How to Write Literature Review for your Research Project

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If you are looking for how to write literature review for your research Project, then this article is for you. Before getting to this stage, I believe you have gotten your topic, and you are ready to start working on your project.

This article will provide an overview that will guide you in writing a good literature review for your research project.

How to Write Literature Review for your Research Project

What is a Literature Review?

A Literature review is the survey of previously published work related to your area of research. It looks at scholarly articles, papers, books and others sources for materials related to your research interest. Thus providing a background for your research; background in the sense that it will gives your readers a broader perspective on how your research fits into your chosen field of study.

Why is it Important?

Part of the questions you should ask yourself before starting your research is the relevancy of the research to your field of study; that is where the Literature review comes in. The Literature review will:

  • Identify prior areas of research to prevent duplication of effort.
  • Identify gaps and the need for additional research, if the area are similar
  • Place your research within the context of existing literature, among other things

Common Structure of a Literature Review

First, let me point out that the length and structure of Literature review differs depending on the purpose and your research level. But as a rule of thumb, it should contain the following:

  • The Overview/Introduction: Here, you will define your research topic and establish your reasons, sequence and scope for the review ; Some important questions to consider include: are there previous work on your research interest? What are the perspectives of other researchers on them? What is your research objectives (although this is often covered in the Introduction, but it good to have it handy), etc.,
  • Main body/Research Outcome: Here you will organize the information you gathered into common themes, then provide insight on the relationship of your research interest and the general interest as reviewed from literature; Some Important questions to consider include: What were the outcomes of those research? How many of them support a particular position? How many are against? and who are those offering alternative approaches? (It also good to look at the different methods they used in coming to a particular conclusion as this will be valuable to your research work.
  • Conclusion: Here you will give a summary of the important aspect of the literature review, list out the gaps you have identify; what are the proposed areas for future research? What gaps will your current research address?

Steps in Writing a Literature Review

Here are the main steps on how to write literature review:

  • Narrow your research topic: The first and most important step is understanding your topic and narrowing it down to cover only your area of interest. This is where most people get it wrong, if you don’t do this at the initial stage, you may end up gathering materials that will not be relevant to your research
  • Search for relevant literature: You can search via your library database using selected keywords, published journals, books or using the internet.
  • Evaluate all selected article: Read and Streamlined all selected articles to synergizes study findings and conclusions
  • Identify themes, debates and gaps: Organize the selected articles into different themes by identifying patterns and sub-topics
  • Develop a Purpose Statement: This is the summary of the conclusion you have reached from the literature review on the research that has been conducted on your research interest
  • Write your literature review: Start putting all the pieces together
  • Read, review and edit

Final thought

When you are selecting articles for your review, it is important to prioritize current research article. This is very important in some area like Medical Sciences where most review becomes obsolete with time. But in Social Science, an historical perspective maybe required. It is also important to use only sources that are related to the research problem.

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