What is a literature review?

A literature review is an evaluation of literature e on a particular topic. A literature review can be used to show the extent of your knowledge in a subject area. It focuses on discussing information on a subject area written in published works. A literature review can summarise a series of sources where it recaps the important information address in the source. As you write your literature review you will focus on mainly two things; that is summarising and synthesising.

By summarising the content, you will look at the main elements of the content and recap the comprehensive content. As you synthesis, you will reorganise the information contained in the source and come up with a new interpretation that is formed by combining new and old material. Literature review mainly focuses on summarising and synthesising ideas of other individuals without adding any new information. You can recapitulate significant features while at the same time ensure you rephrase it in a way that it is related to the purpose of your review. As you paraphrase the content of another author ensure that you use your words but maintain the accuracy of the author.

A literature review serves the following main purposes:

  • It could be used to survey the literature in a given area of study.

You can use literature review to analyse a topic of study and identify the body language used in the literature.  The depth and extent of your review will be able to determine your credibility as a writer. This way you will be able to identify the credibility of the content of content.

  • It can be used to articulate information from literature into a summary.

Using a literature review, you will be able

  • Literature reviews are easy to read, and they are a good source to help you stay updated on the trends in the field of study. Most professionals use literature reviews to stay on top of any updates in their field of expertise.
  • It helps in critically analysing information by identifying the gaps in knowledge. A literature review will help you identify any inconsistencies and contradictions that may be present in literature.
  • Literature reviews are credible sources of knowledge which come in handy when writing papers like research papers. It acts as a good starting point for people who want to conduct research.
  • It can be used to organise the information in the literature
  • Literature reviews can be used as evidence used to provide a solid background for the conducting of research for a paper. A good literature review will help you construct analysis for methodologies that were incorporated in different researches.
  • A literature review is a fundamental guide that would help you understand a particular topic without having to go through a whole publication. After reading a literature review, you will have basic clues of where to begin and the areas you should focus on in case you want to begin research.
  • It provides readers with an opportunity to find research on topics by helping find relevant content that can be summarised into a valid report.

A literature review has three main parts, the introduction, body and conclusion. When writing a literature review you should ensure that these parts are included in your review. Before writing your literature review you should look at the following things:


In some cases, the purpose o the literature review is not clear therefore it is upon you to make things clear. You can inquire for the instructor and find out the number of sources that should be included in when write the review. You should also determine the sources you are expected to use and evaluate whether they meet the criteria of credibility. Ensure you come up with some history on the topic of the task you are handling. Consider the subheadings that you are likely to include in your writing.

Identify the models you will use in your work

It is essential to look at samples of other literature reviews to get a glimpse of what is expected of you. As you look at these samples, developing your literature review will be simple. You will familiarize with the themes you could consider and also develop a plan of how you will organize your work.  Looking at other reviews of your topic area will also shed some light on credible sources you could use for your research.

Narrow down your topic

Ensure that your literature review is not too broad which will inhibit proper survey of the topic. There subject area of the topic is wide and you can choose any topic to work on. As you choose your topic, consider selecting a narrow topic that will be easy to work on. A narrow topic means you will also have a limited number of sources to read. You could come up with questions which will guide you in finding a suitable topic for your literature review. Consider your interest and that of your audience and also the tie you have to conduct your research.

Analyze your sources

Determine the credibility of the sources of your choice. Determine the methodologies the authors of the sources have used and the procedures the followed when conducting their research. Evaluate the findings and synthesise the conclusions that have been drawn from the research.

Organize your research notes

State the purpose of your review and use this as a guide for how you will present the information. Determine the order you will use to present the information you have assembled. Look at the findings and determine whether there are any similarities in the findings assembled.  Point out if there are common trends in the research. Identify the most influential theories that appear in the research. Develop a plan that you will use to organize your review.

Once you have decided on the pattern of organization, you can follow it to compose your paper.

Develop a thesis

Work out a thesis statement for the research. The thesis statement can be up to three sentences where you will summarise the main trends that can be identified in your topic. The thesis statement will introduce your review to the readers giving them an idea of what it entails. A working thesis statement mainly presents the purpose of the literature review.


The introduction is the face of your paper you should, therefore, ensure it is perfect. Begin the introduction by stating the topic and provide the readers with the objective of writing your literature review. Highlight your major points of view that you will look at in your literature review. You should also tell the readers of the extent of your review; clearly, state the boundaries of your review.

The body

The body of your literature review should be organised depending on how you will present the main themes of your review. You can choose to look at the thematic reviews of your tope or examine the trends in your topic.  As you discuss the main themes of your essay explain how the main themes of your review are related to the broad aspect of the subject area.  The body of the paper should be dedicated to analysing the main points of view. Analyze the key points of your review from abroad perspective as you narrow your focus to the specific aspect of your research.

When writing, it is essential to use credible evidence when making your point. Referring to your sources builds a strong support system for the arguments you present. This will validate your points to the readers, and they will have confidence that you know what you are saying. Ensure that the information you include in your literature review is related to the thesis statement you gave at the beginning of your review.  Quotations are encouraged however it is important to use them in moderation. If you want to make emphasis on a point, you should find a way to use tour words.

The conclusion

Sum up the discussion in you had in your body. Give a summary of the main points of your review. Evaluate the current state of the literature, and you could also point out gaps in the knowledge presented. You could also look at the future areas of study and integrate the research you conducted to the existing knowledge.

Revising and editing

Rest the paper for a while then come back to it with a fresh mind. Review the paper and determine if it meets the standards of grammar and punctuation. Ensure that the paper meets the objectives of a literature review. Ensure that the information presented in your work is concise and well formatted.  The structure of the sentences should be well written, and the content you have written should be original. You can use a software system to check for plagiarism and ensure that all sources you have used for the research are cited.

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