How to Write a Literature Review?

How to Write a Literature Review?

How to Write a Literature Review?
Meena Tamang

Literature Review: Definition 

The literature review is a written summary of essential books and other sources on a particular subject. The review's sources may include academic publications, journal papers, reports from the government, websites, etc. Each source is described, summarized, and evaluated in the literature review. It is typically written as a stand-alone graduate thesis or dissertation chapter.

Typically, A literature review is a document or section that gathers essential sources on a subject and converses about those sources with one another (also called synthesis). Not just in literature but throughout many disciplines, the literature review is a crucial genre (i.e., the study of works of literature such as novels and plays). The research (scholarship) in a particular topic is what we are referring to when we use the terms "literature review" or "the literature." The words "research," "scholarship," and "literature" are frequently used synonymously.

When, Where, and Why would you write a Literature Review?

There are numerous situations in which a literature review might be written, each with its requirements. In addition, various fields have varying expectations for what a literature review is and does. 

In the humanities, authors may include more overt argumentation and interpretation of source material. In the sciences, authors are more likely to report study designs and results in their literature reviews; these differences reflect these disciplines' purposes and conventions in scholarship. 

You should continuously look at examples from your subject and speak with lecturers or mentors in your field to ensure that you understand the standards of your profession for literature reviews and any other genre.

A literature review can be included in a research paper or academic article; it typically comes before the research methods section and follows the introduction. 

In these circumstances, the literature review only has to discuss scholarship pertinent to the topic you are writing about; occasionally, it will also discuss relevant sources that shaped your research methods.

Literature reviews can be published alone or used as stand-alone homework for classes. Students may be required to complete a literature review as part of their coursework to familiarize themselves with a subject and relevant scholarship, learn about other researchers studying the subject of their interest, identify gaps in the literature that future projects could fill, and develop a theoretical framework and research methodology. 

A literature review, as a publication, typically aims to simplify the work of other academics by compiling, summarizing, and evaluating the current research on a subject.

Purpose of Writing a Literature Review

A written analysis of the present status of research on a chosen topic is the goal of a literature review. A Literature Review generally: 

  • Shows regions of previous scholarship
  • Explains how each source contributes to comprehending the particular problem, the field of study, or the theory under consideration.
  • Describes how each reference relates to the other authorities you've chosen.
  • identifies novel interpretations that fill in any gaps in the prior research and
  • determines a direction for further research

Components/ Parts of the Literature Review

Most literary reviews use the basic introduction-body-conclusion format. Still, if your lit review is part of a longer work, the introduction and conclusion components might only be a few sentences long. 

At the same time, the body receives the majority of your attention. If your lit review is a stand-alone essay, the introduction and conclusion will occupy more room. They will allow you to discuss your objectives, research strategy, and findings separately from the literature review.


  • a brief introduction that states your working topic and thesis
  • a prediction of the major themes or texts that will be covered in the review
  • A suggested explanation of how you identified sources and assessed them for inclusion in the study and discussion (more often found in published, standalone literature reviews than in lit review sections in an article or research paper)


  • Summarize and synthesize: Outline the fundamental ideas of each source and bring them together to form a logical whole.
  • Analyze and interpret: When feasible, add your interpretations to those of other researchers. Discuss the relevance of discoveries concerning the body of literature.
  • Critically assess your sources, highlighting their advantages and disadvantages.
  • Use transitional words and the topic sentence to establish relationships, contrasts, and comparisons in your writing.


  • In your summary, highlight the significance of the main results you have drawn from the literature.
  • Relate it to your primary research question.

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Steps of Writing the Literature Review Process

The procedure for writing a literature review can be broken down into four steps:

  • Specify your topic and the parameters of your review.
  • To identify materials pertinent to your topic, use search engines like Google Scholar, the library catalogue, and databases that are particular to your field.
  • To establish whether the sources are appropriate for understanding the subject, read and analyze them (see the Evaluating Sources section).
  • Discuss, analyze, and evaluate the results and conclusions from your chosen sources.

How to Write a Literature Review: Strategy and Tips

Here are a few strategies and tips that anyone can follow to write a good literature review:

  • Any literature review is only as excellent as the research it analyzes, so use reliable sources and conduct in-depth research. Don't hesitate to undertake the additional study if you encounter a new thread while writing.
  • While you are conducting your research, compile an annotated bibliography. Because a lot of the data in an annotated bibliography can also be used in a literature review, you will be partially drafting your literature review as you conduct research and also learning about the larger conversation among academics, professionals, and other stakeholders in your topic.
  • Instead of just summarizing research, you usually need to synthesize it. This entails linking sources to provide a picture of the evolution of the academic debate on a subject. Because they believe they have nothing to contribute to the academics they are quoting, many student writers find it challenging to synthesize; here are some techniques to aid you.
  • Remembering that the goal of these syntheses is to assist your readers in comprehending your study and reading the rest of your work is helpful.
  • According to writing instructors, synthesis is like throwing a dinner party: picture your sources as guests in a space where they can converse about your subject. What exactly are they exchanging?
  • Examine the in-text references in each paragraph. Do you only cite one source in every section? This typically means a summary-only. In a paragraph where several sources are cited, you are more likely to be synthesizing them.

In Conclusion, The most compelling literature reviews frequently involve arguments. The literature review is often where you may prove that your research fills a particular need or is pertinent in a specific way. In an article, you have a chance to accomplish this in the opening. 

Still, the literature review section provides ample opportunity to frame the discussion as you want your readers to understand. You are free to select the intellectual tradition whose definitions are most important to your way of thinking. 

By addressing these issues, you defend your position inside the discussion, which makes the lit review more engaging than a straightforward relaying of other sources.

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