5 Best Practices for writing a Literature Review
A literature review is a part of research that searches, evaluates, and discusses available published information about a given subject area. Writing a literature review involves following several steps.
The first step is searching for relevant literature. The researcher should define the research topic and search for literature that relates to it. Using keywords makes it easier to search for articles in scholarly journals like JSTOR, Medline, and EBSCO.
The second step is evaluating and selecting the sources. This step determines the credibility and relevance of sources to the topic. The researcher can summarize the sources by taking notes.
The third step is identifying the themes and gaps. This step enables the researcher to develop an appropriate structure for the literature review and demonstrate the contribution of the sources to the existing knowledge.
The fourth step is outlining the structure of the literature review. The researcher can arrange the information chronologically, thematically, methodologically, or theoretically. The chronological arrangement allows the researcher to interpret why and how specific developments took place. The methodological approach compares the information of sources from different fields or disciplines. The theoretical approach uses different theories, while the thematic approach organizes recurring themes.
The fifth step is writing the literature review, which should consist of the introduction, the main body, and the conclusion. The introduction states the purpose and focus of the literature review. The main body usually has several subheadings. It summarizes and synthesizes the main sources, analyzes and interprets other research studies, and evaluates the strengths and shortcomings of the sources critically. The conclusion part summarizes the key findings from the literature review and demonstrates their significance to the research topic.
Lastly, it is essential to revise and proofread the literature review before submission.