How to Write a Literature Review for a Research Paper

    When we talk about a literature review we are talking about a review related to scholarly sources around a certain topic. As any Essay Hub expert would explain it, a literature review provides an overview of any gaps in research that already exist, it outlines any methods and it also provides information related to current knowledge.

    If you need to write a literature review for a research paper you could contact someone from CustomWritings who will write a research paper for you in accordance with your guidelines. You will need to be able to collect, analyze and evaluate publications i.e. journals and books which relate to your topic.

    Below are some steps that you will need to follow to complete a research paper related to the literature review.

    Search For literature which is relevant

    Before you begin to look for literature, you need to make sure you look for literature that relates to your research question and objective. If the literature review you are writing is part of an assignment, you need to make sure you create a central question that will help with your search.  Alternatively, this research question can also be answered without the need to collect any original data as it can be answered based on reviewing all existing publications. 

    Begin by making a list of keywords that link to your research topic. You will also need to list any terms or synonyms which link to your topic. For example, if your topic is on social media your keywords could be Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat, and Twitter. 

    The second step that you will need to follow is to look for relevant sources and for this,  you can use your keywords to do this. Begin by searching for articles and journals online or head to your university library instead. Start by reading the abstract to see if had any connections to your topic and see if it relates to your question. If you’re using a book, it may be worth checking in the bibliography to see if it can supply you with any other relevant sources.

    Evaluate  your sources

    It will probably be impossible to read everything that’s ever been written on the topic you have chosen, so you will need to work out which sources are the best for you. When looking at each publication you can ask the following:

    • Which problem or question does the author answer?
    • What are the conclusions of the study?
    • Locate the key concepts and how they have been defined. 
    • How does this publication help you to understand the topic?
    • Highlight any strengths or weaknesses.

    It is vital to use sources that are credible. For instance, it is possible to see how many times a particular article has been cited on Google Scholar. If it has been cited a lot, this probably means that the article is credible and influential and therefore you should use it in your research paper.

    As you go along make sure you take notes and note down any sources that you plan to use. It is very important to do this in order to ensure that you also avoid plagiarism.

    Identify gaps and themes

    You need to look out for any themes and identify any gaps when looking at sources. Try and look out for the below:

    • Are there any themes or sources that seem to recur across the sources?
    • Are there any gaps in knowledge that need to be dealt with?
    • Can you see patterns, for example, do any approaches become less or even more popular with time?
    • What makes different sources disagree?

    By completing the above you’ll be able to decide on how to structure your literature review and if possible, highlight how your research may contribute to previous knowledge.

    Outline your structure

    When it comes to organizing the body of your literature review there are different approaches that you could take. Before you begin any writing, you need to have some idea of what strategy you will follow. It is possible to combine different strategies if the length of your review can take this.

    • Thematic – If you have discovered some themes that recur then you could organize your review into subsections that look at the different aspects related to this topic.
    • Chronological – The easiest option is to track how a topic has developed with time. However, make sure you don’t just summarize and list sources in order. You will need to look at patterns and important debates that have shaped the topic. Make sure you provide your interpretation of why and how specific developments have taken place. 
    • Methodological – If you plan to use sources from a variety of fields that may use different research methods, you could look at comparing any conclusions or results that have come out from the different approaches. 

    Write your literature review for the research paper

    Like any other academic writing, a literature review needs to have an introduction and main body, and a conclusion.

    Introduction. Your introduction needs to identify the purpose and focus of your literature review.

    The main body. If your literature review is long enough, you could consider dividing it into subsections and use a relevant subheading for each approach or theme. When you start to write, keep the below in mind:

    • Interpret and analyze: Make sure you don’t just paraphrase someone else’s work as you need to add your own interpretation and talk about the significance of any findings and how they relate as a whole.
    • Write in paragraphs that are well-structured: Use topic sentences to help you draw contrasts and comparisons as well as connections.
    • Summarize: Make sure you provide an overview that relates to the main points of each source that you use and then combine all of this together.
    • Critically evaluate: When you critically evaluate, you need to make sure you mention any strengths and weaknesses that you have found in your sources. 

    The conclusion

    In your conclusion, you need to summarize what your key findings are and highlight the significance of these findings. While writing a literature review for your research paper, please avoid common mistakes a lot of students make.

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