How to Write Literature Review
A literature review is a comprehensive survey of scholarly research on a particular topic. Literature reviews are commonly included in journal articles, research studies, and doctoral dissertations. It is likely that students in the graduate or advanced undergraduate phases of their studies will have to do a literary report at some point, especially if their fields are in the sciences or social sciences. Many students are intimidated by such an assignment because they do not have experience with this type of writing, and assume that they do not know how to write composition reviews. However, writing a literary report simply requires the student to compile information in a straightforward and organized fashion. This process begins with research and learning how to write composition review notes.
The research for a literary report should be comprehensive. This means that it should cover all major studies relevant to the topic of the review. It is unlikely that all sources on one topic will be found in one university library. Therefore, it may require the student to look beyond his or her own university to sources housed elsewhere. Throughout the entire research process, the student should keep extremely detailed notes of each study he or she examines. This includes noting the type of study that was carried out, what or who the study subjects were, the method of the study, the study's means of data analysis, the study's findings, and the researcher's suggestions for further areas of study in the topic. It is imperative that a student take thorough notes; otherwise, the learner will likely forget the details of the study necessary for inclusion in the literature review.
A literature review is a survey of research; it does not provide commentary on the research it presents. Unlike research papers, wherein students are required to analyze and engage the secondary sources they incorporate, a literary report is strictly a report. Sometimes students unfamiliar with how to write composition reviews assume they need to insert their critical assessments of the studies; this is not the case. The literature review simply requires the student to provide detailed summaries of various research studies and report on them in an objective fashion. This in itself is not difficult if the student has recorded detailed notes of his or her research and has prepared for the writing process by turning these notes into an outline.
Because literature reviews have such a volume of information, some students may be daunted by how to write composition review outlines. This process will simply require time and a word processor so that students can freely move information around in different orders. Often, the first concern students have regarding how to write composition review outlines is where to begin. It is always best to begin with the most general information firstâ€”the studies and sources that define the topic at hand and its significanceâ€”then progress to more detailed studies. The outline should be organized by the subcategories of the topic. Within each subcategory, there should be a list of the relevant studies on that topic. Research studies that are similar or suggest similar implications should be grouped together.
Once the outline is complete, the student is ready to write the literature reviewâ€”a process that should be fairly straightforward now that the research is complete and the organization has been determined. Students who have further concerns about how to write composition reviews should consult their instructors or read examples of literature reviews to see how others have completed them in the past.
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