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Writing a Literature Review
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A literature review is a document or section of a document that collects key sources on a topic and discusses those sources in conversation with each other (also called synthesis ). The lit review is an important genre in many disciplines, not just literature (i.e., the study of works of literature such as novels and plays). When we say “literature review” or refer to “the literature,” we are talking about the research ( scholarship ) in a given field. You will often see the terms “the research,” “the scholarship,” and “the literature” used mostly interchangeably.
Where, when, and why would I write a lit review?
There are a number of different situations where you might write a literature review, each with slightly different expectations; different disciplines, too, have field-specific expectations for what a literature review is and does. For instance, in the humanities, authors might include more overt argumentation and interpretation of source material in their literature reviews, whereas in the sciences, authors are more likely to report study designs and results in their literature reviews; these differences reflect these disciplines’ purposes and conventions in scholarship. You should always look at examples from your own discipline and talk to professors or mentors in your field to be sure you understand your discipline’s conventions, for literature reviews as well as for any other genre.
A literature review can be a part of a research paper or scholarly article, usually falling after the introduction and before the research methods sections. In these cases, the lit review just needs to cover scholarship that is important to the issue you are writing about; sometimes it will also cover key sources that informed your research methodology.
Lit reviews can also be standalone pieces, either as assignments in a class or as publications. In a class, a lit review may be assigned to help students familiarize themselves with a topic and with scholarship in their field, get an idea of the other researchers working on the topic they’re interested in, find gaps in existing research in order to propose new projects, and/or develop a theoretical framework and methodology for later research. As a publication, a lit review usually is meant to help make other scholars’ lives easier by collecting and summarizing, synthesizing, and analyzing existing research on a topic. This can be especially helpful for students or scholars getting into a new research area, or for directing an entire community of scholars toward questions that have not yet been answered.
What are the parts of a lit review?
Most lit reviews use a basic introduction-body-conclusion structure; if your lit review is part of a larger paper, the introduction and conclusion pieces may be just a few sentences while you focus most of your attention on the body. If your lit review is a standalone piece, the introduction and conclusion take up more space and give you a place to discuss your goals, research methods, and conclusions separately from where you discuss the literature itself.
- An introductory paragraph that explains what your working topic and thesis is
- A forecast of key topics or texts that will appear in the review
- Potentially, a description of how you found sources and how you analyzed them for inclusion and discussion in the review (more often found in published, standalone literature reviews than in lit review sections in an article or research paper)
- Summarize and synthesize: Give an overview of the main points of each source and combine them into a coherent whole
- Analyze and interpret: Don’t just paraphrase other researchers – add your own interpretations where possible, discussing the significance of findings in relation to the literature as a whole
- Critically Evaluate: Mention the strengths and weaknesses of your sources
- Write in well-structured paragraphs: Use transition words and topic sentence to draw connections, comparisons, and contrasts.
- Summarize the key findings you have taken from the literature and emphasize their significance
- Connect it back to your primary research question
How should I organize my lit review?
Lit reviews can take many different organizational patterns depending on what you are trying to accomplish with the review. Here are some examples:
- Chronological : The simplest approach is to trace the development of the topic over time, which helps familiarize the audience with the topic (for instance if you are introducing something that is not commonly known in your field). If you choose this strategy, be careful to avoid simply listing and summarizing sources in order. Try to analyze the patterns, turning points, and key debates that have shaped the direction of the field. Give your interpretation of how and why certain developments occurred (as mentioned previously, this may not be appropriate in your discipline — check with a teacher or mentor if you’re unsure).
- Thematic : If you have found some recurring central themes that you will continue working with throughout your piece, you can organize your literature review into subsections that address different aspects of the topic. For example, if you are reviewing literature about women and religion, key themes can include the role of women in churches and the religious attitude towards women.
- Qualitative versus quantitative research
- Empirical versus theoretical scholarship
- Divide the research by sociological, historical, or cultural sources
- Theoretical : In many humanities articles, the literature review is the foundation for the theoretical framework. You can use it to discuss various theories, models, and definitions of key concepts. You can argue for the relevance of a specific theoretical approach or combine various theorical concepts to create a framework for your research.
What are some strategies or tips I can use while writing my lit review?
Any lit review is only as good as the research it discusses; make sure your sources are well-chosen and your research is thorough. Don’t be afraid to do more research if you discover a new thread as you’re writing. More info on the research process is available in our "Conducting Research" resources .
As you’re doing your research, create an annotated bibliography ( see our page on the this type of document ). Much of the information used in an annotated bibliography can be used also in a literature review, so you’ll be not only partially drafting your lit review as you research, but also developing your sense of the larger conversation going on among scholars, professionals, and any other stakeholders in your topic.
Usually you will need to synthesize research rather than just summarizing it. This means drawing connections between sources to create a picture of the scholarly conversation on a topic over time. Many student writers struggle to synthesize because they feel they don’t have anything to add to the scholars they are citing; here are some strategies to help you:
- It often helps to remember that the point of these kinds of syntheses is to show your readers how you understand your research, to help them read the rest of your paper.
- Writing teachers often say synthesis is like hosting a dinner party: imagine all your sources are together in a room, discussing your topic. What are they saying to each other?
- Look at the in-text citations in each paragraph. Are you citing just one source for each paragraph? This usually indicates summary only. When you have multiple sources cited in a paragraph, you are more likely to be synthesizing them (not always, but often
- Read more about synthesis here.
The most interesting literature reviews are often written as arguments (again, as mentioned at the beginning of the page, this is discipline-specific and doesn’t work for all situations). Often, the literature review is where you can establish your research as filling a particular gap or as relevant in a particular way. You have some chance to do this in your introduction in an article, but the literature review section gives a more extended opportunity to establish the conversation in the way you would like your readers to see it. You can choose the intellectual lineage you would like to be part of and whose definitions matter most to your thinking (mostly humanities-specific, but this goes for sciences as well). In addressing these points, you argue for your place in the conversation, which tends to make the lit review more compelling than a simple reporting of other sources.
Literature Review Research
Literature review, what is not a literature review, purpose of the literature review, types of literature review.
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- What is a Literature Review?
- Summarizes and analyzes previous research relevant to a topic
- Includes scholarly books and articles published in academic journals
- Can be an specific scholarly paper or a section in a research paper
- Help gather ideas or information
- Keep up to date in current trends and findings
- Help develop new questions
A literature review is important because it:
- Explains the background of research on a topic.
- Demonstrates why a topic is significant to a subject area.
- Helps focus your own research questions or problems
- Discovers relationships between research studies/ideas.
- Suggests unexplored ideas or populations
- Identifies major themes, concepts, and researchers on a topic.
- Tests assumptions; may help counter preconceived ideas and remove unconscious bias.
- Identifies critical gaps, points of disagreement, or potentially flawed methodology or theoretical approaches.
- Indicates potential directions for future research.
Keep in mind the following, a literature review is NOT:
Not an essay
Not an annotated bibliography in which you summarize each article you reviewed. A literature review goes beyond basic summarizing to critically analyze the reviewed works and their relationship to your research question.
Not a research paper where you select resources to support one side of an issue versus another. A lit review should explain and consider all sides of an argument to avoid bias, and areas of agreement and disagreement should be highlighted.
A literature review serves several purposes. For example, it
- provides thorough knowledge of previous studies; introduces seminal works.
- helps focus one’s own research topic.
- identifies a conceptual framework for one’s own research questions or problems; indicates potential directions for future research.
- suggests previously unused or underused methodologies, designs, and quantitative and qualitative strategies.
- identifies gaps in previous studies; identifies flawed methodologies and/or theoretical approaches; avoids replication of mistakes.
- helps the researcher avoid the repetition of earlier research.
- suggests unexplored populations.
- determines whether past studies agree or disagree; identifies controversy in the literature.
- tests assumptions may help counter preconceived ideas and remove unconscious bias.
As Kennedy (2007) notes*, it is important to think of knowledge in a given field as consisting of three layers. First, there are the primary studies that researchers conduct and publish. Second are the reviews of those studies that summarize and offer new interpretations built from and often extending beyond the original studies. Third, there are the perceptions, conclusions, opinion, and interpretations that are shared informally that become part of the lore of field. In composing a literature review, it is important to note that it is often this third layer of knowledge that is cited as "true" even though it often has only a loose relationship to the primary studies and secondary literature reviews.
Given this, while literature reviews are designed to provide an overview and synthesis of pertinent sources you have explored, there are several approaches to how they can be done, depending upon the type of analysis underpinning your study. Listed below are definitions of types of literature reviews:
Argumentative Review This form examines literature selectively in order to support or refute an argument, deeply imbedded assumption, or philosophical problem already established in the literature. The purpose is to develop a body of literature that establishes a contrarian viewpoint. Given the value-laden nature of some social science research [e.g., educational reform; immigration control], argumentative approaches to analyzing the literature can be a legitimate and important form of discourse. However, note that they can also introduce problems of bias when they are used to to make summary claims of the sort found in systematic reviews.
Integrative Review Considered a form of research that reviews, critiques, and synthesizes representative literature on a topic in an integrated way such that new frameworks and perspectives on the topic are generated. The body of literature includes all studies that address related or identical hypotheses. A well-done integrative review meets the same standards as primary research in regard to clarity, rigor, and replication.
Historical Review Few things rest in isolation from historical precedent. Historical reviews are focused on examining research throughout a period of time, often starting with the first time an issue, concept, theory, phenomena emerged in the literature, then tracing its evolution within the scholarship of a discipline. The purpose is to place research in a historical context to show familiarity with state-of-the-art developments and to identify the likely directions for future research.
Methodological Review A review does not always focus on what someone said [content], but how they said it [method of analysis]. This approach provides a framework of understanding at different levels (i.e. those of theory, substantive fields, research approaches and data collection and analysis techniques), enables researchers to draw on a wide variety of knowledge ranging from the conceptual level to practical documents for use in fieldwork in the areas of ontological and epistemological consideration, quantitative and qualitative integration, sampling, interviewing, data collection and data analysis, and helps highlight many ethical issues which we should be aware of and consider as we go through our study.
Systematic Review This form consists of an overview of existing evidence pertinent to a clearly formulated research question, which uses pre-specified and standardized methods to identify and critically appraise relevant research, and to collect, report, and analyse data from the studies that are included in the review. Typically it focuses on a very specific empirical question, often posed in a cause-and-effect form, such as "To what extent does A contribute to B?"
Theoretical Review The purpose of this form is to concretely examine the corpus of theory that has accumulated in regard to an issue, concept, theory, phenomena. The theoretical literature review help establish what theories already exist, the relationships between them, to what degree the existing theories have been investigated, and to develop new hypotheses to be tested. Often this form is used to help establish a lack of appropriate theories or reveal that current theories are inadequate for explaining new or emerging research problems. The unit of analysis can focus on a theoretical concept or a whole theory or framework.
* Kennedy, Mary M. "Defining a Literature." Educational Researcher 36 (April 2007): 139-147.
All content in this section is from The Literature Review created by Dr. Robert Larabee USC
- Next: Systematic Review >>
- Last Updated: Dec 22, 2022 1:47 PM
- URL: https://guides.lib.odu.edu/literaturereview
- Locations and Hours
- UCLA Library
- Research Guides
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- Types of Literature Reviews
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What Makes a Systematic Review Different from Other Types of Reviews?
- Planning Your Systematic Review
- Database Searching
- Creating the Search
- Search Filters & Hedges
- Grey Literature
- Managing & Appraising Results
- Further Resources
Reproduced from Grant, M. J. and Booth, A. (2009), A typology of reviews: an analysis of 14 review types and associated methodologies. Health Information & Libraries Journal, 26: 91–108. doi:10.1111/j.1471-1842.2009.00848.x
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Related Literature and Related Studies
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- 1. CHAPTER III
- 2. Is composed of discussions of facts and principles to which the present study is related. For instance, if the present study deals with drug addiction, literature to be reviewed or surveyed should be composed of materials that deal with drug addiction. RELATED LITERATURE
- 3. These materials are usually printed and found in books, encyclopedias, professional journals, magazines, newspapers, and other publications. RELATED LITERATURE
- 4. RELATED LITERATURE
- 5. These materials are classified as 1. Local, if printed in the Philippines; and 2. Foreign, if printed in other lands. RELATED LITERATURE
- 6. Studies, inquiries, or investigations already conducted to which the present proposed study is relate or has some bearing or similarity. They are usually unpublished materials such as manuscripts, theses, and dissertations. RELATED STUDIES
- 7. RELATED STUDIES
- 8. They may be classified as: 1. Local, if the inquiry was conducted in the Philippines; and 2. Foreign, if conducted in foreign lands RELATED STUDIES
- 9. Importance, Purposes, and Functions of Related Literature and Studies
- 10. A survey or review of related literature and studies is very important because such reviewed literature and studies serve as a foundation of the proposed study. This is because related literature and studies guide the researcher in pursuing his research venture. Importance, Purposes, and Functions of Related Literature and Studies
- 11. Reviewed literature and studies help or guide the researcher in the following ways:
- 12. 1. They help or guide the researcher in searching for or selecting a better research problem or topic. By reviewing related materials, a replication of a similar problem may be found better than the problem already chosen. Replication is the study of research problem already conducted but in another place. Importance, Purposes, and Functions of Related Literature and Studies
- 13. 2. They help the investigator understand his topic for research better. Reviewing related literature and studies may clarify vague points about his problem. Importance, Purposes, and Functions of Related Literature and Studies
- 14. 3. They ensure that there will be no duplication of other studies. There is duplication if an investigation already made is conducted again in the same locale using practically the same respondents. This is avoided if a survey of related literature and studies be made first. Importance, Purposes, and Functions of Related Literature and Studies
- 15. 4. They help and guide the researcher in locating more sources of related information. This is because the bibliography of a study already conducted indicate references about similar studies. Importance, Purposes, and Functions of Related Literature and Studies
- 16. 5. They help and guide the researcher in making his research design especially in: a. the formulation of specific questions to be researched on; b. the formulation of assumptions and hypotheses if there should be any; Importance, Purposes, and Functions of Related Literature and Studies
- 17. c. the formulation of conceptual framework; Importance, Purposes, and Functions of Related Literature and Studies
- 18. Conceptual Framework
- 19. d. the selection and application of the methods of research; e. the selection and application of sampling techniques; Importance, Purposes, and Functions of Related Literature and Studies
- 20. f. the selection and/or preparation and validation of research instruments for gathering data; g. the selection and application of statistical procedures; Importance, Purposes, and Functions of Related Literature and Studies
- 21. h. The analysis, organization, presentation, and interpretation of data; i. The making of the summary of implications for the whole study; j. The formulation of the summary of findings, conclusions, and recommendation; and Importance, Purposes, and Functions of Related Literature and Studies
- 22. 6. They help and guide the researcher in making comparison between his findings of other researchers on similar studies with the end in view of formulating generalization or principles which are the contributions of the study to fund of knowledge. Importance, Purposes, and Functions of Related Literature and Studies
- 23. Characteristics of Related Literature and Studies
- 24. There are certain characteristics of related materials that make them of true value. Among these characteristics are:
- 25. 1. The surveyed materials must be as recent as possible. This is important because of the rapid social, economic, scientific, and technological change. Findings several years ago may be of little value today because of the fast changing life style of the people. Characteristics of Related Literature and Studies
- 26. There are exception, however. Treatises that deal on universals or things of more or less permanent nature may be still be good today. There are mathematical laws and formulas and statistical procedures that had been formulated a long, long time ago which are being use today with very, very little improvement. This is also true with natural and physical laws. Books on these, though written a long time ago, are still being cited today.
- 27. Another exception is when a comparison or contrast is to be made between the conditions of today and those of a remote past, say ten or twenty years ago. Naturally, literature and studies about that remote past have to be surveyed and reviewed.
- 28. 2. Materials reviewed must be objective and unbiased. Some materials are extremely or subtly one sided, either political, or religious, etc. Comparison with these materials cannot be made logically and validity. Distorted generalizations may result. Characteristics of Related Literature and Studies
- 29. 3. Materials surveyed must be relevant to the study. Only materials that have some bearing or similarity to the research problem at hand should be reviewed. Characteristics of Related Literature and Studies
- 30. 4. Surveyed materials must have been based upon genuinely original and true facts or data to make them valid and reliable. There are cases where fictitious data are supplied just to complete a research report (thesis or dissertation). Of course, this kind of deception is hard to detect and to prove. Thus, this is a real problem to honest researchers. Characteristics of Related Literature and Studies
- 31. 5. Reviewed materials must not be few or too many. They must only be sufficient enough to give insight into the research problem or to indicate the nature of the present investigation. The may also depend upon the availability of related materials. Characteristics of Related Literature and Studies
- 32. Sometimes there is a paucity of such materials. Ordinarily, form ten to fifteen related materials re needed for a master`s thesis and from fifteen to twenty-five for a doctoral dissertation depending their availability, as well as their depth and length of discussions.
- 33. For an undergraduate thesis, from five to ten may do. The numbers, however, are only suggestive and not imperative nor mandatory. These are only the average numbers observed from theses and dissertation surveyed by this author.
- 34. Sources of Related Literature and Studies
- 35. The sources of related literature and studies may include the following:
- 36. 1. Book, encyclopedias, almanacs, and other similar references. 2. Articles published in professional journals, magazines, periodicals, newspapers, and other publications. Sources of Related Literature and Studies
- 37. 3. Manuscripts, monographs, memoirs, speeches, letters, and diaries. 4. Unpublished theses and dissertations. 5. The Constitution, and laws and statues of the land. Sources of Related Literature and Studies
- 38. 6. Bulletins, circulars, and orders emanating from government offices and departments, especially from the Office of the President of the Philippines and the Department of Education, Culture and Sports. Sources of Related Literature and Studies
- 39. 7. Records from schools, public and private, especially reports of their activities. 8. Reports from seminars educational or otherwise. Sources of Related Literature and Studies
- 40. 9. Official reports of all kinds, educational, social, economic, scientific, technological, political, etc. from the government and other entities. Sources of Related Literature and Studies
- 41. Where to Locate the Sources of Related Literature and Studies
- 42. Generally, the sources of related literature and studies are located in the following places: Where to Locate the Sources of Related Literature and Studies
- 43. 1. Libraries, either government, school, or private libraries. 2. Government and private offices. Where to Locate the Sources of Related Literature and Studies
- 44. 3. The National Library 4. The Library of the Department of Education, Culture and Sports. Where to Locate the Sources of Related Literature and Studies
- 45. The last two are especially rich depositories of related materials, particularly unpublished master`s theses and doctoral dissertations.
- 46. More way to go, god bless to us!
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What is the difference between Review of Related Study to Review of Related Literature?
Hi there, the related studies are those recent research or thesis that's already been published and approved, while the related literature are those articles, news, or statement coming from different medias and people, for instance, a doctor told you that we only use 10% of our brains, then that is the related literature, or like, you found a book saying that the body is 70% percent, that is the related literature.
If you still can't get it, you can visit my blog about thesis writing, I'm an expert researcher, I've been doing research since year 2004 until today 2012, I also offer lots of help in thesis writing, here's my blog, all the information that you will be needing in thesis writing is there... http://howtothesis.blogspot.com
Add your answer:
What is the difference between related literature and related studies
In a research there are chapters and formats that needs to be followed and in every chapter there are corresponding requirements that needs to be fulfilled in a specified time. An example of this is the chapter one, where most of the introductory phrases and citations are included, it also wise to look out for proper citation since we do want to credit real owners of their sayings and work.
Official website’s opinions and facts
Government public data
What is the difference of related literature and related studies?
Related literature are often from journalist or any officials whereas the opinions and facts presented matters and can affect the masses’ opinion and thinking. Related Studies are from researchers or from official public offices, and thesis from different universities and libraries.
Most of these are accessible and that is why we need proper citation of others’ work. Literature and studies are best to support your research or thesis in ways that it can provide resources and data that can be tackled in your own.
Links for other relating topics:
New questions in English
Penn State University Libraries
- Home-Articles and Databases
- Asking the clinical question
- PICO & Finding Evidence
- Evaluating the Evidence
- Systematic Review vs. Literature Review
- Ethical & Legal Issues for Nurses
- Nursing Library Instruction Course
- Data Management Toolkit
- Useful Nursing Resources
- Writing Resources
- LionSearch and Finding Articles
- The CAT and Finding Books
Know the Difference! Systematic Review vs. Literature Review
It is common to confuse systematic and literature reviews as both are used to provide a summary of the existent literature or research on a specific topic. Even with this common ground, both types vary significantly. Please review the following chart (and its corresponding poster linked below) for the detailed explanation of each as well as the differences between each type of review.
- What's in a name? The difference between a Systematic Review and a Literature Review, and why it matters by Lynn Kysh, MLIS, University of Southern California - Norris Medical Library
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- Knowledge Base
- How to Write a Literature Review | Guide, Examples, & Templates
How to Write a Literature Review | Guide, Examples, & Templates
Published on January 2, 2023 by Shona McCombes .
What is a literature review? A literature review is a survey of scholarly sources on a specific topic. It provides an overview of current knowledge, allowing you to identify relevant theories, methods, and gaps in the existing research that you can later apply to your paper, thesis, or dissertation topic .
There are five key steps to writing a literature review:
- Search for relevant literature
- Evaluate sources
- Identify themes, debates, and gaps
- Outline the structure
- Write your literature review
A good literature review doesn’t just summarize sources—it analyzes, synthesizes , and critically evaluates to give a clear picture of the state of knowledge on the subject.
Table of contents
What is the purpose of a literature review, examples of literature reviews, step 1 – search for relevant literature, step 2 – evaluate and select sources, step 3 – identify themes, debates, and gaps, step 4 – outline your literature review’s structure, step 5 – write your literature review, free lecture slides, frequently asked questions, introduction.
- Quick Run-through
- Step 1 & 2
When you write a thesis , dissertation , or research paper , you will likely have to conduct a literature review to situate your research within existing knowledge. The literature review gives you a chance to:
- Demonstrate your familiarity with the topic and its scholarly context
- Develop a theoretical framework and methodology for your research
- Position your work in relation to other researchers and theorists
- Show how your research addresses a gap or contributes to a debate
- Evaluate the current state of research and demonstrate your knowledge of the scholarly debates around your topic.
Writing literature reviews is a particularly important skill if you want to apply for graduate school or pursue a career in research. We’ve written a step-by-step guide that you can follow below.
Writing literature reviews can be quite challenging! A good starting point could be to look at some examples, depending on what kind of literature review you’d like to write.
- Example literature review #1: “Why Do People Migrate? A Review of the Theoretical Literature” ( Theoretical literature review about the development of economic migration theory from the 1950s to today.)
- Example literature review #2: “Literature review as a research methodology: An overview and guidelines” ( Methodological literature review about interdisciplinary knowledge acquisition and production.)
- Example literature review #3: “The Use of Technology in English Language Learning: A Literature Review” ( Thematic literature review about the effects of technology on language acquisition.)
- Example literature review #4: “Learners’ Listening Comprehension Difficulties in English Language Learning: A Literature Review” ( Chronological literature review about how the concept of listening skills has changed over time.)
You can also check out our templates with literature review examples and sample outlines at the links below.
Download Word doc Download Google doc
Prevent plagiarism. Run a free check.
Before you begin searching for literature, you need a clearly defined topic .
If you are writing the literature review section of a dissertation or research paper, you will search for literature related to your research problem and questions .
Make a list of keywords
Start by creating a list of keywords related to your research question. Include each of the key concepts or variables you’re interested in, and list any synonyms and related terms. You can add to this list as you discover new keywords in the process of your literature search.
- Social media, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, TikTok
- Body image, self-perception, self-esteem, mental health
- Generation Z, teenagers, adolescents, youth
Search for relevant sources
Use your keywords to begin searching for sources. Some useful databases to search for journals and articles include:
- Your university’s library catalogue
- Google Scholar
- Project Muse (humanities and social sciences)
- Medline (life sciences and biomedicine)
- EconLit (economics)
- Inspec (physics, engineering and computer science)
You can also use boolean operators to help narrow down your search.
Make sure to read the abstract to find out whether an article is relevant to your question. When you find a useful book or article, you can check the bibliography to find other relevant sources.
You likely won’t be able to read absolutely everything that has been written on your topic, so it will be necessary to evaluate which sources are most relevant to your research question.
For each publication, ask yourself:
- What question or problem is the author addressing?
- What are the key concepts and how are they defined?
- What are the key theories, models, and methods?
- Does the research use established frameworks or take an innovative approach?
- What are the results and conclusions of the study?
- How does the publication relate to other literature in the field? Does it confirm, add to, or challenge established knowledge?
- What are the strengths and weaknesses of the research?
Make sure the sources you use are credible , and make sure you read any landmark studies and major theories in your field of research.
You can use our template to summarize and evaluate sources you’re thinking about using. Click on either button below to download.
Take notes and cite your sources
As you read, you should also begin the writing process. Take notes that you can later incorporate into the text of your literature review.
It is important to keep track of your sources with citations to avoid plagiarism . It can be helpful to make an annotated bibliography , where you compile full citation information and write a paragraph of summary and analysis for each source. This helps you remember what you read and saves time later in the process.
To begin organizing your literature review’s argument and structure, be sure you understand the connections and relationships between the sources you’ve read. Based on your reading and notes, you can look for:
- Trends and patterns (in theory, method or results): do certain approaches become more or less popular over time?
- Themes: what questions or concepts recur across the literature?
- Debates, conflicts and contradictions: where do sources disagree?
- Pivotal publications: are there any influential theories or studies that changed the direction of the field?
- Gaps: what is missing from the literature? Are there weaknesses that need to be addressed?
This step will help you work out the structure of your literature review and (if applicable) show how your own research will contribute to existing knowledge.
- Most research has focused on young women.
- There is an increasing interest in the visual aspects of social media.
- But there is still a lack of robust research on highly visual platforms like Instagram and Snapchat—this is a gap that you could address in your own research.
There are various approaches to organizing the body of a literature review. Depending on the length of your literature review, you can combine several of these strategies (for example, your overall structure might be thematic, but each theme is discussed chronologically).
The simplest approach is to trace the development of the topic over time. However, if you choose this strategy, be careful to avoid simply listing and summarizing sources in order.
Try to analyze patterns, turning points and key debates that have shaped the direction of the field. Give your interpretation of how and why certain developments occurred.
If you have found some recurring central themes, you can organize your literature review into subsections that address different aspects of the topic.
For example, if you are reviewing literature about inequalities in migrant health outcomes, key themes might include healthcare policy, language barriers, cultural attitudes, legal status, and economic access.
If you draw your sources from different disciplines or fields that use a variety of research methods , you might want to compare the results and conclusions that emerge from different approaches. For example:
- Look at what results have emerged in qualitative versus quantitative research
- Discuss how the topic has been approached by empirical versus theoretical scholarship
- Divide the literature into sociological, historical, and cultural sources
A literature review is often the foundation for a theoretical framework . You can use it to discuss various theories, models, and definitions of key concepts.
You might argue for the relevance of a specific theoretical approach, or combine various theoretical concepts to create a framework for your research.
Like any other academic text , your literature review should have an introduction , a main body, and a conclusion . What you include in each depends on the objective of your literature review.
The introduction should clearly establish the focus and purpose of the literature review.
Depending on the length of your literature review, you might want to divide the body into subsections. You can use a subheading for each theme, time period, or methodological approach.
As you write, you can follow these tips:
- Summarize and synthesize: give an overview of the main points of each source and combine them into a coherent whole
- Analyze and interpret: don’t just paraphrase other researchers — add your own interpretations where possible, discussing the significance of findings in relation to the literature as a whole
- Critically evaluate: mention the strengths and weaknesses of your sources
- Write in well-structured paragraphs: use transition words and topic sentences to draw connections, comparisons and contrasts
In the conclusion, you should summarize the key findings you have taken from the literature and emphasize their significance.
When you’ve finished writing and revising your literature review, don’t forget to proofread thoroughly before submitting. Not a language expert? Check out Scribbr’s professional proofreading services !
This article has been adapted into lecture slides that you can use to teach your students about writing a literature review.
Scribbr slides are free to use, customize, and distribute for educational purposes.
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A literature review is a survey of scholarly sources (such as books, journal articles, and theses) related to a specific topic or research question .
It is often written as part of a thesis, dissertation , or research paper , in order to situate your work in relation to existing knowledge.
There are several reasons to conduct a literature review at the beginning of a research project:
- To familiarize yourself with the current state of knowledge on your topic
- To ensure that you’re not just repeating what others have already done
- To identify gaps in knowledge and unresolved problems that your research can address
- To develop your theoretical framework and methodology
- To provide an overview of the key findings and debates on the topic
Writing the literature review shows your reader how your work relates to existing research and what new insights it will contribute.
The literature review usually comes near the beginning of your thesis or dissertation . After the introduction , it grounds your research in a scholarly field and leads directly to your theoretical framework or methodology .
A literature review is a survey of credible sources on a topic, often used in dissertations , theses, and research papers . Literature reviews give an overview of knowledge on a subject, helping you identify relevant theories and methods, as well as gaps in existing research. Literature reviews are set up similarly to other academic texts , with an introduction , a main body, and a conclusion .
An annotated bibliography is a list of source references that has a short description (called an annotation ) for each of the sources. It is often assigned as part of the research process for a paper .
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Literature Review versus Literature Survey. What is the difference?
I have read several articles about literature reviews. At the same time I found some guides about literature surveys . I am confused... how is a literature survey different from a literature review? What is the standard procedure to conduct a literature survey without making it a literature review?
- 2 Welcome to Academia.SE. You have a couple of different questions in your post. We encourage multiple posts for multiple questions. See our tour and help center pages. Your questions about literature surveys and reviews are closely related and match the title. You should make a second post about how to pursue research given your background, since that it unrelated. – Ben Norris Dec 26, 2013 at 14:11
2 Answers 2
Reviewing the literature relevant to a given field is a standard part of doing research, as this serves to put your work into the context of the larger discipline in which you are working.
If there is an actual difference between the "literature survey" and the "literature review," it's that the latter can serve as a paper in and of itself, and is much more extensive than a literature survey, which is typically a major part of the introduction of a research paper.
The literature review as a standalone article could be compared to a "curated" overview of the literature in the field—who has done what, how do papers relate to one another, and what are the most important present and (possibly) future directions of work in such a field. Such papers can also be considerably longer than a traditional research paper, and some reviews might cite as many as a thousand references!
In comparison, the literature survey of a standard research article is usually much shorter (1-2 journal pages), and will not cite nearly as many papers (anywhere from 10 to 100, depending on the topic and the amount of relevant literature available).
- 2 Hi thanks for your comment. But I m still confused. I have seen survey papers are published and I have seen literature review sections in thesis. I mean aren't survey papers related to computer science are literature reviews ? – Npn Jan 1, 2014 at 14:51
- 3 In general, "review paper" is much more commonly used than "survey paper." Maybe CS prefers "survey paper," but essentially, there's no substantial difference between them. But every paper includes some sort of synopsis of existing literature; in a review or survey paper, it's the entire paper. – aeismail Jan 1, 2014 at 15:12
- Thanks ,I understood that review papers should be read to do a research. – Npn Jan 1, 2014 at 15:30
Well, I have written couple of survery/review articles published in prestigious journals here , here , and here and hence I think I can give you some hint on this question.
First View: One of the most important things to consider is that, these terms have been used differently in varied academic disciplines and even in some cases they are used interchangeably with negligible differences. Even in CS (my field), the way image processing scholars look at these terms may be different from networking researchers (I once experienced the comments I received from experts in image processing and realize how different they look at the works). So it might not be wrong if consider insignificant differences between these two terms.
What I describe here may be more applicable to CS. There are two different views at these terms that I describe here
Technically a feasible description around these two terms is that in survey works you should review the published papers and analyze, summarize, organize, and present findings in a novel way that can generate an original view to a certain aspect of the domain. For example, if researchers review the available research findings and conclude that electrical cars are emission-free vehicles, another researcher can review the same results and present an argument that building batteries themselves produce huge emission. The second contribution opens door for new research around emission-free production of car batteries. If we consider that survey paper is the result of literature survey, we can use the following definitions from CS journals.
- According to the definition of survey paper provided by IEEE Communications Surveys & Tutorials journal (one of the best CS journals), " The term survey, as applied here, is defined to mean a survey of the literature. A survey article should provide a comprehensive review of developments in a selected area ".
- In ACM Computing Survey (another prestigious CS journal), survey paper is described as “A paper that summarizes and organizes recent research results in a novel way that integrates and adds understanding to work in the field. A survey article emphasizes the classification of the existing literature, developing a perspective on the area, and evaluating trends.”
- In Elsevier journal of Computer Science Review, you will see here 4 that “Critical review of the relevant literature“ is required a component of every typical survey paper.
To summarize, these two terms can be distinguished using following notes (or maybe definitions)
Literature Survey: Is the process of analyzing, summarizing, organizing, and presenting novel conclusions from the results of technical review of large number of recently published scholarly articles. The results of the literature survey can contribute to the body of knowledge when peer-reviewed and published as survey articles
Literature Review: Is the process of technically and critically reviewing published papers to extract technical and scientific metadata from the presented contents. The metadata are usually used during literature survey to technically compare different but relevant works and draw conclusions on weaknesses and strengths of the works.
Second View: The second view over literature survey and review is that in survey, researchers usually utilize the author-provided contents available in the published works to qualitatively analyze and compare them with other related works. While in the former, you should not perform qualitative analysis. Rather it should be quantitative meaning that every research work under study should be implemented and benchmarked under certain criteria. The results of this benchmarking study can be used to compare them together and criticize or appreciate the works.
So basically you can look at current literature and find which approach is dominating in your field. Hope it helps. I try to revise it if I came a cross other points or useful comments here.
- 3 Up vote for Comprehensive answer. – user3135645 Dec 28, 2013 at 5:57
- 3 Nice answer (+1). I agree with you that the difference between the two terms is non-essential and preference in terminology depends mostly on the research discipline (field) and journal editors' preferences. Having said that, your distinction between the terms seems artificial, meaning that I don't see core logic that prevents applying both definitions to the opposite terms (unless I've missed some points). Also, I wanted to add that more accurate definitions should mention that literature survey or literature review is each both a process and an artifact , resulting from that process. – Aleksandr Blekh May 8, 2015 at 3:50
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Writing Research Papers
- Writing a Literature Review
When writing a research paper on a specific topic, you will often need to include an overview of any prior research that has been conducted on that topic. For example, if your research paper is describing an experiment on fear conditioning, then you will probably need to provide an overview of prior research on fear conditioning. That overview is typically known as a literature review.
Please note that a full-length literature review article may be suitable for fulfilling the requirements for the Psychology B.S. Degree Research Paper . For further details, please check with your faculty advisor.
Different Types of Literature Reviews
Literature reviews come in many forms. They can be part of a research paper, for example as part of the Introduction section. They can be one chapter of a doctoral dissertation. Literature reviews can also “stand alone” as separate articles by themselves. For instance, some journals such as Annual Review of Psychology , Psychological Bulletin , and others typically publish full-length review articles. Similarly, in courses at UCSD, you may be asked to write a research paper that is itself a literature review (such as, with an instructor’s permission, in fulfillment of the B.S. Degree Research Paper requirement). Alternatively, you may be expected to include a literature review as part of a larger research paper (such as part of an Honors Thesis).
Literature reviews can be written using a variety of different styles. These may differ in the way prior research is reviewed as well as the way in which the literature review is organized. Examples of stylistic variations in literature reviews include:
- Summarization of prior work vs. critical evaluation. In some cases, prior research is simply described and summarized; in other cases, the writer compares, contrasts, and may even critique prior research (for example, discusses their strengths and weaknesses).
- Chronological vs. categorical and other types of organization. In some cases, the literature review begins with the oldest research and advances until it concludes with the latest research. In other cases, research is discussed by category (such as in groupings of closely related studies) without regard for chronological order. In yet other cases, research is discussed in terms of opposing views (such as when different research studies or researchers disagree with one another).
Overall, all literature reviews, whether they are written as a part of a larger work or as separate articles unto themselves, have a common feature: they do not present new research; rather, they provide an overview of prior research on a specific topic .
How to Write a Literature Review
When writing a literature review, it can be helpful to rely on the following steps. Please note that these procedures are not necessarily only for writing a literature review that becomes part of a larger article; they can also be used for writing a full-length article that is itself a literature review (although such reviews are typically more detailed and exhaustive; for more information please refer to the Further Resources section of this page).
Steps for Writing a Literature Review
1. Identify and define the topic that you will be reviewing.
The topic, which is commonly a research question (or problem) of some kind, needs to be identified and defined as clearly as possible. You need to have an idea of what you will be reviewing in order to effectively search for references and to write a coherent summary of the research on it. At this stage it can be helpful to write down a description of the research question, area, or topic that you will be reviewing, as well as to identify any keywords that you will be using to search for relevant research.
2. Conduct a literature search.
Use a range of keywords to search databases such as PsycINFO and any others that may contain relevant articles. You should focus on peer-reviewed, scholarly articles. Published books may also be helpful, but keep in mind that peer-reviewed articles are widely considered to be the “gold standard” of scientific research. Read through titles and abstracts, select and obtain articles (that is, download, copy, or print them out), and save your searches as needed. For more information about this step, please see the Using Databases and Finding Scholarly References section of this website.
3. Read through the research that you have found and take notes.
Absorb as much information as you can. Read through the articles and books that you have found, and as you do, take notes. The notes should include anything that will be helpful in advancing your own thinking about the topic and in helping you write the literature review (such as key points, ideas, or even page numbers that index key information). Some references may turn out to be more helpful than others; you may notice patterns or striking contrasts between different sources ; and some sources may refer to yet other sources of potential interest. This is often the most time-consuming part of the review process. However, it is also where you get to learn about the topic in great detail. For more details about taking notes, please see the “Reading Sources and Taking Notes” section of the Finding Scholarly References page of this website.
4. Organize your notes and thoughts; create an outline.
At this stage, you are close to writing the review itself. However, it is often helpful to first reflect on all the reading that you have done. What patterns stand out? Do the different sources converge on a consensus? Or not? What unresolved questions still remain? You should look over your notes (it may also be helpful to reorganize them), and as you do, to think about how you will present this research in your literature review. Are you going to summarize or critically evaluate? Are you going to use a chronological or other type of organizational structure? It can also be helpful to create an outline of how your literature review will be structured.
5. Write the literature review itself and edit and revise as needed.
The final stage involves writing. When writing, keep in mind that literature reviews are generally characterized by a summary style in which prior research is described sufficiently to explain critical findings but does not include a high level of detail (if readers want to learn about all the specific details of a study, then they can look up the references that you cite and read the original articles themselves). However, the degree of emphasis that is given to individual studies may vary (more or less detail may be warranted depending on how critical or unique a given study was). After you have written a first draft, you should read it carefully and then edit and revise as needed. You may need to repeat this process more than once. It may be helpful to have another person read through your draft(s) and provide feedback.
6. Incorporate the literature review into your research paper draft.
After the literature review is complete, you should incorporate it into your research paper (if you are writing the review as one component of a larger paper). Depending on the stage at which your paper is at, this may involve merging your literature review into a partially complete Introduction section, writing the rest of the paper around the literature review, or other processes.
Further Tips for Writing a Literature Review
Full-length literature reviews
- Many full-length literature review articles use a three-part structure: Introduction (where the topic is identified and any trends or major problems in the literature are introduced), Body (where the studies that comprise the literature on that topic are discussed), and Discussion or Conclusion (where major patterns and points are discussed and the general state of what is known about the topic is summarized)
Literature reviews as part of a larger paper
- An “express method” of writing a literature review for a research paper is as follows: first, write a one paragraph description of each article that you read. Second, choose how you will order all the paragraphs and combine them in one document. Third, add transitions between the paragraphs, as well as an introductory and concluding paragraph. 1
- A literature review that is part of a larger research paper typically does not have to be exhaustive. Rather, it should contain most or all of the significant studies about a research topic but not tangential or loosely related ones. 2 Generally, literature reviews should be sufficient for the reader to understand the major issues and key findings about a research topic. You may however need to confer with your instructor or editor to determine how comprehensive you need to be.
Benefits of Literature Reviews
By summarizing prior research on a topic, literature reviews have multiple benefits. These include:
- Literature reviews help readers understand what is known about a topic without having to find and read through multiple sources.
- Literature reviews help “set the stage” for later reading about new research on a given topic (such as if they are placed in the Introduction of a larger research paper). In other words, they provide helpful background and context.
- Literature reviews can also help the writer learn about a given topic while in the process of preparing the review itself. In the act of research and writing the literature review, the writer gains expertise on the topic .
- How to Write APA Style Research Papers (a comprehensive guide) [ PDF ]
- Tips for Writing APA Style Research Papers (a brief summary) [ PDF ]
- Example APA Style Research Paper (for B.S. Degree – literature review) [ PDF ]
- Writing Research Paper Videos
- UCSD Library Psychology Research Guide: Literature Reviews
- Developing and Writing a Literature Review from N Carolina A&T State University
- Example of a Short Literature Review from York College CUNY
- How to Write a Review of Literature from UW-Madison
- Writing a Literature Review from UC Santa Cruz
- Pautasso, M. (2013). Ten Simple Rules for Writing a Literature Review. PLoS Computational Biology, 9 (7), e1003149. doi : 1371/journal.pcbi.1003149
1 Ashton, W. Writing a short literature review . [PDF]
2 carver, l. (2014). writing the research paper [workshop]. , prepared by s. c. pan for ucsd psychology.
Back to top
- Research Paper Structure
- Formatting Research Papers
- Using Databases and Finding References
- What Types of References Are Appropriate?
- Evaluating References and Taking Notes
- Citing References
- Writing Process and Revising
- Improving Scientific Writing
- Academic Integrity and Avoiding Plagiarism
- Writing Research Papers Videos
- Research Guides
- Health Science Libraries
Systematic Reviews & Other Review Types
- Review Types
- Systematic Review Service
- Databases & Grey Literature
- Tools for Critical Appraisal
What is a Systematic Review?
- What is a Rapid Review?
- What is a Scoping Review?
- What is a Mapping Review?
- What is a Meta-Synthesis?
- What is a Mixed Methods Review?
- What is an Integrative Review?
- What is an Overview of Reviews?
- What is a Review of Complex Interventions?
- What is a Diagnostic Test Accuracy Review?
- What is a Network Meta-Analysis?
- What is a Living Systematic Review?
Systematic Review vs. Literature (Narrative) Review
Traditional literature review / narrative review:
- Describes and appraises previous work but does not describe specific methods by which the reviewed studies were identified, selected and evaluated
- Overviews, discussions, critiques of previous work and the current gaps in knowledge
- Often used as rationale for new research
- To scope the types of interventions available to include in a review
- The writers assumptions and agenda often unknown
- Biases that occur in selecting and assessing the literature are unknown
- Cannot be replicated
- The scope of the review is identified in advance (eg review question and sub‐questions and/or sub‐group analysis to be undertaken)
- Comprehensive search to find all relevant studies
- Use of explicit criteria to include / exclude studies
- Application of established standards to critically appraise study quality
- Explicit methods of extracting and synthesizing study findings (qualitative or quantitative)
- May include a meta-analysis (quantitative synthesis) *optional
- Identifies, appraises and synthesizes all available research that is relevant to a particular review question
- Collates all that is known on a given topic and identifies the basis of that knowledge
- Comprehensive report using explicit processes so that rationale, assumptions and methods are open to scrutiny by external parties
- Can be replicated / updated
- Systematic reviews with narrowly defined review questions provide specific answers to specific questions
- Alternative questions that have not been answered usually need to be reconstructed by the reader
Source: Cochrane. Background to Systematic Reviews
This link will open a PDF document.
A systematic review is defined as “a review of the evidence on a clearly formulated question that uses systematic and explicit methods to identify, select and critically appraise relevant primary research, and to extract and analyze data from the studies that are included in the review.” The methods used must be reproducible and transparent.
Source: Undertaking Systematic Reviews of Research on Effectiveness. CRD’s Guidance for those Carrying Out or Commissioning Reviews. CRD Report Number 4 (2nd Edition). NHS Centre for Reviews and Dissemination, University of York. March 2001.
Image: EBM Pyramid and EBM Page Generator, copyright 2006 Trustees of Dartmouth College and Yale University. All Rights Reserved. Produced by Jan Glover, David Izzo, Karen Odato and Lei Wang.
When is a Systematic Review the most appropriate study design?
When answering questions of effectiveness comparing two different treatments or interventions.
Is your review question a complex intervention? Learn more about Reviews of Complex Interventions .
Choosing a Review Type: This guide explains other comprehensive literature reviews of similar methodology to the systematic review.
Here is a helpful article about review types. ( Meeting the Review Family: Exploring review types and associated information retrieval requirements, 2019,Sutton et al.)
You may also find the Review Ready Reckoner helpful!
- What Review is Right for You -tool
- What Type of Review is Right for You?- Decision Tree
- Review Ready Reckoner - Assessment Tool (RRRsAT)1 Table of Review Types
7 Stages of Conducting a Systematic Review
1. Gathering your team (Minimum of two reviewers with a third to serve as a tiebreaker)
A systematic review must have a team of two or greater. A systematic review cannot be completed by one person. Choose team members wisely and based on areas of expertise. A third team member is sometimes called a tiebreaker. They are to resolve disagreements for reviewers 1 and 2 for stages of the review that are blinded (screening, data extraction, critical appraisal) and are completed by two independent reviewers.
2. Questioning (Define a narrow question, may use PICO)
The PICO format is commonly used to define the research question into one that is a searchable question. In some cases, the PICO format may not work and another format can be used. The P in PICO is Patient/Problem or Person. I is for Intervention/Exposure/Therapy or Treatment. C is optional and is for Comparison (such as a placebo or another drug/therapy) and O is for Outcome(s), what is the expected or anticipated outcome you will find in the literature? A systematic review question should be narrow in scope. The purpose of a systematic review is to draw conclusions based on the evidence to answer that one well-defined and narrow question.
3. Planning (Create a protocol, plan methods & strategies, register protocol) * This course focuses on the planning stage
Having a plan in place is essential to a good quality review and by spending more time planning before the review takes place, you could avoid issues or errors that may slow down the process or be detrimental to the review. Planning includes seeing if the review is feasible, checking to make sure there are no conflicting reviews and also ensuring that there is a plan to carry out each stage of the review. Setting goals and timelines for the review is important as well as mapping out how the review project will be managed. This is also put into a document called a protocol. Registering the protocol is optional but highly recommended. The protocol also includes defining a priori what the selection criteria will be for the review in terms of inclusion and exclusion criteria for what studies should be screened by for inclusion in the review.
4. Searching/Screening (Exhaustive, transparent & repeatable searching for evidence/selecting studies)
Includes searching multiple databases, grey literature/clinical trial registries and handsearching of the literature (performed by the subject matter expert). It is best practice to involve a librarian or an information specialist in creating the comprehensive search, translating the search for databases or grey literature, documenting the search and deduplicating the repeating references in a citation manager and writing the search methods for the review. However, librarians are usually not involved in grey literature searching unless they are an expert in the subject matter. The review team member with the most subject matter expertise is the one who is best equipped to handsearch. The search stage may also include contacting other experts in the field to identify publications that have not been published yet. Systematic reviews include both published and unpublished literature to avoid a type of publication bias, called positive outcomes bias since positive outcomes are more likely to be published. Screening is done in two phases. The first phase is screening titles/abstracts (together) and the second phase is screening full texts. Screening is done independently by two reviewers, with a third reviewer serving as a tiebreaker. Reviewers should not move on to the full text screening phase until they have screened all of the titles and abstracts and each is a clear Yes or No without maybes remaining. Once they are ready to screen full texts, they must acquire and read all of the full texts and screen them based on the studies selection criteria. Only Yes's are included in the review but all No's must have a reason listed for exclusion. The new PRISMA 2020 requires reporting of study Near Misses too. Near misses are any studies that did not meet inclusion in the review but were very close to being included. Refer to the PRISMA 2020 http://www.prisma-statement.org/PRISMAStatement/ for more guidance on this stage. There are tools designed specifically to assist with the systematic review screening phase.
5. Managing & reporting
All methods must be fully reported, transparent and reproducible. The methods reported must also follow the recommended reporting guidance such as the PRISMA 2020. Reporting guidance can be identified by searching the Equator Network https://www.equator-network.org/ . Reporting guidance may be modified for review types similar to the systematic review. Refer to the many PRISMA 2020 extensions http://www.prisma-statement.org/Extensions/ for more information.
6. Data Extraction/Synthesizing the evidence
This stage includes appraising the evidence, interpreting results, performing a qualitative (narrative analysis) and/or a quantitative/meta-analysis. A meta-analysis is optional and is only done if it is feasible. A biostatistician or advanced training in statistics is recommended if doing a meta-analysis. There are many tools designed to assist with this process.
Evidence from studies is assessed using critical appraisal or Risk of Bias tools and/or checklists by study design.
Critical appraisal tools from Temple University, Systematic Review Research Libguide
More tools for critical appraisal and other stages of the review from the National Collaborating Centre for Methods and Tools
Data from all studies must also be extracted and put into tables/charts such as the Summary of Findings (SOF) table and is reported as a narrative synthesis. Data is collected from all studies if conducting a meta-analysis and its numerical findings are reported.
Here are some more detailed elaborations and examples:
Synthesis: Provide a narrative synthesis of the included studies individually and when combined (What are the differences and the commonality between studies?) or what can be demonstrated from the research when combining the studies together? A meta-analysis is optional. Create a data abstraction/extraction form for the purposes of collecting data that is similar across all included studies, include a ‘Characteristics of Studies’ table to show this data (see table example and this example (opens a PDF document) on page 48. Summary of Findings tables are provided starting on page 8 of the same document. Data extraction must be done using data extraction forms and independently/blinded by two reviewers, with a 3rd reviewer serving as a tiebreaker.
7. Drawing Conclusions, Writing & Publishing
After completing these steps, the results of the review must be shared. What is the level of evidence? Is there evidence in support of the question or are more studies needed to draw conclusions? What are your recommendations for future studies? What are the limitations to your systematic review? How do these findings from your review change what is known on the topic or question?
Discuss what contribution this review makes and how your review answers or addresses the original question. Discuss any gaps found in the research. Make recommendations for needed research to address these gaps and the importance of addressing them. Discuss the overall strength of evidence in support of your original question (strong, moderate or weak).
For more guidance on the systematic review stages, refer to the Cochrane Handbook (medicine/health sciences), the JBI Manual (health sciences/nursing) or the methods guides for Campbell Collaboration Systematic Reviews (Business, education, social welfare, criminal & justice topics and more).
Where to register your Systematic Review Protocol?
- PROSPERO -registry for medical/health systematic reviews
- OSF Preregistration Register a systematic review protocol, including non-medical/health topics. Choose to affiliate with Temple University.
- TUScholarShare-Temple IR
- SYREAF-systematic reviews for animals and food
- Joanna Briggs Institute Systematic Review Register
- Inclusive Systematic Review Registration Form This form, therefore, is a fall-back for more specialized forms and can be used if no specialized form or registration platform is available. Can be used for a variety of disciplines and review types.
Moller AM, Myles PS. What makes a good systematic review and meta-analysis? BJA. 2016. 117(4):428-430.
- How to do a Systematic Review: A Best Practice Guide for Conducting and Reporting Narrative Reviews, Meta-Analyses, and Meta-Syntheses
- JBI Manual: Systematic Reviews of Effectiveness
- JBI Manual: Systematic Reviews of Prevalence and Incidence
- JBI Manual: Systematic Reviews for Etiology and Risk
- JBI Manual: Systematic Reviews of Measurement Properties
- JBI manual: Systematic Reviews of Text and Opinion
- How to review the evidence: Systematic identification and review of the scientific literature
- BMJ OPEN Systematic Reviews Systematic Review articles published in the BMJ Open (Open-Access) medical journal.
- Lockwood, Geum. Systematic reviews: Guidelines, tools and checklists for authors (2017)
Systematic Review Standards
- Finding What Works in Healthcare: Standards for Systematic Reviews National Academies of Science, Engineering, & Medicine (Formerly Institute of Medicine (IOM)) Standards for systematic reviews.
- Equator Reporting Guidelines Decision Tree A tool to select the appropriate reporting guideline for your review. This link will open a PDF document.
- PRISMA: Transparent Reporting of Reviews and Meta-Analyses Reporting guidelines for reviews of Interventions.
- PRISMA Checklist
- PRISMA Flow Diagram
- PRISMA-S extension for search reporting
- MOOSE (Meta-analysis of Observational Studies in Epidemiology) Guidelines Reporting guidelines for observational reviews of cohort, case-control or cross-sectional studies. This link will open a PDF document.
- Cochrane Handbook of Systematic Reviews for Interventions A guide for Cochrane reviewers, explains the Cochrane systematic review process in great detail.
- MECIR-Updated Cochrane Methodological Expectations of Cochrane Intervention Reviews
- JBI Manual for Evidence Synthesis
- Campbell Collaboration
- The Campbell Collaboration MECCIR standards These standards are adapted from the Cochrane MECIR standards and are for disciplines beyond medicine such as crime, justice, education, international development, methods, social welfare, disability, business knowledge translation/implementation and food security.
- AHRQ Methods Guide for Effectiveness of Comparative Effectiveness Reviews
- Centre for Reviews and Dissemination (Univ. of York) Includes guides on how to conduct systematic reviews and more.
- BEME: Best Evidence Medical Education
- Guidelines for Systematic Reviews of Health Promotion and Public Health This link will open a PDF document.
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A general guide on how to conduct and write a literature review.
Please check course or programme information and materials provided by teaching staff , including your project supervisor, for subject-specific guidance.
What is a literature review?
A literature review is a piece of academic writing demonstrating knowledge and understanding of the academic literature on a specific topic placed in context. A literature review also includes a critical evaluation of the material; this is why it is called a literature review rather than a literature report. It is a process of reviewing the literature, as well as a form of writing.
To illustrate the difference between reporting and reviewing, think about television or film review articles. These articles include content such as a brief synopsis or the key points of the film or programme plus the critic’s own evaluation. Similarly the two main objectives of a literature review are firstly the content covering existing research, theories and evidence, and secondly your own critical evaluation and discussion of this content.
Usually a literature review forms a section or part of a dissertation, research project or long essay. However, it can also be set and assessed as a standalone piece of work.
What is the purpose of a literature review?
…your task is to build an argument, not a library. Rudestam, K.E. and Newton, R.R. (1992) Surviving your dissertation: A comprehensive guide to content and process. California: Sage, p49.
In a larger piece of written work, such as a dissertation or project, a literature review is usually one of the first tasks carried out after deciding on a topic. Reading combined with critical analysis can help to refine a topic and frame research questions. Conducting a literature review establishes your familiarity with and understanding of current research in a particular field before carrying out a new investigation. After doing a literature review, you should know what research has already been done and be able to identify what is unknown within your topic.
When doing and writing a literature review, it is good practice to:
- summarise and analyse previous research and theories;
- identify areas of controversy and contested claims;
- highlight any gaps that may exist in research to date.
Conducting a literature review
Focusing on different aspects of your literature review can be useful to help plan, develop, refine and write it. You can use and adapt the prompt questions in our worksheet below at different points in the process of researching and writing your review. These are suggestions to get you thinking and writing.
Developing and refining your literature review (pdf)
Developing and refining your literature review (Word)
Developing and refining your literature review (Word rtf)
Writing a literature review has a lot in common with other assignment tasks. There is advice on our other pages about thinking critically, reading strategies and academic writing. Our literature review top tips suggest some specific things you can do to help you submit a successful review.
Literature review top tips (pdf)
Literature review top tips (Word rtf)
Our reading page includes strategies and advice on using books and articles and a notes record sheet grid you can use.
Reading at university
The Academic writing page suggests ways to organise and structure information from a range of sources and how you can develop your argument as you read and write.
The Critical thinking page has advice on how to be a more critical researcher and a form you can use to help you think and break down the stages of developing your argument.
As with other forms of academic writing, your literature review needs to demonstrate good academic practice by following the Code of Student Conduct and acknowledging the work of others through citing and referencing your sources.
Good academic practice
As with any writing task, you will need to review, edit and rewrite sections of your literature review. The Editing and proofreading page includes tips on how to do this and strategies for standing back and thinking about your structure and checking the flow of your argument.
Editing and proofreading
Guidance on literature searching from the University Library
The Academic Support Librarians have developed LibSmart I and II, Learn courses to help you develop and enhance your digital research skills and capabilities; from getting started with the Library to managing data for your dissertation.
Searching using the library’s DiscoverEd tool: DiscoverEd
Finding resources in your subject: Subject guides
The Academic Support Librarians also provide one-to-one appointments to help you develop your research strategies.
1 to 1 support for literature searching and systematic reviews
Advice to help you optimise use of Google Scholar, Google Books and Google for your research and study: Using Google
Managing and curating your references
A referencing management tool can help you to collect and organise and your source material to produce a bibliography or reference list.
Referencing and reference management
Information Services provide access to Cite them right online which is a guide to the main referencing systems and tells you how to reference just about any source (EASE log-in may be required).
Cite them right
Published study guides
There are a number of scholarship skills books and guides available which can help with writing a literature review. Our Resource List of study skills guides includes sections on Referencing, Dissertation and project writing and Literature reviews.
Study skills guides
A literature review is a document or section of a document that collects key sources on a topic and discusses those sources in conversation with each other (also called synthesis ). The lit review is an important genre in many disciplines, not just literature (i.e., the study of works of literature such as novels and plays).
The objective of a Literature Review is to find previous published scholarly works relevant to an specific topic. Explains the background of research on a topic. Demonstrates why a topic is significant to a subject area. Discovers relationships between research studies/ideas. Identifies major themes, concepts, and researchers on a topic.
I'm not sure, but I think the literature review can be regarded as related work in more storytelling style. And yes, related work is more frequent in research papers because you don't have enough space to "build a conceptual structure that ties together all the key ideas".
Characterizes quantity and quality of literature, perhaps by study design and other key features. Attempts to specify a viable review: State-of-the-art review: Tend to address more current matters in contrast to other combined retrospective and current approaches. May offer new perspectives: Aims for comprehensive searching of current literature
A literature review is basically a review of as much of the literature as possible around a particular research problem/question. ... A review of studies is a review of as many research studies as possible around a particular research problem/question. This includes ONLY studies that have been conducted. 2 Sponsored by The Grizzled
Literature Review (Review of Related Literature - Research Methodology) Dilip Barad • 409k views Review of related literature Bean Malicse • 162.1k views Gender influence on Consumer Buying Behaviour Sovit Khurana • 23.8k views Thesis final copy Victor Michael Balisi • 40.5k views Chapter 1 Harmer 2007 lilianamonserrat • 7.1k views
Hi there, the related studies are those recent research or thesis that's already been published and approved, while the related literature are those articles, news, or statement coming from...
Hi there, the related studies are those recent research or thesis that's already been published and approved, while the related literature are those articles, news, or statement coming from...
Related literature are often from journalist or any officials whereas the opinions and facts presented matters and can affect the masses' opinion and thinking. Related Studies are from researchers or from official public offices, and thesis from different universities and libraries. Table of Contents Show What is RRS and RRL?
View full document. Literature vs. Studies In a research paper, the literature review is contained in the Review of Related Literature section. There is a need for us to define the difference between literature and studies first. • Literature refers to any written document which is related to the topic being investigated.
Related literature are often from journalist or any officials whereas the opinions and facts presented matters and can affect the masses' opinion and thinking. Related Studies are from researchers or from official public offices, and thesis from different universities and libraries.
Systematic Review vs. Literature Review It is common to confuse systematic and literature reviews as both are used to provide a summary of the existent literature or research on a specific topic. Even with this common ground, both types vary significantly.
Examples of literature reviews. Step 1 - Search for relevant literature. Step 2 - Evaluate and select sources. Step 3 - Identify themes, debates, and gaps. Step 4 - Outline your literature review's structure. Step 5 - Write your literature review. Free lecture slides. Frequently asked questions. Introduction.
Literature Review: Is the process of technically and critically reviewing published papers to extract technical and scientific metadata from the presented contents. The metadata are usually used during literature survey to technically compare different but relevant works and draw conclusions on weaknesses and strengths of the works.
A study background and a literature review are essential parts of a research paper. However, it is easy to get confused between them while writing your manuscript. What makes it so difficult to distinguish between the two?
Answer: In casual parlance, review of the related literature (RRL) and review of related studies (RRS) might be used interchangeably; however, there is a subtle difference. An RRL reviews as much of the literature possible around a particular research problem.
An "express method" of writing a literature review for a research paper is as follows: first, write a one paragraph description of each article that you read. Second, choose how you will order all the paragraphs and combine them in one document. Third, add transitions between the paragraphs, as well as an introductory and concluding ...
The study aimed to find out the benefits of online extensive reading which was done independently by Indonesian university students as well as its challenges. The findings of the study show that the students' perceived online extensive reading as beneficial in helping them in terms of reading activities, as well as improving students ...
A systematic review is defined as "a review of the evidence on a clearly formulated question that uses systematic and explicit methods to identify, select and critically appraise relevant primary research, and to extract and analyze data from the studies that are included in the review.". The methods used must be reproducible and transparent.
A literature review also includes a critical evaluation of the material; this is why it is called a literature review rather than a literature report. It is a process of reviewing the literature, as well as a form of writing. To illustrate the difference between reporting and reviewing, think about television or film review articles.