How to Write a Literature Review

Updated July 12, 2018

A literature review is a report or overview of literature found relevant to an area of research or study. It provides an overview of current literature that is available on a given subject, usually in academia. Include the elements listed below for a complete and concise literature review.

Find materials that are relevant to the subject being presented. Choose literature that aids in the understanding and validation of the topic being discussed. Make sure the authors have the correct level of expertise and credentials and that the argument is convincing.

Include an overview of the subject or theory being presented, and the objective of the literature review in the introduction. This is basically a thesis statement and should make the writer's objective clear.

Divide the works into categories that support of the position, those against, and those offering alternative stances.

Include an explanation on how each work varies, and show similarities. Some experts may agree on one thing, but disagree on another. Include the most valid points, whether they are contradictory or not.

Conclude with which arguments were the most convincing and the most relevant to the proposed theory or subject. Insight as to how the topic relates to a broader topic is often included in the conclusion.

Edit and revise. Like any writing, check spelling, grammar and punctuation. Make sure thoughts follow a logical order.

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