A general guide on how to conduct and write a literature review.
Please check course or programme information and materials provided by teaching staff , including your project supervisor, for subject-specific guidance.
What is a literature review?
A literature review is a piece of academic writing demonstrating knowledge and understanding of the academic literature on a specific topic placed in context. A literature review also includes a critical evaluation of the material; this is why it is called a literature review rather than a literature report.
To illustrate the difference between reporting and reviewing, think about television or film review articles. These articles include content such as a brief synopsis or the key points of the film or programme plus the critic’s own evaluation. Similarly the two main objectives of a literature review are firstly the content covering existing research, theories and evidence, and secondly your own critical evaluation and discussion of this content.
Usually a literature review forms a section or part of a dissertation, research project or long essay. However, it can also be set and assessed as a standalone piece of work.
What is the purpose of a literature review?
…your task is to build an argument, not a library.
Rudestam, K.E. and Newton, R.R. (1992) Surviving your dissertation: A comprehensive guide to content and process. California: Sage, p49.
In a larger piece of written work, such as a dissertation or project, a literature review is usually one of the first tasks carried out after deciding on a topic. Reading combined with critical analysis can help to refine a topic and frame research questions. A literature review establishes familiarity with and understanding of current research in a particular field before carrying out a new investigation. Conducting a literature review should enable you to find out what research has already been done and identify what is unknown within your topic.
In a literature review, it is good practice to:
- summarise and analyse previous research and theories;
- identify areas of controversy and contested claims;
- highlight any gaps that may exist in research to date.
Conducting a literature review
Focusing on different aspects of your literature review can be useful to help plan, develop, refine and write it. You can use and adapt the prompt questions in our worksheet below at different points in the process of researching and writing your review. These are suggestions to get you thinking and writing.
Writing a literature review has a lot in common with other assignment tasks. There is advice on our other pages about thinking critically, reading strategies and academic writing. Our literature review top tips suggest some specific things you can do to help you submit a successful review.
Our reading page includes strategies and advice on using books and articles and a notes record sheet grid you can use.
The Academic writing page suggests ways to organise and structure information from a range of sources and how you can develop your argument as you read and write.
The Critical thinking page has advice on how to be a more critical researcher and a form you can use to help you think and break down the stages of developing your argument.
As with any writing task, you will need to review, edit and rewrite sections of your literature review. The Editing and proofreading page includes tips on how to do this and strategies for standing back and thinking about your structure and checking the flow of your argument.
Guidance on literature searching from the University Library
Searching using the library’s DiscoverEd tool: DiscoverEd
Finding resources in your subject: Subject guides
Advice to help you optimise use of Google Scholar, Google Books and Google for your research and study: Using Google
Managing and curating your references
A referencing management tool can help you to collect and organise and your source material to produce a bibliography or reference list.
Information Services provide access to Cite them right online which is a guide to the main referencing systems and tells you how to reference just about any source (EASE log-in may be required).
Published study guides
There are a number of scholarship skills books and guides available which can help with writing a literature review. Our Resource List of study skills guides includes sections on Referencing, Dissertation and project writing and Literature reviews.
How To Write A Literature Review For A Dissertation: 10 Practical Tips
When working on a dissertation, it is usually required to read different literature sources. You need to understand the current state of knowledge, previous research conducted on your topic, and the most notable theories connected with your subject. To analyze literature and show the research that has been completed.
When in the references list, students write just the titles of sources while in a literature review chapter, they should provide short descriptions for each of them. The size of this chapter can be different, depending on the requirements. The longer the dissertation, the longer the literature review will be, don’t forget that it should also be sorted logically and grouped into several sections if needed.
Here are a few tips for writing a literature review for a dissertation. If you are still stuck after reading these tips, try to use an essay writing service, they provide custom dissertation writing for any topic and subject, even if you need it fast. However, if you plan to do the work on your own, our tips should come in handy.
Need help with writing a literature review for dissertation
Get your paper written by a professional writer
10 Tips For Writing a Good Literature Review For A Dissertation
1. Show Significance
When writing a literature review, you shouldn’t just retell the short description of each source. You also need to show why is it significant, why did you put it into your literary review, and what is the influence of this source on your document.
2. Search in Many Places
You should read much literature to obtain more information. You should study not only online sources but also look in libraries, scientific databases, not very common sources. That is why it is better to do a wide search in many databases.
You should draw out the main topics of your dissertation. It is better for readers when they understand the topics highlighted in your document so they will be able to understand your literature review and other sections in the context of these topics.
4. Don’t Be Afraid To Criticize
When describing sources, you are able to critique them, show your opinion, and whether you agree or disagree with the authors of these sources. If you don’t do it, it will be more difficult to understand your position.
5. Rewrite the Section Many Times
Even if you have completed this chapter, you may return and edit it or add more sources. You may also edit it for several days. When you return to this chapter, read it several times to see how you should edit it.
6. Define the Scope for Review
You can’t tell about all sources that are connected with your topic, that is why you need to define the scope. It will help you to pick the most significant works in this field that should be described. It is a good skill to understand how big the literature review should be and which items you should put there.
7. Use the Correct Style
In different universities, there are different styles for references and literature review items. You should read the assignment’s requirements and edit your document as needed. When creating a literature review for a dissertation, you may also need the help of your instructor if you don’t know your requirements.
8. Check the Current State
Students don’t always evaluate their writing well and don’t fit into terms. That is why working on a dissertation may take more time than was estimated. If you created your literature review and then edited other chapters of your paper, you should also edit your review if needed.
9. Make it More Useful
Don’t concentrate on just retelling the content of the sources. Think about what is interesting for your readers, what information will be useful to them, make it oriented on your readers who are searching for information connected with your topic.
10. Don’t be Afraid to Ask for Help
If you don’t know how to start writing this chapter, you may go to the PapersOwl – writing service online. Then order your paper there. Specialists from this website will help you with all types of academic papers, including large dissertations. Use Writing Tips And Make Your Literature Review Perfect
You can be a person who is getting an education at university and wants to make a good dissertation for getting a Ph.D. degree. Then, you should start by doing effective research. You should also provide relevant sources and begin working with them when you start writing your paper. This chapter should be located it the right place of the structure of your document. Read a guide with requirements to know where to put it.
Stuck with finding the right title?
Get plenty of fresh and catchy topic ideas and pick the perfect one with PapersOwl Title Generator.
These tips may help you if you don’t know how to write a literature review. Even if they don’t help you, just ask for help at the PapersOwl website. There you will be able to create an order and wait until your dissertation will be completed by experienced writers.
Writing the literature review can be a difficult task and many students spend many days on it. That is why it is better to use the help of specialists who know how to write such papers fast. On the PapersOwl website, you will find many writers with the necessary experience.
They will write your literature review, proofread it and check grammar. They also have experience in writing dissertations on any topic or subject. If you need to hire them, place an order on the website and wait until they respond.