How to Write a Literature Review | Definition, Guide, & Examples

When you are working on any kind of academic research, taking a survey of scholarly articles or literature review is important. To write a literature review, you need to go through all the relevant and up-to-date information published on your topic. Typically, you need to review literature when you work on a dissertation or thesis. Short academic assignments like writing essays do not require a literature review. Nevertheless, crafting a perfect literature review is challenging. It is exactly why in today’s article; we are going to discuss the steps involved in this process and some examples. So, let’s get started with the topic.

What is a literature review?

A literature review is nothing but an objective and critical evaluation of the published information in your field of study. When doing this, as the researcher, you need to collect all the information published in your field of study recently or in the past. Collect all the information, read it, analyse it, and describe it in your dissertation or thesis. A critical review of the literature consists of the following:

  • Introduction to the source
  • The main body that contains most of the information
  • The conclusion that summarises the literature
  • References to the sources

Why do you need to review the literature?

When you conduct research on an academic topic, you need to write a dissertation literature review. Such a review situates your research study into the existing knowledge. Along with this, it also serves different purposes. Some points explaining why conducting and writing a literature review is important are as follows:

  • A literature review allows you to have an idea of the current research being done in your field of study.
  • A properly conducted survey of the literature also helps you identify the research gaps present in your field.
  • Finally, it is the literature review that assists you in deciding the perfect methodology for your research study.

Guidelines to write a literature review for your dissertation

After reading the information above, you now know what a literature review is and why it is important. In this section, we will look at the guidelines for writing a literature review section. Thus, a brief description of the guidelines is as follows:

Define the research scope

First of all, you need to define the scope of your study. How can you do this? Narrow down the focus of your research topic and get to an answerable research question. Having a clear, specific, and to-the-point research scope is important before you jump in to write a literature review section of the dissertation. Thus, write a list of keywords and define the scope of your research study based on those keywords.

Search for the literature

Once you have narrowed down the focus, the next step is to search for the literature. Open the new search window of Google, copy and paste the keywords into the search box, and click on the search button. Now, there are a lot of research studies in front of you that you can review to write a literature review. At this stage, just collect the relevant research material related to your topic and put it in a folder on your computer.

Evaluate the collected papers

The next step in writing a literature review is to evaluate the collected papers. Open the folder on your computer, open the first source, and start reading it. Analyse each line present in the source and try to understand its meaning and context. Understanding the context is important because literal meanings sometimes do not explain things well. Thus, evaluate all the collected sources one by one.

Identify the themes and patterns

To begin organising and writing your literature review section, it is necessary that you identify all the patterns and themes present. This activity will reveal the relationship between your collected sources and help you write a literature review that is effective and impactful. Based on your reading and analysis, try to look for hidden patterns in the data of the previous studies. See if the researchers have used a common method to study the problem or if there exists diversity in the use of methods. 

Start writing the literature review

Once you have taken all the 5 steps mentioned above, it is time to start writing the literature review section in actuality. Like any other academic writing, it also follows a three-section formula. It means you should first write an introduction to the topic, then the detailed information about the topic comes in the body, and lastly, conclude the literature and findings of your survey of papers. This is how you write a literature review for a dissertation. Thus, follow this structure and craft an engaging, informative, and impactful review of the literature.

Examples of perfectly written literature reviews

Writing a literature review can be extremely challenging. However, a good starting point to write a literature review could be looking at examples of literature reviews published online. To ease your burden a bit, we are going to mention the links to some examples below. Open those links and see how to craft a perfect literature review.

Example Literature Review 1

“The Impact of Self-care Practices for Care-givers experiencing Stress, Grief, and Loss in a Palliative Care Setting”


Example Literature Review 2

“Self-Harm Among Rural Australian Adolescents”


Example Literature Review 3

“Food Security and poverty in Australia – challenges for dietitians.”


Example Literature Review 4

“Learners’ Listening Comprehension Difficulties in English Language Learning: A Literature Review”


Thus, these are some examples of good literature reviews.

Final Thoughts

Conclusively, writing a literature review is a challenging task. However, with proper guidelines and knowledge of the steps involved, you can write a literature review that is perfect from all angles. In today’s post, we have discussed the top 5 steps for writing a literature review and the 4 examples of perfectly written reviews. Thus, go through each line written above and work on your literature review accordingly.

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