Writing a Literature Review: Expectations vs. Reality

Many people think that writing a lit review involves skimming through various books and developing a summary of vital information. That’s not all that a literature review is about.

The general rules that apply in writing a literature review include; immersing yourself in the written discourse, synthesizing the information and connecting the details in a coherent overview.

A Brief Overview of Writing a Literature Review

A lit review is a summary and evaluation of the current state of practice or knowledge of a particular topic. In that, you get to provide a critical assessment of the literature you gather concerning your subject of interest.

There are two types of format for writing literature reviews that you will come across:

•    A standalone assignment

•    An introduction to a longer work as in developing a research report

Typically a literature review summarizes known information and introduces the research you are planning to do.

The Process of Writing a Literature Review

a) Identification of Relevant Sources

This step is as important as understanding the ideal format for writing the review, says APA literature review format. The objectives and parameters of your research form the basis of selection of appropriate sources.

Use the abstract of the academic journals and books to get a peek at what the material covers. Also, remember to keep a list of the relevant sources you find, during the research.

b) Read and Take Notes

It may involve reading the pieces in two stages. The first time is to familiarize yourself with the general arguments of the document. In the second stage, you need to have an in-depth look at the material.

Ask questions and take note of any scholarly opinion you may have on the piece. Doing this will help you provide more than just a summary of what you read, in the lit review.

c) Identify gaps in research

It has two uses. First, it helps inform your research if it’s part of a research proposal. As it highlights the pertinence of the investigation. It will be useful if your research tries to address this gap.

Otherwise, identifying gaps in research on your topic of interest will also demonstrate critical analysis of the sources. The research gap refers to areas where existing materials are yet to address.

d) Put it on Paper

It’s essential to go through sample reviews in your field to determine what is expected of you. Narrow down your scope of interest to save you time and help you craft a focused piece. Use current sources where possible.

Also, pay attention to the structural guidelines of the paper. You can have it checked by a literature review writer in Singapore and have them revise certain lackings of your paper.

Things to look out for in writing a lit Review

Being subjective in writing the paper. The purpose of writing a literature review is to present the existing and current thoughts on your research topic. It also applies to your personal opinions.

Also, ensure that you only include relevant studies in the review. Many a time, when students read several studies they can get caught in the details. It may lead to mentioning points that don’t relate to the research question.

The methodology section is as important as the abstract, results, and discussions, of a research paper. Find time to go through it, too. It will help you gain insight into suitable ways to hone your study research.

Demonstrate that you can analyze, evaluate and synthesize sources by limiting your use of direct quotations. Also, remember to use scholarly sources as references. They may be arduous to read, but they make your writing more persuasive.

Finally, the reader anticipates seeing opposing opinion(s) in the content. Mention and discuss these dissenting arguments, too. They help strengthen your paper.


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Written by Yogesh Gupta