Step-by-Step Guide to Writing a Literature Review

A literature review is a very important chapter of solid research papers and dissertations. This section informs readers about the sources that have been used for analysis. Literature review writing is a complicated job, because one should review a great number of sources. Obviously, an average student does not know how to write a literature review correctly; therefore, it is smart to read our professional literature review writing tips.

Step One: Collect the Right Sources

When you investigate the definite problem, you ought to collect arguments and facts that can improve the informative value of your research paper or dissertation. When you use quotations from some books, you should cite them attentively in order to avoid problems with plagiarism. An average number of books and periodicals that one uses for thesis or term paper writing is about twenty. Consequently, you ought to review more than twenty reliable and up-to-date sources and organize a neat and well-formatted literature review.

  • Use only the most up-to-date sources. About five years ago it was still fine to use 10-year-old sources as fresh ones. Nowadays, with the access students have to the world libraries, newsletters, online magazines, databases, it is no longer a good idea. If you are writing on a “modern” subject, like digital evolution, for instance, your sources should not be older than 1-2 years. Of course, you can use “older” books and articles but only to emphasize the dynamics.
  • Craft a logical structure and follow it. Every entry should be described according to the logical structure you come up with. Don’t allow it to be messy. For example, you can start by describing the role of this work and them showing its relevance in a few sentences. No matter which structure you choose exactly, you should not change it from one described book to another.

Step Two: Write the Introduction

The first section of your literature review is a brief introduction. You ought to write about your topic, its main idea, purpose and relevance of research. Then, you can enumerate the main points and subcategories that you investigate. Connect these points with the sources that you have utilized. Mention the main ideas that you have grabbed from your sources. Try to connect your sources with your methods and research approach. Moreover, you should define the main criteria according to which you divide and analyze every books and scientific journal.

  • Make it brief. There is nothing exciting to be written in your literature review introduction, but you have to write it, so make it brief. Don’t “pour water” just to make it look more voluminous.
  • Don’t list sources in the introduction. Students often make the mistake of listing the entries they are going to mention later in the introduction. It is unnecessary.

Step Three: Group All Sources into Categories

It is important to create a logical and coherent literature review. It is possible to prepare a well-balanced and informative review if you group all sources into the definite categories. You can divide your sources into three groups. Firstly, there are authors who share the same opinion. Secondly, there are authors who have opposite opinions. Thirdly, there are authors who have original opinions about your issue.

  • Your logic should be clear without extra explanation. The philosophy you follow when putting your sources into groups should be understood from the first glance or better to say from the opening lines, which means it should be simple. DOn’t try to invent some too excessively creative scheme to group sources, use one of the mentioned above and call it a day.
  • Don’t mention one source twice. Though it sounds rather obvious, students tend to mention books or articles several times when putting them into groups. It doesn’t matter if you copy the description or write a new one, it is a wrong thing to do, and your professor won’t appreciate it.

Step Four: Observe Every Source Separately

When you have divided all sources into groups, review them briefly. Write about a source’s author, title, place and date of publication. Write about the theme of this source and enumerate all issues it contains. Then, write why you have used this source in your dissertation or research paper. Present its strong sides. Show the author’s original point of view. Say why you agree to his point of view. Next, you can focus on the weak sides of the source and say about the differences between opinions of different authors about your issue under research.

Step Five: Summarize Your Literature Review

You are able to enumerate all contributions of your sources and point out at their advantages and disadvantages trying to show the varied picture of your detailed and profound research.

Don’t forget about thorough proofreading as well. It is a must to check your literature review several times: manually, with the usage of advanced grammar checkers and reading it aloud to detect too long sentences and awkward phrases. Use citation generators to make sure all your citations are formatted correctly.

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