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How to Write a Literature Review: Steps and Examples

How to Write a Literature Review: Steps and Examples

Have you ever wondered how literature review is written or you have difficulties completing the literature review section of your research paper? It can be difficult because it is not always clear what information they need, or where to find it.

This article will cover the basics of writing a literature review for your research paper, and provide some tips on finding sources.

Literature Review Meaning

A literature review is a summary of what has been published on your topic. It is also referred to as the review of related literature in research and academic papers. It’s often written as the first part of research or an academic paper, but it can also be used to summarize and evaluate existing work in other disciplines before drawing new conclusions.

The goal of this process is to synthesize all of the available information about a particular subject into one document so that others may more easily access it. It will be used by you and other researchers in order to understand the existing knowledge about the topic, which can then be synthesized and applied to your own work.

A good literature review should provide a summary of previous studies on a subject as well as clearly defined objectives for future research.

Systematic Literature Review (SLR)

Also referred to as systematic review of literature, SLR is a research study that provides an overview of what has been done in a particular area. It uses multiple sources to collect all the information and presents it in a coherent manner.

In other terms, it employs explicit, systematic methods which involve searching for articles in electronic databases using predefined search terms or by following the guidelines established by an individual indexing service.

The reviewers then read each article independently and assess its relevance with respect to their original aim before deciding whether it should be included in the review. SLRs are used for both academic and professional purposes such as conducting research or providing evidence-based practice within healthcare organizations.

Systematic Literature Review (SLR) is a way to synthesize the research on an issue. This process can be broken down into three broad categories: search strategy, data extraction and synthesis of findings.

In order for your work to be sound you need to have a clear purpose statement that guides your search for information relevant to your topic area as well as criteria for determining which studies are useful sources of information and which ones are not.

When writing a systematic literature review, it’s important to identify the key components and major findings in each article that you’re reviewing. This will help ensure your audience understands what the research found and how it relates to your topic.

Grey Literature Definition

What is grey literature? It is a subset of literary work which falls outside traditional publishing channels (i.e., peer reviewed journals). These pieces are often published by private companies and organizations and are not generally found in libraries or databases like PubMed and Medline.

The non-traditional sources that fall under grey literature include such forms as newsletters, reports from industry experts or unpublished academic data.

Steps of writing a Literature review

Here are the 13 Steps of Writing a literature:

  • Step 1: Define your problem statement – What are you trying to find out?

Example: ”I want to know what causes people who have been diagnosed with schizophrenia.”

  • Step 2: Define your review question – What are you trying to find out from the research?

Example: “What is the role of genetic factors in schizophrenia?”

  • Step 3: Define keywords using a word or phrase for each variable. This should be as specific and concise as possible. For example, use “schizophrenia” instead of “mental illness.” Multiple keywords may be necessary depending on the complexity of variables that pertain to your study design.

Examples: Genes; Environment; Mental Illness (Schizophrenia)

  • Step 4: Search for articles with relevant titles by going through an indexing service database such as PubMed or Web of Science. The databases will provide information about where more detail can be found about the article, such as when it was published and what journal it is in.

Examples: PubMed; ScienceDirect

  • Step 5: Read over each abstract (summary) to see if your keywords are mentioned. If none of the articles look promising or you can’t find anything that fits all of your criteria, try a different indexing service database or search terms until you find something useful.

Example: “Schizophrenia” OR “genes” NOT “mental illness” OR “environment”

  • Step 6: After reading through some titles and abstracts, read more thoroughly into those sources which have relevance to the keyword phrases from step three. Begin with looking at how many participants were included in this study.

Example: “teenagers” OR “teens” NOT “adults” OR teens ages 50+

  • Step 7: Choose a manageable number of articles to read in full. You will want enough so that you can provide an overview from different angles, but not too many so it becomes overwhelming and difficult to focus on the task at hand.

Examples: None given; around three or four per keyword phrase

  • Step 8: Write about how each article relates back to your two keywords (e.g., schizophrenia and genes). The more questions answered by this study, the better! In other words, if this study looked only at one aspect related to your topic area then it is probably not worth mentioning because there is not enough information.

Examples: None given; one sentence per article

  • Step 9: Write one paragraph summarizing what the study set out to do (e.g., schizophrenia risk factors).

Example: “The purpose of this review was to summarize genetic studies examining specific childhood maltreatment types with participants diagnosed with adult psychosis. [It] found evidence for association between physical abuse during childhood and adulthood psychotic disorder.”

  • Step 10: Write one paragraph for the results.

Examples: None given; around three or four per keyword phrase

  • Step 11: Write a second, shorter summary of what was found in each study (e.g., “a genetic association with schizophrenia”).

Example: “[The article] examined if physical abuse during childhood increased risk of adult psychotic disorder and found evidence that it does.”

  • Step 12: Weave these short summaries into your own narrative.

For example:When investigating bipolar disorder susceptibility genes, we would want to find scholarly articles about the human genome, genetics research on bipolar disorder in humans and other mammals, X-chromosome linkage studies of bipolar families with a female pedigree history.

There are many questions that remain unanswered relating to how mood disorders such as Bipolar Disorder (BD) develop. This is due partly simply because there has been very little genetic data collected for BD patients compared to its more common counterpart Major Depressive Disorder (MDD)

Genetic studies of mood disorders have not been well-powered for detecting individual susceptibility genes, and to date no replicated linkage or association finding has emerged from a genome-wide scan.” Even with many unanswered questions relating to the cause of BD, there are still plenty of avenues in which research can be conducted.”

  • Step 13: Conclude your work here with some final thoughts if you wish.

Literature Review Outline

A good literature review should contain the following Element: Introduction, background information on the topic (literature search), research questions/hypotheses, study design, findings and conclusion.

  • The Introduction should provide an overview of what is being written about in this paper; why it’s important or significant in some way; how your work will contribute new knowledge on the subject; and where readers can find more detailed discussions if they are interested.

The purpose of the introduction section of the literature review should be to inform the reader about where you got your information from (i.e., journals, books) so that he can follow up by reading those articles himself if interested or needed to do further research into the topic before coming up with his own arguments/claims/conclusions at later stages when writing thesis statements and conclusions sections.

  • Background Information includes providing scientific context for understanding the significance of these results by outlining previous studies that relate to your own work as well as those which may not lead to any substantive conclusions or implications for future inquiries.
  • Research Questions or Hypotheses is the next section of your introduction. This should be a one or two sentence description that summarizes what you are trying to answer in this paper and why it’s worth examining, such as “how does age affect symptoms in patients with schizophrenia?”
  • Your Study Design will follow which includes details about how you plan on answering these research questions; for example:

“I am conducting a cross-sectional study using a sample size balanced between males and females from three different age groups, 18-25 (n = 100), 26-40 (n=100) 41+ years old(N= 100).”

  • Findings & Conclusion may come after the study design or within the body of your text where appropriate. The findings section would include brief descriptions (“27% of participants reported two or more positive symptoms”) and results (e.g., “the percentage of individuals reporting one to three negative symptoms was higher in the older group, 41% vs. 28%). In conclusion, age does not seem to have an effect on symptom severity.”

Examples of literature reviews

Here are some Review of related literature (RRL) paragraph examples:

Example 1

This systematic literature review was conducted to identify and synthesize the published evidence for complementary approaches that have been used in treating individuals with autism spectrum disorder. From the identified sources, 32 articles were selected for review. The vast majority of these studies are small in size and more research is needed to substantiate or refute current findings. The studies reviewed were generally well designed and yielded data that provide some preliminary information on efficacy. The approaches in the literature ranged from chiropractic manipulative treatment, dietary supplementation, nutritional counseling, neurotherapy/EEG biofeedback therapy to sensory integration training.

Example 2

A systematic literature search was performed using PubMed Central with keywords autism AND (integrative OR complementary). From the identified sources, 16 papers were considered eligible for inclusion into this study. All included papers reported on treatment outcomes following use of an integrative approach that incorporated both conventional and alternative therapies. These results suggest that there may be some efficacy to combining conventional medicine and therapy with complementary approaches such as acupuncture which have been commonly used by individuals seeking treatment for their ASD symptoms without access to other options.

Example 3

Diversity in college textbooks has increased by 14% over three decades. In 1990, African American authors made up just 0.59% of all textbook selections while Native Americans represented 0.31%. By 2010 these numbers had risen to 0.71% (African American) and 0.51%.

Help Writing My Essay or Research Paper

A good, thorough literature review will provide readers with an overview of what other scholars have done in this field. It should summarize their main findings as well as how they conducted their studies which could be useful if you are planning on replicating it for yourself.

This article has provided you with information about what a literature review means, how to write one, steps involved in writing one and elements that make up good ones. We hope this helps!

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