A literature review contains a gist of what has been published on a topic by famous scholars and other researchers in the field. Sometimes one will be asked to prepare a separate assignment in the form of annotated bibliography, but more often it forms an integral part of the essay introduction, research report, essay or thesis. When writing the literature review one has to remember that the main goal of this section is to make the reader understand the main topic of research, their strengths and weaknesses. As a formal piece of writing, the literature review must be based on a guiding concept such as the research aim.
Apart from expanding your knowledge about the given topic, writing a literature review allows one to gain and show the skills in two main areas:
- Information seeking can be defined as the ability to scan the literature in a detailed manner by using either manual or computerized methods to recognize a set of pertinent articles and books.
- Critical appraisal is defined as the ability to apply various principles of analysis to recognize certain unbiased and pertinent studies.
A literature review must do the things stated below:
- Be systematic and the content should be directly associated with the thesis or the research question that one develops.
- Formulate results into a summary of what is known and not known
- Point out areas of contradiction in terms of literature.
- Synthesis questions that need more research
There are multiple steps before one writes down the literature review such as:
- Reviewing APA guidelines
- Finalise the topic of research
- Identify and gather all the literature one wants to review
- Evaluate and analyse the gathered data and literary sources
- Summarise the entire literature and the information in a concise format into a table or a concept map format.
- Formulate the literature before writing the final review
- Writing the formal review
- Finally, developing the given content and weaving a coherent essay to present the literature review in a better manner.
There are three main parts to a literature review such as introduction, body and finally the conclusion.
In the first part (introduction), one should define and recognise the research topic, area of concern and hence provide an apt context for literature reviews.
Whereas, in the second part, the different types of research studies, qualitative or quantitative methods and information about various studies performed are given in a detailed and descriptive manner.
Finally, while writing the conclusion part, the major contributions of vital studies are summarised in a table form or text form and thereby maintaining the concentration on the introduction part. One can also intend to conclude by offering some deep insight into the associations between the central topic and the larger areas of study such as a profession or any scientific task.
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