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How to Write a Literature Review

How to Write a Literature Review

An analytical overview of a substantial number of literary works published on the topic every academic writer is interested in providing the basis of the research. In case you decided to write a literature review, find out what your target audience is. If your readership has a clear understanding of the topic or vice versa knows almost nothing about it, your purpose is to show extensive knowledge of the subject or to instruct the audience, respectively.

Here are the essential steps for writing a literature review.

  1. Define the central research question.
  2. Formulate an effective search strategy.
  3. Deal with the existing literature on the topic. Search for articles and books in your area.
  4. In these works, examine the burning issues that surround your topic and summarize the relevant extracts.
  5. Find the truth (according to your subjective opinion) in the contradictory studies.
  6. Prioritize the chosen excerpts and focus on the most important for your topic.
  7. Find your own way of further research on the subject.
  8. If necessary, update the initial search with newly released information.

The greatest concern on how to write a literature review includes the question of its structure. It must include your ideas, appropriate terminology, paradigms and concepts, multiple viewpoints, and relevant sources and references structured in a logical way. Furthermore, your review must include:

  • the analysis of the specific subject, issue, or theory;
  • the division into substantive areas, approaches, and concepts;
  • conclusions and recommendations concerning the subject of your review.

Take into consideration the following aspects while deciding which literary extracts are suitable for your review.

  • Recognition of professional qualifications and competencies of the author.
  • Author’s evenhandedness, neutrality, and consistency in approach to the issue you examine.
  • The level of his/her credibility and effectiveness.
  • The value of author’s conclusions and the contribution thereof to your review.

However, be aware of the problem of plagiarism. Respect the others’ efforts in writing their papers. The apparently harmless summarizing and translating of someone’s ideas are false friends of your uniqueness. To indicate your assessment of the other authors’ ideas, use reporting verbs. The development of your critical thinking is a vital academic skill. There can be four types of your evaluation:

  1. Positive – assert, affirm, support, contend;
  2. Negative – condemn, doubt, deny, object;
  3. Neutral – describe, point out, demonstrate, cite;
  4. Tentative – recommend, suggest, imply, assume.

In your literature review, you need to show that you use only the most relevant and the most important excerpts for your topic and that the quotations make sense in the framework of your review. There are two kinds of citations:

  • a) integral – when the name of the reported author is directly in the sentence,
  • b) non-integral – when the name of the author is in parenthesis or footnotes.

However, your own ideas are the most important in your review. Prove that they are considerable and relevant to the topic and that you can easily and immediately incorporate them to a compilation of indicative ideas and practices in your field.

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