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Literature review: How to write your literature review

This guide explains and shows best practices and steps for developing, managing, and completing literature reviews. Different kinds of literature reviews are completed for a variety of projects including class papers, articles, grants, and thesis.

Writing the introduction

So a literature review is a summary of previous research on a topic. Or sometimes literature reviews can be a subsection of another topic.

  •  Examples of literature reviews as a sub-section include:
    • A component in a larger research project or paper
    • A chapter in a thesis or dissertation
    • A mandatory section if you want to write and publish a scholarly journal article
    • The analysis of existing research performed before a research proposal
    • A component in the background or justification when applying for grant money
  • Or it can be a stand-alone bibliographic essay:
    • A literature review assigned for class on its own, to understand and write up current research on a topic
    • An analytical essay synthesizing an annotated bibliography into a formal paper
    • A "review article" that you write to publish in a scholarly journal.

Researchers usually starts with doing a literature search by going through what's been written about the same subject. 

How to start your literature search?

1- Develop a search strategy

- Define the topic and define your research question. What is the purpose of your research? What do you know about the topic? What is the scope? What is the date range e.g latest researches done in this topic or 10 years range? 

- Before you start writing your research you have to develop a search strategy to help you find and locate the information you need.

- Start compiling your research keywords or phrases, including all the key concepts related to your research question or questions. It might be useful also to think about general terms and very specific terms for broadening and narrowing your research.

- It is useful to use subject dictionaries, encyclopedias, indexes, and thesaurus to help you find common terminologies of you research subject area.

- After you gather all the information and resources you need for your search start to evaluate the search results to determine whether you need to narrow or broaden your search or modify your search.

2- Identify information resources

Information can be in different types of formats, so it's very important to understand the significance to know what will best suit your information requirements.  What type of resources you need for your research? Books, Reference materials, Journals, Conference papers, Dissertations, Internet,....etc.


Resources @ your library