Learn How to Write Literature Reviews

Literature reviews are generally of two types, of which one is regarded as a standalone article, while the other you can find in the initial stage of the dissertation. However, in both cases, the idea is to re-synthesize, analyze and organize the entire content.

To understand the concept of literature review, you have to sort out the research questions at first. Make sure that the subject that you choose is prominent and clear in your head so that you do not get lost amidst irrelevant topics, but know the definite path to follow your search. Have access to different management systems that allow you to retrieve journal articles from the various databases. This is an effective tool that allows you to set up alerts so that whenever new articles are published you get notification on the same.

The key to get the best out of a literature review is to organize it well. It is not about the number of articles you have read through without realizing the right need of organizing the important points. Seek a structure through which you can emphasize on the subject with focus on the importance of events in chronological order. This will reflect on the ideas of the topic and how they have evolved. You may even want to group the different articles according to similar themes. For example, you can keep certain viewpoints against contradictory points alongside.

Remember, the idea is not just about organizing the different articles under themes and re-shaping your content. After all, a review is about critically evaluating the proposal/research that you have done and how you place your research in that regard. Since it is a review, you have to specify why you have included the chosen articles and excluded the others. The objective is to assess the gap in your research so as to emphasize why the research is needed. Including current developments and publication will add more credibility to your work.

Incorporate a summary at the end of the review.

How to Write a Good Literature Review?

The literature review is the backbone of your dissertation and thesis. A well written literature review lays the foundation of the research. It showcases your extensive research, your in-depth understanding and your ability to identify strengths and weakness of the theories and compare them.

Here are a few tips on how you can write a good literature review.

Search multiple sources

Literature review includes primary data-collected from interviews undertaken during the research and secondary data – collected from books and reviews. When you undertake a research for literature review you should include more than one source. Check with your university library for relevant books, journal, reports and newspaper. Do not forget to do a research online for ebooks and other database which may contain relevant information.

Analyze existing literature

After you have collected the information, thoroughly read and understand the concepts to critically assess them. Identify strengths and weakness theories and analyze them in light of your research objective. You must give a strong argument which will highlight the existing studies in a new perspective.

Make a rough draft

Make note of all the relevant theories and concepts that you would like to discuss in your literature review. Draft the literature review with your arguments, making sure that your facts follow logically. You can present the data chronologically, if you are highlighting the emergence of a problem or topic, or start with theoretical literature and move to methodological literature. The aim here is to evolve the reader’s interest in the subject.

Revise and make the final literature review.

After your rough draft is ready, read the draft with a fresh mind, so that you can find out your typo and grammatical mistakes. Proofread all the facts and concepts you have explain and keep a note of all the sources from where you have collected the data.

The Purpose Behind Writing A Literature Review

In writing a dissertation or research paper, a particular section is devoted to something called the literature review. Are you wondering as to why this separate section needs to be there? Why should a researcher take the time to write a review of the literature he or she has referred to? This section should not be skipped since it will help the readers of your research work understand that you have actually understood the topic fully and written it.

Identification of experts

When you do a literature review, you would stand to benefit, in that you would be easily able to identify the experts on a particular topic. It will quickly reveal the experts in your field of research. Besides, someone who has written 10 to 20 articles on a subject is much better than someone who has written one or two articles on it. In fact, you would end up finding that the same author is a reference for the most part of your research work. Make your dissertation a key access point for almost all the research works related to your subject.

Identification of key questions

A researcher may try to identify a new solution to an old problem or try to find out a new research question and add it to his work along with a solution to it. For example, a new research topic such as “the positive effect of music on animals” would have been written by a different author differently and you would also possibly write something unique on it. The literature review in your research work will help you identify the key questions by opening up the ideas given in the older research works.

Sealing the gaps

The main aim of a literature review is to seal the gaps between the existing literature and the one you are about to include by reviewing and comparing them.

Difference between Theoretical Framework and Conceptual Framework

Before describing what makes a ‘Theoretical Framework’ and a ‘Conceptual Framework’ so different when it comes to research, one needs to gain clarity as to what we exactly mean when we talk about a ‘Research Framework’.

A research framework is the particular perspective or point of view, in accordance to which a researcher conducts his research analysis. A researcher makes use of a research framework to guide him in exploring and interpreting his data and in finally arriving at desired results. Once a researcher’s data is in order, a framework of a research is used to reflect back and check whether the derived results agree with the chosen framework or if there are any discrepancies or gaps.

Theoretical Framework and Conceptual Framework;

While the two terms, Theoretical Framework and Conceptual Framework are used interchangeably at times, they vastly differ.

Let me explain with the help of an example:

Statement 1: A stimulus to any living organism causes a response.

Statement 2: The smell of freshly cooked and tasty food makes us hungry.

Statement 1

Statement 1 is analogous to what we call a ‘Theoretical framework’. A theoretical framework is a much broader and less specific term that explains how the research is guided and what it is loosely based on. This kind of a framework highlights what wide assumptions a researcher is carrying out his study on. It mostly provides a starting point for critical analysis that makes readers aware, as to what all previous knowledge the impending research draws from.

Just like a theory is much wider in scope, a theoretical framework is also a broader term.

Another important feature of a theoretical framework is the fact that it is less technical in nature and mostly a structure of ideas that study will be based on. Theories are made up of various concepts and the relationships between them that help in explaining or predicting other events phenomenon and behaviors. For example, the theory of evolution, set theory etc. In a similar manner, a theoretical framework consists of the theories a particular report derives from that will further help in explaining results.

Statement 2

Statement 2 however, is much more specific in nature and talks exclusively about a particular relationship between certain defined things. This statement derives its meaning from the first statement, but it vastly differs in terms of scope. Statement 2 is hence analogous to a ‘Conceptual Framework’. A conceptual framework of a study is the set of various specific concepts and their relationships that guide the analysis. However, a conceptual framework can derive its meaning from various theories at once.

One can say that a conceptual framework describes the relationships between specific variables identified in the study and traces the entire input-process-output for the same. A conceptual framework forms the research paradigm or the entire model for a research.

To summarize: