A literature review is a survey of scholarly sources on a specific topic. It provides an overview of current knowledge, allowing you to identify relevant theories, methods, and gaps in the existing research.
How to write a literature review1 1. Narrow your topic and select papers accordingly. 2. Search for literature. 3. Read the selected articles thoroughly and evaluate them. 4. Organize the selected papers by looking for patterns and by developing subtopics. 5. Develop a thesis or purpose statement. 6. Write the paper. 7. Review your work.
…or2 1. Search for relevant literature 2. Evaluate sources 3. Identify themes, debates and gaps 4. Outline the structure 5. Write your literature review
If you are writing a stand-alone paper, give some background on the topic and its importance, discuss the scope of the literature you will review (for example, the time period of your sources), and state your objective. What new insight will you draw from the literature?
- Summarize and synthesize: give an overview of the main points of each source and combine them into a coherent whole
- Analyze and interpret: don’t just paraphrase other researchers—add your own interpretations where possible, discussing the significance of findings in relation to the literature as a whole
- Critically evaluate: mention the strengths and weaknesses of your sources
- Write in well-structured paragraphs: use transition words and topic sentences to draw connections, comparisons and contrasts
If you are writing a stand-alone paper, you can discuss the overall implications of the literature or make suggestions for future research based on the gaps you have identified.