This article is about writing a literature review: step by step guide with examples. As you climb your academic ladder as a college or university student, more complex writing will keep coming. Besides writing essays and capstone projects, you will write college assignments that seem more complicated. A literature review is one of the types of college paper writing you will come across. Writing literature reviews will be more common in your second, third, and fourth years depending on the course you are pursuing. If you find writing a literature review somewhat challenging, remember that you are not alone. Your peers who came before you faced a similar challenge.
We can define a literature review as an academic writing task whose goal is to analyze the existing literature on a subject and putting into the context of the subject being studied. College students write literature reviews to demonstrate their understanding of the topic under study. Literature reviews are usually considered important because they contain data from primary research, which is crucial for a research project. You will be asked to conduct an analysis of peer reviewed articles presented as previous research by different scholars. Your work is not to give an opinion of the list of the articles, but to analyze them keenly and offer a comprehensive report. Therefore, you should approach a literature review task with much attention.
When writing literature reviews, you will have to choose from several options. We have different types of literature reviews, and each follows a particular method. However, they all focus on journal articles or other peer reviewed articles, such as academic books and websites. Let us list these types of literature reviews before elaborating on them.
In a systematic literature review, which some writers may prefer to shorten to systematic review, your focus should be on the data and findings in the prior research conducted by other authors. You should examine the findings in the purview of your research question. As you continue your academic career, you will find that a systematic literature review is divided into main categories. These include meta-analysis and meta-synthesis. In a meta-analysis approach, your work is to summarize the results obtained from a research study using statistical methods. On the other hand, meta-synthesis uses the interpretive method as opposed to aggregation. This means that results from different qualitative studies are integrated or combined. Request a free sample of systematic review today.
While some literature reviews focus on the progression of time when discussing a topic, thematic literature review, or simply thematic review, is built around an issue or topic as opposed to time. While some researchers may allude to time, their primary focus tends to be on the topic. For example, some writers would critically evaluate the issue of feminism without outlining the timelines. Such reviews remain focused mainly on the idea or topic of a research paper instead of being distracted by the time. Authentic thematic reviews tend to accentuate a central point of a topic and delve into it with the goal of understanding it better from different perspectives derived from prior research.
Argumentative literature reviews tend to address an argument. While other literature reviews may address all sides that an author mentions in their journal articles, authors who write about argumentative literature reviews want to establish an opinion that differs from that of other researchers. As a result, a writer emphasizes only what seems to support their own research. Writing a literature review of this kind requires that you be convincing in your writing. Also, look for writers with significant contribution to your topic and those who will help you answer or satisfy the hypothesis you derived from your research question. You need excellent entry points to succeed in writing an argumentative literature review.
Integrative literature is equally important, and you can use it to analyze prior research from other writers. Unlike the argumentative literature reviews, where recent scientific findings keep an author’s argument supported, the integrated literature reviews offer analysis, syntheses, and criticism of the existing literature in such a way that the subject under study is put in the context of new frameworks obtained from this analysis. A writer who uses this method will identify research papers online and note down the key findings of a particular topic, after which a report is provided. Since the goal of using this approach is not to argue a point, a writer will critically evaluate all the sources, and the process will ensure that the contrary data considered during the research is included in the final review and report. Writing integrative literature reviews is not easy for college students who do it for the first time, but practice makes you improve with time. Therefore, consider writing integrative literature reviews one of these days.
As the name depicts, the theoretical literature review is about analyzing various theories that relate to a topic or concept. Theoretical literature reviews always lead to the expansion of existing literature because writers test new hypotheses and make new discoveries.
The narrative literature review involves summarizing the journal articles used on a topic. Writers use their own words but present their opinions accurately. Besides summarizing existing literature, narrative literature reviews provide a critique. You are most likely to find a narrative literature review applied to social and behavioral sciences. Rarely will you find your professor asking you to use the narrative literature review to do a task on political science.
We can think of a literature review as a guide that helps us know where we are going. It offers more details concerning our current topic. We can state the literature is intended to achieve the following:
Before you start writing a literature review, remember that a critical evaluation of the prior research studies conducted by others will be needed. Additionally, seemingly contradictory previous studies should not be interpreted to mean that one study was less reliable than the other. Remember that literature review does not always focus on one thing. Finally, remember that the most recent review does not mean that the information is the most reliable. While a chronological review offers the latest and most relevant research findings, credibility is not contingent on timeframes. In short, the objective of your literature review is not to analyze the findings based on time but to ensure that your work ultimately contributes to your research study.
Scholars have also identified several ways through which gender stereotypes occur in the workplace. For example, Smith (2019) finds that male managers use their position to harass women, thus leading to an organizational culture that promotes unfair treatment of women. Similarly, Jacob (2020) identifies the role of men in promoting gender stereotypes in work settings. However, the evidence from the two contradicts the results of O’Brien (2020), who noted that gender stereotypes occur due to institutional issues, not individual factors. The contribution of the three authors expands the literature on the causes of gender stereotypes. However, none addresses the role that religion plays in exacerbating the problem. Therefore, further research to determine how religious ideologies foster gender stereotypes is needed.
You may need to note a few things about this example. The writer starts by revealing the topic, which is gender stereotypes. The second thing is that prior research studies are mentioned. A good literature should have those two elements. Also, the critical evaluation provided in the sample shows how you ought to review your literature section. The other interesting thing is that the review seems to incorporate current research and reveal major debates on this topic. Another thing is that while the writer will present this as own work, he or she ensures the analysis is based on another article. Please note that the publication chronology does not matter.
Well, students always confuse a literature review with an annotated bibliography. The confusion often arises from the fact that both sections involve a critical evaluation of the research materials used in a paper. Some think that the only difference between these two is the length. While the two documents may be utilized for one academic research paper, they differ in many ways. Therefore, let’s identify some notable differences between a literature review and annotated bibliography.
Since you will find yourself writing an academic research paper soon, you need to understand how to write a literature review. Whether you will be handling a topic on social sciences, such as political science, knowing how literature should be written is important. Where do you start?
There are numerous reasons why doing a literature review is important. The key findings you generate from your sources make a significant difference in your paper, although your analysis must be presented in your own words.