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Essential Advice On Writing A Research Paper Literature Review


Every student has to write a literature review if he or she is assigned a research paper. So, students should learn how to analyze the literature critically, how to summarize their findings, and what a strong literature review should look like. The format of this piece of writing slightly varies from discipline to discipline but the general structure usually remains the same.

General Guidelines on How to Organize Your Literature Review

The following guidelines contain useful advice on how to organize your research paper literature review in a logical manner:

  1. Provide a context for doing a review in the introduction section. Clearly define your topic area, identify the issue under the study, and point out general trends in what researchers have been studying about your subject.
  2. Develop the criteria to be effective in analyzing the sources. Explain why you have included certain sources while omitting others. Consider organizing your writing in chronological order or developing a topic-based approach.
  3. Group the types of the studied sources. For example, you can separately discuss theoretical concepts presented in the literature and the results of quantitative studies. Analyze expert opinions in a separate part of your review.
  4. Ensure that your text is reader-friendly. Provide “umbrella” sentences, introduce the topic in each part of your writing, develop transitions, and compose short “so what” summaries at the end of each logical part of your review.
  5. Conclude what the key studies are. Highlight the most important and interesting works related to your subject. Identify the major gaps in the research and explain how your research paper fills that gaps.

Easy Tips on How to Analyze Literature

It is a good idea to ask your academic advisor what literature you should study first. Then, you should visit a school’s library and locate the articles, books, and essays for your review. The next step is to skim the resources and write down the main ideas and key findings. You may just read abstracts, introductions, and conclusions. Usually, students cover a certain time period in their literature reviews. You should also do so.

It is recommended that you take notes while reviewing the sources and organize them effectively. Some students use flash cards while others create electronic tables and fill them with the necessary information. Anyway, it makes sense to type important quotes and interesting facts. Ensure that you have enough information to address your research topic and develop a strong argument.

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