How to Write a Literature Review

When the word literature review comes up, most students often get the idea of; book, novel, poem or a play. Well, this is not true. The word literature in a literature review basically defines a collection of materials on a common topic. A review on the other hand is a critique of the existing literature but that does not mean that the examiner is asking you to give a personal opinion regarding what is written. When reviewing something, avoid being biased and taking sides and always ensure that you analyze both sides of the argument and state whether you agree or disagree with what is written and indicate why.

A literature review is a grammatical analysis regarding a particular subject area or several subjects during a specific period of time. The structure and format of a literature review maybe inform of just a simple summary but may also take the form of a synthesis. It is therefore up to the writer to decide which is most applicable. However, a literature review has what is called an organizational pattern. Giving a summary of a particular written piece involves recapping the main ideas contained in the writing but synthesis involves re-organizing and reshuffling what is contained in writing.

Reshuffling the information may either change the interpretation based on what the writer understands about a certain topic while at other times, the writer may combine his/her own individual interpretation with the original interpretations. You must be able to differentiate between literature reviews with other type of papers. What really is a literature review and how is it different from a research paper. Research paper focus on a new argument in the sense that the writer is required to come up with his/her own independent opinion regarding the subject. In a research paper, you are required to use the available literature to reinforce your argument regarding the subject matter. A literature review on the other hand summarizes and synthesizes what is written without necessarily introducing new arguments or independent opinions. When writing a literature review, you got to narrow down and focus on your thesis statement. This is because your thesis statement is the main backbone or the turning point of your research. The most effective it of resenting your information is by being precise and straight to the point when tacking your topic.

Basically, this is how you present your literature review

Cover the basics and categories: Similar to what happens in most academic papers, contain your literature review to three main elements that is the introduction, the body and the conclusion. The introduction is supposed to give a brief overview of the literature review as well as illustrate the central theme that you intend to explore. The central theme should be contained in the thesis statement. The body of your review should discuss in a chronological manner your analysis. Each paragraph should transit to the other and avoid bringing the flow of information to an abrupt end. However, the organization of the body is not limited to chronological sequence as you can format your body thematically or methodologically. Lastly, discuss the relevance of your review giving a brief summary of what you have just covered in the conclusion.