Literature Review: Your Guide to Writing a Top-Notch Paper

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Literature Review: Your Guide to Writing a Top-Notch Paper

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When it comes to writing a literature review, keep in mind that you have to produce a written overview of major works of literature and other sources on an assigned or chosen topic. As for the sources that you have to deal with, they usually include books, journal articles, sites, government reports, and so on.

The literature review should be focused on a specific topic and include critical analysis, summary, description, and evaluation of different works. As a rule, the literature review is produced as a stand-alone project or a distinct segment or a dissertation or graduate thesis.

The purpose of the paper is to provide your target audience with a critical written account of today’s state of research on a given or chosen topic.

Components of the Literature Review

When working on a literature review, ensure it contains the following:

  • Literature review objective.
  • Overview of the subject under study.
  • Detailed categorization of all the sources that were selected into the ones that support your unique positions, the ones that are opposed to it, as well as the ones that include absolutely different sets of arguments.
  • Discussion of the similarities and distinctiveness of the sources.

Introduction-Body-Conclusion Structure

Every professional literature review writer will tell you that the introduction-body-conclusion structure is the basic formula that one has to follow to write a decent piece. If your literature review will become a section of a more complex project, the intro and the conclusion may comprise just a couple of sentences while you focus most of your attention on the body section. If you’re required to produce a standalone project for college, the intro and the conclusion should include more information. For instance, you have to discuss your goals, mention research methods, as well as focus on conclusions separately from the part where you talk about the literature itself.

The Intro

  • An opening paragraph includes an explanation of the topic under discussion and explains the thesis.
  • An introductory section includes a forecast of the main topics or texts that you’re going to include in your review.
  • A short description of how the review’s author found sources, as well as how s/he analyzed each to include and discuss it in the review.  

The Body

  • Sum up and synthesize: Provide your readers with an overview of the key points of each source, as well as make sure they’re a coherent whole.
  • Analyze and interpret: When dealing with the works of other researchers, do not just paraphrase. Instead, you have to provide your own interpretations where it is appropriate, as well as talk about the importance of each finding concerning the literature as a whole.
  • Critical evaluation: Inform your readers of the weaknesses and strengths of your sources.
  • Write your literature review in logically structured paragraphs: Topics sentences and transition words are a must if you have to draw comparisons, connections, and contrasts.


  • Sum up the main findings in the literature and emphasize how important each is.
  • Connect your findings to the question of your primary research.

How to Organize Literature Review

You’re welcome to choose any organizational pattern depending on what it is that you would like to accomplish with your work. The most popular examples are as follows:

  • Thematic. If the author of a literature review has found certain recurring central themes that s/he will keep on working with throughout the written work, it is possible to organize the piece into several subsections. The latter will be focused on different aspects of the chosen or assigned topic. For instance, if you’re focused on a literature review related to the topic of religion and men, the central themes may include the role of a man in different religions all over the globe or their attitude towards women.
  • Chronological. When it comes to writing a literature review, this method is the simplest. You, as the author, are required to track the topic development over time in order to familiarize your audience with it. If you decide to use the chronological method, make sure to stay away from simply listing and summing up sources in order. Instead, it is important to analyze each of the turning points, patterns, as well as main debates that have become the cornerstone for a particular direction in the field. Provide your own vision on how and why this or that development occurred.
  • Theoretical. If you check some articles in the field of humanities, you will see that the literature review serves as a solid foundation for any theoretical framework. Feel free to use it in order to discuss different definitions, models, and theories of key concepts. Besides, you can combine different theoretical concepts or argue for the relevance of a certain theoretical approach in order to provide your research with a framework.
  • Methodological. If you work with the sources that come from different fields of disciplines that include many different research methods, feel free to compare the results and conclusions that you draw from various approaches.

For instance:

  • Theoretical vs. empirical scholarship
  • Quantitative research vs. qualitative research

Typically, the most interesting literature review is the one provided as arguments. As a rule, you can use your literature review in order to establish your research that will cover a certain gap or will be relevant in a particular way. Regardless of the way you choose to present your project, use it as your opportunity to establish the conversation exactly the way you would like your target readers to see it.

Keep in mind that your text should be produced in a concise and clear academic style. Make sure it is not descriptive in nature and doesn’t contain the languages that you use in your everyday life. While writing a literature review please avoid common mistakes to create a proper paper in a professional way. If you’re not sure whether you can cope with the task on your own, choose to buy a custom written piece from online writing service experts who specialize in providing help to students of all levels.

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