10 tips on how to write a literature review

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Learn how to write a literature review to make it a comprehensive and well-structured paper

College students are often asked to compile literature reviews. The main point of tasks like this is to teach the youth how to critically view different resources within a particular subject or topic of study. Ways to write literature reviews might be very different. however, the golden rules of writing reviews remain the same.

Now, what you should clearly remember about a literature review is that it is created to reveal how each of the chosen sources contributed to developing the study of the subject. Here you are not limited to a certain age of sources or their directions – you can take, for instance, either the literature that supports the classical theory or denies it. To be more creative and awaken interest in the topic, you might choose the authors with an alternative vision for the same area of study. Collecting different interpretations and writing an outline about them, you will also pave the way for the new areas to investigate.

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So, here are the universal tips on how to write a literature review for you to use and enjoy the well-shaped paper

  1. Prepare well.

    Basically, what you should demonstrate in a literature review of any type is a deep awareness of the topic and scholarly context and formulate your view of the area in relation to other scientists, announcing the conclusions you came to.

    Besides getting acquainted with the recommended sources, expanding the area for research is a good sign. Using tools such as JSTOR, ProjectMuse, Inspec, and Google Scholar will allow you to keep up with the literature and not concentrate only on the published paper sources or those which are already investigated. Making a comprehensive literature review is a vital step to be aware of the novelties and make your research important for the science of today.

  2. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.

    If you lack experience or are still at a loss about how to start a literature review, we recommend trusting the tried and true sources that help students overcome academic tasks like this. Forums at platforms such as ResearchGate and websites of the leading universities are always open to give full answers to the most complicated questions you have.

    Another great kind of assistance is provided by experts on AdvancedWriters.com who will create professional literature reviews. Besides, a wide choice of freebies and samples will make excellent models for you to write better literature reviews later when you gain an understanding of basic principles. A phrase like ‘Write my literature review, please’ can really work miracles and with AdvancedWriters.com, you will make sure of it!

  3. Pick ONLY the relevant literature.

    The simple ability to evaluate sources and filter them according to what problems you want to relate to is truly invaluable. There is no need to read everything you come across. Just ask the questions to test each source – what main concepts are defined in it, what the results and conclusions are, how you can use the stated theories and methods. As soon as you find a source that echoes the hypothesis you are about to make (or contradicts it), bookmark it!

    Make sure also that each source is credible, see how many times it was cited and where – influential articles and books are usually widely used in other scientific and non-scientific literature.

  4. Mind how you structure a literature review.

    Just like in any other academic paper, the structure is crucial for both ensuring that your audience understands you well and for you to show the logical sequence that you took as a basis for the review. As usual, the introductory part should define the topic of investigation, gaps, and controversies present in it, and the simple formulation of your aims. As the biggest part, the body will evaluate and analyze the chosen sources and supply the reader with in-depth insights that he or she can either agree with or not. Conclusion, in its turn, connects the stated points into a single unity and briefly outlines the contributions the mentioned sources have made.

  5. Read wider.

    Following the citations and reading into the meaning is, probably, 50% of success and the answer to the eternal question ‘How to write a lit review?’ Be attentive about choosing details and critically searching them through. Especially if your list of sources is short, this can win you a lot. By analyzing the small number of literature sources, you will more easily see the main points and unsolved issues in the field.

  6. Single out the thesis of each source.

    Just having a pile of books and articles will not make your review great. The next step after collecting and analyzing the relevant sources is making clear connections between them, mentioning which issues each of them dwells on, what trends in theory they follow, what the main conflicts are, and what is still missing and should be emphasized for further investigation.

  7. Explore each article deeply.

    Once you get to notice an author who contributed much to your understanding of the subject, why not trace other publications by him or her? Oftentimes, scientists choose one or two narrow areas to describe in all their scientific works so this might turn out a valuable thing. Try it!

  8. State the methods every writer uses.

    The methodology is an important side of any investigation, no matter if you create a dissertation or a simple lit review. If you start to pay attention to such, perhaps, a bit formal sides, it will become easier to compare results stated in sources of different authors since they very often depend on the methods used for studying the topic. Likewise, you could trace how the usage of methods has changed over time and define which of them are booming today and which have already become obsolete.

  9. Identify gaps.

    Coming closer to the purpose of writing a literature review, we recommend you to find a few serious gaps in theory or practice and come up with realistic solutions if it’s possible. This gap picking doesn’t mean you want to compete with scientists or show the weakness of their investigations. In a way, this is the crucial part that shows you are a mature person who can think critically, check how true the written data is, and is able to develop worthy solutions to the existing problems.

  10. Make your interpretation clear.

    The next step in the chain of writing a literature review is adding your own interpretation. Many students are puzzled when coming up to conclusions, sending hundreds of requests in Google like ‘How to conclude a literature review?’, ‘How long should a literature review be?’, etc. Now, it’s simple as a day – here you include the major agreements and disagreements, summarize the whole research, and define your area of study, showing what point of view you will stick to.

A logical sequence, isn’t it? If you follow the given tips and make a clean structure, the high grades are yours.

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How to make literature review sound more scientific?

Even with a lack of experience in academic writing, you can reach success in crafting a literature review. Basically, all you need to do is to replace informal vocabulary with formal words and avoid contractions. Here are additional pieces of advice.

  • Make thesaurus your friend.

    Since the vocabulary of the English language is rich in words that are close in meaning, yet differ in shades, it is crucial to choose ‘that one word’ to suit your style of writing. Use synonyms, check reliable dictionaries for the meanings of words, and don’t overcomplicate things.

  • Be accurate in defining terms.

    One of the strictest things in any research is term definition – you can’t describe a specific narrow term wider in one part and narrow in the next. Unify definitions and the term system and then the lit review will really sound more professional.

  • Use transitional words.

    ‘In addition’, ‘unlike’, ‘in contrast to’, – we are sure, you know them. Just write them when it’s to the point and avoid overuse.

Step by step how to write a literature review guide and how to use it

Now, reading the information we have gathered and written above is only a part of success. Knowing only the theoretical side won’t help you much. On the other hand, people who devote much time and attention to prepare for writing an academic paper properly are the ones to whom this success belongs.

Bookmark this guide, check the points you fulfill during writing, and don’t forget that practice makes perfect. Start writing, make your mistakes, correct them, and make them again – use the given guide, and do whatever you feel is useful and improves your writing.

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