How to Write a Good Literature Review

Learn To Write a Literature Review 

How To Write a Literature Review

While carrying out research on a certain subject, you'll nearly always need to include a synopsis of any past research on the issue. If your research article is on a fear conditioning experiment, for example, you will almost certainly need to present a summary of previous fear conditioning studies. 

Literature reviews can take many different shapes. For example, they can be included in a research paper as part of the Introduction section. They can be part of a Ph.D. dissertation's chapter. Literature reviews can also "stand on their own" as distinct articles. Full-length review papers are often published in journals like the Annual Review of Psychology, Psychological Bulletin, etc. Similarly, you may be asked to produce a research paper that is also a literature review in UCSD classes for instance, as part of the B.S. Degree Research Paper requirement with an instructor's approval. Alternatively, a literature review may be required as part of a broader research study, such as part of an Honors Thesis. 

Purpose of Literature Review 

The goal of a literature review is to give an overview of writings on a certain topic so that the reviewer can define his as well as her own position in the existing field of study on that topic. A literature review gives a reader a detailed overview of past talks before the reviewer presents his or her own in a research paper, thesis, or dissertation. In a nutshell, a literature review shows readers where the reviewer fits into the academic debate on a certain issue in relation to previous research.

How to Write a Literature Review 

The length of your Literature Review entirely depends on the project that you’re working on. In order to write a good literature review or any writing piece for that matter, we’ve put together a step-by-step guide of 6 parts of the Literature Review. One can always fall back upon these to find help through writing a review - 

1. Define your objective

Write a thesis with a clear position if you're writing an argument paper. Form a hypothesis to test if you're analyzing scientific hypotheses. Declare your project's purpose if you're presenting a self-contained assessment of publications on a topic. Define the objective of your paper at the outset so that the literature evaluation is tied to a particular viewpoint.

2. Conduct your Research 

Research should be an exhaustive process of any writing piece, let alone Literature Reviews. Conducting your own research helps you to write a good literature review. Look for the relevant texts from different scholars that match your choice of topic, the most. Then the next step would be to study them, relate with them and birth your own hypothesis with that help.  Determine who the leading voices in your topic's academic field are, and be sure to include their most recent writings. Search databases such as PsycINFO and others for related papers using a variety of keywords. One can also refer to scientific articles that have been peer-reviewed. Although published books can be useful, keep in mind that peer-reviewed articles are often regarded as the "gold standard" of scientific study. Read titles and abstracts, then choose and retrieve articles (by downloading, copying, or printing them), and save your searches as needed. 

3. Build an Outline around the Relevance of your Review 

As you begin to summarise any parts of your work or even your entire work, tie its primary elements to your thesis, hypothesis, or project statement to provide context for its value. What is the connection? Determine how it relates to the topic at hand. 
At this point, you’re almost to the finishing line. However, it is frequently beneficial to first reflect on all of your previous reading. Which patterns stand out the most? Do the various sources agree on something? Or isn't it? What are the remaining unanswered questions? Examine your notes (reorganizing them may be beneficial), and consider how you will present this research in your literature review while you do so. Are you going to summarise or assess critically? Are you planning to organize your information in chronological or another manner? It is always a smart option to know the whereabouts of your literature review. What we mean by this is that it is always beneficial to know the pattern and how will you organize your piece, beforehand.

4. Develop your Literature Review logically 

The last stage entails writing. Bear in mind that literature reviews are usually prepared in a summary format, with prior studies described briefly enough to highlight major results but not in great detail. This process will help even the readers, if they want to learn about a specific source and wants to cite them, then they can look for references and can even read the original article if they want. Individual research may, however, receive varying degrees of attention (more or less detail may be warranted depending on how critical or unique a given study was). You should read your first draft attentively when you've finished it, then edit and revise as needed and repeat the entire process. 

5. Include a list of references/works cited.

Although you will mention the author names and publication years in your text when composing the literature review, you will still need to create comprehensive citations for each entry at the conclusion. If your course needs it, use APA, MLA, or Chicago style requirements. This is one crucial step in writing a literature review as this shows your authenticity and will avoid the tendency of plagiarism as well. 

6. Examine your work.

Examine each paragraph's topic sentences. Would you say that your work offered a clear, rationally developed position from beginning to the conclusion if you simply read these sentences? The essential ideas of your literature review should be indicated in the topic sentences of each paragraph.

Make an outline of each portion of the document to see if you need to add content, delete extraneous information, or restructure sections. Read your work aloud to yourself. That way, you'll be able to spot where punctuation marks are needed to indicate pauses or divisions inside sentences, where grammatical problems have occurred, and where your sentences are confusing.

As the goal of a literature review would be to demonstrate that the writer is familiar with essential career literature on the chosen subject, double-check that you've addressed all the relevant, up-to-date, and topical works. It is critical in the sciences and some social sciences that your literature be recent; however, this is less crucial in the humanities.


In the conclusion, you should summarise and stress the significant results from the literature that you have gathered. Make sure that your research fills in gaps and adds to current knowledge, or how you used existing ideas and methodologies to create a framework for your research. Don't forget to proofread your literature review properly when you've completed writing and rewriting it.

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