How To Literature Review Better In Less Time
Are you look to learn how to write a literature review? Well, look no more!
In this article you will learn everything there is to know about literature reviews.
First off though, let’s answer the question “What is a literature review?”
Answer: A literature review is a type of academic paper written with the purpose of critically analyzing the sources or references on a certain topic.
As the term “review” suggests, a literature review is all about assessment of the literature- more often than not, you will be asked to summarize, classify, compare and evaluate a number of sources.
At the undergraduate level the literature review you can expect a literature assignment as standalone or as part of your dissertation. Regardless, the rule of thumb is that your literature review should focus on documenting the state of the art with respect to your subject area.
The literature is also mandatory in postgraduate. Mostly, it’s incorporated into the postgraduate thesis but you might also find research reports and articles that have a literature section.
Note: A literature takes the format of a standard academic essay- i.e. it is made up of the 3 basic elements: the introduction, body, and conclusion.
There is no standard referencing style for literature reviews, although most institutions encourage students to use APA format.
What is the purpose of writing a literature review?
Out of the box, you will typically be required to write a literature review in order to showcase your knowledge and understanding of a certain topic.
Here are some of the elements that every literature review should contain:
- An overview of what is known by other authors or researchers.
- Conflicting information or evidence.
- Synthesis of existing patterns or relationships in the literature
- A summary of key concepts and how they relate to your topic.
- Limitations or weaknesses of the evidence that is currently available.
- Gaps in the existing literature
By writing a well-organized literature review, you are showing your readers that you have an excellent understanding of the topic in question. Identifying gaps in the literature tells your readers that you know where your research fits into the existing body of knowledge.
Types of Literature Reviews
When writing a literature review, it helps to think of the existing knowledge according to different types.
The first type of literature consists of primary research, i.e. studies that rely on first-hand data from a representative group of participants.
The second type of knowledge is referred to as secondary literature because it consists of summaries or synthesis of previous studies. Lastly, there is the knowledge that is drawn from opinions, perceptions, or interpretations of an existing body of knowledge.
Depending on the type of knowledge that you are required to present with your literature review, you can choose to take either of the following approaches:
Argumentative Essay Approach
Just like in a normal argumentative essay, the aim of this type of review is to provide evidence that supports a particular assumption or argument. In other words, the aim of an argumentative review is to establish an evidence-based viewpoint.
The argumentative literature review is important when you want to support your recommendations and solutions, however, you must be sure that you only make claims that are supported by evidence from previous studies.
Otherwise, you run the risk of making biased claims.
Historical Literature Review
This type of review emphasizes background knowledge or the historical perspective of a particular topic.
In order to be effective when writing a historical review, make sure you present information in a systematic manner i.e. Starting from the time an issue emerged and then following its development through time.
The primary aim of a historical review is to place your topic in its appropriate historical context and to demonstrate an understanding of the state of the art with regards to your research topic.