Do you dread writing a literature review because of all the effort, research, and analysis it requires? After all, literature reviews are so common in the academic field that you couldn’t avoid them if you tried. So, how do you go about it? Which research methods should you use? How do you present your ideas in a smart, scholarly manner? All these are valid concerns to have before you begin working on your literature review.
Luckily, we are experts in research, literature reviews, essays, prose, and all things involving academic assignments here at Writers Nests, and we’re willing to share with you tips on how to craft a literature review like a pro. Let’s dive into the key steps that will help you excel in this essential task.
Understand the Purpose of the Literature Review
First things first, let’s clarify the purpose of a literature review. It’s not just about summarizing a bunch of articles or books, as most people think. Actually, a literature review can also be your chance to:
- Recap the existing research on your topic.
- Provide good context for your own research/ thesis.
- Contribute to an ongoing conversation in your academic field.
- Identify gaps (if any) and current trends about the topic.
- Evaluate the quality and credibility of your sources.
Once you know what purpose your literature review will serve, you’ll know which direction to head from there.
Narrow Down Your Topic
Ensure that you choose a specific topic or research question for your literature review because a broad topic can be quite overwhelming. Be as precise as possible. For example, instead of “Global Warming,” you might focus on “The Impact of Climate Change on Coastal Ecosystems in Southeast America.” This allows you to focus on a specific region as well as a specific aspect of global warming. Narrowing down your topic also gives your work a unique theme, which makes it interesting to read.
Carry Out Extensive Research
Whether you’re an expert at carrying out academic research or not, you’ll have to perform in-depth research on a specific topic when writing a literature review. Think of it as becoming a detective of sorts. You’ll have to search for relevant sources, such as academic articles, books, reports, and even theses, using databases and library resources. Cast a wide net, but be selective about the sources you choose.
Use Critical Analysis in Your Work
When working on your literature review, don’t just summarize each source. Instead, critically analyze your sources by asking yourself:
- What is the main argument in this review?
- Which methods or approaches is the research based on?
- What are the strengths and weaknesses of the source?
- How does this source relate to my other sources in the review?
- Does this source help me answer my research question or contribute to my thesis?
By critically analyzing your work, you’ll fine-tune your literature review, and the result will be worth it.
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