Definition of Literature Review

A Literature Review refers to a comprehensive summary of previous research on a topic. In most cases, the literature review includes past studies that have been done and include studies recorded and stored in scholarly articles, websites as well as books and other online and non-online references that may relate to topics in question. It is also true that the majority of literature review writings are guided by a theoretical framework which acts as a guide for authors using the past literary work.

Literature review Definition

Literature review Definition

Arguably, literature review provides a systematic analysis of past studies. It covers summary and classifies previous studies in different categories. The literature review also illustrates the theories and models used to conduct previous studies. This is because it covers a different body of knowledge, and it helps in giving an overview of past studies to research on the same topic. One can determine the similar methodologies, philosophies, claims as well as choices and interpretation of evidence or reliability of past studies that have been done on the same topic using concepts derived from the literature review section.

Purpose of Literature Review

The literature review helps a researcher to perform a number of functions.

  1. While writing and reviewing past studies, one can understand how the previous studies differ from the current research. This is important since it allows the researcher to understand the knowledge gaps that need to be filled through further study.
  2. Literature review also highlights issues and problems in past studies through the comparison of different studies.
  3. It is also worth noting that literature review allows students to demonstrate their knowledge of available sources, and this is important in the process of integrating new and past sources in a study.
  4. A literature review enumerates, describe, summarize, as well as objectively evaluate and clarify the results and findings of a
Purpose of Literature review

Purpose of Literature review

previous research study.

5. Moreover, the literature review is used to acknowledge the work of previous and similar work of others. It highlights the main points derived from similar studies and gives the reader a chance to identify weaknesses within past studies.

6. The literature review allows the reader to think critically, to remember, to understand and to analyze, evaluate, and apply the knowledge gathered from various sources of study.

7. Other major functions of literature review include the view that it helps to identify the procedure or style of writing among other writers or scholars around the world. It also helps the researcher to learn how to use different methods in his or her study. In most cases, the literature review provides researchers with new ways to interpret prior research after revealing the gaps to be filled. This is important since it reduces duplication and confusion on the current study. It is the literature review framework that helps researchers to fulfill the need for further research.

Role of Literature review

What should I do before writing a Literature Review?

The following factors must be considered before writing the literature review:

  1. The literature review is a written overview of major writings and other sources on a selected topic. Therefore, you should consider the sources or literature you will use. This may include reviewing the books, journal articles, and other government reports or Web sites you will use to collect data and evaluate them.
  2. You should also plan on how you will identify and analyze the information provided in the sources. Writing a literature review requires some skills, and one should plan on how to conduct the study. This is important at the beginning of the review.
  3. Identify the topic and the literature must be searched and information collected must be analyzed. One should also be ready to summarize and synthesize all the information so that it can be written into the review. You should also give the topic a narrow view and identify the key issues associated with the topic.
  4. Identify appropriate sources and search the literature. You can use books, journal articles as well as the internet and conference papers to search for information related to your topic. With the current stable online sources, one should use the internet to search and review information on its topic. Online databases are, and some of them include the use of Google Scholar and other academic databases such as Research-Gate and Zotero.
  5. Be ready to analyze the literature. You can do this by skimming each article and then categorizing them based on their major themes. You also define the key terms and select useful quotes from the review.  Check key trends and patterns from the sources. Consider checking the dates on the sources. Before you begin writing, check on the variables, findings, and theories underlying the study. This can help in summarizing the study and identifying the gaps to be filled.

Components of a Literature Review

When one is writing a literature review, they should understand the literature review summarizes what has already been written or researched in the field, showing patterns, disagreements, or gaps, and indicating how your research fits in.

The literature review includes several elements:

Introduction

This is the first part of literature review, and it contains the general issues within the study. It addresses the topic of the study and includes a thesis statement. One should also include the research question in this part.  The subject matter to be discussed and how the study will be organized should be in this part.

The overview of the topic and the objectives

Components of Literature review

Components of Literature review

The overview of the topic is where one is able to discuss his or her area of inquiry and present the questions they are investigating and their preliminary thesis. It is where the researcher is able to place his or her research in context and can solve the problem in question. Overview of the study outline the gaps that the researcher seeks to fill.

Theoretical framework and Categories of Literature

It is where the researcher will dive the available sources into different categories and discuss their roles in the research.  The sources are dissected and analyzed in this part. Various theoretical models are used to define abstract concepts, discuss the relationships between abstract concepts as well as to include statistics about the problem under investigation.  The sources used in this section may be based on a general theme that runs throughout the literature, and thorough discussions and explanations should accompany each category. The researcher should include the strengths, weaknesses, value to the overall survey and comparisons with other similar past sources.

Summary and Conclusions

Here you are allowed to give suggestions and indicate how the review contradicts your research as well as mention how your research will resolve the difference or the problem at hand. This part should be well written to indicate the key highlights from the literature.

6 Steps in writing a Literature Review

Step one-Understand the purpose

In the process of writing a literature review, one should be able to understand the purpose of the literature review.  This can be done by providing the introduction that explains why you are writing the review and how it will contribute to the success of the current study. In the process, one is also able to make some central claims about the current state of the literature, including the major trends, debates, and gaps that need to be filled by the researcher.

Step two-Decide on your topic

There are also other major steps and considerations that one must make in the process of writing a literature review.  The first step may involve finding a decent topic which one will use to get sources.  It is imperative that you find an interesting topic. In most cases, one should select a topic with a lot of research potential. An excellent example of a topic may be, “The effects of digital technology on the performance of global companies.”

Step three-Analyze and Evaluate the Literature

After selecting a topic, one should understand how to analyze and evaluate the literature in question. In this process, you will look through the reference lists to recent articles in your field and ensure that all the literature sources provided are valuable, valid and reliable. It is also imperative that one includes a varied point of view. This is effective since it help to analyze what the assumptions of writers are and the methods they use.

Step Four -Evaluate the Findings and Draw Conclusions

The next step will involve the evaluation of the drawn findings and conclusions. You should write down experts of the field and their names, especially those that are often mentioned and describe their viewpoints on the topic. One should also consider reviewing the various theories used and how they differ from work to work by different researchers. Different researchers mostly use different models, and considering this will help in the understanding of the literature analysis.

Step Five-Review and Code the Literature

Importantly, the literature review should be well organized. A good researcher should try to include all three parts of the review. This may begin by introducing the review, providing the fundamental theories and summarizing, or concluding the critical points from the review. The reviewer must explain the subject in question and provide supporting evidence on the topic of study.  The review should also explain the main methods used, and the results gained, as well as the viewpoint of the authors. The reviewer should also provide his or her personal viewpoint on the study.

Step Six-Provide your personal viewpoint and Summary of the study

It is also important that one provides analysis and summary of the past studies that have been done on the topic in question. While providing a personal view, one should consider indicating the main points as well as the limitation and significance of the review. This is important in the process of considering the significance of each work to the field.  In concluding the review, one should provide key insights from the study and provide a suggestion that can help in future studies.

Checklist for Literature Review

This is where one is able to check the summary of points and it may also include the consideration of other issues.

  • The title page must include the name of the researcher and the date of submission.
  • One should also ensure that the header is well provided.
  • You should review is the first page is well organized based on the instructions given.
Literature review checklist

Literature review checklist

  • One should also identify if the variables in the study are provided and there is a list of synonyms or alternates.
  • The sources provided should also be well cited in the study.
  • The researcher should ensure that the review is written purposefully and based on appropriate style and tone.
  • Other considerations may include checking the paper Title, the date reviewed as well as the proposed solutions and the level of the vocabulary used.  You should also proofread and edit your review before submission. This is important in reducing errors in the study. Opinions expressed and key facts provided should be checked.

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