How to Write a Literature Review
From Rachel Walters on September 1st, 2020
How to Write a Literature Review
Your assignment is to write a literature review.
A literature review? What in the world is a literature review? And why do you have to write one?
Hi, it’s Rachel Walters from IWU Off Campus Library Services.
This video will discuss how to write your literature review.
First, let’s talk about what a literature review is not.
It is not a list of all the blogs, books, papers, and periodicals about your topic.
It is not an annotated bibliography, although there is some similarity between the two.
It is not an essay or research paper. Your literature review does not state or prove your main point and your literature review does not evaluate your sources’ strengths and weaknesses. You address these issues in the main part of your paper.
Now let’s discuss what a literature review actually is.
In your literature review, you discuss the major works that have been published about your specific topic. Why write a literature review though?
Your literature review actually serves several purposes.
First, it improves your understanding of your topic.
Second, a literature review demonstrates your knowledge of your topic to your professor or reader.
Third, it updates your reader about major findings and perspectives on your topic. In other words, you are presenting the current status of research on your topic.
That’s the purpose of your literature review.
Now, how do you write it? First, you will collect your sources using library databases and other resources to discover relevant academic sources about your topic. You will want to avoid sources like Google that provide mostly news and consumer type information. Literature reviews are scholarly investigations into the major approaches and information trends on your topic.
Next, make a list of possible sources, but don’t start reading them word for word yet. Instead skim the titles, abstracts, and subheadings.
Then you can cut the ones that you can’t use. After you’ve eliminated the rejects, you can start reading and taking notes on the articles, books, reports, and other sources that you will use.
As you read, think about the ways you might organize your literature review. There are a number of ways you can structure your review.
The most common approach is by category or major theme.
Some writers organize their review chronologically and discuss each source from the oldest to the most recent.
Other writers group their articles and other sources by the major debates, points of view, or research trends in their discipline or field of study.
You might arrange your review by the usefulness of each source, by research methods, research standards, or the source’s conclusion or other criteria.
When you’ve done that, it’s time to start writing. Summarize each source concisely in only three to five sentences noting how the source relates to your topic and where it falls short.
After you’ve written the main part of your literature review you are ready to write the introduction and conclusion. Every literature review should have an introduction and a conclusion. How long should your introduction and conclusion be? Typically, they are a paragraph or two in length.
In your introduction define or identify the general topic, issue, or area of concern. This places your study in the context of other issues in your field. Tell your reader why you organized your literature review the way you did. Be sure to identify overall trends in what has been published about your topic and if there are any gaps in research and scholarship.
The conclusion is the last section of your literature review. In your conclusion, briefly summarize the contributions of the most significant studies and articles. Also, provide some insight into the relationship between the central topic of your literature review and a larger area of study such as your program or profession.
Off Campus Library Services has a helpful short introduction called “What is a Literature Review?” on our homepage. Download the PDF at ocls.indwes.edu/LitReview.pdf. At the end of the document is a short excerpt from a literature review so that it helps you to see what a review looks like.
Academic Writer which is available to all IWU students provides a literature review template that can be used to write your review. The OCLS Tutorials page has tutorials to help you get started and learn how to use Academic Writer.
Finally, don’t be afraid to ask for help, whether from your instructor or from a librarian. Many librarians are content experts and are familiar with specific subjects. A librarian can be especially helpful in identifying valuable resources and showing you how to find relevant information.
Before you submit your paper, check it for any spelling or grammar errors. Remember that Grammarly, is free to IWU students and is helpful when checking for grammar and spelling errors. The OCLS Tutorials page has Grammarly tutorials as well.
Also, keep in mind that OCLS Librarians offer APA Review. We will look over your paper for APA errors before you submit for your assignment.
If you have any questions about APA Review, Academic Writer, APA Style, Grammarly, research help, or anything else contact Off Campus Library Services by phone at 1-800-521-1848 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Check out the OCLS Tutorials Page for more videos like this!