By the end of this article, you are excepted to know the definition of literature review, the purpose or importance/ function(s) of a literature review, what forms a literature review (the components of a literature review), the necessary steps in writing a literature review, and many more tips of obtaining a superb literature review. So, all you have to do is to grab your notebook, a pen and start your reading.
Definition of a Literature Review.
We all have to agree on this one. Before writing a literature review, you must ask yourself what it is. This is very important because we are not going to write what we don't know it's meaning. So, what is a literature review?
Literature review refers to the critical analysis of the early scholar works with the aim of conveying your own understanding and explaining to the reader what interests you in those scholarly works. So, here, you'll have the articles, and books which had been written by early scholars. Remember, your main purpose herein is to analyse these scholarly works critically and draw your own conclusions. You'll compare and contrasts them, where applicable.
Purpose of a literature review.
Wait, why would you bother writing a literature review in the first place? Is it worth it? and if that's the case, where are you going to meet literature review? and how will it of great importance to you?
Literature reviews serve two main distinctive purposes to two primary groups of individuals. If you are a university student or college student, I bet you are going to write a literature review at one point of your campus life. So, that's one of the two distinctive purposes of literature reviews. It enables the students to analyse the literary /scholarly works given to them critically.
To some extent, a student may be required to search for the articles or certain books written by specified authors. They will be then required to write the literature review. So, to them, they will be required to analyse the sources critically and to provide both summary and explanation of how these books/articles related to the current knowledge. So, at the end of it all, the professor or instructor will give you the marks based on how proper your literature review is.
Let's look at the second purpose of a literature review.
So, the second importance goes straight to the graduate school students. To any master's or Ph.D. students on this page, I am pleased to inform you that there is no way you'll reach a point of writing a dissertation or thesis without properly writing a literature review within your study period.
So to you who are listening and going through this post, and is probably Master's / Ph.D. student or a researcher for that matter, the Literature review will help you in the following ways ;
It will prepare you for the entire research process. Truth be told, literature review serves as a starting point for your research .
Secondly,it prevents you from copying the work which had already been written. By critically analyzing the articles/ books, you will realize what had been done and what you can add to the research field.
Also, literature review provides a clear road-map onto where the research world is headed to . You ( the researcher) will clearly know how the research field moves, and how your topic of interest has changed over time, and how different researchers have contributed to it. So, it's that important for you to write a literature review.
Literature review enables the researcher to know the gaps that are present ,and how he/she can contribute towards adding the appropriate knowledge to what already exists. So, I'll tell you this ; Within your explanations or arguments , you are going to tell the reader of your literature review some of the missing concepts or the gaps that are present. So from this point, you can take the opportunity by searching for the ways to fill those gaps. By the end, you would have contributed greatly towards the given research topic.
So, we will leave the importance / purpose of literature review at that. What you now need to know are the components of an excellent literature review.
Components of Literature Review
Now that you know what a literature review is ,and the roles of importance it plays, I'll take you through the components of a well-written literature review. Just like any academic paper, a Literature review has standard components/features that makes it acceptable or excellent.
1. Introduction section
Yes, I have just started. The introduction is the first component of a literature review. So, in this section, you will give the quick overview of the topic of the literature review. It introduces your readers ,and makes them say '' Okay, this is what I was looking for, now, Let me read the whole literature review''.
It is important to have a good introduction because this is what catches the eye of a reader immediately he/she peeps onto your literature review. It's either you craft it well to persuade me to read it or , you do otherwise ,and I will not give a second look at it. So, this is how important the introduction section.
2. The Body section
Now that you have written a superb introduction section of a literature review, and it has convinced me to read it, the main question is ; Are there clearly written points within the literature review? Am I going to learn something?
If your literature review can answer those questions, then I can continue reading through it. The body section contains the discussions of the articles or the books You can either You can either organize your discussions in a chronological manner, thematically or methodologically.
3. The conclusion section
So, the last thing you will do is to summarize to the reader the evidence presented in your literature review.If you are a researcher, this is the perfect place to tell us that you have identified the gaps and that you are going to use this literature review as the starting point of your own research.
You must tell us how the literature review how the authors of the articles/ books have influenced your thinking towards the topic in question. As a reader, and a professor, I want to exactly know how you are going to act after writing this literature review. The conclusion section winds up the whole writing process. So, it must be impressive and clearly written.
Now that you know what a literature review is, its purposes ,and the components of a literature review, I will now take you through the appropriate steps you need to take in order to come up with a perfect literature review.
Steps in Writing a Literature Review
In order to come up with an excellent literature review, you need to follow these steps ;
1. Be familiar with the APA guidelines : There is now way you will write a superb literature review without knowing the APA guidelines. Once ,you are good to go; you can now head to the next tip.
2. Choose a topic which will actually work : The fact remains that your research topic will determine everything. So, how are you going to know that this is a workable topic? A crucial tip for you, choose a topic which interests you . An added advantage to you if it directly relates to your study . You can either take to your professor for approval.
3. Choose your sources by searching through the relevant databases. Some of the databases you can use include the google scholar and online databases that directly relates to your topic of study. If at all your institution has a strong database, then you will most definitely find this sources. To some extent, you will purchase them from other library catalogs.
4. Read the sources thoroughly and know what each author says. This is will enable you to create strong arguments and will also help you to know much more important staff concerning the topic you had chosen.
5. After reading the sources, you are now left with the chances of analyzing them, interpreting them, and finally discussing the findings and conclusions of the sources.
6. Categorize your articles/sources and organize your own paper: This can be done based on the topics or subtopics.
7. Develop a coherent body section ; Bring the ideas into life. You will bring your arguments and discuss properly. A reader is more interested in this. Be sure to use good grammar ,and there should be no spelling mistakes in your work.
8. You can finalize by writing the conclusion section of your literature review.
Up to this extent, I'll now take you through the process of evaluating your sources.
How to Evaluate Your Sources
Use these tips in evaluating your sources;
First, you need to consider the credentials of the author in this case. Can you identify his/her expertise?
Secondly, you are going to consider the arguments of this author as far the the qualitative or the quantitative studies are concerned.
Third, you are going to confirm if the arguments of the author are biased. And if that's the case, what's your take, and can you explain why you feel that his/her arguments are biased?
Fourth, and last, does the selected sources relate to your area of study, or the research topic you had chosen earlier? And if yes, does it provide detailed facts regarding the whole topic of study?
Fink, A. (2010). Conducting research literature reviews : from the Internet to paper
How to write, review and edit for rheumatology journals. (2015). Rheumatology.
Wee, B., & Banister, D. (2015). How to Write a Literature Review Paper?. Transport Reviews, 36(2), 278-288.
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