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Writing a literature review: General Guidelines

26 Feb 2019

A literature review is a complex assignment, whose goal is to provide an overview of the relevant sources of information considering the chosen topic. It can be a separate task, but mostly it is a part of the future larger scholarly work you are going to perform. Generally, it deals with various books, theories, articles, and other types of publications that are relevant to the subject of the study.

It is more than just a summarisation of the previous works or catalogue of the sources you’ve read. The goal is to complete and connected and logical overview with an evaluation of each source and description of the connection between them. You need to provide a critical insight into the state of current knowledge on the topic, based on the works that you’ve studied. Taking into consideration the complexity of this assignment, here are general literature review guidelines that will help you to succeed.

Writing a literature review: General Guidelines

When writing a literature review, there are several key points to address, such as format, citation style, structure, and academic requirements. However, it is not only about technical details, so here are 15 steps that summarise guidelines for writing an excellent literature review:

  1. Choose the topic and narrow it down. It should be very clear and scientifically relevant, sometimes students tend to choose the broad subjects, the secret is to make it narrow, and therefore you can dive in more precisely in one aspect of it. You need to define the subject of your study and the general scope of the literature review.
  2. Divide the subject of research to several specific aspects you are going to address so that you don’t forget to review them. These different parts can be viewed in connection to each other, or you can choose one of them as general focus and narrow down your topic even more.
  3. Before you start working on your assignment, it is a good idea to review already completed examples, so that you have a better understanding of what is to be done. You can find ones online; however, it is important to look for a relevant platform, for example, literature review writing service. Remember, that your goal is not only to provide on the scientific state of a particular issue but also determine the gap in the current knowledge that is going to be addressed in the future study.
  4. Conduct a sources search. Start this process with relevant sources you were given in college regarding a specific subject, and then proceed with your research. The best way to do that is to conduct several searches using different ways, such as Google Scholar and library search. There are tons of online libraries; however, the actual one can be the key to success.
  5. When doing research start with basics and include sources that define specific terms you use and the first scientists to ever address this issue.
  6. Narrow down the number of sources. Literature review format doesn’t include all sources of information you may find, as there might be a lot of them. What you need is to narrow the number of them to specific aspect you are dealing with. Pick relevant ones, meaning well-proved and modern.
  7. Find connections between sources. Another mistake any student may do is just to name and summarise different theories; however, it is not enough. You need to find how these theories correlate with each other, whether they complement one another or are contrasting. They need to share a view on a specific issue that can be either contrasting or the same; you need to create a detailed insight into the previous finding on the problem.
  8. Categorise selected sources regarding their connection to your idea, whether they support it or, otherwise, don’t support it. Both types should be included so that the study is objective and deals with counterarguments too.
  9. Draft the structure of future work; remember to put in introduction and conclusion. If the amount of writing is large, it is better to use headlines to divide logical parts of the literature review. APA formatting style recommends using headlines for different parts as it breaks your text making it more readable.
  10. When drafting the structure, divide the sources not by authors or period, but rather by their scientific approach. You’ve previously defined subtopics of your research subject; you can use them now as themes to connect different sources.
  11. Do not use direct quotations. All references should be paraphrased and organically included in the text. When you are referencing the source, do not just paraphrase it, but also explain the meaning behind it and dwell on how it is relevant for your study.
  12. Write the main body first, and do an introductory part and conclusion afterward. These parts are crucial for understanding your literature review, that’s why when writing them you need to have a deep and knowledgeable insight on what you are going to address. That’s why it might be a great idea to start with the main body and only then complete those sections.
  13. At the beginning of the assignment, mention the relevance of your review, why it is important to research and what knowledge gaps can be resolved with it.
  14. It is vital to specify your point of view, idea or thesis at the beginning of the assignment. It is not just a summary of the literature, it is a basis for study, and it has to deal with the specific opinion you have. It might be challenging, as it should be clear yet very specific. You may ask for assistance British essay writing service or look for examples online.
  15. Use transitions to make your assignment more logically connected and easy to follow. As soon as you’ve done with writing, check it several times for grammar mistakes, logical issues, and the general readability.

Thanks to these guidelines now, you know how to do a literature review that is scientifically relevant and well-grounded. Always pay attention to the format and editing of your assignment and don’t forget to check the grammar. Remember, that the narrower your subject is, the deeper insight is going to be.

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