How to Write a Literature Review for a Research Paper

For many students, a literature review for a research paper is just a summary of the sources related to the subject of their research, but there is more to that. It should be written in a manner that combines the overview with the synthesis. The summary involves a review of the information from a particular source while the synthesis or combination re-organizes that information.

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A literature review is intended to use new material with old interpretations or offer a new understanding of old content. It may also evaluate and analyze the significant and relevant sources the reader can use. Below is all you need to know on how to write a literature review for a research paper

Components of Literature Review

The components of a literature review will help you understand how to write a literature review for a research paper. A literature review is similar to an academic paper which means that it contains an introduction, a body, and a conclusion. The opening comprises background information regarding the subject being reviewed, your central argument, and the organizational pattern you are going to use.

Writing the body involves discussing the sources in an organized manner depending on chronology, methodology, or themes. Finally, the conclusion involves your take on the literature review so far and your thoughts going forward.

Literature Review Layout

As I said, the literature review is structured in the same way as an essay. It helps to keep this in mind for you to know how to write a literature review for a research paper. You will start by introducing your topic and providing the reader with the appropriate context you will be using to review the literature.

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You need to state the reasons why you have chosen to examine the sources for the reader to get your point of view. Finally, you can explain how you are going to organize your work by defining the scope your literature review is going to cover.

In the main body, you need to organize your literature review layout regarding the common themes used by the sources. You need to connect your topic to its broader subject.

For example, if you are researching obesity in children, you need to compare it to the issue of obesity in general. This will provide insight into how the two subjects relate.  The right approach is to start with a general focus on the topic, move to a wider one then narrow down to the specific focus which is the topic of your research.

The conclusion should contain a summary of all the major aspects discussed in the body. You need to evaluate the literature reviewed in the body regarding where things currently stand. After doing this, you need to identify any gaps or flaws in the existing knowledge given by the sources. Finally, you need to outline the areas that require further study.

Why Do Literature Review?

A literature review is very important for your research because it provides a guide for the topic you are writing about in the sense that you have a basis for your argument or point of view. So why do a literature review?

The essence is to give an overview of the knowledgeable sources that have contributed to the knowledge on the topic you are talking about. This is because you have limited time to conduct your research. It also helps the reader to keep up to date with the current knowledge in that particular field. 

A literature review provides not only a solid background for your research but also comprehensive information to back your point of view. Understanding the purpose of a literature review gets you started on how to write a literature review for a research paper.

Literature Review Dissertation

For your dissertation, the literature review takes a similar approach. What you need to do is check out how to write a literature review for a research paper. You should write your original work in the context of the existing literature.

Use the literature to explain how your work builds upon the literature you have reviewed. You can also establish a connection between different types of literature. Identify any gaps that exist in the literature you have reviewed and resolve any conflicts that arise from the literature. Finally, you need to state the significance of the literature to your topic and establish further study options for that particular topic.

Literature Review for a Research Paper

A Critical Review of the Literature

Most students understand how to write a literature review for a research paper but have a hard time understanding a critical review of the literature.  A critical review of literature requires you to demonstrate an in-depth understanding of relevant issues to your research objectives, debates surrounding the topic, and theories.

Your arguments need to be clear, cohesive, and logical and you need to identify dominant and conventional discourses of knowledge while maintaining objectivity to your arguments.

As you can see, knowing how to write a literature review for a research paper begins with understanding the concept of the literature review. Use the above guidelines to write your literature review properly. All the best!

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