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Writing Literature Review: 5 Essential Elements to Consider

  What scares you the most whenever you think about research? Arguably, writing literature review gives researchers a headache when

A student studying hard to write her literature review


What scares you the most whenever you think about research? Arguably, writing literature review gives researchers a headache when putting together their research paper. The primary purpose of this article is to give you some clues relative to what your literature review should entail.

Research Scope and Objectives

Begin by clearly defining the scope and objectives of your literature review. Explain the purpose of the review within the context of your thesis or dissertation. Specify the research questions or objectives that guide your exploration of the literature. This sets the tone for your review and helps readers understand the context and relevance of the studies you’ll be discussing.

Inclusion and Exclusion Criteria

Establish criteria for selecting and excluding sources to ensure the relevance and quality of the studies you include. Describe these criteria in your literature review to provide transparency in your selection process. This step helps prevent biases and ensures you’re considering only the most relevant and reliable sources for your discussion.

The picture shows how the student tries to organise her literature review

Synthesis and Analysis when Writing Literature Review 

This is the heart of your literature review. Don’t just summarize each source separately; aim to synthesize and analyze the existing research. Identify common themes, patterns, and gaps in the literature. Highlight how different studies contribute to the overall understanding of your research topic. Compare and contrast findings, methodologies, and theoretical frameworks to showcase your critical thinking and ability to integrate diverse sources.

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Critical Evaluation

If you want a compelling literature review, then you must engage in critical evaluation of the sources you’re reviewing. Assess the strengths and limitations of each study in terms of methodology, sample size, data collection, and overall rigor. Consider the credibility of the authors, the journals or publishers, and the relevance of the research within your field. Point out any inconsistencies, contradictions, or areas where further research is needed.

A proper research must be coherrent and critical. This picture shows how critical one must be to be able to produce a good research paper

Theoretical Framework and Conceptual Model

Present the theoretical framework or conceptual model that guides your thesis or dissertation. Explain how the studies you’ve reviewed contribute to developing or refining your theoretical perspective. Show how your research fits within the broader theoretical context and how it builds upon or challenges existing theories. This element demonstrates your ability to connect the reviewed literature to your research.

Remember that a well-crafted literature review is not just a summary of existing research; it’s an opportunity to showcase your critical thinking, analytical skills, and ability to contribute to the scholarly conversation in your field. Ensure that your literature review flows logically, addresses gaps in the literature, and provides a clear rationale for your research.

Additionally, maintain proper citation practices throughout your review to give credit to the original authors and to avoid plagiarism.

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