Steps to writing a literature review

A literature review is a type of academic writing that surveys and evaluates the existing literature on a specific topic. It provides an overview of the current state of knowledge, identifies the main theories, methods, and gaps in the research, and establishes the context and relevance of your work. A literature review can be a standalone assignment or a part of a larger project, such as a dissertation or a thesis.

There are five main steps to writing a literature review:

  • Search for relevant literature: You need to find and select the most appropriate and reliable sources for your topic, such as books, journal articles, reports, or websites. You can use online databases, search engines, libraries, or references from other sources to conduct your literature search.
  • Evaluate and select sources: You need to critically assess the quality and credibility of the sources you have found, and decide which ones are most relevant and useful for your purpose. You can use criteria such as the author’s credentials, the publication date, the scope, the methodology, the findings, and the citations to evaluate and select sources.
  • Identify themes, debates, and gaps: You need to analyze and synthesize the information from the sources and identify the main themes, debates, and gaps in the literature. You can use techniques such as grouping, comparing, contrasting, or summarizing to organize and present the information. You can also use your perspective, arguments, or questions to highlight the strengths and weaknesses of the literature.
  • Outline the structure: You need to plan and outline the structure of your literature review, and decide how to arrange and connect the information from the sources. You can use different types of structures, such as chronological, thematic, methodological, or theoretical, depending on your topic and purpose. You can also use subheadings, transitions, and signposts to guide the reader through your literature review.
  • Write your literature review: You need to write your literature review in a clear, concise, and coherent way, following the academic style and format of your discipline. You need to introduce your topic and purpose, provide an overview of the literature, discuss the main themes, debates, and gaps, and conclude with the implications and recommendations for your work. You also need to cite and reference your sources properly, using the appropriate citation style.

If you want to learn more about literature review, you can check out some of the following sources: