What is a Literature Review and How to Write It

Literature reviews are parts of academic works that describe the sources you’ve used to write the paper. Literature, in this case, is a broad term that covers not just certain scientific researches, books and stuff alike, but also any other source you used to write your paper.

Also, some may think that the author of an academic work has to express their own like or dislikes concerning the sources mentioned. Well, that’s not quite so. You can point out the main work in the field, but your personal preferences are not expected here. Your review can be a summary of the sources you’ve used or it can be a synthesis of the information you got as you analyze the way the scientific thought developed through the researches or compare the information from different books and articles to make a point. Now you know what is a literature review: it is a piece of text where you tell your reader about the sources you’ve used. Time to find out how to write it. Let’s get started.

Writing your literature review

Literature reviews are called to help those who are supposed to write a research paper. If you are an experienced scientist, a literature review will help you keep up with the current work in your subject area and for those who are only stepping on this way, making a good piece will show you know your topic well and have conducted a profound research. This is what literature review is for: to outline the main works readers can catch up with. Okay, we see what is literature review in research and now it’s time to explain what structure does it has to have.

The structure

You have to group your sources depending on the point of view presented. Do not simply write what every author thinks of your topic. Show that ‘these writers believe one thing is true while others support that point of view’, etc. It is better to add an analytical twist to your review, it will look way better this way. You need to show there are different views and explain how they work together in a scientific field.

You know what is literature review done for, and now you have to decide which sources to choose. If it’s a college research, you’ll probably get a list of recommended sources, and it is convenient to follow them. They are recommended for a reason. But if you are writing a dissertation, you can decide for yourself. Think of the main point you want to convey in your writing and find good, credible sources.

It is good to know what is review of literature in research, but it is even better to know how to write an eligible and balanced one. So there are a few things you need to know. First of all, you cannot just put all the source descriptions there without any general idea. You need a line of discussion. Start with an introduction showing your main idea and mentioning the main issues you discuss in your work. Then you need to add a short overview of the points of view that contradict with your own. It is better to acknowledge the existence of different positions, this will make your writing stronger. You also need to show how every work you describe is different from the others and what they have in common.

Follow that up with a conclusion that explains which work you consider the best on the subject, why it sounds convincing to you and how does it contribute to the general development of the subject area.

How to assess the works

There are different factors you need to take into consideration as you evaluate the sources. Evaluate the previous career of the author: does his/her research have enough support when it comes to facts? Does the writer you analyze have an unbiased approach or does he/she have prejudice? Does their research include the analysis of opposite points of view? Does the author provide credible conclusions and do they sound valuable?

After you analyze and write down these things, you’ll get really close to a good literature review. Then format and edit it, and you are ready. Oh, and remember that the literature review often takes place right after the introduction part of your paper.

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