to your own work. Keep Your Own Voice While the literature review presents others' ideas, your voice [the writer's] should remain front and center.
For example, weave references to other sources into what you are writing but maintain your own voice by starting and ending the paragraph with your own ideas and wording. Use Caution When Paraphrasing When paraphrasing a source that is not your own, be sure to represent the author's information or opinions accurately and in your own words.
Common Mistakes to Avoid. These are the most common mistakes made in reviewing social science research literature. Cook, Kathleen E. Online Writing Center. Liberty University; Literature Reviews. The Writing Center. University College Writing Centre. University of Toronto; Writing a Literature Review. Academic Skills Centre.
University of Canberra. Break Out of Your Disciplinary Box! Thinking interdisciplinarily about a research problem can be a rewarding exercise in applying new ideas, theories, or concepts to an old problem. For example, what might cultural anthropologists say about the continuing conflict in the Middle East?
In what ways might geographers view the need for better distribution of social service agencies in large cities than how social workers might study the issue? However, particularly in the social sciences, thinking about research problems from multiple vectors is a key strategy for finding new solutions to a problem or gaining a new perspective.
Consult with a librarian about identifying research databases in other disciplines; almost every field of study has at least one comprehensive database devoted to indexing its research literature. Frodeman, Robert. The Oxford Handbook of Interdisciplinarity.
New York: Oxford University Press, Don't Just Review for Content! While conducting a review of the literature, maximize the time you devote to writing this part of your paper by thinking broadly about what you should be looking for and evaluating.
Review not just what scholars are saying, but how are they saying it. Some questions to ask:.
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Literature Review. Writing a Literature Review. This step further leads to:. Synopsis and abstract of research. Research Methodology, Scope as well as limitations. In order to, identify Problem identification and selection. Need and importance of study. In order to, objectives, data collection as well as analysis.
Try to make your literature review attractive by coming up with the topic sentence of each paragraph in a way that it achieves two things: it hooks in a way to the previous paragraph and also reveals what this new paragraph will be about, for instance; "In contrast to these studies, which have tried to measure the amount of stress a person is subjected to, various researchers are now concentrating on a person's perception of demanding life events.
These connections may need to be made within a paragraph and also among a group of paragraphs, for instance, "Jones and Smith were amongst the first persons to investigate the impacts of abuse towards children Like Jones, Smith also utilized the State-Trait Inventory but incorporated males in his sample" or "Lee's studies of learned vulnerability support this study's view of modification of behavior as situation-specific. Select verbs that precisely describe what the research did; hypothesized, questioned, developed, executed, measured, tested, and modified have divergent meanings.
Use direct quotes sparingly. They take up more space than sentences constructed to recap the original. Quotations my comprise concept and vocabulary not familiar to the reader. Utilize verb tenses appropriately. Use the past tense to recap studies and procedures, for instance, "At least a third of those sampled in one study said that they would both reject socially and dread violence from someone exhibiting behaviors associated with various mental illnesses.
In addition, use the active and passive voice correctly. The active voice "Jennifer repeated the test with three samples" is not as wordy as the passive voice "This test was repeated with three samples by Jennifer". Nevertheless, it's good to use the passive voice when the object is more important than the subject for instance,"The players from the senior team were shown the video" ; when the subject is unknown "This phenomenon was first defined in line with 18 th century standards" ; when it wouldn't be a good idea to identify the subject "The first set of data wasn't correctly coded" ; and when putting the object before the subject more lucidly connects to a previous sentence or paragraph " These techniques were also assessed Overuse of the passive voice implies that research is happening by itself and the reader will be confused about who's doing what.
Citing supportive sources only - It is crucial that you also mention those studies that contradict your stance. In other words, mention some dissenting studies and explain why they deviate from your thinking. Depending on direct quotations - Even though it's okay to include direct quotations, don't depend on them too much. If you want to know more about how to write a literature review, the information above will greatly assist you. Remember, a literature review can be termed as discursive prose, not a list summarizing several pieces of literature.
Organize your review into segments that present themes or pinpoint trends, including pertinent theory. Your task isn't to list all published material; it's to synthesize and examine it in line with the guiding concept of your research question or thesis. To see how these tips are brought to life, go through an example of literature review. Contact us today for some literature review samples.
Literature Review Examples Usually, a literature review can be described as an objective, concise, and critical summary of published research literature pertinent to the subject being researched in an article.
Basic Guidelines The following are guidelines on how to write a literature review: Organize the literature review around key topics of concepts. Tell a story about the research. This will assist you with your organization. Be selective. Incorporate only studies that are pertinent to your subject.
Synthesize and evaluate. Organizing Tips When writing your literature review, place background information, for example, explanations of a theoretical model or clinical situation, at sections where it will be most helpful for your readers. Example of a Literature Review Conclusion Here is an example of a literature review conclusion: " The objective of this review was to view the trends in composition studies within the past fifty years and see how commentary on student writing has transformed and is still transforming.
You've now done research and compiled a list of the areas covered by your research: Pharmacological treatment of depression The elderly in nursing homes Measurement tools for depression Utilization of psychotherapy among the elderly Depression - causes, behavioral manifestations, and effects Societal attitudes towards aging Impacts of group therapy Side effects of drugs utilized to treat depression Psychological issues in the elderly A possible outline for the literature review can be: Depression in general Causation theories Behavioral manifestation Impacts Depression in the elderly, especially in nursing homes problem and its scope Impacts of therapy on depression Long-term - disadvantages Short-term Group The outline moves from general to specific.
Concerns about Sentence Level Look at how the following literature review example apa impacts readability: sentence strength, focus, placement of citation, active vs. Original: " The relationship that exists between motivation and the decision to attain literacy has been examined by Smith , Jones , and Brown Some guidelines; Use headings and topic sentences to inform readers what the subject is and what point the material is contributing to the discussion.
Test sentences for relevance to the main point. Put citations where they don't distract from the line of thought you are presenting. Utilize active verbs that are strong and rich in content. Make use of transition words. Style Tips Your tone should be objective as you summarize the research.
Don'ts of Writing a Literature Review Citing supportive sources only - It is crucial that you also mention those studies that contradict your stance. Using non-scholarly articles. Composing a narrowly-focused literature review. Conclusion If you want to know more about how to write a literature review, the information above will greatly assist you. How to write 27 Topics Ideas 7. Commonly Asked Questions Well, the task is characterized by so many questions that students want to understand so that they