The Importance of Literature Review in Academic Writing

The Importance of Literature Review in Academic Writing

The literature review holds paramount importance in academic writing for several reasons. Firstly, it serves as a comprehensive survey of existing research, establishing a solid foundation for the author’s work. It helps identify gaps, trends, and debates in the chosen field, guiding researchers toward relevant and valuable contributions. Additionally, a well-crafted literature review demonstrates the author’s understanding of the subject, showcases critical thinking skills, and enhances the credibility of the academic work by contextualizing it within the broader scholarly conversation. Overall, the literature review is an indispensable component that enriches the depth and quality of academic writing.

What is the role of a literature review in academic writing

The literature review plays a crucial role in academic writing by serving several important functions;

  • Establishing Context:  A literature review provides the context for the research by summarizing and synthesizing existing knowledge on the chosen topic. It helps readers understand the background and the current state of the subject matter.
  • Identifying Gaps in Knowledge:  Through a literature review, researchers can identify gaps, controversies, or areas where more research is needed. This helps in justifying the significance of the new study and contributing to the existing body of knowledge.
  • Formulating Research Questions or Hypotheses:  By reviewing existing literature, researchers can derive relevant research questions or hypotheses. This ensures that the study is informed by and contributes to the broader academic discourse.
  • Building a Theoretical Framework:  A literature review helps in building the theoretical framework for a study by examining and summarizing relevant theories and concepts from previous research. It provides a conceptual foundation for the current research.
  • Selecting Methodology:  Understanding how previous studies were conducted helps researchers in selecting an appropriate methodology for their own research. It also assists in avoiding potential pitfalls or methodological errors.
  • Avoiding Duplication:  Researchers can identify what has already been done, preventing duplication of efforts. This helps in ensuring that the new study adds value and contributes to the existing knowledge.
  • Critically Evaluating Sources:  A literature review involves a critical analysis of the quality and reliability of the sources. This ensures that the information used in the study is credible and relevant.
  • Synthesizing Information:  A literature review involves synthesizing information from various sources to present a cohesive and comprehensive understanding of the topic. It helps in drawing connections and patterns in the existing research.
  • Providing a Historical Perspective:  It offers a historical perspective on the development of ideas and concepts within a specific field, allowing readers to trace the evolution of thought over time.
  • Supporting or Challenging Arguments:  The literature review supports the author’s arguments by presenting evidence from existing research. It may also highlight conflicting findings or alternative perspectives that contribute to a balanced discussion.

In summary, the literature review is a critical component of academic writing, serving as a foundation for the research, guiding methodology, and contributing to the scholarly conversation within a particular field.

How does a literature review contribute to the overall quality of a research paper

A literature review contributes significantly to the overall quality of a research paper in several ways:

  • Establishing Credibility:  By reviewing relevant and reputable sources, a literature review helps establish the credibility of the research. It shows that the author is well-informed about existing scholarship on the topic.
  • Identifying Research Gaps:  The literature review identifies gaps, controversies, or unanswered questions in the current body of knowledge. This not only justifies the need for the new study but also highlights its potential contribution to the field.
  • Providing Context and Background:  A literature review provides context by summarizing and synthesizing existing research. It helps readers understand the historical development, key concepts, and current state of the research topic.
  • Guiding Research Questions or Hypotheses:  The literature review informs the formulation of research questions or hypotheses by revealing what is already known and what remains unknown in the field. This ensures that the study is focused and relevant.
  • Building a Theoretical Framework:  It contributes to building a theoretical framework by examining and summarizing relevant theories and concepts. This theoretical foundation helps structure the research and guide the analysis.
  • Selecting Appropriate Methodology:  Knowledge of how previous studies were conducted informs the choice of methodology for the new research. This ensures that the research design is well-suited to address the specific objectives of the study.
  • Avoiding Duplication:  The literature review helps prevent duplication of efforts by identifying what has already been studied. This ensures that the new research contributes something novel to the existing body of knowledge.
  • Providing a Critical Analysis:  A literature review involves critically evaluating the quality, reliability, and relevance of sources. This ensures that only credible and pertinent information is included in the research paper.
  • Synthesizing Information:  By synthesizing information from diverse sources, a literature review presents a comprehensive and cohesive understanding of the research topic. It helps in drawing connections and identifying patterns in the existing literature.
  • Supporting Arguments:  The literature review supports the author’s arguments and hypotheses by providing evidence from previous studies. It demonstrates how the current research fits into the broader scholarly conversation.

In essence, a well-executed literature review enhances the overall quality of a research paper by providing a solid foundation, guiding the research process, and ensuring that the study contributes meaningfully to the academic discourse in its respective field.

What are the key objectives of conducting a literature review in academic research

The key objectives of conducting a literature review in academic research include;

  • Identifying Existing Knowledge:  To review and summarize the current state of knowledge on a particular topic or research question, understanding what is already known.
  • Establishing Context:  To provide the necessary background and context for the research, helping readers understand the significance of the study.
  • Identifying Gaps and Research Questions:  To identify gaps, controversies, or areas where further research is needed, which helps in formulating specific research questions or hypotheses.
  • Building a Theoretical Framework:  To review and synthesize relevant theories and concepts that will form the theoretical foundation of the research.
  • Guiding Methodology:  To inform the selection of appropriate research methodologies and methods based on the strengths and weaknesses of previous studies.
  • Avoiding Duplication:  To ensure that the research contributes something new to the existing body of knowledge, preventing unnecessary duplication of previous studies.
  • Critical Evaluation:  To critically evaluate the quality, reliability, and validity of existing literature, ensuring that only credible sources are used to support the research.
  • Synthesizing Information:  To synthesize information from diverse sources, presenting a cohesive and comprehensive understanding of the topic.
  • Identifying Key Concepts and Variables:  To identify and define key concepts, variables, and terms relevant to the research study.
  • Understanding Methodological Approaches:  To understand how previous studies were conducted, helping researchers learn from successes and pitfalls in methodology.
  • Recognizing Trends and Patterns:  To identify trends, patterns, and recurring themes in the literature, providing insights into the broader context of the research.
  • Contextualizing Findings:  To place the research findings in the context of existing knowledge, allowing for a more nuanced interpretation of results.
  • Informing Literature Selection:  To guide the selection of literature relevant to the research topic, ensuring that the review is focused and comprehensive.
  • Supporting or Challenging Arguments:  To provide evidence and support for the arguments or hypotheses presented in the research, or to highlight conflicting findings in the literature.
  • Contributing to Theoretical Debates:  To actively contribute to theoretical debates and discussions within the academic field.
  • Enhancing the Rigor of Research:  To enhance the overall rigor and validity of the research by basing it on a solid foundation of existing knowledge.

The objectives of a literature review in academic research are multi-faceted, ranging from understanding existing knowledge to guiding the research process and ensuring the credibility and significance of the study.

How does a literature review help establish the research gap in a particular field

A literature review plays a crucial role in identifying and establishing the research gap in a particular field through the following mechanisms;

  • Summarizing Existing Knowledge:  The literature review provides a comprehensive summary of existing research on a given topic, allowing researchers to understand the current state of knowledge in the field.
  • Identifying Patterns and Trends:  By reviewing multiple studies, a literature review helps researchers identify patterns, trends, and common themes in the existing literature. This analysis highlights areas where research has been concentrated and areas where it may be lacking.
  • Highlighting Consensus and Controversies:  The literature review reveals areas where there is a consensus among researchers and areas where there are conflicting findings or ongoing debates. This can point to gaps in understanding that require further investigation.
  • Pointing to Unanswered Questions:  As researchers analyze the literature, they may come across questions that have not been adequately addressed or answered by existing studies. These unanswered questions signify potential research gaps.
  • Examining Methodological Limitations:  A thorough literature review involves evaluating the methodologies employed in previous studies. Identifying limitations or gaps in methodology can suggest areas where further research is needed to address these shortcomings.
  • Assessing Currency of Information:  If there is a lack of recent studies on a specific aspect of a topic, it may indicate that there is a gap in recent research that needs attention.
  • Considering Emerging Trends:  The literature review allows researchers to identify emerging trends or new developments in the field. These trends may open up avenues for novel research directions.
  • Evaluating Geographical or Cultural Gaps:  Geographical or cultural gaps in the literature can also indicate areas where further research is needed to provide a more comprehensive understanding of the topic.
  • Analyzing Changes Over Time:  A temporal analysis of the literature can reveal how research on a particular topic has evolved. Recognizing changes and shifts in focus over time may uncover gaps in understanding that need addressing.
  • Seeking Gaps in Application:  Researchers can identify gaps in the application of theoretical frameworks or interventions within practical settings. This may suggest opportunities for applied research.

By systematically examining the existing literature and critically evaluating its content, methodologies, and findings, researchers can pinpoint areas where knowledge is incomplete or where further investigation is necessary. Identifying these gaps helps shape the rationale for the new study and positions it within the broader context of the existing body of knowledge.

In what ways does a literature review assist in framing research questions and hypotheses

A literature review assists in framing research questions and hypotheses in several ways;

  • Identification of Existing Knowledge:  A literature review provides an overview of existing knowledge on a particular topic, helping researchers understand what has already been studied and established in the field.
  • Identification of Gaps:  By analyzing the existing literature, researchers can identify gaps, limitations, or unanswered questions. These gaps serve as a basis for formulating research questions, as they highlight areas where new knowledge is needed.
  • Understanding Theoretical Foundations:  The literature review helps researchers understand the theoretical frameworks and concepts that have been used in previous studies. This understanding guides the formulation of research questions that align with established theories or challenge existing paradigms.
  • Inspiration from Previous Research:  Reviewing the literature provides researchers with insights and inspiration from previous studies. It helps them identify interesting phenomena, patterns, or trends that can lead to the formulation of relevant and meaningful research questions.
  • Identification of Variables:  Researchers can identify key variables, factors, or elements that have been studied in the literature. This identification informs the formulation of hypotheses and guides the operationalization of variables in the research design.
  • Clarity in Focus:  A literature review helps researchers narrow down the scope of their study by clarifying the focus and defining the specific aspects of the topic that need further investigation. This clarity contributes to the formulation of precise and focused research questions.
  • Understanding Methodologies:  By examining the methodologies used in previous studies, researchers gain insights into various research approaches. This understanding guides the selection of an appropriate research methodology for their own study, influencing the formulation of research questions.
  • Building on Previous Findings:  Researchers may build on or extend previous findings identified in the literature. Formulating research questions in the context of existing research allows for the advancement of knowledge and contributes to the ongoing scholarly conversation.
  • Alignment with Research Goals:  The literature review helps researchers align their research questions with the overarching goals and objectives of the study. This ensures that the research questions are relevant and contribute meaningfully to the field.
  • Contextualizing Hypotheses:  Based on the insights gained from the literature review, researchers can formulate hypotheses that are grounded in existing theories or empirical evidence. This contextualization strengthens the rationale for the hypotheses.

A well-conducted literature review informs and guides the process of formulating research questions and hypotheses by providing a foundation of knowledge, highlighting gaps, and offering insights from previous studies. This ensures that the research questions are relevant, theoretically grounded, and contribute to the advancement of the field.

Can a well-conducted literature review enhance the credibility of academic research

Yes! A well-conducted literature review is  essential  for enhancing the credibility of academic research in several ways;

1. Demonstrates Expertise:  A comprehensive review shows you have a deep understanding of the existing knowledge and relevant theory in your field. This establishes you as an authority and positions your research within the broader context.

2. Justifies Significance:  By reviewing past studies, you can clarify the gaps in research and highlight why your project addresses a crucial, unanswered question. This strengthens the purpose and originality of your work.

3. Supports Methodological Choices:  You can use past research to justify your chosen methods, data collection, and analysis strategies. This demonstrates rigor and helps readers understand how your work builds upon previous findings.

4. Identifies Limitations and Strengths:  Recognizing strengths and limitations of earlier studies allows you to position your research strategically. You can address limitations of past work or build upon their strengths, demonstrating a critical and informed approach.

5. Shows Engagement with the Field:  Engaging with other scholars' work showcases your awareness of ongoing debates and conversations in your field. This demonstrates you are actively contributing to the advancement of knowledge.

Beyond Credibility:

A strong literature review goes beyond just building trust. It can also:

  • Spark new research ideas:  Examining diverse perspectives can trigger innovative ways to approach your research question.
  • Identify potential challenges:  Awareness of previous difficulties can help you anticipate and address similar issues in your study.
  • Strengthen your arguments:  Referencing relevant findings bolsters your conclusions and persuades readers of their validity.
  • Thoroughness matters:  Aim for a comprehensive review, including both supportive and opposing viewpoints.
  • Critical analysis is key:  Don’t just summarize; evaluate, compare, and contrast different studies to demonstrate your critical thinking skills.
  • Clarity is crucial:  Organize your review logically and present it in a clear, concise, and easy-to-follow manner.

By investing time and effort in conducting a well-structured and insightful literature review, you’ll lay a solid foundation for your research and significantly enhance its credibility and potential impact.

How does the literature review process aid in identifying key theories and concepts relevant to the research topic

The literature review process plays a crucial role in identifying key theories and concepts relevant to your research topic in several ways;

1. Exposure to Existing Knowledge:  As you dive into relevant scholarly articles, books, and other sources, you’ll be exposed to the prevailing theories and concepts surrounding your topic. This initial immersion provides a broad understanding of the landscape and potential key players.

2. Identifying Recurring Themes and Ideas:  As you analyze and synthesize the collected information, you’ll start noticing recurring themes, terminologies, and arguments. These recurrent elements likely represent the key theories and concepts shaping the field.

3. Recognizing Debates and Contradictions:  A good literature review doesn’t shy away from presenting opposing viewpoints and ongoing debates. Recognizing these tensions and contradictions can highlight unresolved questions or emerging concepts, guiding your own research focus.

4. Evaluating Strengths and Weaknesses of Existing Theories:  Critically analyzing past research allows you to identify the strengths and limitations of existing theories. This helps you understand which theories are robust and applicable and which areas need further exploration, potentially leading to innovative approaches.

5. Building Upon Previous Work:  The literature review allows you to see how different theories and concepts relate to each other and your research question. This knowledge helps you position your work within the existing conversation, building upon established ideas or introducing new ones.

Additional Tips

  • Keyword Exploration:  Utilize relevant keywords in your search queries to discover important theories and concepts associated with your topic.
  • Author Tracking:  Pay attention to frequently cited authors and influential figures in your field. Their work often reflects key theories and concepts.
  • Consult Experts:  Engage with professors, researchers, or librarians specializing in your field. They can provide guidance on prominent theories and suggest relevant sources.
  • Conceptual Mapping:  Visualize the relationships between concepts and theories you encounter through mind maps or diagrams. This aids in identifying key players and their connections.

What challenges might researchers face when conducting a literature review, and how can these be addressed

Conducting a robust literature review can be an enriching, yet challenging, experience for researchers. Here are some common hurdles and tips on how to overcome them:

1. Information Overload:  With the vast amount of published research available, it can be overwhelming to identify, select, and manage relevant sources.

  • Develop a focused research question:  This helps refine your search terms and target specific areas within the broader field.
  • Utilize advanced search techniques:  Boolean operators, filters, and keyword variations can improve the precision of your search results.
  • Leverage reference management tools:  Software like Mendeley or Zotero help organize and annotate your findings efficiently.

2. Bias and Incomplete Coverage:  Your search strategy and chosen sources might unintentionally introduce bias towards particular viewpoints or neglect relevant areas.

  • Consult with librarians or research experts:  They can offer guidance on diverse perspectives and alternative databases beyond the typical search engines.
  • Seek out dissenting voices and alternative methodologies:  Consider including research that challenges your initial assumptions to ensure a balanced review.
  • Be transparent about limitations:  Acknowledge potential biases and acknowledge areas where your review might be incomplete.

3. Difficulty Analyzing and Synthesizing Information:  Turning information into meaningful insights can be challenging, especially when dealing with conflicting studies or complex concepts.

  • Develop a clear analytical framework:  This helps you categorize and evaluate studies based on specific criteria like methodology, theoretical perspectives, and findings.
  • Identify key themes and arguments:  Look for recurring patterns and contrasting viewpoints across different studies.
  • Use critical thinking skills:  Evaluate the strengths, weaknesses, and potential limitations of each study and its contribution to your understanding.

4. Time Constraints:  Conducting a thorough literature review can be time-consuming, especially for students or researchers with limited resources.

  • Develop a realistic timeline:  Break down the review process into manageable steps and allocate sufficient time for each stage.
  • Prioritize sources strategically:  Focus on highly relevant and impactful studies initially, then expand your search as needed.
  • Seek support from peers or mentors:  Discuss your progress and challenges with others to stay motivated and receive feedback.

5. Access to Resources:  Paywalled journals and limited library access can pose a barrier for some researchers, particularly those affiliated with smaller institutions.

  • Explore open access resources:  Numerous online platforms offer free access to scholarly articles and books.
  • Utilize interlibrary loan services:  Libraries can often borrow materials from other institutions for you.
  • Network with other researchers:  Share resources and potentially collaborate with colleagues who have access to different databases.

Conducting a well-structured and thoughtful literature review is an iterative process. Don’t be afraid to revisit your search terms, adjust your focus, and seek help when needed. By actively addressing these challenges, you can transform your literature review from a chore into a valuable tool for enriching your research project and enhancing its intellectual contribution.

How does a literature review help researchers avoid duplication of existing studies

A well-conducted literature review serves as a powerful tool for researchers to avoid duplication of existing studies in several ways;

1. Unveiling Existing Knowledge:  By diligently exploring past research, researchers gain a comprehensive understanding of what has already been explored and established in their field. This knowledge enables them to identify areas where further investigation is truly needed, preventing them from replicating what’s already known.

2. Building Upon Previous Work:  The literature review allows researchers to discover the strengths and weaknesses of past studies. This empowers them to build upon existing findings, addressing identified limitations or extending the investigation in new directions, rather than simply repeating previous efforts.

3. Identifying Gaps and Unanswered Questions:  Through critical analysis of past research, researchers can pinpoint areas where knowledge is lacking or existing conclusions remain inconclusive. This guides them towards formulating original research questions that address these gaps and contribute novel insights to the field.

4. Recognizing Methodological Approaches:  Examining methodologies employed in earlier studies helps researchers understand the effectiveness and limitations of specific methods. This knowledge allows them to adapt or design innovative approaches that avoid replicating potential flaws or inefficiencies in past studies.

5. Avoiding the “Reinventing the Wheel” Pitfall:  By immersing themselves in the existing scholarship, researchers prevent themselves from unknowingly replicating established knowledge or methodologies. This saves valuable time and resources, allowing them to focus on truly innovative and impactful research contributions.

  • Utilize systematic review techniques:  These involve rigorous search strategies, selection criteria, and data analysis methods to ensure comprehensive coverage and minimize duplication.
  • Consult research databases and tools:  Many platforms offer features like citation analysis and duplicate detection to help researchers identify overlapping studies.
  • Engage with experts and peers:  Discussing your research topic and findings with experts or peers can help you identify areas where duplication might occur or suggest alternative directions for your study.
  • Clearly define your research question:  A well-defined research question ensures your study focuses on a specific gap in knowledge, minimizing the risk of unintentional duplication.

A literature review is not just about summarizing past research; it’s about critically evaluating it and using that knowledge to guide your own original contribution to the field. By diligently conducting your review and embracing its insights, you can avoid the pitfall of duplication and ensure your research makes a distinct and valuable impact.

In what ways does a literature review contribute to the theoretical framework of a research study

A literature review plays a crucial role in shaping and solidifying the theoretical framework of your research study in several key ways;

1. Identifying Relevant Theories and Concepts:  Through your exploration of existing research, you’ll encounter prominent theories and concepts related to your topic. These serve as the building blocks for your own theoretical framework.

2. Understanding Established Explanations:  The review exposes you to diverse theoretical explanations for the phenomena you’re investigating. This knowledge helps you understand the strengths, weaknesses, and limitations of existing explanations.

3. Selecting and Justifying Your Framework:  Based on your understanding of existing theories and the specific focus of your research question, you can select the most relevant theories to form your theoretical framework. The literature review then serves as justification for your choice, demonstrating why these specific theories are best suited to address your research question.

4. Building Upon or Challenging Existing Theories:  Depending on your findings, the literature review might support and contribute to established theories by providing new evidence or deeper insights. Alternatively, it might challenge existing theories by highlighting their limitations or offering alternative explanations.

5. Demonstrating Theoretical Coherence:  Your literature review should showcase how the chosen theories connect with each other and how they collectively underpin your research question and methodology. This ensures a cohesive and well-reasoned theoretical framework.

6. Highlighting Originality and Significance:  By clearly demonstrating how your theoretical framework builds upon, departs from, or refines existing theories, the literature review emphasizes the originality and potential significance of your research contribution.

  • Clearly articulate your research question:  This guides your search for relevant theories and ensures your framework directly addresses your specific inquiry.
  • Engage in critical analysis:  Don’t simply accept theories on face value. Evaluate their strengths, weaknesses, and internal consistency through the lens of your research question.
  • Consult experts and peers:  Discuss your chosen theories and their connection to your research with experts or peers for feedback and refinement.
  • Maintain clear connections:  Throughout your research, demonstrate how your findings relate back to your theoretical framework, illustrating its explanatory power and validity.

How can a comprehensive literature review help researchers contextualize their findings within the existing body of knowledge

A comprehensive literature review plays a crucial role in contextualizing research findings within the existing body of knowledge by serving several key functions:

1. Setting the Stage:  The review provides a historical and theoretical background for your research topic. It establishes the current state of knowledge, key debates, and unresolved questions, creating a framework for understanding your findings.

2. Identifying Comparisons and Contrasts:  By showcasing related research and its conclusions, the review allows you to compare your findings to existing knowledge. This highlights similarities, discrepancies, and novel contributions, demonstrating the significance of your study.

3. Explaining Your Results:  You can leverage the review to explain your findings in relation to established theories and explanations. This strengthens the validity and generalizability of your conclusions by demonstrating how they fit within the larger picture.

4. Addressing Limitations and Implications:  The review helps you identify the limitations of your study and acknowledge areas where further research is needed. It also allows you to discuss the potential implications of your findings for future research and practical applications.

5. Engaging in Scholarly Conversation:  By referencing and critically analyzing previous studies, the review showcases your engagement with the existing scholarship. This positions you as a contributor to the ongoing conversation within your field.

  • Maintain a Focus:  While providing context, ensure your review remains focused on your specific research question and avoids irrelevant tangents.
  • Integrate Findings Seamlessly:  Weave your research findings into the review naturally, highlighting their unique contribution and connection to established knowledge.
  • Acknowledge Different Perspectives:  Don’t shy away from presenting contrasting viewpoints or alternative interpretations. This demonstrates a balanced and critical approach.
  • Use Clear Language and Structure:  Present your review in a way that is easy to understand and navigate for your target audience.

What role does a literature review play in identifying methodological approaches used in previous research studies

A literature review plays a crucial role in identifying methodological approaches used in previous research studies, serving as a foundation for designing your own methodology and demonstrating its significance. Here’s how;

1. Unveiling Existing Methods:  By exploring studies relevant to your topic, you’ll discover the diverse methods employed by other researchers. This expands your understanding of how different research questions can be addressed through different methodologies.

2. Evaluating Strengths and Weaknesses:  The review allows you to critically analyze the effectiveness and limitations of various methods used in past studies. This helps you understand the suitability of certain approaches for your specific research question and context.

3. Informing Your Choice:  Based on your understanding of existing methods and the specific demands of your research question, you can make informed decisions about the most appropriate methodology for your study. This ensures your chosen approach aligns with both theoretical foundations and established practices.

4. Justifying Your Methodology:  The literature review becomes a tool for justifying your chosen methods. By showcasing how your approach addresses limitations of past studies or offers a unique perspective, you demonstrate the suitability and potential advantages of your methodology.

5. Avoiding Pitfalls and Inefficiencies:  Analyzing past methods helps you identify potential pitfalls or inefficiencies associated with specific approaches. This allows you to adapt existing methods or design new ones that avoid these weaknesses, leading to a more robust and efficient research process.

  • Categorize Methods:  Organize your findings by grouping similar methodological approaches or research designs. This helps you compare and contrast their applicability.
  • Consider Your Research Question:  Always evaluate methods through the lens of your specific research question and data needs. Don’t blindly mimic others; choose based on suitability.
  • Consult Experts and Peers:  Discuss your chosen methodology and its connection to your research question with experts or peers for feedback and refinement.
  • Clearly Explain Your Choices:  In your research report, clearly explain your chosen methodology, justifying it by referencing relevant past studies and highlighting its unique advantages.

How can a literature review help researchers identify potential sources of bias or limitations in existing studies

A literature review serves as a powerful tool for researchers to identify potential sources of bias and limitations in existing studies by offering several key perspectives;

1. Scrutinizing Design and Methodology:  Examining research methods and design choices allows you to pinpoint potential sources of bias. Consider factors like sample selection, data collection procedures, and control groups. Look for imbalances, subjectivity, or lack of randomization that could skew results.

2. Evaluating Data Analysis and Interpretation:  Analyze how studies handled data analysis and interpretation of findings. Look for selective reporting of data, subjective interpretations, or questionable statistical methods that might introduce bias or limit the validity of conclusions.

3. Identifying Conflicting Results and Gaps in Evidence:  Comparing and contrasting findings across different studies can reveal inconsistencies or discrepancies. These conflicting results might point towards potential biases in specific studies or highlight limitations in the overall body of evidence.

4. Considering Author Bias and Research Context:  Be aware of potential author biases related to funding sources, personal beliefs, or institutional affiliations. Examine the broader research context and prevailing discourses to identify potential biases shaping the field.

5. Consulting Quality Assessment Tools:  Leverage established tools like the Cochrane Collaboration Risk of Bias tool or the PRISMA checklist to systematically assess the methodological quality of reviewed studies. These tools highlight potential weaknesses and limitations for further consideration.

  • Develop a Critical Mindset:  Approach your review with a questioning attitude, actively seeking potential flaws and limitations in methodology, analysis, and conclusions.
  • Consult Experts and Peers:  Discuss your findings and identified biases with experts or peers in your field. Their insights can help you refine your analysis and gain broader perspectives.
  • Clearly Report Identified Biases:  Don’t shy away from acknowledging and discussing potential biases in existing studies. This demonstrates transparency and strengthens your analysis.
  • Use Your Findings to Guide Your Research:  Identify and address limitations in previous studies by designing your research to overcome them. This contributes to a more robust and comprehensive understanding of your topic.

What impact does a thorough literature review have on the formulation of a research methodology

A thorough literature review can have a  profound impact  on the formulation of your research methodology by influencing several key aspects;

1. Identifying Relevant Research Designs:  The review exposes you to diverse research designs used in previous studies related to your topic. This broadens your understanding of how specific questions can be addressed and helps you choose the most suitable design for your own research question.

2. Selecting Appropriate Data Collection Methods:  By analyzing the methods used in past studies, you gain insights into the effectiveness and limitations of different data collection techniques. This knowledge empowers you to select methods that align with your research design and the type of data you need to answer your question.

3. Considering Sampling Strategies:  Exploring how previous studies selected their samples allows you to assess the strengths and weaknesses of different sampling techniques. This informs your decisions regarding sample size, representativeness, and potential biases associated with different sampling strategies.

4. Developing Data Analysis Procedures:  Reviewing past studies' analysis methods helps you understand different approaches to data processing, interpretation, and statistical techniques. This allows you to adapt or create appropriate analysis procedures tailored to your specific research question and data type.

5. Anticipating Potential Challenges:  Analyzing the limitations and challenges encountered in past studies equips you to proactively address similar issues in your own research. This helps you refine your methodology and plan mitigation strategies to ensure data quality and validity.

6. Justifying Your Chosen Methods:  The literature review becomes a foundation for justifying your chosen methods. By highlighting how your approach addresses limitations of past studies or offers a unique perspective, you demonstrate the suitability and potential advantages of your methodology.

  • Focus on Methodological Relevance:  When analyzing past studies, prioritize those that adopted research designs and methods closest to your own inquiry.
  • Consult Experts and Peers:  Share your chosen methodology and its connection to your research question with experts or peers for feedback and refinement.
  • Maintain Rigor and Transparency:  Ensure your chosen methods align with recognized research standards and clearly explain their rationale in your research report.

How does the literature review process contribute to the synthesis of information from various sources

The literature review process plays a crucial role in synthesizing information from various sources by several key mechanisms;

1. Critical Evaluation and Comparison:  You don’t simply summarize each source individually; you actively compare and contrast their findings, methodologies, and theoretical perspectives. This helps you identify commonalities, inconsistencies, and unique contributions of each source.

2. Identification of Key Themes and Arguments:  Through in-depth analysis, you uncover recurring themes, arguments, and concepts across different sources. This allows you to synthesize diverse information into a cohesive understanding of the overall knowledge landscape surrounding your topic.

3. Building Connections and Relationships:  You go beyond just presenting findings side-by-side. You actively build connections between different sources, highlighting how they support, contradict, or expand upon each other’s ideas. This creates a richer and more nuanced understanding of the topic.

4. Integrating Theories and Explanations:  You don’t just list theories; you evaluate their strengths and weaknesses within the context of your research question. By integrating relevant theories from different sources, you create a robust theoretical framework that informs your own research and analysis.

5. Constructing New Knowledge:  Synthesis is not just about summarizing; it’s about drawing new insights and interpretations based on the combined information. By critically analyzing and creatively connecting across sources, you can formulate original perspectives and contribute to the advancement of knowledge.

  • Utilize Visual Tools:  Mind maps, concept maps, or diagrams can help visualize relationships between different sources and key findings.
  • Develop a Coding System:  Categorize different sources based on themes, methodologies, or viewpoints to facilitate comparison and synthesis.
  • Write Critically and Analytically:  Don’t simply paraphrase; analyze, evaluate, and interpret the information from different sources in light of your research question.
  • Maintain Transparency and Source Attribution:  Clearly acknowledge the sources you use and ensure proper citation practices throughout your review.

By engaging in these active synthesis processes, the literature review becomes much more than a collection of summaries. It transforms into a powerful tool for generating new knowledge, refining your research question, and contributing meaningfully to the existing body of scholarship. 

What strategies can researchers employ to critically evaluate and synthesize diverse literature in their field

Researchers can employ a variety of strategies to critically evaluate and synthesize diverse literature in their field;

Evaluation Strategies

  • Scrutinize Methodology:  Analyze the research design, sample selection, data collection, and analysis methods used in each source. Consider potential biases, limitations, and strengths of each approach.
  • Evaluate Theoretical Frameworks:  Examine the theoretical perspectives underpinning each study. Are they well-justified? Do they align with other studies and your own research question?
  • Assess Findings and Claims:  Don’t accept results at face value. Critically evaluate the evidence and arguments presented, considering alternative interpretations and potential counter-arguments.
  • Consider Author Credibility:  Look at the author’s expertise and publication history in the field. Are they respected figures? Do they have potential biases or conflicts of interest?
  • Compare and Contrast Sources:  Actively compare findings, methodologies, and conclusions across different sources. Identify similarities, discrepancies, and unique contributions of each study.

Synthesis Strategies

  • Identify Recurring Themes and Arguments:  As you analyze sources, look for common threads, concepts, and debates emerging across the literature. Organize your findings around these themes for clarity.
  • Build Connections and Relationships:  Don’t present sources in isolation. Highlight how they relate to each other, building a cohesive understanding of the topic. Show how they support, contradict, or expand upon each other’s ideas.
  • Develop a Synthesis Framework:  Create a structure to organize your synthesis, such as chronological analysis, thematic comparison, or methodological critique. This framework will guide your analysis and presentation.
  • Integrate and Interpret:  Go beyond simply summarizing. Use the combined information to draw new insights, interpretations, and conclusions relevant to your research question.
  • Utilize Visual Tools:  Mind maps, concept maps, or diagrams can help visualize relationships between sources, themes, and key findings.
  • Consult Experts and Peers:  Discuss your findings and interpretations with scholars or colleagues in your field. Their feedback can refine your analysis and identify potential blind spots.
  • Utilize Specialized Tools:  Software like NVivo or ATLAS.ti can help manage and analyze large amounts of literature data.
  • Maintain Transparency and Citation:  Clearly acknowledge the sources you use and ensure proper citation practices throughout your work.
  • Focus on Quality Over Quantity:  Don’t aim for an exhaustive review at the expense of depth. Prioritize high-quality, relevant sources that offer significant insights.

How does a literature review contribute to the identification of key variables and concepts in a research study

A well-conducted literature review plays a crucial role in identifying key variables and concepts for your research study in several ways;

1. Unveiling Relevant Domains and Theories:  By immersing yourself in the existing scholarship, you’ll encounter various theories and concepts surrounding your topic. These serve as starting points for identifying potential variables relevant to your research question.

2. Identifying Relationships and Interactions:  Through your analysis, you’ll discover how different concepts and variables are linked within existing studies. This helps you understand potential interactions and dependencies between factors you might investigate.

3. Examining Measurements and Operationalizations:  Reviewing past research methods allows you to see how specific variables have been operationalized and measured. This informs your own choices regarding how to define and measure relevant variables in your study.

4. Recognizing Contextual Factors:  The literature review exposes you to various contextual factors that might influence the variables you’re interested in. This awareness helps you identify potential moderator or control variables that need consideration in your research design.

5. Spotlighting Gaps and Untapped Potential:  Analyzing past studies can reveal areas where specific variables haven’t been fully explored or their interactions haven’t been examined. This highlights opportunities for you to explore novel variables or investigate existing ones from a unique perspective.

  • Develop a Focused Research Question:  A clear and specific research question guides your search for relevant variables and ensures you don’t get overwhelmed by too much information.
  • Utilize Key Terms and Search Operators:  Explore the literature using relevant keywords and Boolean operators to refine your search and target specific concepts or variables.
  • Consult With Experts and Peers:  Discuss your research topic and potential variables with experts or colleagues in your field. Their insights can point you towards important concepts and suggest different perspectives.
  • Conduct Thematic Analysis:  Organize your findings by grouping related concepts and variables. This visualizes their connections and helps you identify key elements for your research.
  • Maintain Theoretical Coherence:  Ensure the identified variables and concepts align with your chosen theoretical framework, demonstrating their relevance to your research question.

The literature review is not just about passively collecting information; it’s about actively analyzing and making connections. By critically engaging with existing research, you’ll unearth the key variables and concepts that form the foundation of your study, ensuring its relevance, depth, and potential to add new knowledge to your field.

Can a literature review help researchers recognize trends and emerging themes in a particular academic field

Yes! A well-conducted literature review can be a powerful tool for researchers to recognize trends and emerging themes in a particular academic field. Here’s how;

1. Identifying Patterns and Recurring Concepts:  As you delve into existing research, you’ll naturally start noticing recurring themes, ideas, and methodologies being employed across different studies. These patterns can point towards emerging trends gaining traction within the field.

2. Tracking Shifts in Focus and Emphasis:  By comparing older studies with recent ones, you can identify shifts in the field’s focus. Are there new research questions gaining prominence? Are specific methodologies gaining favor? Recognizing these shifts can highlight emerging trends.

3. Analyzing Debates and Controversies:  Examining ongoing debates and controversies within the literature can reveal areas where new knowledge is being actively sought. These discussions often point towards potential trends in the field as researchers explore various solutions or interpretations.

4. Recognizing Gaps and Unexplored Areas:  A thorough literature review often uncovers gaps in previous research or areas where existing knowledge remains incomplete. Identifying these gaps can lead you to potential new trends as researchers strive to address them with their studies.

5. Utilizing Bibliometrics and Citation Analysis:  Analyzing citation patterns and trends in publication dates can reveal which areas are attracting increasing attention and potential emerging trends that are gaining momentum within the field.

  • Develop a Broad Search Strategy:  Don’t limit yourself to specific journals or disciplines. Cast a wider net to capture diverse perspectives and identify potential trends across different subfields.
  • Use Critical Analysis:  Don’t simply accept trends at face value. Analyze their potential causes, implications, and validity. Are they supported by evidence, or are they merely hype?
  • Consult Experts and Peers:  Discuss your findings and interpretations with scholars or colleagues in your field. Their insights can help you confirm or refine your understanding of emerging trends.
  • Consider the Broader Context:  Analyze how emerging trends within your field connect with developments in other disciplines or societal changes. This adds context and depth to your understanding.
  • Stay Updated:  Regularly review new literature and attend conferences to keep informed of the latest developments and emerging trends in your field.

What is the significance of staying updated on the latest literature when conducting a literature review

Staying updated on the latest literature holds immense significance for conducting a thorough and impactful literature review in several ways;

1. Ensuring Comprehensiveness and Relevance:  The field of research is constantly evolving, with new studies, methodologies, and theoretical frameworks emerging regularly. By incorporating the latest literature, you ensure your review encompasses the most current knowledge and findings, leading to a more comprehensive and relevant understanding of your topic.

2. Identifying Novel Research Questions and Gaps:  Recent publications often highlight new areas of inquiry and potential shortcomings in existing knowledge. Staying updated helps you identify gaps in research and formulate innovative research questions that address these unresolved issues, contributing to the advancement of your field.

3. Avoiding Outdated Information and Biases:  Relying solely on older literature might lead you to perpetuate outdated understandings or miss vital advancements that challenge previous biases. Staying updated ensures your review reflects the current state of knowledge and avoids misinterpretations based on superseded information.

4. Demonstrating Rigor and Expertise:  Incorporating recent, high-quality studies into your review showcases your awareness of the latest developments and strengthens the credibility of your work. It demonstrates your commitment to conducting a thorough and well-informed analysis.

5. Fostering Collaboration and Networking:  Engaging with the latest literature opens doors for collaboration with researchers exploring similar topics and methodologies. Utilizing new tools and platforms for scholarly communication allows you to connect with diverse perspectives and potentially contribute to ongoing research projects.

Strategies for Staying Updated

  • Develop Targeted Alerts:  Set up automatic notifications for new publications in relevant journals, databases, and author profiles.
  • Attend Conferences and Workshops:  Participate in academic events to gain insights into ongoing research and network with experts.
  • Utilize Literature Review Tools:  Leverage software like Mendeley or Zotero to efficiently manage your references and receive updates related to your research interests.
  • Subscribe to Author Blogs and Newsletters:  Follow prominent researchers in your field to stay informed about their latest work and insights.
  • Join Online Communities and Forums:  Engage in discussions with fellow researchers to share knowledge, exchange ideas, and learn about emerging trends.

Staying updated on the latest literature is not a one-time task; it’s an ongoing process. By actively engaging with new developments and incorporating them into your research, you can ensure your literature review remains relevant, impactful, and contributes to the advancement of knowledge in your field.

How does the literature review process contribute to the overall rigor and validity of academic research

The literature review process plays a crucial role in ensuring the  rigor and validity  of academic research in several key ways;

1. Establishing Context and Foundation:  A comprehensive literature review provides the context and theoretical foundation for your research. It demonstrates your understanding of the existing body of knowledge, relevant debates, and established methodologies. This ensures your research isn’t conducted in isolation and builds upon existing knowledge, contributing to the overall understanding of your field.

2. Preventing Duplication and Redundancy:  By thoroughly exploring past research, you can identify areas where research is already saturated and avoid replicating what has already been done. This prevents unnecessary duplication of effort and ensures your research focuses on addressing genuine gaps in knowledge.

3. Justifying Your Research Question and Methodology:  The literature review allows you to justify the significance of your research question and the chosen methodology. You can demonstrate how your study addresses limitations in previous research, offers unique insights, or employs innovative approaches, ultimately contributing to the advancement of knowledge.

4. Identifying Potential Biases and Limitations:  A critical analysis of existing research helps you identify potential biases and limitations in previous studies. By acknowledging these limitations and outlining strategies to address them in your own research, you demonstrate awareness and enhance the trustworthiness of your findings.

5. Ensuring Transparency and Traceability:  The literature review showcases the sources and evidence upon which your research is built. This transparency allows other researchers to assess the validity of your arguments, replicate your findings, and build upon your work, contributing to the overall scientific process.

6. Building Credibility and Expertise:  A well-researched and well-presented literature review showcases your understanding of the field and your ability to critically evaluate existing knowledge. This establishes your credibility as a researcher and strengthens the impact of your findings.

7. Enhancing Argumentation and Communication:  Your knowledge gleaned from the literature review enriches your arguments by providing them with historical context, theoretical underpinnings, and comparisons to related work. This improves communication and ensures your research resonates with other scholars in the field.

8. Informing Data Analysis and Interpretation:  By understanding how past research has approached similar topics, you can develop a more informed approach to analyzing your own data and interpreting your findings. This helps you ensure your conclusions are well-grounded and supported by existing knowledge.

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Conducting a literature review: why do a literature review, why do a literature review.

  • How To Find "The Literature"
  • Found it -- Now What?

Besides the obvious reason for students -- because it is assigned! -- a literature review helps you explore the research that has come before you, to see how your research question has (or has not) already been addressed.

You identify:

  • core research in the field
  • experts in the subject area
  • methodology you may want to use (or avoid)
  • gaps in knowledge -- or where your research would fit in

It Also Helps You:

  • Publish and share your findings
  • Justify requests for grants and other funding
  • Identify best practices to inform practice
  • Set wider context for a program evaluation
  • Compile information to support community organizing

Great brief overview, from NCSU

Want To Know More?

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  • ~[123]~: Apr 25, 2024 1:10 PM
  • ~[124]~: https://guides.lib.berkeley.edu/litreview
  • UConn Library
  • Literature Review: The What, Why and How-to Guide
  • Introduction

Literature Review: The What, Why and How-to Guide — Introduction

  • Getting Started
  • How to Pick a Topic
  • Strategies to Find Sources
  • Evaluating Sources & Lit. Reviews
  • Tips for Writing Literature Reviews
  • Writing Literature Review: Useful Sites
  • Citation Resources
  • Other Academic Writings

What are Literature Reviews?

So, what is a literature review? "A literature review is an account of what has been published on a topic by accredited scholars and researchers. In writing the literature review, your purpose is to convey to your reader what knowledge and ideas have been established on a topic, and what their strengths and weaknesses are. As a piece of writing, the literature review must be defined by a guiding concept (e.g., your research objective, the problem or issue you are discussing, or your argumentative thesis). It is not just a descriptive list of the material available, or a set of summaries." Taylor, D.  The literature review: A few tips on conducting it . University of Toronto Health Sciences Writing Centre.

Goals of Literature Reviews

What are the goals of creating a Literature Review?  A literature could be written to accomplish different aims:

  • To develop a theory or evaluate an existing theory
  • To summarize the historical or existing state of a research topic
  • Identify a problem in a field of research 

Baumeister, R. F., & Leary, M. R. (1997). Writing narrative literature reviews .  Review of General Psychology , 1 (3), 311-320.

What kinds of sources require a Literature Review?

  • A research paper assigned in a course
  • A thesis or dissertation
  • A grant proposal
  • An article intended for publication in a journal

All these instances require you to collect what has been written about your research topic so that you can demonstrate how your own research sheds new light on the topic.

Types of Literature Reviews

What kinds of literature reviews are written?

Narrative review: The purpose of this type of review is to describe the current state of the research on a specific topic/research and to offer a critical analysis of the literature reviewed. Studies are grouped by research/theoretical categories, and themes and trends, strengths and weakness, and gaps are identified. The review ends with a conclusion section which summarizes the findings regarding the state of the research of the specific study, the gaps identify and if applicable, explains how the author's research will address gaps identify in the review and expand the knowledge on the topic reviewed.

  • Example : Predictors and Outcomes of U.S. Quality Maternity Leave: A Review and Conceptual Framework:  10.1177/08948453211037398  

Systematic review : "The authors of a systematic review use a specific procedure to search the research literature, select the studies to include in their review, and critically evaluate the studies they find." (p. 139). Nelson, L. K. (2013). Research in Communication Sciences and Disorders . Plural Publishing.

  • Example : The effect of leave policies on increasing fertility: a systematic review:  10.1057/s41599-022-01270-w

Meta-analysis : "Meta-analysis is a method of reviewing research findings in a quantitative fashion by transforming the data from individual studies into what is called an effect size and then pooling and analyzing this information. The basic goal in meta-analysis is to explain why different outcomes have occurred in different studies." (p. 197). Roberts, M. C., & Ilardi, S. S. (2003). Handbook of Research Methods in Clinical Psychology . Blackwell Publishing.

  • Example : Employment Instability and Fertility in Europe: A Meta-Analysis:  10.1215/00703370-9164737

Meta-synthesis : "Qualitative meta-synthesis is a type of qualitative study that uses as data the findings from other qualitative studies linked by the same or related topic." (p.312). Zimmer, L. (2006). Qualitative meta-synthesis: A question of dialoguing with texts .  Journal of Advanced Nursing , 53 (3), 311-318.

  • Example : Women’s perspectives on career successes and barriers: A qualitative meta-synthesis:  10.1177/05390184221113735

Literature Reviews in the Health Sciences

  • UConn Health subject guide on systematic reviews Explanation of the different review types used in health sciences literature as well as tools to help you find the right review type
  • ~[123]~: Sep 21, 2022 2:16 PM
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University of Texas

  • University of Texas Libraries

Literature Reviews

  • What is a literature review?
  • Steps in the Literature Review Process
  • Define your research question
  • Determine inclusion and exclusion criteria
  • Choose databases and search
  • Review Results
  • Synthesize Results
  • Analyze Results
  • Librarian Support

What is a Literature Review?

A literature or narrative review is a comprehensive review and analysis of the published literature on a specific topic or research question. The literature that is reviewed contains: books, articles, academic articles, conference proceedings, association papers, and dissertations. It contains the most pertinent studies and points to important past and current research and practices. It provides background and context, and shows how your research will contribute to the field. 

A literature review should: 

  • Provide a comprehensive and updated review of the literature;
  • Explain why this review has taken place;
  • Articulate a position or hypothesis;
  • Acknowledge and account for conflicting and corroborating points of view

From  S age Research Methods

Purpose of a Literature Review

A literature review can be written as an introduction to a study to:

  • Demonstrate how a study fills a gap in research
  • Compare a study with other research that's been done

Or it can be a separate work (a research article on its own) which:

  • Organizes or describes a topic
  • Describes variables within a particular issue/problem

Limitations of a Literature Review

Some of the limitations of a literature review are:

  • It's a snapshot in time. Unlike other reviews, this one has beginning, a middle and an end. There may be future developments that could make your work less relevant.
  • It may be too focused. Some niche studies may miss the bigger picture.
  • It can be difficult to be comprehensive. There is no way to make sure all the literature on a topic was considered.
  • It is easy to be biased if you stick to top tier journals. There may be other places where people are publishing exemplary research. Look to open access publications and conferences to reflect a more inclusive collection. Also, make sure to include opposing views (and not just supporting evidence).

Source: Grant, Maria J., and Andrew Booth. “A Typology of Reviews: An Analysis of 14 Review Types and Associated Methodologies.” Health Information & Libraries Journal, vol. 26, no. 2, June 2009, pp. 91–108. Wiley Online Library, doi:10.1111/j.1471-1842.2009.00848.x.

Meryl Brodsky : Communication and Information Studies

Hannah Chapman Tripp : Biology, Neuroscience

Carolyn Cunningham : Human Development & Family Sciences, Psychology, Sociology

Larayne Dallas : Engineering

Janelle Hedstrom : Special Education, Curriculum & Instruction, Ed Leadership & Policy ​

Susan Macicak : Linguistics

Imelda Vetter : Dell Medical School

For help in other subject areas, please see the guide to library specialists by subject .

Periodically, UT Libraries runs a workshop covering the basics and library support for literature reviews. While we try to offer these once per academic year, we find providing the recording to be helpful to community members who have missed the session. Following is the most recent recording of the workshop, Conducting a Literature Review. To view the recording, a UT login is required.

  • October 26, 2022 recording
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  • ~[124]~: https://guides.lib.utexas.edu/literaturereviews

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Academic Writing

  • Strategies for Writing
  • Punctuation
  • Plagiarism & Self-Plagiarism

How to Build a Literature Review

  • PRISMA - Systematic reviews & meta-analyses
  • Other Resources
  • Using Zotero for Bibliographies
  • Abstract Writing Tips
  • Writing Assistance
  • Locating a Journal
  • Assessing Potential Journals
  • Finding a Publisher
  • Types of Peer Review
  • Author Rights & Responsibilities
  • Copyright Considerations
  • What is a Lit Review?
  • Why Write a Lit Review?

Structure of a Literature Review

Preliminary steps for literature review.

  • Basic Example
  • More Examples

What is a Literature Review?

A literature review is a comprehensive summary and analysis of previously published research on a particular topic. Literature reviews should give the reader an overview of the important theories and themes that have previously been discussed on the topic, as well as any important researchers who have contributed to the discourse. This review should connect the established conclusions to the hypothesis being presented in the rest of the paper.

What a Literature Review Is Not:

  • Annotated Bibliography: An annotated bibliography summarizes and assesses each resource individually and separately. A literature review explores the connections between different articles to illustrate important themes/theories/research trends within a larger research area. 
  • Timeline: While a literature review can be organized chronologically, they are not simple timelines of previous events. They should not be a list of any kind. Individual examples or events should be combined to illustrate larger ideas or concepts.
  • Argumentative Paper: Literature reviews are not meant to be making an argument. They are explorations of a concept to give the audience an understanding of what has already been written and researched about an idea. As many perspectives as possible should be included in a literature review in order to give the reader as comprehensive understanding of a topic as possible.

Why Write a Literature Review?

After reading the literature review, the reader should have a basic understanding of the topic. A reader should be able to come into your paper without really knowing anything about an idea, and after reading the literature, feel more confident about the important points.

A literature review should also help the reader understand the focus the rest of the paper will take within the larger topic. If the reader knows what has already been studied, they will be better prepared for the novel argument that is about to be made.

A literature review should help the reader understand the important history, themes, events, and ideas about a particular topic. Connections between ideas/themes should also explored. Part of the importance of a literature review is to prove to experts who do read your paper that you are knowledgeable enough to contribute to the academic discussion. You have to have done your homework.

A literature review should also identify the gaps in research to show the reader what hasn't yet been explored. Your thesis should ideally address one of the gaps identified in the research. Scholarly articles are meant to push academic conversations forward with new ideas and arguments. Before knowing where the gaps are in a topic, you need to have read what others have written.

As mentioned in other tabs, literature reviews should discuss the big ideas that make up a topic. Each literature review should be broken up into different subtopics. Each subtopic should use groups of articles as evidence to support the ideas. There are several different ways of organizing a literature review. It will depend on the patterns one sees in the groups of articles as to which strategy should be used. Here are a few examples of how to organize your review:

Chronological

If there are clear trends that change over time, a chronological approach could be used to organize a literature review. For example, one might argue that in the 1970s, the predominant theories and themes argued something. However, in the 1980s, the theories evolved to something else. Then, in the 1990s, theories evolved further. Each decade is a subtopic, and articles should be used as examples. 

Themes/Theories

There may also be clear distinctions between schools of thought within a topic, a theoretical breakdown may be most appropriate. Each theory could be a subtopic, and articles supporting the theme should be included as evidence for each one. 

If researchers mainly differ in the way they went about conducting research, literature reviews can be organized by methodology. Each type of method could be a subtopic,  and articles using the method should be included as evidence for each one.

  • Define your research question
  • Compile a list of initial keywords to use for searching based on question
  • Search for literature that discusses the topics surrounding your research question
  • Assess and organize your literature into logical groups
  • Identify gaps in research and conduct secondary searches (if necessary)
  • Reassess and reorganize literature again (if necessary)
  • Write review

Here is an example of a literature review, taken from the beginning of a research article. You can find other examples within most scholarly research articles. The majority of published scholarship includes a literature review section, and you can use those to become more familiar with these reviews.

Source:  Perceptions of the Police by LGBT Communities

section of a literature review, highlighting broad themes

There are many books and internet resources about literature reviews though most are long on how to search and gather the literature. How to literally organize the information is another matter.

Some pro tips:

  • Be thoughtful in naming the folders, sub-folders, and sub, sub-folders.  Doing so really helps your thinking and concepts within your research topic.
  • Be disciplined to add keywords under the tabs as this will help you search for ALL the items on your concepts/topics.
  • Use the notes tab to add reminders, write bibliography/annotated bibliography
  • Your literature review easily flows from your statement of purpose (SoP).  Therefore, does your SoP say clearly and exactly the intent of your research?  Your research assumption and argument is obvious?
  • Begin with a topic outline that traces your argument. pg99: "First establish the line of argumentation you will follow (the thesis), whether it is an assertion, a contention, or a proposition.
  • This means that you should have formed judgments about the topic based on the analysis and synthesis of the literature you are reviewing."
  • Keep filling it in; flushing it out more deeply with your references

Other Resources/Examples

  • ISU Writing Assistance The Julia N. Visor Academic Center provides one-on-one writing assistance for any course or need. By focusing on the writing process instead of merely on grammar and editing, we are committed to making you a better writer.
  • University of Toronto: The Literature Review Written by Dena Taylor, Health Sciences Writing Centre
  • Purdue OWL - Writing a Lit Review Goes over the basic steps
  • UW Madison Writing Center - Review of Literature A description of what each piece of a literature review should entail.
  • USC Libraries - Literature Reviews Offers detailed guidance on how to develop, organize, and write a college-level research paper in the social and behavioral sciences.
  • Creating the literature review: integrating research questions and arguments Blog post with very helpful overview for how to organize and build/integrate arguments in a literature review
  • Understanding, Selecting, and Integrating a Theoretical Framework in Dissertation Research: Creating the Blueprint for Your “House” Article focusing on constructing a literature review for a dissertation. Still very relevant for literature reviews in other types of content.

A note that many of these examples will be far longer and in-depth than what's required for your assignment. However, they will give you an idea of the general structure and components of a literature review. Additionally, most scholarly articles will include a literature review section. Looking over the articles you have been assigned in classes will also help you.

  • Understanding, Selecting, and Integrating a Theoretical Framework in Dissertation Research: Creating the Blueprint for Your “House” Excellent article detailing how to construct your literature review.
  • Sample Literature Review (Univ. of Florida) This guide will provide research and writing tips to help students complete a literature review assignment.
  • Sociology Literature Review (Univ. of Hawaii) Written in ASA citation style - don't follow this format.
  • Sample Lit Review - Univ. of Vermont Includes an example with tips in the footnotes.

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importance of literature review in academic writing

Literature review

A general guide on how to conduct and write a literature review.

Please check course or programme information and materials provided by teaching staff, including your project supervisor, for subject-specific guidance.

What is a literature review?

A literature review is a piece of academic writing demonstrating knowledge and understanding of the academic literature on a specific topic placed in context.  A literature review also includes a critical evaluation of the material; this is why it is called a literature review rather than a literature report. It is a process of reviewing the literature, as well as a form of writing.

To illustrate the difference between reporting and reviewing, think about television or film review articles.  These articles include content such as a brief synopsis or the key points of the film or programme plus the critic’s own evaluation.  Similarly the two main objectives of a literature review are firstly the content covering existing research, theories and evidence, and secondly your own critical evaluation and discussion of this content. 

Usually a literature review forms a section or part of a dissertation, research project or long essay.  However, it can also be set and assessed as a standalone piece of work.

What is the purpose of a literature review?

…your task is to build an argument, not a library. Rudestam, K.E. and Newton, R.R. (1992) Surviving your dissertation: A comprehensive guide to content and process. California: Sage, p49.

In a larger piece of written work, such as a dissertation or project, a literature review is usually one of the first tasks carried out after deciding on a topic.  Reading combined with critical analysis can help to refine a topic and frame research questions.  Conducting a literature review establishes your familiarity with and understanding of current research in a particular field before carrying out a new investigation. After doing a literature review, you should know what research has already been done and be able to identify what is unknown within your topic.

When doing and writing a literature review, it is good practice to:

  • summarise and analyse previous research and theories;
  • identify areas of controversy and contested claims;
  • highlight any gaps that may exist in research to date.

Conducting a literature review

Focusing on different aspects of your literature review can be useful to help plan, develop, refine and write it.  You can use and adapt the prompt questions in our worksheet below at different points in the process of researching and writing your review.  These are suggestions to get you thinking and writing.

Developing and refining your literature review (pdf)

Developing and refining your literature review (Word)

Developing and refining your literature review (Word rtf)

Writing a literature review has a lot in common with other assignment tasks.  There is advice on our other pages about thinking critically, reading strategies and academic writing.  Our literature review top tips suggest some specific things you can do to help you submit a successful review.

Literature review top tips (pdf)

Literature review top tips (Word rtf)

Our reading page includes strategies and advice on using books and articles and a notes record sheet grid you can use.

Reading at university

The Academic writing page suggests ways to organise and structure information from a range of sources and how you can develop your argument as you read and write.

Academic writing

The Critical thinking page has advice on how to be a more critical researcher and a form you can use to help you think and break down the stages of developing your argument.

Critical thinking

As with other forms of academic writing, your literature review needs to demonstrate good academic practice by following the Code of Student Conduct and acknowledging the work of others through citing and referencing your sources.  

Good academic practice

As with any writing task, you will need to review, edit and rewrite sections of your literature review.  The Editing and proofreading page includes tips on how to do this and strategies for standing back and thinking about your structure and checking the flow of your argument.

Editing and proofreading

Guidance on literature searching from the University Library

The Academic Support Librarians have developed LibSmart I and II, Learn courses to help you develop and enhance your digital research skills and capabilities; from getting started with the Library to managing data for your dissertation.

Searching using the library’s DiscoverEd tool: DiscoverEd

Finding resources in your subject: Subject guides

The Academic Support Librarians also provide one-to-one appointments to help you develop your research strategies.

1 to 1 support for literature searching and systematic reviews

Advice to help you optimise use of Google Scholar, Google Books and Google for your research and study: Using Google

Managing and curating your references

A referencing management tool can help you to collect and organise and your source material to produce a bibliography or reference list. 

Referencing and reference management

Information Services provide access to Cite them right online which is a guide to the main referencing systems and tells you how to reference just about any source (EASE log-in may be required).

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There are a number of scholarship skills books and guides available which can help with writing a literature review.  Our Resource List of study skills guides includes sections on Referencing, Dissertation and project writing and Literature reviews.

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Literature Review in Research Writing

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Research on research? If you find this idea rather peculiar, know that nowadays, with the huge amount of information produced daily all around the world, it is becoming more and more difficult to keep up to date with all of it. In addition to the sheer amount of research, there is also its origin. We are witnessing the economic and intellectual emergence of countries like China, Brazil, Turkey, and United Arab Emirates, for example, that are producing scholarly literature in their own languages. So, apart from the effort of gathering information, there must also be translators prepared to unify all of it in a single language to be the object of the literature survey. At Elsevier, our team of translators is ready to support researchers by delivering high-quality scientific translations , in several languages, to serve their research – no matter the topic.

What is a literature review?

A literature review is a study – or, more accurately, a survey – involving scholarly material, with the aim to discuss published information about a specific topic or research question. Therefore, to write a literature review, it is compulsory that you are a real expert in the object of study. The results and findings will be published and made available to the public, namely scientists working in the same area of research.

How to Write a Literature Review

First of all, don’t forget that writing a literature review is a great responsibility. It’s a document that is expected to be highly reliable, especially concerning its sources and findings. You have to feel intellectually comfortable in the area of study and highly proficient in the target language; misconceptions and errors do not have a place in a document as important as a literature review. In fact, you might want to consider text editing services, like those offered at Elsevier, to make sure your literature is following the highest standards of text quality. You want to make sure your literature review is memorable by its novelty and quality rather than language errors.

Writing a literature review requires expertise but also organization. We cannot teach you about your topic of research, but we can provide a few steps to guide you through conducting a literature review:

  • Choose your topic or research question: It should not be too comprehensive or too limited. You have to complete your task within a feasible time frame.
  • Set the scope: Define boundaries concerning the number of sources, time frame to be covered, geographical area, etc.
  • Decide which databases you will use for your searches: In order to search the best viable sources for your literature review, use highly regarded, comprehensive databases to get a big picture of the literature related to your topic.
  • Search, search, and search: Now you’ll start to investigate the research on your topic. It’s critical that you keep track of all the sources. Start by looking at research abstracts in detail to see if their respective studies relate to or are useful for your own work. Next, search for bibliographies and references that can help you broaden your list of resources. Choose the most relevant literature and remember to keep notes of their bibliographic references to be used later on.
  • Review all the literature, appraising carefully it’s content: After reading the study’s abstract, pay attention to the rest of the content of the articles you deem the “most relevant.” Identify methodologies, the most important questions they address, if they are well-designed and executed, and if they are cited enough, etc.

If it’s the first time you’ve published a literature review, note that it is important to follow a special structure. Just like in a thesis, for example, it is expected that you have an introduction – giving the general idea of the central topic and organizational pattern – a body – which contains the actual discussion of the sources – and finally the conclusion or recommendations – where you bring forward whatever you have drawn from the reviewed literature. The conclusion may even suggest there are no agreeable findings and that the discussion should be continued.

Why are literature reviews important?

Literature reviews constantly feed new research, that constantly feeds literature reviews…and we could go on and on. The fact is, one acts like a force over the other and this is what makes science, as a global discipline, constantly develop and evolve. As a scientist, writing a literature review can be very beneficial to your career, and set you apart from the expert elite in your field of interest. But it also can be an overwhelming task, so don’t hesitate in contacting Elsevier for text editing services, either for profound edition or just a last revision. We guarantee the very highest standards. You can also save time by letting us suggest and make the necessary amendments to your manuscript, so that it fits the structural pattern of a literature review. Who knows how many worldwide researchers you will impact with your next perfectly written literature review.

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What is a literature review?

importance of literature review in academic writing

A literature review is a critical analysis of the literature related to your research topic. It evaluates and critiques the literature to establish a theoretical framework for your research topic and/or identify a gap in the existing research that your research will address.

A literature review is not a summary of the literature. You need to engage deeply and critically with the literature. Your literature review should show your understanding of the literature related to your research topic and lead to presenting a rationale for your research.

A literature review focuses on:

  • the context of the topic
  • key concepts, ideas, theories and methodologies
  • key researchers, texts and seminal works
  • major issues and debates
  • identifying conflicting evidence
  • the main questions that have been asked around the topic
  • the organisation of knowledge on the topic
  • definitions, particularly those that are contested
  • showing how your research will advance scholarly knowledge (generally referred to as identifying the ‘gap’).

This module will guide you through the functions of a literature review; the typical process of conducting a literature review (including searching for literature and taking notes); structuring your literature review within your thesis and organising its internal ideas; and styling the language of your literature review.

The purposes of a literature review

A literature review serves two main purposes:

1) To show awareness of the present state of knowledge in a particular field, including:

  • seminal authors
  • the main empirical research
  • theoretical positions
  • controversies
  • breakthroughs as well as links to other related areas of knowledge.

2) To provide a foundation for the author’s research. To do that, the literature review needs to:

  • help the researcher define a hypothesis or a research question, and how answering the question will contribute to the body of knowledge;
  • provide a rationale for investigating the problem and the selected methodology;
  • provide a particular theoretical lens, support the argument, or identify gaps.

Before you engage further with this module, try the quiz below to see how much you already know about literature reviews.

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Academic writing: What is a literature review?

A review of the literature in a discipline is not the same as an annotated bibliography of sources, though an annotated bibliography can be a type of literature review. The purpose of a lit review is not only to tell your reader the state of scholarship about a given topic, but also to organize and evaluate the major points, parts, or arguments of each source. From the University of Toronto Writing Centre’s Tips on Conducting the Literature Review :

"A literature review is a piece of discursive prose , not a list describing or summarizing one piece of literature after another. It's usually a bad sign to see every paragraph beginning with the name of a researcher. Instead, organize the literature review into sections that present themes or identify trends, including relevant theory. You are not trying to list all the material published, but to synthesize and evaluate it according to the guiding concept of your thesis or research question."

A lit review may serve as a stand-alone piece or article. For example, see this published  Stand-Alone Literature Review  (content note: this literature review focuses on the topic of abuse against women with disabilities). However, more often a lit review is part of a larger research publication. For example, see this published research article that includes a Literature Review  (content note: this article discusses depression among college students). 

What should a literature review include?

Introduction:   Explain why this research topic is important. Outline what direction your review will take: i.e., what aspects of the topic you’re focusing on.

Body :  Present your summaries and evaluations of the sources in a clear, logical, and coherent manner. Some options for organizing your review include chronological, order of importance, two sides of a controversial problem, differences in perspective or viewpoint. Your review must “read” like a coherent paper, not a list.

Note: Most literature reviews describe only the main findings, relevant methodological issues, and/or major conclusions of other research.

Ensure your final list of references includes all sources you’ve discussed, and use the citation style required in your discipline.

Don’t provide a lot of detail about the procedures used in your sources. Don’t mention every study conducted on the topic. Include only the ones that are most relevant for the purpose and scope of your review.

Plan and organize your literature review

  • Define your central problem, issue, or focus (create a research question or thesis statement)
  • Consider audience expectations. In writing the literature review, your purpose is to convey to your reader what knowledge and ideas have been established on a topic, and what their strengths and weaknesses are.
  • summarize the “gist” or main ideas of the source
  • comment on the source’s usefulness, relevance, methodology, and/or findings in the context of your question or issue
  • Do not use a “list-like” approach in drafting your lit review. Rather, organize your information logically to address your research question, thesis, or central issue. For more, see the Writeonline.ca guide to Literature Reviews and the Monash University Learn HQ mini-module on Literature Reviews (including sections on the process of writing a literature review, structuring a literature review, and the language of literature reviews). 

Revise your literature review, keeping in mind these tips for effective writing

  • Pay attention to sentence structure
  • Use the active and passive voices appropriately
  • Reduce or omit wordy, redundant phrases
  • Proofread for common punctuation and expression errors

For more about literature reviews, including definitions, protocols and guidelines, search strategies, and managing citations, see the Library's Literature reviews for graduate students .

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What is the Purpose of a Literature Review?

What is the Purpose of a Literature Review?

4-minute read

  • 23rd October 2023

If you’re writing a research paper or dissertation , then you’ll most likely need to include a comprehensive literature review . In this post, we’ll review the purpose of literature reviews, why they are so significant, and the specific elements to include in one. Literature reviews can:

1. Provide a foundation for current research.

2. Define key concepts and theories.

3. Demonstrate critical evaluation.

4. Show how research and methodologies have evolved.

5. Identify gaps in existing research.

6. Support your argument.

Keep reading to enter the exciting world of literature reviews!

What is a Literature Review?

A literature review is a critical summary and evaluation of the existing research (e.g., academic journal articles and books) on a specific topic. It is typically included as a separate section or chapter of a research paper or dissertation, serving as a contextual framework for a study. Literature reviews can vary in length depending on the subject and nature of the study, with most being about equal length to other sections or chapters included in the paper. Essentially, the literature review highlights previous studies in the context of your research and summarizes your insights in a structured, organized format. Next, let’s look at the overall purpose of a literature review.

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Literature reviews are considered an integral part of research across most academic subjects and fields. The primary purpose of a literature review in your study is to:

Provide a Foundation for Current Research

Since the literature review provides a comprehensive evaluation of the existing research, it serves as a solid foundation for your current study. It’s a way to contextualize your work and show how your research fits into the broader landscape of your specific area of study.  

Define Key Concepts and Theories

The literature review highlights the central theories and concepts that have arisen from previous research on your chosen topic. It gives your readers a more thorough understanding of the background of your study and why your research is particularly significant .

Demonstrate Critical Evaluation 

A comprehensive literature review shows your ability to critically analyze and evaluate a broad range of source material. And since you’re considering and acknowledging the contribution of key scholars alongside your own, it establishes your own credibility and knowledge.

Show How Research and Methodologies Have Evolved

Another purpose of literature reviews is to provide a historical perspective and demonstrate how research and methodologies have changed over time, especially as data collection methods and technology have advanced. And studying past methodologies allows you, as the researcher, to understand what did and did not work and apply that knowledge to your own research.  

Identify Gaps in Existing Research

Besides discussing current research and methodologies, the literature review should also address areas that are lacking in the existing literature. This helps further demonstrate the relevance of your own research by explaining why your study is necessary to fill the gaps.

Support Your Argument

A good literature review should provide evidence that supports your research questions and hypothesis. For example, your study may show that your research supports existing theories or builds on them in some way. Referencing previous related studies shows your work is grounded in established research and will ultimately be a contribution to the field.  

Literature Review Editing Services 

Ensure your literature review is polished and ready for submission by having it professionally proofread and edited by our expert team. Our literature review editing services will help your research stand out and make an impact. Not convinced yet? Send in your free sample today and see for yourself! 

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Conducting and Writing Literature Reviews

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importance of literature review in academic writing

  • Lorrie Blair 2  

Part of the book series: Teaching Writing ((WRIT))

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To contribute new knowledge to a field of study, students must first establish a comprehensive understanding of existing knowledge. For Holbrook, Bourke, Fairbairn, and Lovat (2007), “The use and application of the literature is at the heart of scholarship—of belonging to the academy” (p. 346). It is the foundation on which the entire thesis rests. However, many students, despite having written many course papers, have no idea of how to write the literature review or even where to start.

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Blair, L. (2016). Conducting and Writing Literature Reviews. In: Writing a Graduate Thesis or Dissertation. Teaching Writing. SensePublishers, Rotterdam. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-94-6300-426-8_4

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Conducting a Literature Review

Benefits of conducting a literature review.

  • Steps in Conducting a Literature Review
  • Summary of the Process
  • Additional Resources
  • Literature Review Tutorial by American University Library
  • The Literature Review: A Few Tips On Conducting It by University of Toronto
  • Write a Literature Review by UC Santa Cruz University Library

While there might be many reasons for conducting a literature review, following are four key outcomes of doing the review.

Assessment of the current state of research on a topic . This is probably the most obvious value of the literature review. Once a researcher has determined an area to work with for a research project, a search of relevant information sources will help determine what is already known about the topic and how extensively the topic has already been researched.

Identification of the experts on a particular topic . One of the additional benefits derived from doing the literature review is that it will quickly reveal which researchers have written the most on a particular topic and are, therefore, probably the experts on the topic. Someone who has written twenty articles on a topic or on related topics is more than likely more knowledgeable than someone who has written a single article. This same writer will likely turn up as a reference in most of the other articles written on the same topic. From the number of articles written by the author and the number of times the writer has been cited by other authors, a researcher will be able to assume that the particular author is an expert in the area and, thus, a key resource for consultation in the current research to be undertaken.

Identification of key questions about a topic that need further research . In many cases a researcher may discover new angles that need further exploration by reviewing what has already been written on a topic. For example, research may suggest that listening to music while studying might lead to better retention of ideas, but the research might not have assessed whether a particular style of music is more beneficial than another. A researcher who is interested in pursuing this topic would then do well to follow up existing studies with a new study, based on previous research, that tries to identify which styles of music are most beneficial to retention.

Determination of methodologies used in past studies of the same or similar topics.  It is often useful to review the types of studies that previous researchers have launched as a means of determining what approaches might be of most benefit in further developing a topic. By the same token, a review of previously conducted studies might lend itself to researchers determining a new angle for approaching research.

Upon completion of the literature review, a researcher should have a solid foundation of knowledge in the area and a good feel for the direction any new research should take. Should any additional questions arise during the course of the research, the researcher will know which experts to consult in order to quickly clear up those questions.

  • Last Updated: Aug 29, 2022 8:54 AM
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Why is it important to do a literature review in research?

Why is it important to do a literature review in research?

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The Importance and Role of Biostatistics in Clinical Research

 “A substantive, thorough, sophisticated literature review is a precondition for doing substantive, thorough, sophisticated research”. Boote and Baile 2005

Authors of manuscripts treat writing a literature review as a routine work or a mere formality. But a seasoned one knows the purpose and importance of a well-written literature review.  Since it is one of the basic needs for researches at any level, they have to be done vigilantly. Only then the reader will know that the basics of research have not been neglected.

Importance of Literature Review In Research

The aim of any literature review is to summarize and synthesize the arguments and ideas of existing knowledge in a particular field without adding any new contributions.   Being built on existing knowledge they help the researcher to even turn the wheels of the topic of research.  It is possible only with profound knowledge of what is wrong in the existing findings in detail to overpower them.  For other researches, the literature review gives the direction to be headed for its success. 

The common perception of literature review and reality:

As per the common belief, literature reviews are only a summary of the sources related to the research. And many authors of scientific manuscripts believe that they are only surveys of what are the researches are done on the chosen topic.  But on the contrary, it uses published information from pertinent and relevant sources like

  • Scholarly books
  • Scientific papers
  • Latest studies in the field
  • Established school of thoughts
  • Relevant articles from renowned scientific journals

and many more for a field of study or theory or a particular problem to do the following:

  • Summarize into a brief account of all information
  • Synthesize the information by restructuring and reorganizing
  • Critical evaluation of a concept or a school of thought or ideas
  • Familiarize the authors to the extent of knowledge in the particular field
  • Encapsulate
  • Compare & contrast

By doing the above on the relevant information, it provides the reader of the scientific manuscript with the following for a better understanding of it:

  • It establishes the authors’  in-depth understanding and knowledge of their field subject
  • It gives the background of the research
  • Portrays the scientific manuscript plan of examining the research result
  • Illuminates on how the knowledge has changed within the field
  • Highlights what has already been done in a particular field
  • Information of the generally accepted facts, emerging and current state of the topic of research
  • Identifies the research gap that is still unexplored or under-researched fields
  • Demonstrates how the research fits within a larger field of study
  • Provides an overview of the sources explored during the research of a particular topic

Importance of literature review in research:

The importance of literature review in scientific manuscripts can be condensed into an analytical feature to enable the multifold reach of its significance.  It adds value to the legitimacy of the research in many ways:

  • Provides the interpretation of existing literature in light of updated developments in the field to help in establishing the consistency in knowledge and relevancy of existing materials
  • It helps in calculating the impact of the latest information in the field by mapping their progress of knowledge.
  • It brings out the dialects of contradictions between various thoughts within the field to establish facts
  • The research gaps scrutinized initially are further explored to establish the latest facts of theories to add value to the field
  • Indicates the current research place in the schema of a particular field
  • Provides information for relevancy and coherency to check the research
  • Apart from elucidating the continuance of knowledge, it also points out areas that require further investigation and thus aid as a starting point of any future research
  • Justifies the research and sets up the research question
  • Sets up a theoretical framework comprising the concepts and theories of the research upon which its success can be judged
  • Helps to adopt a more appropriate methodology for the research by examining the strengths and weaknesses of existing research in the same field
  • Increases the significance of the results by comparing it with the existing literature
  • Provides a point of reference by writing the findings in the scientific manuscript
  • Helps to get the due credit from the audience for having done the fact-finding and fact-checking mission in the scientific manuscripts
  • The more the reference of relevant sources of it could increase more of its trustworthiness with the readers
  • Helps to prevent plagiarism by tailoring and uniquely tweaking the scientific manuscript not to repeat other’s original idea
  • By preventing plagiarism , it saves the scientific manuscript from rejection and thus also saves a lot of time and money
  • Helps to evaluate, condense and synthesize gist in the author’s own words to sharpen the research focus
  • Helps to compare and contrast to  show the originality and uniqueness of the research than that of the existing other researches
  • Rationalizes the need for conducting the particular research in a specified field
  • Helps to collect data accurately for allowing any new methodology of research than the existing ones
  • Enables the readers of the manuscript to answer the following questions of its readers for its better chances for publication
  • What do the researchers know?
  • What do they not know?
  • Is the scientific manuscript reliable and trustworthy?
  • What are the knowledge gaps of the researcher?

22. It helps the readers to identify the following for further reading of the scientific manuscript:

  • What has been already established, discredited and accepted in the particular field of research
  • Areas of controversy and conflicts among different schools of thought
  • Unsolved problems and issues in the connected field of research
  • The emerging trends and approaches
  • How the research extends, builds upon and leaves behind from the previous research

A profound literature review with many relevant sources of reference will enhance the chances of the scientific manuscript publication in renowned and reputed scientific journals .

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  1. The Importance of Literature Review in Academic Writing

    The literature review holds paramount importance in academic writing for several reasons. Firstly, it serves as a comprehensive survey of existing research, establishing a solid foundation for the author's work. It helps identify gaps, trends, and debates in the chosen field, guiding researchers toward relevant and valuable contributions.

  2. Conducting a Literature Review: Why Do A Literature Review?

    Besides the obvious reason for students -- because it is assigned! -- a literature review helps you explore the research that has come before you, to see how your research question has (or has not) already been addressed. You identify: core research in the field. experts in the subject area. methodology you may want to use (or avoid)

  3. Writing a literature review

    Writing a literature review requires a range of skills to gather, sort, evaluate and summarise peer-reviewed published data into a relevant and informative unbiased narrative. Digital access to research papers, academic texts, review articles, reference databases and public data sets are all sources of information that are available to enrich ...

  4. How to Write a Literature Review

    Step 5 - Write your literature review. Like any other academic text, your literature review should have an introduction, a main body, and a conclusion. What you include in each depends on the objective of your literature review. Introduction. The introduction should clearly establish the focus and purpose of the literature review.

  5. Approaching literature review for academic purposes: The Literature

    INTRODUCTION. Writing the literature review (LR) is often viewed as a difficult task that can be a point of writer's block and procrastination in postgraduate life.Disagreements on the definitions or classifications of LRs may confuse students about their purpose and scope, as well as how to perform an LR.Interestingly, at many universities, the LR is still an important element in any ...

  6. Literature Review: The What, Why and How-to Guide

    In writing the literature review, your purpose is to convey to your reader what knowledge and ideas have been established on a topic, and what their strengths and weaknesses are. As a piece of writing, the literature review must be defined by a guiding concept (e.g., your research objective, the problem or issue you are discussing, or your ...

  7. What is a literature review?

    A literature or narrative review is a comprehensive review and analysis of the published literature on a specific topic or research question. The literature that is reviewed contains: books, articles, academic articles, conference proceedings, association papers, and dissertations. It contains the most pertinent studies and points to important ...

  8. Writing a literature review

    Writing a literature review requires a range of skills to gather, sort, evaluate and summarise peer-reviewed published data into a relevant and informative unbiased narrative. Digital access to research papers, academic texts, review articles, reference databases and public data sets are all sources of information that are available to enrich ...

  9. Writing an effective literature review

    Mapping the gap. The purpose of the literature review section of a manuscript is not to report what is known about your topic. The purpose is to identify what remains unknown—what academic writing scholar Janet Giltrow has called the 'knowledge deficit'—thus establishing the need for your research study [].In an earlier Writer's Craft instalment, the Problem-Gap-Hook heuristic was ...

  10. Guides: Academic Writing: How to Build a Literature Review

    A literature review should help the reader understand the important history, themes, events, and ideas about a particular topic. Connections between ideas/themes should also explored. Part of the importance of a literature review is to prove to experts who do read your paper that you are knowledgeable enough to contribute to the academic ...

  11. Literature review

    A literature review is a piece of academic writing demonstrating knowledge and understanding of the academic literature on a specific topic placed in context. A literature review also includes a critical evaluation of the material; this is why it is called a literature review rather than a literature report.

  12. Literature Review in Research Writing

    A literature review is a study - or, more accurately, a survey - involving scholarly material, with the aim to discuss published information about a specific topic or research question. Therefore, to write a literature review, it is compulsory that you are a real expert in the object of study. The results and findings will be published and ...

  13. What is a literature review?

    A literature review serves two main purposes: 1) To show awareness of the present state of knowledge in a particular field, including: seminal authors. the main empirical research. theoretical positions. controversies. breakthroughs as well as links to other related areas of knowledge. 2) To provide a foundation for the author's research.

  14. Academic writing: What is a literature review?

    In writing the literature review, your purpose is to convey to your reader what knowledge and ideas have been established on a topic, and what their strengths and weaknesses are. Critically read and annotate your sources with your research question or central issue in mind. Effective annotations. summarize the "gist" or main ideas of the ...

  15. (PDF) Practical guide to writing literature review

    The importance of literature review in academic writing of different categories, levels, and purposes cannot be overemphasized. The literature review establishes both the relevance and justifies ...

  16. What is the Purpose of a Literature Review?

    A literature review is a critical summary and evaluation of the existing research (e.g., academic journal articles and books) on a specific topic. It is typically included as a separate section or chapter of a research paper or dissertation, serving as a contextual framework for a study.

  17. Literature review as a research methodology: An ...

    As mentioned previously, there are a number of existing guidelines for literature reviews. Depending on the methodology needed to achieve the purpose of the review, all types can be helpful and appropriate to reach a specific goal (for examples, please see Table 1).These approaches can be qualitative, quantitative, or have a mixed design depending on the phase of the review.

  18. PDF COnDUCTInG AnD WRITInG LITERATURE REVIEWS

    when writing literature reviews. Types of Literature Reviews This section introduces four ways existing literature is used in research: an annotated bibliography, a literature review, a meta-analysis, and a meta-synthesis. All rely on existing published research, but each serves a different purpose.

  19. Conducting a Literature Review

    While there might be many reasons for conducting a literature review, following are four key outcomes of doing the review. Assessment of the current state of research on a topic. This is probably the most obvious value of the literature review. Once a researcher has determined an area to work with for a research project, a search of relevant ...

  20. The Literature Review: A Foundation for High-Quality Medical Education

    Purpose and Importance of the Literature Review. An understanding of the current literature is critical for all phases of a research study. Lingard 9 recently invoked the "journal-as-conversation" metaphor as a way of understanding how one's research fits into the larger medical education conversation. As she described it: "Imagine yourself joining a conversation at a social event.

  21. Why is it important to do a literature review in research?

    "A substantive, thorough, sophisticated literature review is a precondition for doing substantive, thorough, sophisticated research". Boote and Baile 2005 . Authors of manuscripts treat writing a literature review as a routine work or a mere formality. But a seasoned one knows the purpose and importance of a well-written literature review.

  22. Research Guides: Write and Cite: Literature Review

    Literature Review; Write and Cite. This guide offers information on writing resources, citation style guides, and academic writing expectations and best practices, as well as information on resources related to copyright, fair use, permissions, and open access. Table of Contents .

  23. (PDF) Literature Review and Academic Research

    literature review is an evidenc e- based in depth analysis of a subject. Similarly a formal literature reviews are. a critical appraisal of a subject and are not only an academic requirement but ...

  24. Importance and Issues of Literature Review in Research

    Some Issues in Liter ature R eview. 1. A continuous and time consuming process runs. through out r esearch work (more whil e selecting. a resear ch problem and writing 'r eview of. liter ature ...