What is a Literature Review? Structure and Guidance

What is a Literature Online Review

If you have to write an undergraduate thesis or dissertation, you may need to start by writing a literature review. A literature review is a search and evaluation of the available literature and previous research on the selected topic or chosen subject area. It sets out the current status of the topic you are writing about.

A review of literature has four main objectives:

  • This analyses the material gained by finding gaps in existing knowledge, exposing the shortcomings of ideas and opinions, and reviewing the literature in the topic of study of choice.
  • Arrange the references in a sensible manner.
  • A literature review shows readers that you know your topic thoroughly and understand how your research fits into and adds to an already agreed-upon body of knowledge.

This is another way to describe these four objectives. A literature review:

  • Demonstrates your knowledge of a subject area and establishes your credibility.
  • Provides an overview of previous research and its relationship to the project.
  • Analyzes and summarizes the topic in the form of critical analysis.
  • Demonstrates your ability to learn from others and generate new ideas with your research.

Types of literature reviews

Review of literature generally fall into two categories:

Analysis of the research literature – Inspects previously released research and summarizes their findings rather than presenting fresh findings. It gives a summary of what has been stated, the major contributors, the dominant ideas and predictions, the open-ended issues, and the approaches and methodology that have proven effective.

Scientific proof or comprehensive reviews of the literature – Such reviews, which are particularly common in medicine, aim to identify the most effective solution or investigate analyses and criticisms that will improve current treatment.

Why write a literature review?

The first step in any research project is to review the field. So let’s consider a review, synthesis, critical analysis, and presentation in more detail. All types of literature reviews do the following:

  • Addresses gaps in the state of the art.
  • It enables you to prove that you are expanding on a base of previous ideas and information, i.e., you are pushing ahead from wherever others have already went, and it prevents you from spending time investigating something that has been accomplished.
  • It finds other researchers in the same subject, both in respect of current and upcoming studies. A significant source of information and assistance can be found by finding out who is currently employed in your region and getting in touch with them.
  • Showcase your in-depth understanding of your studies.
  • Gives the project a conceptual framework, allowing you to place your effort in connection to other fields of study.
  • Highlights contrasting opinions.
  • List significant works in your field and show that you have studied them.It puts your own work in perspective: are you doing something completely new, revising an old controversy in light of new evidence, etc.?
  • Demonstrate your research skills, i.e., not only do you know the work in your area, but you also know how to access it.
  • Identify information and ideas that may be relevant to your project.
  • Identify methods that may be relevant to your project.

Key points to remember

Here are some things to keep in mind when researching and writing your literature review.

  • It is not a book-by-book, article-by-article summary.
  • It is not a poll of everything that has been written on your topic.
  • It should be defined by a guiding concept, i.e., the essay question, research project, or objective.
  • It should tell the reader what knowledge and ideas have been established and agreed upon in your area and state your advantages and disadvantages.

How to structure a literature review

According to specialists in essay writing from essaywriter, literature reviews should follow the same structure as other essays; they should include an introduction, main body, and conclusion. 


  • Describe your idea and offer sufficient background information for the review of the literature.
  • State your reasons, i.e., your point of view.
  • Review the literature.
  • Describe the firm. i.e., the sequence of the review.
  • Define the review’s parameters, i.e., what is included and what is not included. For example, suppose you are reviewing the literature on obesity in children. In that case, you might say something like There are a large number of studies on obesity trends in the general population. However, since this research focuses on childhood obesity, they will not be reviewed in detail and will only be referred to when necessary.

Main body

  • Group the works of literature based on recurring themes.
  • Offer information about the connection between the selected topic and the larger subject area, such as the link among child obesity and overweight in particular.
  • After giving a general summary of the review of the literature, concentrate on the particular area of your study.

Bottom Line 

  • Describe the key points of the material that has already been published.
  • Assess the present state of the literature reviewed.
  • Find critical errors or gaps in the body of knowledge.
  • Outline potential research areas.
  • Connect the findings to what is already known.

How to do a literature search

Before writing the literature review, you need to find out what is out there.

If you do not have a specific research question, you should search the relevant literature in your general area of interest to narrow down what you want to find out. Next, the research topic should be the focus of the literature review. Reviewing the literature can be dangerous if you don’t have a good idea of what you want to study. It can condition your thinking about the study and the research methods you might use. It may cause you to choose a less creative problem and research method than you might otherwise have done. So before you begin the main literature review, you should try to get a general idea of your research problem.

Here are some tips to get you started on your literature search:

Set your parameters – Defining your study subject or research must be your first step. When you have been provided a definite topic, ensure you grasp it. Consider what the main ideas are. Create a list of terms and their variants to aid in the development of your research plan.

Make inventive searches – Following this, you must list any pertinent informational sources. The Web, online sources, and libraries all fall under this category. 

Are you aware what resources are available at your institution’s libraries that are pertinent to your subject? Don’t fail to do it; it’s a really clear place to begin. Get assistance from the librarians.

Magazines – Keep in mind that publications are the finest resource for the most latest studies. Also keep in mind that many scientific papers are now available exclusively online. A helpful resource for finding pertinent research publications is Google Scholar.

While they aren’t usually very helpful for in-depth research, papers and periodicals are excellent sources for topical subjects. For instance, if you’re writing about a business-related subject, pieces from The Economist, Business, and Harvard Business Systematic Journal may be helpful.

Avoid limiting yourself to simple suppliers – Universities, for instance, have books and periodicals but also unreleased master’s and doctorate theses, which can have research on your subject. Do speculative queries as well; for example, try typing “The Magazine of [Your Topic]”; you might be amazed at what pops up.

Additional less visible but significant sources include:

  • Abstracts from conferences – Similar to journals, they are compilations of articles that were addressed at conferences and frequently include “cutting edge” work. These compilations are made available online, in specialised issues of the journal papers, and occasionally in volumes.
  • Publication from the federal and local governments – White and green sheets, policy papers, guides, studies, yearly books, analytical research, and policy papers are among them.
  • Sites for authors – Such websites frequently have the complete text of e – journals as well as highlights of recent papers. The websites Emerald and Blackwell Science both offer a wealth of online materials.

Additionally, you must search for and join appropriate internet discussion groups. Again for scholarly institution, a site like http://www.jiscmail.ac.uk has a variety of chat groups. Can anybody really suggest academic articles for the topic X? are only a couple of the you can ask on these rankings to connect with others doing research in your field. These are also a useful tool for learning about current events in your field because people frequently post information about upcoming articles, meetings, and trainings, as well as jobs occasionally. 

Databases. There are online databases of current articles for many subject areas, particularly the sciences and social sciences.

Review of selected literature.

Now that you have identified the sources as useful, the next thing to do is to start reading them critically to discover the key issues, topics, and questions relevant to your study. Unless you already have a theoretical framework of issues in mind, you will need to use a separate sheet of paper for each topic or issue you identify as you read through the selected sources.

Once you have developed a rough framework, organize the ideas from the material you have read so far into these themes, using a separate sheet of paper for each theme in the framework. As you continue reading, continue to logically organize the major findings into the themes you have developed so far. Remember that you may need to add more themes as you progress. As you conduct your systematic review of the existing literature, examine it carefully and critically in light of the following issues:

  • Note whether the insights relevant to your theoretical framework have been confirmed beyond a reasonable doubt.
  • Note the theories put forward, criticisms of them and their rationale, the methods used (study design, sample size, characteristics, measurement procedures, etc.), and criticisms of them.
  • Examine the extent to which the results can be generalized to other situations.
  • Identify areas where there are significant differences of opinion among researchers and give your opinion on the validity of these differences.
  • Identify areas where little or nothing is known, i.e., gaps in the body of knowledge.

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