Who writes these things, anyway? Literature reviews are written occasionally in the humanities, but mostly in the sciences and social sciences; in experiment and lab reports, they constitute a section of the paper. Sometimes a literature review is written as a paper in itself. What should I do before writing the literature review?
Clarify If your assignment is not very specific, seek clarification from your instructor: Roughly how many sources should you include? What types of sources books, journal articles, websites? Should you summarize, synthesize, or critique your sources by discussing a common theme or issue?
Should you evaluate your sources? Find models Look for other literature reviews in your area of interest or in the discipline and read them to get a sense of the types of themes you might want to look for in your own research or ways to organize your final review. Narrow your topic There are hundreds or even thousands of articles and books on most areas of study.
The narrower your topic, the easier it will be to limit the number of sources you need to read in order to get a good survey of the material. Consider whether your sources are current Some disciplines require that you use information that is as current as possible. In the sciences, for instance, treatments for medical problems are constantly changing according to the latest studies. Information even two years old could be obsolete.
However, if you are writing a review in the humanities, history, or social sciences, a survey of the history of the literature may be what is needed, because what is important is how perspectives have changed through the years or within a certain time period.
Try sorting through some other current bibliographies or literature reviews in the field to get a sense of what your discipline expects. You can also use this method to consider what is currently of interest to scholars in this field and what is not. Strategies for writing the literature review Find a focus A literature review, like a term paper, is usually organized around ideas, not the sources themselves as an annotated bibliography would be organized. This means that you will not just simply list your sources and go into detail about each one of them, one at a time.
As you read widely but selectively in your topic area, consider instead what themes or issues connect your sources together. Do they present one or different solutions? Is there an aspect of the field that is missing? How well do they present the material and do they portray it according to an appropriate theory? Do they reveal a trend in the field? A raging debate? Pick one of these themes to focus the organization of your review. Here are a couple of examples: The current trend in treatment for congestive heart failure combines surgery and medicine.
More and more cultural studies scholars are accepting popular media as a subject worthy of academic consideration. Now what is the most effective way of presenting the information? What are the most important topics, subtopics, etc.
And in what order should you present them? Literature search -- finding materials relevant to the subject being explored. Data evaluation -- determining which literature makes a significant contribution to the understanding of the topic. Analysis and interpretation -- discussing the findings and conclusions of pertinent literature. Consider the following issues before writing the literature review: Clarify If your assignment is not very specific about what form your literature review should take, seek clarification from your professor by asking these questions: 1.
Roughly how many sources should I include? What types of sources should I review books, journal articles, websites; scholarly versus popular sources? Should I summarize, synthesize, or critique sources by discussing a common theme or issue? Should I evaluate the sources? Find Models Use the exercise of reviewing the literature to examine how authors in your discipline or area of interest have composed their literature review sections.
Read them to get a sense of the types of themes you might want to look for in your own research or to identify ways to organize your final review. The bibliography or reference section of sources you've already read are also excellent entry points into your own research. Narrow the Topic The narrower your topic, the easier it will be to limit the number of sources you need to read in order to obtain a good survey of relevant resources.
Your professor will probably not expect you to read everything that's available about the topic, but you'll make your job easier if you first limit scope of the research problem. A good strategy is to begin by searching the HOMER catalog for books about the topic and review the table of contents for chapters that focuses on specific issues. You can also review the indexes of books to find references to specific issues that can serve as the focus of your research. For example, a book surveying the history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict may include a chapter on the role Egypt has played in mediating the conflict, or look in the index for the pages where Egypt is mentioned in the text.
Consider Whether Your Sources are Current Some disciplines require that you use information that is as current as possible. This is particularly true in disciplines in medicine and the sciences where research conducted becomes obsolete very quickly as new discoveries are made. However, when writing a review in the social sciences, a survey of the history of the literature may be required. In other words, a complete understanding the research problem requires you to deliberately examine how knowledge and perspectives have changed over time.
Sort through other current bibliographies or literature reviews in the field to get a sense of what your discipline expects.
You can also use this method to explore what is considered by scholars to be a "hot topic" and what is not. Ways to Organize Your Literature Review Chronology of Events If your review follows the chronological method, you could write about the materials according to when they were published. This approach should only be followed if a clear path of research building on previous research can be identified and that these trends follow a clear chronological order of development.
For example, a literature review that focuses on continuing research about the emergence of German economic power after the fall of the Soviet Union. By Publication Order your sources by publication chronology, then, only if the order demonstrates a more important trend.
However, progression of time may still be an important factor in a thematic review. The only difference here between a "chronological" and a "thematic" approach is what is emphasized the most: the role of the Internet in presidential politics. Note however that more authentic thematic reviews tend to break away from chronological order. A review organized in this manner would shift between time periods within each section according to the point made.
Methodological A methodological approach focuses on the methods utilized by the researcher. For the Internet in American presidential politics project, one methodological approach would be to look at cultural differences between the portrayal of American presidents on American, British, and French websites. Or the review might focus on the fundraising impact of the Internet on a particular political party. A methodological scope will influence either the types of documents in the review or the way in which these documents are discussed.
Other Sections of Your Literature Review Once you've decided on the organizational method for your literature review, the sections you need to include in the paper should be easy to figure out because they arise from your organizational strategy. In other words, a chronological review would have subsections for each vital time period; a thematic review would have subtopics based upon factors that relate to the theme or issue.
However, sometimes you may need to add additional sections that are necessary for your study, but do not fit in the organizational strategy of the body. What other sections you include in the body is up to you but include only what is necessary for the reader to locate your study within the larger scholarship framework. Here are examples of other sections you may need to include depending on the type of review you write: Current Situation: information necessary to understand the topic or focus of the literature review.
Revising the work Follow the required formatting. Use terms properly. Replace jargon and slang. Your tone must be neutral but credible and convincing. Avoid inaccuracies: the mentioned sources must clearly relate to the review question. Pay attention to primary studies first. Examine critically findings of other researchers — it shows that you study the problem and look for its solution. If you deal with alternative interpretations, include them in your work, too. Do not be afraid to mention in the review works with negative results — they also have value for scientific progress.
Check grammar and spelling — they must comply with the rules of language. After you have finished your draft, take a long pause to look at the text with a fresh eye. Check your reference list to be sure you have marked every quotation. If you have time read aloud all you have written — it will help to hear where you may improve your text. If you want to produce an impression you review must be not only informative but also readable. Ask, if possible, your colleagues to read your work.
They may notice something of what you lost sight. Professional writers There are situations when people are short of time, unforeseen events take place, and the help of a professional writer of literature review in the research paper is necessary. For such cases you may contact the service, whose stuff specializes in writing such kind of works. They write a review using all necessary sources in a proper manner so that you may be sure that it will improve your scores.
They usually focus on a single question and have clear study objectives that are worked upon in a systematic manner. These studies are based on a well-defined strategy unlike narrative reviews. Systematic reviews and narrative reviews are organized slightly differently.
The details are described below: Introduction: Systematic reviews begin with specific research questions that are defined in terms of the samples and research outcomes to be studied.
Once the sample studies have been shortlisted, they are analyzed in detail. Results: The results section for these studies involves comprehensive data analysis to determine the significance of the study outcomes.
Systematic reviews can be accompanied with Meta-analysis which involves statistical analysis of the included studies to increase the power of the results. Discussion: This section usually interprets the study data based on their weighted significance and the power of the results. The study therefore provides strengthened results that are validated by the scientific rigor of the analytical method.
Before starting to write a review, it is important to determine what kind of review you want to write and follow the appropriate style and guidelines. An effective literature review is important for the complete life cycle of a research from defining the right research goals to correctly interpreting and presenting the research results.
What are some of the ways of organizing the sources when writing a literature review for a research paper? Writing a literature review requires you to read through and collate several research articles and literature sources. This can get very confusing considering the large amount of publications that need to be organized.
.In this sense, it essentially forms the first experiment of any research project. Narrative reviews These are theoretical discussions of relevant information on a particular topic and its critical analysis. Narrow your topic There are hundreds or even thousands of articles and books on most areas of study. Accuracy of information If you do not know something or it is not clear enough for you, clarify your doubts as soon as possible.
Thinking About Your Literature Review The structure of a literature review should include the following: An overview of the subject, issue, or theory under consideration, along with the objectives of the literature review, Division of works under review into themes or categories [e. Sometimes you may need to quote certain terminology that was coined by the author, not common knowledge, or taken directly from the study.
A literature review is a comprehensive overview of all the knowledge available on a specific topic till date. Try sorting through some other current bibliographies or literature reviews in the field to get a sense of what your discipline expects. University of Toronto; Writing a Literature Review. Were the results effectively interpreted and reported? The focus of a literature review, however, is to summarize and synthesize the arguments and ideas of others without adding new contributions.
Given this, while literature reviews are designed to provide an overview and synthesis of pertinent sources you have explored, there are a number of approaches you could adopt depending upon the type of analysis underpinning your study.
Thinking interdisciplinarily about a research problem can be a rewarding exercise in applying new ideas, theories, or concepts to an old problem. Literature reviews are designed to provide an overview of sources you have explored while researching a particular topic and to demonstrate to your readers how your research fits within a larger field of study. We revise these tips periodically and welcome feedback. This is particularly true in disciplines in medicine and the sciences where research conducted becomes obsolete very quickly as new discoveries are made.
Literature reviews are written occasionally in the humanities, but mostly in the sciences and social sciences; in experiment and lab reports, they constitute a section of the paper. These parts may have subdivisions depending on the contents of the work. An effective literature review is important for the complete life cycle of a research from defining the right research goals to correctly interpreting and presenting the research results. But how is a literature review different from an academic research paper? A literature review in this sense is just like any other academic research paper. Hart, Chris.
Who writes these things, anyway?
Hamilton found that people imagined 3. A literature review should begin with a thorough literature search using the main keywords in relevant online databases such as Google Scholar , PubMed , etc.
They usually focus on a single question and have clear study objectives that are worked upon in a systematic manner. It might give a new interpretation of old material or combine new with old interpretations. And a review does not necessarily mean that your reader wants you to give your personal opinion on whether or not you liked these sources. It will do your work easier if you narrow down the scope of possible themes in your review. For example, a literature review that focuses on continuing research about the emergence of German economic power after the fall of the Soviet Union.
For the Internet in American presidential politics project, one methodological approach would be to look at cultural differences between the portrayal of American presidents on American, British, and French websites. Organize literature search which will help to find publications relevant to your theme from sources you can trust. Typically it focuses on a very specific empirical question, often posed in a cause-and-effect form, such as "To what extent does A contribute to B? After you have finished your draft, take a long pause to look at the text with a fresh eye. Ideally, separate themes should be discussed in a chronological manner to describe how research in the field has evolved over time and to highlight the progress in the field. This is essential for defining the problem statement of the study and highlighting the significance of the research under question.