Posted on: 1st Apr 2020 2494 Views

How to Write a Literature Review

The writing of the literature review section includes the collection, evaluation, and analysis of publication that is relevant to the research questions. Students pursuing a master’s in the research field often find writing a literature review to be quite difficult. In this article, our research paper writing team is providing you with a guide on How to write a literature review for a research paper.

A literature review is an examination of scholarly sources on a particular subject. It gives you a broad perspective of current knowledge, helping you to spot pertinent ideas, methodologies, and research gaps.

Write Literature Review

Finding relevant publications (such as books and journal articles), critically examining them, and summarising what you discovered are all part of writing a literature review. There are five important stages to follow:

  1. Look up related material.
  2. Examine the sources
  3. Determine the themes, arguments, and gaps.
  4. Create a blueprint for the structure.
  5. Prepare a literature review.

A characteristic of a good Literature review includes a summary of different sources. It also involves analysis, synthesis, and critical evaluation of the subject.

What is the purpose of a literature review?

You’ll need to do a literature review to contextualize your research within current knowledge when writing a thesis,  dissertation, or research paper. The literature review provides you with the opportunity to:

  • Demonstrate your understanding of the subject and scholarly context.
  • Create a theoretical framework and research approach for your study.
  • Place yourself about other theorists and researchers.
  • Demonstrate how your research fills a void or contributes to a debate.
  • As a stand-alone task, you may be required to prepare a literature review.

How to write a Literature Review?

A literature review is a summary of publishing articles. It is a section in a research paper that includes an overview of new knowledge. The literature review part of the research paper helps you in the identification of relevant theories, techniques, and gaps in existing research. The 5 steps which you should follow while writing a literature review include:

Step 1: Search for relevant literature

In case you are writing an argumentative paper, It is very much important for you to write a thesis statement. If you are trying to evaluate scientific theories then you need to create a hypothesis for examination.

It is very much important for you to write the purpose of research while writing reviews related to the topic. You should define objectives at the start of the investigation. It is the tactics that will help you in including the specific point in your literature review section.

If you’re doing a literature review as a stand-alone project, you’ll need to decide on a focus and formulate a primary topic to guide your research. This question, unlike a dissertation research question, must be answered without the use of original data. You should be able to respond to it only based on a review of available literature.

Make a keyword list.

Make a list of terms that are relevant to your research query. List any synonyms and similar terms for each of the primary topics or variables you’re interested in. If you come across new terms while conducting your literature search, you can add them to this list.

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Step 2: Evaluate and select sources

Here, you need to perform preliminary research for finding suitable sources for the accumulation of information related to the topic. You can use different articles, books, etc. for searching arguments related to the topic. It is very much important for you to develop an understanding of key arguments related to the field.

After execution of the investigation, you should confirm that you have included the most recent publication by scholars. The different sources from which you could collect information relevant to your topic are Google scholars, Econlit, project muse, etc.  You can read the abstract of each publication as this activity will help you in addressing the relevant article for writing a literature review for the research paper.

You won’t be able to read everything that has been written on the subject, so you’ll have to decide which sources are the most relevant to your inquiries.

Consider the following questions for each publication:

  • What is the author’s response to the question or problem?
  • What are the most important ideas and how are they defined?
  • What are the most important theories, models, and techniques? Is the research based on well-established frameworks or does it take a fresh approach?
  • What are the study’s findings and conclusions?
  • What is the relationship between the publication and other literature in the field? Is it a confirmation, addition, or challenge to previously held beliefs?
  • What contribution does the publication make to your understanding of the topic?
  • Tip: You should prepare a list of databases that you have searched while executing preliminary research.

Step 3: Identify themes, debates, and gaps

To begin arranging the argument and framework of your literature review, you must first comprehend the connections and links between the sources you’ve read. You can search for the following things based on your reading and notes:

  • Trends and patterns (in theory, practice, or outcomes): do some approaches gain or lose popularity over time?
  • What questions or topics appear repeatedly throughout the literature?
  • Where do sources disagree? There are debates, conflicts, and contradictions.
  • Are there any influential theories or research that have shifted the field’s direction?
  • What are the gaps in the literature? Are there any flaws that should be addressed?

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Step 4: Outline your literature review’s structure

Before starting to write a literature review, you need first need to decide the scope of your literature review. At the time of writing a literature review, you should consider the aim of the research. It is a step where you should arrange arguments logically.

You can mix many of these tactics depending on the duration of your literature study (for example, your overall structure might be thematic, but each theme is discussed chronologically).


The most straightforward method is to follow the topic’s evolution over time. If you use this technique, be careful not to limit yourself to just identifying and summarising sources in chronological order.

Analyze the trends, turning points, and major disputes that have shaped the field’s path. Explain how and why specific events occurred in your own words.


You can divide your literature study into subsections that address different parts of the topic if you find some recurrent primary themes.

If you’re looking for information about discrepancies in migrant health outcomes, for example, relevant issues could include healthcare policy, language difficulties, cultural views, legal status, and economic access.


You might want to compare the results and conclusions that emerge from different approaches if your sources are from different disciplines or fields that use a variety of research methodologies. Consider the following scenario:

  • Consider the outcomes of qualitative versus quantitative research.
  • Discuss how empirical versus theoretical study has tackled the problem.
  • Sort the sources into social, historical, and cultural categories.


A theoretical framework is frequently built based on a literature survey. It can be used to discuss various theories, models, and important concept definitions.

You may provide a case for a particular theoretical approach, or you could mix different theoretical concepts to build a framework for your research.

Step 5: Write your literature review

Your literature review should have an introduction, body, and conclusion, just like any other academic document. What you include in each section is determined by the goal of your literature review.

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  • Introduction

At the time of writing the introduction part for the literature review in the research paper, you should mainly emphasize objectives. You should also include background information on the topic when writing the introduction section. It is very crucial for you to clearly define the scope of the literature review.

  • Provide an acceptable framework for reviewing the literature by defining your topic and providing an appropriate context for reviewing the material.
  • Establish your reasons for reviewing the literature – i.e. your point of view
  • Clarify how the review is organized (i.e. in what order)
  • Declare the review’s scope — that is, what is included and what isn’t.  For example, if you were evaluating the literature on childhood obesity, you might state, “There are several studies documenting obesity trends in the general population.” However, because the focus of this study is on childhood obesity, these will not be discussed in-depth and will only be mentioned when necessary.
  • Main body

You should categorize your main body section based on the length of the literature review. The researcher can categorize the main body section of the literature review into subheadings. You need to follow the four basic steps for writing the main body of literature review these are:

(a) Summarise and synthesize: Here, you need to introduce new points from different sources and then you need to integrate them.

(b) Analyze and interpret: The suggestion here is that you should provide your interpretations. This is a step when it is very much essential for you to demonstrate the importance of findings in the context of literature.

(c) Critical evaluation: You need to write the strengths and limitations of your study.

(d) Writing well-structured Paragraphs: The researcher generally uses transitions and topic sentences for creating connections, and making comparisons between different paragraphs.


  1. While writing the literature review for a research paper you should consider the following such as the aim of the study, research questions, the methodology used, etc.
  2. At the time of writing the literature review section, you should also review your abstract.
  3. Making notes of key arguments can help write the literature review section of the research paper.
  • Conclusion:

The conclusion part of the literature review mainly includes a summary of the main points.

  • Summarise the key elements of the present body of knowledge;
  • Assess the current state of the evaluated literature;
  • Find errors or holes in existing knowledge that are significant;
  • List of areas that should be researched in the future;
  • Make a connection between your study and current knowledge.

The culmination of the Article 

From the above study, it has been concluded that writing literature helps you in increasing your knowledge about a topic. This is because if one writes on an issue they will be more knowledgeable and skilled to debate their ideas with others from all backgrounds of life as well as become better at thinking independently rather than being influenced by what society or friends might think.

Another fact that was found from the previous investigation is that a review typically summarizes each argument written within its pages so both authors and readers know exactly how far he/she must read for full comprehension when reading through this material.

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