All college and university students are required to undertake Literature Review writing task as per of their dissertation project. A literature review chapter is perhaps the most influential section of the paper, providing the author with the information and data to complete other parts of the paper including Findings & Analysis and Discussion & Conclusions.
In most scientific fields, literature review or literature surveys have always remained in great demand due to the every growing need to produce scientific literature and publications. For example, compared to 1991, in 2008 three, eight, and forty times more papers were indexed in Web of Science on malaria, obesity, and biodiversity, respectively. Thus, it is vitally important to review the recent literature to write summaries. According to US National Library of Medicine Institutes of Health, literature reviews can help to identify research gaps, even though recognition for research primarily comes from primary research.
Reviewing the literature on a topic on which considerable amount of research has already been performed usually requires titanic amount of work to be done. Therefore, researchers having vast experience in a certain research problem are in excellent position to review the literature. Some simple instructions and tips are provided below to help you produce a high quality literature review.
Defining research topic and audience
Before doing anything else, the researcher should aim to define the research topic and the potential audience. However, choosing an appropriate topic for literature review is an extremely daunting task considering that there are so many issues in any field of study that need to be addressed. A good research topic is likely to develop into an excellent literature review. When selecting the research topic, it is important to make sure that it is interesting, well defined and an important aspect of the field. It can be helpful to review the list of key research questions in the published papers.
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Search and Data Collection
Having chosen a well-defined research topic, you should next aim to find and collect the most relevant and up to date data including journals, articles, textbooks and government publications. When searching for the literature, make sure to keep track of the search item you use and also make use of a paper management system. Furthermore, you should clearly define literature search criteria to find and retrieve the most relevant literature.
Once you have collected the required secondary data, you should start to writing down interesting pieces of insights, thoughts and information while reading. This approach will help you to save your valuable time. On the other hand, if you read the papers first and only afterwards start to write the review, you may not remember which author discussed what.
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Keeping it focused
It is recommended to keep your review focused. If possible, limit the number of citations and words. Do not include material for the sake of it, because such an approach may lead to you to a very complex territory where you will have too much to do at once.
More tips to help you write a perfect literature review
- Although should mainly focus on up to date publications, you should not completely forget older studies
- Just like formal research papers, literature reviews are also peer reviewed in order to improve their authenticity and reliability. Thus, it is important to make use of feedback in an efficient manner.
- You should find a logical structure to make sure your literature review is not only critical but also presentable, focused and well written.
- Be precise, consistent and critical