How to write your Literature Review : Top Tips

How to write your Literature Review : Top Tips

Here are some tips to help you with your introduction. If you need your literature review written, edited or proofread then contact me today.

The literature review is one of the largest chapters in most dissertations or research projects. Reading what others have written and then writing about it seems quite straight forward. So why do so many students and researchers get their reviews sent back to be rewritten?

One of the most basic mistakes is not understanding what type of literature review is need for your paper. I can think of at least 14 types of review! Critical review, systematic review, meta-analysis, overview and mapping review are a few of the better known ones. You may be advised which one to use, or you may need to decide yourself.

Avoid being descriptive – the most common comment I see written by a supervisor is that a review is too descriptive. The student has read the sources and just paraphrased from it. It is vital to organise your review around themes and relate these themes to your own study/ research questions/ hypothesis.

Be critical – Don’t just describe other work and accept what it finds. Evaluate its importance, its methodology and the possible bias of the researchers. Are the researchers claiming too much for their work?

Failure to be selective – a good literature review is one that uses sources that are relevant to the topic being studied, includes the most authoritative sources and also the most recent ones. Showing that you have been selective will impress those assessing your work.

Citing sources is essential in your review. Remember in a paper there are three types of text – statements of commonly known facts (e.g. The weather is warmer nearer the equator), your own personal arguments, opinions, perceptions etc., and content that is based on or supported by the work of others. Anything in the second category needs to be clearly identified as your own argument etc. and anything in the third category must include supporting references.  Keep references as you go along – there is nothing more annoying than having to go back and find them later.

Some students become too tempted to copy and paste straight out of the other authors’ text and end up getting a really high plagiarism percentage.

Good Luck! If you need your literature review written, edited or proofread then contact me today.