For Literature Review
A literature review is a comprehensive survey of scholarly research on a specific topic. Literature reviews are commonly included in doctoral dissertations and academic journal articles. The point of a literary report is to present all of the relevant research on a single topic in order to demonstrate how the researcher's own research—which is presented elsewhere in the report or article—builds on and contributes to existing knowledge to add new insight. In order for literature reviews to be both comprehensive and understandable, the student must devote significant effort to both the research and writing of the review. There are many guidelines for literature review research and writing, and students who are unfamiliar with these guidelines may benefit from perusing published literature reviews or academic models.
A literature review is a survey of research; it does not provide commentary on the research it presents. It is not, therefore, a reference project. In research papers, students analyze and engage the secondary sources they incorporate. In a literature review, a student should only report on those sources. For literature reviews to do this effectively requires the student to assume an objective tone and merely summarize research studies rather than comment on them.
The biggest challenge for literature review writers is often the organization of the document. The format for literature reviews will vary slightly depending on the type of document or study the student is writing. However, most literature reviews will be divided into several sections that will be clearly defined through informative headings. Often, these headings separate the research studies discussed in the literature review into categories in order for the literature review to progress in an organized and orderly fashion. To best execute this organization, it may be helpful for literature review writers to create an outline of the literature review before writing the document itself. This process is best completed with a word processor so that students can easily move information into varying orders. This outline should begin with the most general information first—the studies and sources that define the topic at hand and its significance—then progress to more detailed research studies.
When writing the review, each study should be discussed in its own paragraph or set of paragraphs that describe the authors of the research, the year in which the research was published, the objectives of the study, the way the study was executed, and the study's results or findings. After all of the studies have been reported on, the review should conclude by summarizing the main points presented in the review and pointing to any conclusions the research as a whole make about the topic at hand. It may also include a paragraph suggesting areas for future research regarding the topic.
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