Writing a Literature Review

A literature review refers to a critical evaluation of literature (a book, article or other sources) of a specific topic. Actually, when writing a review, you assess a particular book or article. A literature review should comprise of the following parts (that are frequently written as separate paragraphs):

  • A summary of the source;
  • Classification;
  • Comparison;
  • Evaluation.

After looking at a literature essay example, you will easily identify these constituents. Literature reviews can be a separate type of academic writing (especially at undergraduate level) or could be incorporated into a research paper, research report, thesis or article, especially at postgraduate level.

As a rule, a literature review is written like any other literature essay sample and comprises of an introduction, main body, and conclusion. Do not confuse this kind of writing with an annotated bibliography, which is merely a summary of each of the sources.

Frequently, people pose a question, “Why do we need to write literature reviews?” Actually, this paper is aimed to demonstrate your in-depth understanding of a specific source on a given topic. Actually, writing a literature review involves your analytic skills and the ability to synthesize information.

How to Write a Literature Essay?

  1. Work out the focus of your paper and the purpose of writing. Which aspect should be central in the review? Make sure your review corresponds to the requirements criteria.
  2. Provide a thorough research of literature. Examine different views on the topic. Make sure you use appropriate sources that should be credible and current. The books, articles or web sources should be relevant to the topic of the review. Please see literature essay Examples on how the sources you select should be suitable to the topic.
  3. If you are hesitating how many resources you should search for, one of the best literature essay writing tips you could get is - the number depends on the purpose of the literature review as such and on what degree you are obtaining. For example, if you are studying on a PhD program, then the review should be extensive. Find a literature essay example depending on how advanced you are in your studies.
  4. Jot down bibliographical information and details regarding each source. In order not to lose track of the sources you have consulted, write the authors’ names, briefly note the title, the year of publication, publishers, etc. This is a timesaving technique when writing a literature essay.
  5. Critically read the selected sources trying to search for arguments the authors are making instead of just summarizing facts and general information. Check out the available essay writing examples to know what kind of information to present in the paper.
  6. After you have chosen the sources, you will write a review on, analyze and evaluate the literature. Pay attention to the main concepts and terms, the relevance of the source to a specific topic, the credibility of the sources, differences and similarities between them, the way the authors have structured the information and arguments in each of the sources, etc.
  7. Start writing the review. As in different Types of essays, the structure of the review is similar: you should have an introduction, a strong thesis statement (comprising of the argument you make and the overall perspective of your work depending on the essay topics), main body, and conclusion.

How to Structure a Literature Review?

  1. As in any essay sample, you should start with an introductory paragraph. Here you should briefly provide information on the purpose of writing a review, the importance of the discussed topic, and the scope of the paper. Moreover, you should identify the criteria according to which you selected sources and shortly narrate on the organization of the example essay review.  
  2. Organize the body paragraphs according to the subtopics discussed in the review. See the examples of college essays and get more familiar with the principles of paragraph organization.
  3. Provide a conclusion briefly summarizing the key points under discussion. Do not introduce any new information as in college essay samples.
  4. Ask yourself questions whether you have provided all the required information according to the assignment prompt.

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