Have you been assigned a literature review and have no idea what it is or where to start? Don't fret! In this module, what literature reviews are and some tips on how to write them will be reviewed. You’ll then complete an activity and quiz to improve comprehension.
After completing this module, you will be able to:
So, what is a literature review? It’s exactly what it says—it’s a review of the published literature on a specific topic. When writing a literature review, you want to read and write about everything you can possibly find regarding your topic, which typically consists of books and scholarly articles written by experts in the field you are researching.
By conducting your literature review, you’ll find patterns and trends in the professional literature, influential people and studies, and also identify any gaps in the research that can help you recognize areas that can be studied in the future.
According to Scribbir (2020) there are four main ways you can structure your literature review, so choose the way that is most appropriate for your topic. Each of the four ways will allow you to identify trends and patterns in the literature, which is one of the main purposes of writing a literature review.
In the introduction, you need to establish your research question, give a brief background on the topic if you’re not writing chronologically, state the importance of your topic and why the reader should care about it, and lastly discuss the scope of your literature review.
In the body of your literature review (which should be the longest part of your paper), you are going to summarize, synthesize, and analyze each source. Analyze means to break something down into parts (like you’ll do for each source) and synthesize means to bring things together (how you’ll explain how different sources relate to one another). You’ll evaluate each source’s strengths and weaknesses. Have any patterns in the research emerged? Do studies support earlier studies, or contradict them? Are there influential studies that always get mentioned? If so, be sure to read those!
It’s important when writing the body of your literature review that you use topic sentences and transitions so that your lit review has a logical flow.
Last is the conclusion section. Here is where you’ll summarize major findings, discuss the implications of the published research, and identify research gaps, or areas of future research. You want to make sure that your literature review is exhaustive, meaning you’ve attempted to find all the published research on your topic—you don’t want to leave anything important out!
The content for this module was drawn from the following sources:
Klohe, K., Koudou, B. G., Fenwick, A., Fleming, F., Garba, A., Gouvras, A., Harding-Esch, E. M., Knopp, S., Molyneux, D., D’Souza, S., Utzinger, J., Vounatsou, P., Waltz, J., Zhang, Y., & Rollinson, D. (2021). A systematic literature review of schistosomiasis in urban and peri-urban settings. PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases, 15(2), 1–19. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pntd.0008995
Plachouri, K.-M., Florou, V., & Gorgeous, S. (2019). Therapeutic strategies for pigmented purpuric dermatoses: A systematic literature review. Journal of Dermatological Treatment, 30(2), 105-109. https://doi.org/10.1080/09546634.2018.1473553
Scribbir. (2020). How to write a good literature review. [Video]. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zIYC6zG265E&list=PLjBMY3HggCpCEpa2VIXXM1udk9kcknahX&index=2
Traylor, A. M., Stahr, E., & Salas, E. (2020). Team coaching: Three questions and a look ahead: A systematic literature review. International Coaching Psychology Review, 15(2), 54–68.