5 Vital Tips to Write a Good Literature Review

5 Vital Tips to Write a Good Literature Review

A Story by Pamela Rosser

If you are proposing a research topic that already has a significant number of previously published works, the prospect of creating a good literature review may seem like a daunting task: so many books and articles with so many references!

A literature review has a specific function

You may be tempted to save time by limiting your review to the last decade, but this can be a critical point for failure. The goal of writing a literature review is to earn credibility in your research. Without trusted resources, your research results are rejected as nothing more than your personal opinion, based on some basic methodologies.

A poorly performed review of scientific literature can ruin research work in four stages:

  1. If you cannot prove that you have done the preparatory work, you do not have the authority as a researcher to recommend further research.

  2. If you have not outlined the depth and breadth of the currently available materials, you cannot develop a convincing structure for the material that you want to present as the basis for your work.

  3. In the absence of an exhaustive summary of the material studied, you cannot justify the position of the study you proposed, because it is unclear whether you fill in the identified gap, eliminate the identified shortcomings in someone else's work, or perhaps expand the existing study to a larger or new sample of the population.

  4. If your review of the literature is not exhaustive, you lose context by trying to criticize any of the previously published material.

How to review the literature

To write a good review of the scientific literature, you must start with a clear understanding of the role that it plays in carrying out a substantial part of the scientific research:

  1. Context: where does your research project fit into your overall knowledge?

  2. Identify key concepts/variables that apply in this area of ​​research.

  3. Define the relationship between these concepts/variables.

  4. Identify the need for further research: inconsistencies, lack of evidence, opportunities for further development, or alternative methodologies.

Demonstrate Material Proficiency

This is not about maximizing the number of peer-reviewed materials, and the goal should not be to read “everything” on the proposed topic: for some topics, this will be physically impossible.

Focus on the appropriateness of the material for your proposed topic and outline the logical basis for the analysis of this material. Develop connections that make sense in this framework and organize your review around ideas, not dubious links, of the researcher, subject, or chronology.

Never try to pretend

Include only those materials that you actually read, since copying and pasting someone else’s bibliography can turn out badly afterward, especially if you need oral defense, and someone asks about your thoughts about a specific article or study.

Remember, just reading a dissertation or a conference document is not enough - you must criticize it: what worked and what didn’t, and what would you do differently?

The most important thing is the meaning

Your reader should get to the end of your literature review with a sense of full understanding of how your proposed study is consistent with the current volume of published work.

If your reader cannot understand what you are doing with regard to what came before you, your literature review has failed both as an independent part of the academic work and as a building block for your general learning.

© 2020 Pamela Rosser

Author's Note

Pamela Rosser
Just a quick note: Don't be afraid to ask for help.
If you face any difficulties, it is better to get the experts' help here than to wait until the last minute and fail. Literature review writing services are the best place to find a qualified writer and get a perfectly written paper.

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Added on March 26, 2020
Last Updated on March 26, 2020


Pamela Rosser
Pamela Rosser

Austin, TX