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Writing a Literature Review
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A literature review is a document or section of a document that collects key sources on a topic and discusses those sources in conversation with each other (also called synthesis ). The lit review is an important genre in many disciplines, not just literature (i.e., the study of works of literature such as novels and plays). When we say “literature review” or refer to “the literature,” we are talking about the research ( scholarship ) in a given field. You will often see the terms “the research,” “the scholarship,” and “the literature” used mostly interchangeably.
Where, when, and why would I write a lit review?
There are a number of different situations where you might write a literature review, each with slightly different expectations; different disciplines, too, have field-specific expectations for what a literature review is and does. For instance, in the humanities, authors might include more overt argumentation and interpretation of source material in their literature reviews, whereas in the sciences, authors are more likely to report study designs and results in their literature reviews; these differences reflect these disciplines’ purposes and conventions in scholarship. You should always look at examples from your own discipline and talk to professors or mentors in your field to be sure you understand your discipline’s conventions, for literature reviews as well as for any other genre.
A literature review can be a part of a research paper or scholarly article, usually falling after the introduction and before the research methods sections. In these cases, the lit review just needs to cover scholarship that is important to the issue you are writing about; sometimes it will also cover key sources that informed your research methodology.
Lit reviews can also be standalone pieces, either as assignments in a class or as publications. In a class, a lit review may be assigned to help students familiarize themselves with a topic and with scholarship in their field, get an idea of the other researchers working on the topic they’re interested in, find gaps in existing research in order to propose new projects, and/or develop a theoretical framework and methodology for later research. As a publication, a lit review usually is meant to help make other scholars’ lives easier by collecting and summarizing, synthesizing, and analyzing existing research on a topic. This can be especially helpful for students or scholars getting into a new research area, or for directing an entire community of scholars toward questions that have not yet been answered.
What are the parts of a lit review?
Most lit reviews use a basic introduction-body-conclusion structure; if your lit review is part of a larger paper, the introduction and conclusion pieces may be just a few sentences while you focus most of your attention on the body. If your lit review is a standalone piece, the introduction and conclusion take up more space and give you a place to discuss your goals, research methods, and conclusions separately from where you discuss the literature itself.
- An introductory paragraph that explains what your working topic and thesis is
- A forecast of key topics or texts that will appear in the review
- Potentially, a description of how you found sources and how you analyzed them for inclusion and discussion in the review (more often found in published, standalone literature reviews than in lit review sections in an article or research paper)
- Summarize and synthesize: Give an overview of the main points of each source and combine them into a coherent whole
- Analyze and interpret: Don’t just paraphrase other researchers – add your own interpretations where possible, discussing the significance of findings in relation to the literature as a whole
- Critically Evaluate: Mention the strengths and weaknesses of your sources
- Write in well-structured paragraphs: Use transition words and topic sentence to draw connections, comparisons, and contrasts.
- Summarize the key findings you have taken from the literature and emphasize their significance
- Connect it back to your primary research question
How should I organize my lit review?
Lit reviews can take many different organizational patterns depending on what you are trying to accomplish with the review. Here are some examples:
- Chronological : The simplest approach is to trace the development of the topic over time, which helps familiarize the audience with the topic (for instance if you are introducing something that is not commonly known in your field). If you choose this strategy, be careful to avoid simply listing and summarizing sources in order. Try to analyze the patterns, turning points, and key debates that have shaped the direction of the field. Give your interpretation of how and why certain developments occurred (as mentioned previously, this may not be appropriate in your discipline — check with a teacher or mentor if you’re unsure).
- Thematic : If you have found some recurring central themes that you will continue working with throughout your piece, you can organize your literature review into subsections that address different aspects of the topic. For example, if you are reviewing literature about women and religion, key themes can include the role of women in churches and the religious attitude towards women.
- Qualitative versus quantitative research
- Empirical versus theoretical scholarship
- Divide the research by sociological, historical, or cultural sources
- Theoretical : In many humanities articles, the literature review is the foundation for the theoretical framework. You can use it to discuss various theories, models, and definitions of key concepts. You can argue for the relevance of a specific theoretical approach or combine various theorical concepts to create a framework for your research.
What are some strategies or tips I can use while writing my lit review?
Any lit review is only as good as the research it discusses; make sure your sources are well-chosen and your research is thorough. Don’t be afraid to do more research if you discover a new thread as you’re writing. More info on the research process is available in our "Conducting Research" resources .
As you’re doing your research, create an annotated bibliography ( see our page on the this type of document ). Much of the information used in an annotated bibliography can be used also in a literature review, so you’ll be not only partially drafting your lit review as you research, but also developing your sense of the larger conversation going on among scholars, professionals, and any other stakeholders in your topic.
Usually you will need to synthesize research rather than just summarizing it. This means drawing connections between sources to create a picture of the scholarly conversation on a topic over time. Many student writers struggle to synthesize because they feel they don’t have anything to add to the scholars they are citing; here are some strategies to help you:
- It often helps to remember that the point of these kinds of syntheses is to show your readers how you understand your research, to help them read the rest of your paper.
- Writing teachers often say synthesis is like hosting a dinner party: imagine all your sources are together in a room, discussing your topic. What are they saying to each other?
- Look at the in-text citations in each paragraph. Are you citing just one source for each paragraph? This usually indicates summary only. When you have multiple sources cited in a paragraph, you are more likely to be synthesizing them (not always, but often
- Read more about synthesis here.
The most interesting literature reviews are often written as arguments (again, as mentioned at the beginning of the page, this is discipline-specific and doesn’t work for all situations). Often, the literature review is where you can establish your research as filling a particular gap or as relevant in a particular way. You have some chance to do this in your introduction in an article, but the literature review section gives a more extended opportunity to establish the conversation in the way you would like your readers to see it. You can choose the intellectual lineage you would like to be part of and whose definitions matter most to your thinking (mostly humanities-specific, but this goes for sciences as well). In addressing these points, you argue for your place in the conversation, which tends to make the lit review more compelling than a simple reporting of other sources.
Find the best tips and advice to improve your writing. Or, have a top expert write your paper.
How To Write Literature Review For Thesis? Read On To Find Out!
Table of Contents
- 1. What is a literature review?
- 2. Thesis literature review example
- 3. Importance of the thesis literature review
- 4. Literature review structure
- 4.1. Step 1: Look for the Relevant Scholarly Resources
- 4.2. Step 2: Evaluate the Resources
- 4.3. Step 3: Identify Gaps in Current Resources
- 4.4. Step 4: Develop the Outline of the Master Thesis Literature Review
Types Of Literature Review
- 4.5. Write Your Literature Review
- 4.6. Step 7: Write Your Bibliography
What Is A Literature Review
A thesis literature review is a complete analysis of scholarly sources on a selected topic of study. It is crafted to give an overview of the current knowledge, to help the researcher know the methods, theories, and gaps that exist in research.
Thesis Literature Review Example
Why is Literature Review for Thesis Important?
When you are working on your graduate thesis, one of the core components needed to make it complete is a literature review. Here is a demonstration of the main benefits of carrying a literature review for your thesis.
- Allows you to show how familiar you are with the topic of study.
- Offers you an opportunity to develop a comprehensive methodology.
- Demonstrate how your research will address the existing gap in your topic of study.
- Make your contribution to your area of the study felt.
Doing a literature review requires you to collect and analyze scholarly resources that are related to your topic. When conducting a literature review, the process can be broken down into five key stages.
Literature Review Structure
- Look for relevant scholarly resources . This is checking for different resources, such as journals and books, which are related to your study.
- Evaluate the resources. This is careful sorting of the different resources to identify the most relevant ones.
- Identify debates and gaps in these resources . This is further analysis of the scholarly resources to establish the main arguments and possible gaps in research.
- Develop your outline. This is the format of the literature review that tells you what you are supposed to discuss at different points.
- Write the literature review . This is the final step that involves putting down the findings that you found after analyzing different resources.
To help you craft a good literature review for thesis, here are the main steps that you should follow.
Step 1: Look for the Relevant Scholarly Resources
By the time you get to writing the thesis for your literature, you will have worked on chapter one (introduction) that clearly defines the topic. But you can still relook at it before setting off to look for the relevant resources. By defining the problem, you will be able to look at the resources that are closely related to the study questions and problems.
Another method of looking for relevant studies is searching using the keyword. Consider using the main databases for the latest journals, books and articles. Some of these databases include:
- Project Muse .
- Google Scholar .
- Your university library.
After pulling out different resources, check whether it is relevant by going through the abstract. If the resource is relevant, peruse to the last section, the bibliography, for additional resources. When you find a specific resource recurring in the resources, it means it is very relevant.
Step 2: Evaluate the Resources
Once you have gathered an assortment of resources, the chances are that not all of them will be used during the study. So you will need to evaluate them further to determine which ones to use in the study. So here is how to evaluate every resource:
- What problem is addressed in the resource?
- How has the author defined the main concepts?
- What theories and methods are used in the resource?
- What is the conclusion of the resource?
- What is the relationship between the resource and other resources?
- How does the resource contribute to knowledge about the topic?
You should only pick the most relevant resources. Also, it is important to appreciate that if you are in the sciences, the review has to be focused on the latest resources. But if your thesis is in humanities, it might be necessary to check older resources to bring out the historical perspectives. As you read through, keep track of the resources by taking notes, capturing the pages, and citing them properly.
Step 3: Identify Gaps in Current Resources
Before you can organize the arguments in the literature, it is prudent to comprehend how the resources are related. So what should you look for?
- Patterns and trends, especially in theories, methods, and results.
- Debates, major conflicts, and contradictions.
- Gaps on what is missing in the literature.
- Pivotal publications.
Step 4: Develop the Outline of the Master Thesis Literature Review
The outline of your literature provides you with a breakdown of what you should discuss at what different stages. There are a number of strategies that you can use to prepare your literature review.
- Chronological . This approach involves tracing the development based on the topic occurrence over time. It is the simplest strategy.
- Thematic . This strategy involves presenting the review based on different themes.
- Methodological . If the resources you use for the review have varying methods, a methodological presentation can helps you to compare the results as well as conclusions.
- Theoretical . This approach involves exploring the theories, definitions, concepts, and models used in the resources. You might also want to focus on particular theories depending on the topic of study.
Note that you can opt to use one or combine several of them to make your literature review more articulate.
Step 5: Write Your Literature Review
Like other forms of academic writing, your literature review should take this format: introduction, body, and conclusion. Here is what to include in every section:
- Introduction: This should be used to give the focus of the literature review.
- Body: In the body of the literature review, you get into the finer details of the review. Here you should do the following:
- Summarize, analyze, and interpret.
- Evaluate comprehensively.
- Write carefully in properly structured and easy to read paragraphs.
Literature Review Example
To help you craft a great literature review thesis, it is important to also have the entire project in mind. This means that although you are reviewing literature, the methods you will use should be clear the back of your mind. Here is a thesis literature review example paragraph. The paragraph is borrowed from literature review of a thesis on the effects of cyberbullying.
“ Cyberbullying gives the bully a much larger spectrum to choose from when it comes to how exactly they want to intimidate their victims, which may be why it is often easier for them to carry out the act. Of all the different ways to cyberbully Faucher et al. (2014) found the most common platforms for cyberbullying to be social media, text messaging, and email, which were used to bully students about half of the time followed up by blogs forums and chat rooms which were 25 percent. This is no surprise that social media is the most common platform for cyberbullying because it can allow for the bully to remain completely anonymous to your average victim. This allows people who may not fit the mold of your average bully to create a fake account and build their own persona in order to bully others.”
Once you have written the body of the literature review, you still need to conclude it. This is a summary of the literature review that captures the main points that you have discussed.
Step 6: Write Your Bibliography
This guide on how to write literature review for thesis cannot be complete without including a bibliography. This is a complete list of all the resources that you have used during the review. It is important to ensure that you follow the method that your supervisor recommends for formatting and referencing. See two reference examples presented below.
Abeele, M., & Cock, R. (2013). Cyberbullying by mobile phone among adolescents: The role of gender and peer group status. Communications: The European Journal of Communication Research, 38(1), 107-118. Doi:10.1515/commun-2013-0006
Arntfield, M. (2015). Toward a Cybervictimology: Cyberbullying, Routine Activities Theory, and the Anti-Sociality of Social Media. Canadian Journal Of Communication, 40(3), 371-388
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- How It Works
Step-by-Step Guide to Writing a Thesis Literature Review
A thesis literature review is one of the most important steps in writing a thesis. It is a complete survey of all scholarly articles and resources available for a particular topic. Now, let us take a closer look at the peculiarities of writing a thesis literature review.
How To Write Literature Review For Thesis
A literature review helps you evaluate and assess the current knowledge available on a topic. It also helps you identify theories, methods and gaps that exist. In order to understand how to write a literature review here are five steps that you need to follow:
Look for Relevant Literature
To begin your search for relevant literature, you need to have at least your working title in place. The search for any literature must be related to the research questions and problems.
When a literature review or thesis itself is your assignment, choose a focus subject and create a central question that will guide your search. These questions should be answerable only with a review of the publications that already exist.
One example of a literature review questions is:
Does social media lead to body image issues in Generation Z?
Once this question is set, make a list of keywords to help your search. In case of the above question, some examples of keywords are Facebook, Social Media, Body Image, Mental Health, Self-Esteem. Adolescents, Generation Z, Youth etc.
Then start collecting various sources. Some recommended databases are:
University Library JSTOR Google Scholar Medline Project Muse EBSCO EconLit Inspec
Use multiple keywords separated by Boolean operators like and, not and or to get more results.
Evaluate the Available Sources
Reading the abstract will help you understand whether a particular source must be included in your literature review thesis. If any citations are recurring, then they are most likely relevant and important for your topic.
When evaluating the sources, here are some things to keep in mind:
- Question addressed by the author
- Key concepts and their definition
- Key theories and methods
- The author’s approach
- Results of the study
- Comparison of the source with other literature related to the subject
- The contribution of the publication to your topic
- Strengths and weaknesses of the publication
The sources that you list must be credible. For instance, high citation count on Google Scholar indicates the relevance of the paper. As you review each publication take notes for the ones that you wish to list in your literature review. Correct citation is a must to avoid issues like plagiarism.
Identify Various Debates, Themes and Gaps
Your master thesis literature review will help you understand the existing literature better. You will be able to see the connection between different sources and the gaps that exist in them.
As you prepare your literature review, pay attention to:
- Various patterns and trends: Do certain ideas repeat in different citations? Does a similar methodology recur?
- Different themes: What are the concepts and questions that different sources address?
- Debates, contradictions and conflicts: Where do you notice opposing ideas in the literature?
- Important publications: Are there any publications that introduced novel ideas or influential theories that gave the field a new direction?
- Gaps: What do you think is missing in the literature?
With this step, you can figure out the structure of your literature review. With the above example on social media and its impact on body image, for instance, you will see the following trends and gaps:
The research is mostly targeted towards young women. The interest in the visual elements of social media steadily increases There is no research available on platforms like Snapchat and Instagram that are primarily visual media.
Prepare an Outline for Your Literature Review
You need to have a rough idea of how you plan to approach the literature review before you start writing. This will create a working thesis literature review example that you can build on. There are different options available for you to arrange the literature available:
- Chronological : Understand how a particular topic has developed over time. When you choose this strategy, make sure that you don’t merely list the literature but also follow the order. This will also help you understand why some developments occurred in important literature.
- Thematic : If you have noticed that certain themes are recurring, it is a good idea to organize the sources into various subsections. These subsections will include all the sources that address a particular aspect of the given topic.
- Compare the results of quantitative and qualitative research
- List the differences between theoretical and empirical approaches towards a particular subject.
- Theoretical : The literature review helps understand the different models, theories and key concepts related to a particular subject. In this step, you can focus on one theoretical approach or can compare different theories.
Writing the Literature Review
Now that you have all the sources and information available, you can prepare the actual thesis literature review. It should include the following elements:
- The introduction: Use the introduction to state the purpose and focus of your literature review. If you are writing the literature review for thesis, make sure that you talk about the central issue that your research will address and provide a summary of existing literature. For stand-alone reviews, provide a background about the subject, the relevance and the scope of existing literature.
- Provide an overview of the main topics covered in each source and then combine them.
- Add your own views and interpretations when possible.
- Write about the strengths and weaknesses of the chosen sources
- Use paragraphs that are well-structured.
- Conclusion: This is just as important as your introduction. Summarize the key results of the literature available and their importance. In case of a literature review for a dissertation or a thesis, make sure you mention how your research will address the existing gaps and include novel information. In case of a stand-alone literature review, provide a summary of the implications of different resources available. You can also provide suggestions for research in the future.
If you are having trouble writing literature review for thesis, our experts can help you . Our writers have years of experience creating the perfectly structured literature review for students from various fields of study. You can also access various literature review samples to get a head start on yours.
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Wie führt man einen Literatur-Review durch?
Veröffentlicht am 9. November 2015 von Annelien Krul . Aktualisiert am 15. August 2023.
Wenn du eine Abschlussarbeit schreibst, ist es unbedingt nötig, dass du einen Literatur-Review durchführst. Aber was genau bedeutet das? Wie strukturierst du in erster Linie diesen Review und wie integrierst du anschließend die Informationen, die du findest, in deine Arbeit?
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Was ist ein literatur-review, literatur-wegweiser, wie verweist du auf deine quellen, standardsätze die sie verwenden können, häufig gestellte fragen.
Bei einem Literatur-Review handelt es sich um eine Methode, die angewandt wird, um Wissen, das bereits in Bezug auf ein bestimmtes Thema oder Problem besteht, zu sammeln. Diese Informationen können in verschiedenen Quellen, wie Zeitschriftenartikel, Bücher, Papers, Abschlussarbeiten und Archivmaterial, gefunden werden.
Durch die Durchführung eines Literatur-Reviews kannst du dir einen Einblick in bereits bestehende Kenntnisse und Theorien in Bezug auf dein Thema verschaffen. Dies stellt außerdem sicher, dass deine Abschlussarbeit über eine starke wissenschaftliche Fundierung verfügt.
Wenn er richtig durchgeführt wird, entsteht aus einem Literatur-Review nicht nur eine einfache Liste oder Zusammenfassung der verfügbaren Daten. Dein Ziel ist es stattdessen, die relevantesten Ideen und Informationen, die du herausgefunden hast, im Rahmen deines theoretischen Rahmens kritisch zu diskutieren.
Was ist der Unterschied zwischen einem Literatur-Review und einem systematic Review?
Ein systematic Review ist systematischer und formaler als ein Litertur-Review.
Bei einem Literatur-Review werden existierende Arbeiten qualitativ zusammenfasst und evaluiert, ohne dass eine formale, explizite Methode verwendet wird.
Was ist der Unterschied zwischen einem Literatur-Review und einem theoretischen Rahmen?
Der Literatur-Review dient als echter Grundstein für die Analyse des Problems, das du untersuchst. Abhängig vom Aufbau deiner Abschlussarbeit kann er auch als Grundlage verwendet werden, um einen umfassenden theoretischen Rahmen zu entwickeln.
Beispiel theoretische Rahmen
Vorbereitende Erforschung des Problems
Sobald du einen allgemeinen Überblick über das Problem und die Forschungsfragen, die du in deiner Abschlussarbeit ansprechen möchtest, hast, ist der erste Schritt oft, mit einem Literatur-Review zu beginnen. Dies ist eine wertvolle Möglichkeit, um dich selbst innerhalb des Forschungsfeldes besser zu orientieren und dich auf das Problem, das du untersuchen willst, genauer auszurichten.
Diese Einblicke in die bestehenden Kenntnisse und Theorien, die du durch den Literatur-Review gewinnst, werden dir auch dabei helfen, einen starken wissenschaftlichen Ausgangspunkt für den Rest deiner Forschung zu schaffen.
Nachdem du eine klare Problemstellung und Forschungsfrage(n) bestimmt hast, ist der nächste Schritt, dass du dich eingehender in dein Thema und die einschlägige Literatur vertiefst.
Dies kann eine echte Herausforderung sein, angesichts der Menge der verfügbaren Literatur und der begrenzten Zeit, die dir unter Umständen für das Schreiben deiner Abschlussarbeit zur Verfügung steht. Deshalb ist es wichtig, dass du an diesen Prozess so effizient und systematisch wie möglich herangehst.
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Hältst du dich an diesen Vier-Stufen-Wegweiser, wird dir das dabei helfen, deinen Literatur-Review effektiv durchzuführen.
- Literatur sammeln
- Literatur bewerten und auswählen
- Literatur verarbeiten
Der erste Schritt umfasst, dass du dich selbst auf dein Thema ausrichtest, damit du ein umfassenderes Bild des Untersuchungsgebietes erlangst. Dazu gehört auch die Erstellung einer Liste von Schlüsselbegriffen, die als Grundlage für den nächsten Schritt dient.
- Lies eine aktuelle Publikation zu deinem Thema. Wähle eine Publikation von einem renommierten Autor, in der alle (oder möglichst viele) Facetten deines Themas erörtert werden. Dadurch erhältst du einen allgemeinen Überblick über dein Forschungsfeld. Frage deinen Betreuer, falls Fragen auftauchen.
- Notiere während des Lesens die Begriffe, die dir am wichtigsten/relevantesten erscheinen.
- Identifiziere auch die wichtigsten/relevantesten Begriffe deines (Ausgangs-) Problems und deiner Forschungsfrage(n).
- Nonverbale Kommunikation
- Nonverbale Signale
- Nonverbale Gesten
2. Literatur sammeln
Diese Vorbereitungsarbeit macht es nun viel einfacher, nach spezifischer Literatur und nach anderen Quellen zu suchen. Diese Suche beginnt oftmals online. Dabei ist es sehr wichtig, dass die richtigen Schlüsselbegriffe verwendet werden, weshalb der erste Schritt dieses Wegweisers die Zusammenstellung einer Liste umfasst.
Suche nach diesen Begriffen sowohl in deutscher Sprache als auch in allen anderen Sprachen, in denen du über Lesekompetenzen verfügst. Es ist auch hilfreich zu versuchen, Synonyme und verschiedene Kombinationen von Begriffen zu verwenden.
Es gibt viele verschiedene Arten von Datenbanken, die du vielleicht durchforsten möchtest:
- Der Online-Katalog deiner Schule oder der Universitätbibliothek. Die meisten wissenschaftlichen Bibliotheken haben einen großen Bestand an physischen Ressourcen, einschließlich Büchern, Papers, Zeitschriften und Magazinen. Die meisten haben jedoch ihre Angebote exponentiell durch das Abonnieren wissenschaftlicher Ressourcen, einschließlich Fachzeitschriften sowie wissenschaftlicher Datenbanken (siehe unten), erweitert.
- Google Scholar. Über www.scholar.google.de gelangst du zu der speziellen Suchmaschine von Google für wissenschaftliche Literatur. Wenn du auf einen Artikel, an dem du interessiert bist, nicht kostenlos zugreifen kannst, versuche stattdessen über die Bibliothek deines Instituts darauf zuzugreifen.
- Länderspezifische Datenbanken. Manche Datenbanken werden auf nationaler Ebene betrieben. Beispielsweise kann auf die Datenbank PiCarta fast immer über Bibliotheken niederländischer Institute zugegriffen werden. Sie enthält Daten zu allen verfügbaren Publikationen in den Niederlanden, einschließlich Büchern und Magazinen, die nicht in deiner eigenen Bibliothek verfügbar sind.
- Fachübergreifende Datenbanken. Datenbanken wie JSTOR und EBSCO sind digitale Bibliotheken, die Fachzeitschriften, Bücher und Primärliteratur zu einer Vielzahl von Themen beinhalten. Die meisten Institutsbibliotheken abonnieren mehrere davon.
- Fachspezifische Datenbanken. Mehrere Datenbanken konzentrieren sich auf bestimmte Disziplinen (oder Gruppen von verwandten Disziplinen). Ein Beispiel hierfür ist die AGRIS-Datenbank, die ein breites Spektrum an Themen in Bezug auf Landwirtschaft und Umwelt abdeckt.
Wenn du eine nützliche Quelle gefunden hast, prüfe die Biografie dieser Publikation auf andere relevante Quellen (dies wird als „Schneeball“-Forschungsmethode bezeichnet). Taucht ein Autorname immer wieder auf? Dann bedeutet das normalerweise, dass diese Person eine umfangreiche Forschung zu diesem Thema geleistet hat.
Ein Blick auf seine/ihre Webseite oder die Suche nach seinem/ihrem Namen direkt in einem (Online-) Katalog wird wahrscheinlich zu weiteren Ergebnissen führen.
3. Literatur bewerten und auswählen
Es ist wahrscheinlich, dass du eine überwältigende Menge an Literatur entdeckst. Da dir nur ein begrenztes Ausmaß an Zeit zur Verfügung steht, ist es wichtig, dass du dich auf die wichtigsten Quellen konzentrierst. Wir schlagen vor, die Literatur, die du gefunden hast, zuerst in Hinblick auf ihre Relevanz und anschließend auf ihre wissenschaftliche Qualität zu bewerten.
Relevanz Eine relevante Publikation ist eine, die gut zu deinem Thema oder deinem Problem passt. Um die Relevanz eines Buches oder Artikels, ohne es/ihn in seiner Gesamtheit zu lesen, zu bestimmen, beginne nur mit der Einleitung und dem Fazit . Dies wird dir häufig genügend Informationen liefern, um zu beurteilen, ob die Publikation für deine Arbeit relevant ist.
Qualität Die Qualität einer Publikation wird durch eine Reihe von Faktoren bestimmt. Als allgemeine Regel gilt: Versuche nur die Artikel, die in renommierten Fachzeitschriften veröffentlicht wurden, zu verwenden. Rankings wie die Journal Quality List helfen dir dabei herauszufinden, welche Zeitschriften qualitativ sind.
Ein Blick auf die Fachkenntnisse mitwirkender Autoren kann ebenfalls hilfreich sein. Fachkundige Autoren sind normalerweise einem akademischen Institut zugehörig, publizieren umfangreich und werden häufig von anderen zitiert.
Bedenke, dass Informationen von Webseiten, mit Ausnahme von Webseiten, die von wissenschaftlichen, staatlichen oder zwischenstaatlichen Institutionen betrieben werden, häufig nicht zuverlässig sind. Es ist auch wichtig, wenn möglich die neueste Literatur zu nutzen; wenn du das nicht machst, läufst du Gefahr, deine Arbeit auf veralteten Informationen aufzubauen.
4. Literatur verarbeiten
Sobald du die Literatur, auf die du dich konzentrieren willst, bestimmt hast, findet im nächsten Schritt die Verarbeitung der Informationen, die du herausgefunden hast, statt (zum Beispiel durch eine Problemanalyse oder einen theoretischen Rahmen). Es ist natürlich wichtig, damit zu beginnen, die ausgewählten Publikationen gründlich zu studieren. Stell dir dabei die folgenden Fragen:
- Was ist das zu untersuchende Problem und wie nimmt es die Forschung in Angriff?
- Was sind die Schlüsselkonzepte und wie werden diese definiert?
- Welche Theorien und Modelle verwendet der Autor?
- Was sind die Ergebnisse und Schlossfolgerungen der Studie?
- Wie steht diese Publikation verwandten Publikationen innerhalb dieses Forschungsfeldes gegenüber?
- Wie kann ich diese Forschung auf meine eigene anwenden?
Die Analyse all deiner Quellen auf diese Art und Weise wird dir ein klares Bild des Forschungsfeldes und wie deine Forschung dazu passt, vermitteln. Danach bist du dazu in der Lage, die Literatur auf eine kritische und gut fundierte Weise zu diskutieren.
Die Art und Weise, wie du die Ergebnisse deines Literatur-Reviews präsentieren sollst, variiert je nach Programm. Die entsprechenden Leitlinien deines Fachgebiets sollten dir zur Verfügung gestellt werden. Wenn du den Literatur-Review verwendest, um beispielweise einen theoretischen Rahmen vorzubereiten, würde der Schwerpunkt auf der Definition und Analyse von Theorien und Modellen liegen.
Die Zitate in deinem Literatur-Review sollten sehr genau sein. Viele Schulen und Universitäten nutzen die Zitierweise der American Pscyhological Association ( APA ). Nutze den kostenlosen Scribbr-Zitiergenerator , der dir dabei hilft, Zitate schnell und korrekt zu erstellen.
Wenn du deine Quellen nicht richtig zitierst, werden deine verwendeten Informationen als Plagiate gewertet. Plagiarismus ist eine schwere Form des Betrugs, der schwerwiegende Folgen hat. Hast du dabei Zweifel oder brauchst du Hilfe? Führe eine Plagiatsprüfung durch – Vorsicht ist immer besser als Nachsicht.
- Aus vorgehenden Untersuchungen wurde ersichtlich, dass…
- In mehreren Studien (Smith, 1988; Driessen, 2007) wurde aufgezeigt, dass…
- Durch Studien (Smith, 1988; Driessen, 2007) zu X wird die Wichtigkeit von…hervorgehoben
- Frühere Untersuchungen (Smith, 1988) zum Vergleich von X und Y zeigen, dass…
- Studien, wie jene von Smith (1988), zeigen, dass…
Mehr standardsätze »
- Previous studies have shown that…
- Several studies (Smith, 1988; Driessen, 2007) have looked at…
- Studies (Smith, 1988; Driessen, 2007) of X shows the importance of…
- Previous research (Smith, 1988) comparing X and Y has found…
- Research carried out by Smith (1988) indicated that …
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Exploring the Role of Literature Review in Bachelor Thesis Writing
- Writing Articles & Reviews
- September 27, 2023
The Role of Literature Review in Bachelor Thesis writing
A literature review is an essential component of any academic research, including bachelor thesis writing . IT involves a critical analysis and evaluation of existing scholarly work that is relevant to the chosen research topic. This article explores the importance of conducting a literature review in bachelor thesis writing , highlighting its role in shaping the research process, providing a theoretical framework, identifying research gaps, and ensuring the originality of the research.
The Role of Literature Review
1. shaping the research process.
The literature review serves as a guide to developing a clear research plan by identifying the key concepts and variables related to the research topic. IT helps in understanding various methodologies, research designs, and data collection techniques that have been employed in previous studies. This knowledge aids bachelor students in formulating their research question, hypotheses, and objectives.
Furthermore, the literature review helps researchers avoid duplicating existing research efforts and enables them to select innovative research areas. Understanding what has already been done helps in designing research that contributes new insights and knowledge to the chosen field of study.
2. Providing a Theoretical Framework
A strong theoretical foundation is vital for any research, and the literature review provides an opportunity to understand and evaluate the existing theories and concepts related to the research topic. IT allows bachelor students to position their work within the broader academic context by demonstrating their understanding of the existing body of knowledge.
By critically analyzing previous research, researchers gain insight into the theoretical frameworks that have been employed successfully and those that need improvement. This understanding ensures that the research is based on a robust theoretical foundation and helps in constructing a logical argument throughout the thesis.
3. Identifying Research Gaps
One of the primary objectives of conducting a literature review is to identify research gaps. Through an extensive review of existing literature, researchers can identify areas that are understudied, contradictory, or have conflicting findings. This identification of gaps allows researchers to fill a knowledge void, contribute to existing research, and enhance the current understanding of the chosen research area.
Identifying research gaps also helps in formulating research questions that are relevant, valid, and meaningful. This process ensures that the research is addressing real-world problems and adds value to the academic community.
4. Ensuring Originality of the Research
The literature review is crucial in ensuring the originality of the research. By analyzing existing literature, researchers can avoid duplication and identify areas where their research adds novelty and uniqueness. This is essential for bachelor students as they are expected to make an original contribution to their field of study.
Furthermore, the literature review helps researchers understand the existing research methodologies and designs used by previous researchers. This knowledge aids in selecting the most appropriate research methods and ensures the study’s integrity and reliability.
A literature review plays a pivotal role in bachelor thesis writing . IT shapes the research process, provides a theoretical framework, identifies research gaps, and ensures the originality of the research. Conducting a thorough literature review enables students to develop their research plan, identify key variables, and formulate relevant research questions. IT also ensures that the research is grounded in existing knowledge and contributes to the academic community by addressing research gaps and adding original insights.
Q1. How do I conduct a literature review for my bachelor thesis?
A1. To conduct a literature review, start by defining your research topic and identify the key concepts and variables. Then, search for relevant scholarly articles, books, and other reliable sources related to your research topic. Read and critically evaluate each source, taking notes on key findings, methodologies, and research gaps. Finally, synthesize the information and write a comprehensive literature review that provides a theoretical foundation for your bachelor thesis.
Q2. How many sources should I include in my literature review?
A2. The number of sources in a literature review depends on the scope and nature of the research topic. While there is no set rule, IT is generally recommended to include a wide range of relevant sources, including academic articles, books, and reputable websites. Ensure that the sources are recent and representative of different viewpoints to provide a comprehensive analysis of the research area.
Q3. Can I include non-academic sources in my literature review?
A3. While academic sources are preferred for literature reviews, non-academic sources can be included if they provide valuable insights, data, or perspectives related to the research topic. However, be cautious when using non-academic sources as they may lack rigor and credibility. Always prioritize peer-reviewed articles and books from reputable publishers when conducting a literature review.
Q4. How do I identify research gaps in my literature review?
A4. To identify research gaps, carefully analyze the existing literature and look for areas of contradiction, conflicting findings, or limited exploration. Pay attention to unanswered research questions, methodological limitations, or areas where the existing research can be expanded. By critically evaluating the literature, you can pinpoint gaps that your bachelor thesis can address, contributing to the existing knowledge and filling knowledge voids in the field.
Q5. Can I use my literature review as a standalone academic paper?
A5. Although a literature review provides a comprehensive analysis of existing research, IT is typically not meant to be a standalone academic paper. However, in some cases, a literature review can be published as a standalone review article, particularly in fields that heavily rely on synthesizing existing research. IT is always advisable to consult with your supervisor or academic mentor to determine the most appropriate format for presenting your literature review.
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Wie schreibe ich ein Literature Review als Bachelorarbeit oder Masterarbeit?
Ein Literature Review ist eine wissenschaftliche Arbeit, im Rahmen einer Bachelorarbeit oder Masterarbeit, in der eigenständig bestimmte Informationen und Daten aus wissenschaftlichen Studien gesammelt werden, um eine bestimmte Frage zu beantworten.
Die Studien stammen aus wissenschaftlichen Zeitschriften (Journals). Die Hauptmethoden sind logisches Schließen, Analogien, Vergleiche, Simulieren, kritische Betrachtungen und weitere logische Operationen.
Was sind die Vorteile bei einem Literature Review?
- Keine Abhängigkeit von anderen,
- Quellen gibt es genug und vor allem digital,
- klare Methodik,
- enge Orientierung an Literatur möglich,
- gut planbar,
- schnell schreiben ist möglich,
- relativ wenig Aufwand,
- keine Wartezeiten,
- weniger Risiken und weniger Überraschungen,
- Bestnote ist möglich.
Was sind die Nachteile eines Literature Reviews?
- Schwierige Themenfindung,
- Dein Englisch muss recht gut sein,
- anspruchsvolle Quellen,
- Forschungsfrage schwer zu formulieren,
- die Eigenleistung ist nicht einfach, da muss man überlegen,
- Risiko, sich in der Literatur zu verlieren,
Wie sieht ein Thema für ein Literature Review aus?
Wie das von anderen Arten der Arbeit auch. Der Unterschied liegt in den Datenquellen und Methoden.
Was sind die Herausforderungen bei einem Literature Review und wie meistere ich sie?
Deine Eigenleistung bei einem Literature Review sind neue Erkenntnisse mittels Auswertung von wissenschaftlichen Studien. Dabei gibt es diese Schwierigkeiten.
1. Du musst neue Erkenntnisse gewinnen, auf Studienbasis!
Die größte Herausforderung ist die Eigenleistung. Wenn alles schon in den Studien steht, wie soll ICH denn dann noch etwas NEUES daraus erkennen? Das geht doch gar nicht... Doch, das geht. Du musst die vorhandenen Studien nach einem Schema auswerten und dann die Studien nach deren Fokus clustern. Hier ist ein Schema dazu. Versuche, in Deinen Studien die Variablen A bis D zu finden.
2. Du musst Textanalyse-Methoden benutzen!
Du hast nur Studien. Keine Experten, keine Leute, die Du befragen kannst. Die Zeit ist knapp. Viele Texte scheinen gut. Aber immer wieder findest Du bessere Texte... Und wie kannst Du all diese Inhalte beim Lesen behalten? Nicht einfach!!
Mit der Formulierung der Leitfrage am Anfang der Arbeit hast Du schon den Roten Faden für das Auswerten der Studien und damit die Arbeit.
Wie gehe ich mit der Plagiatsgefahr beim Literature Review um!
In einem Literature Review ist die Gefahr des Abschreibens hoch und damit das Plagiatsrisiko. Auf das Plagiatsrisiko kannst Du schon beim Schreiben achten, indem Du ein paar Regeln befolgst .
Tipp: Eine neue Technik, um schnell guten wissenschaftlichen Text ohne Plagiate zu schreiben, findest Du im Buch "Schreib-ABC – Fünf Seiten pro Tag". Hier ist ein Probeauszug .
Womit fange ich mein Literature Review am besten an?
Fange mit der Forschungsfrage und dem Thema und den passenden Quellen an! Was willst Du für Antworten für welche Fragen gewinnen?
Folge diesem standardisierten Ablauf.
- Exposé schreiben (kläre Leitfrage, Erwartungen des Betreuers und Methoden etc.)
- gezielt Bücher filtern und Theorie-Kapitel füllen,
- Forschungsstand mittels Studienauswertung erheben und Kapitel schreiben,
- Analyse-Methoden überlegen (Forschungsmethoden) und beschreiben,
- Infos, Daten und Argumente aus Quellen beschaffen und auswerten,
- neue Erkenntnisse mittels Analysen gewinnen
- Schlussfolgerungen ziehen, Ergebniskapitel schreiben und Arbeit abschließen.
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100 Best Literature Research Paper Topics For Students
Literary research paper topics are among the most interesting to write about. Books are the best teachers for most learners. And, students love reading interesting literature books. But, when asked to write research papers, most students have difficulties choosing their topics. That’s because many issues can be investigated and written about.
For instance, literary topics can be about characters’ personalities in certain works. They can also be about particular characteristics of specific literary genres. Learners can also choose literary analysis topics that focus on the life story of famous writers or poets. But, regardless of what a learner opts to write about, they should choose interesting topics.
What are Interesting Literary Research Paper Topics?
Several factors make a topic interesting to write about. A topic for a research paper or a graduate thesis should generally be definite, specific, and innovative. Also, it should be interesting to research and write about. Here’s how to select interesting literature topics:
Think about something. Explore the idea to select a topic for which you can find sufficient research data from credible sources. Narrow down your subject if you find it too broad.
English literature topics can be classified into different categories. Here some of these categories and topics can be considered in each category.
Great World Literature Research Topics
Perhaps, you’ve been asked to write a literature research paper with a global perspective. Here are some of the literary analysis research paper topics that you can consider.
- Explain how the supernatural and spirituality help in furthering the development of the plot in the Latin American literature of the early 20th century.
- What themes are common in the Japanese poems of the early 20th century? How do they differ from those of the early 19th century?
- Compare the early Chinese literary works and European literary works of the middle ages. How different or alike are they?
- How were European literary works in the early 20th century shaped by the revolutionary works of Engels and Marx? What examples can demonstrate this influence?
- Explain how the Muslim philosophers’ work of the 15th century led to new ideas and inventions across the globe.
- Compare and contrast different anti-British works that originated in India in the 19th century with pro-colonialist works that came from England at the same time.
- How did the nightmarish utopian future ideas of Aldous Huxley influence modern-day science fiction writers across the world?
- Explain how the Antigone play by Sophocles deals with the conflict between the central characters while relating to the state laws and individual conscience.
- How are the sentiments of the authors reflected in Animal Farm by George Orwell and concerns about the October Revolution?
- Explain some of the examples of literary fiction pieces that have shaped cultures in the world. Have historic, societal, and cultural factors played some roles in shaping these literature pieces?
- Being a prolific writer in the early and mid-19th century, Charles Dickens’s works were published in serialized forms. How and why has this approach become less fashionable?
- Compare and contrast the early Japanese literature works and the early Chinese literature works. How do they differ in terms of values and culture?
- Explain how comedy differs in literature across cultures. What comedy appeared in the early theatrical performances and it’s still present in modern literature?
- Analyze chivalry and honor critically in the Green Knight and Sir Gawain. What are the qualities of these works from a similar period?
- Compare and contrast the Odyssey and Iliad by Homer the Ancient Greek. Explain how cultures across the world have adapted the themes presented in the poem.
Top Literary topics for Research Paper
Some topics for literary analysis stand out among students. These are topics that educators recommend for students across the study levels.
- How is literature an aspect of modern culture?
- Explain how feminism has influenced modern literature
- How is psychology utilized in literature?
- Explain the major social issues that have been exposed by literary works
- Explain the philosophical tradition of Daoism in the Chinese literature
- Explain the roles played by death and honor in Japanese literature in the 20th century
- Explain how the European culture influences the Mid-West literature
- How has European culture affected modern literature?
- Analyze the personality of Don Quixote
- Explain how literature differs between countries.
- Discuss poetry in the innovative ear of the 21st century
- Examine racism in the novels of the 1960s and 1970s
- Explain the exile’s perception in literature
- Literature and culture? Which one affects the other?
- How has literature addressed homosexuality?
These can also be great literary debate topics. That’s because learners can have varying opinions about them.
British Literature Research Paper Topics
Students have many topics to choose from when it comes to British literature essay topics. Here are some of the best literature topics from the works of British authors.
- Discuss Victorian England’s picture with the works of Charles Dickens in mind
- Discuss the theme of Orphans with the Oliver Twist character in mind
- Explain how British Literature has influenced different cultures
- Explain how British literature has addressed gender issues
- Explain how King Lear highlights the differences between anti-heroes and villains
- Explain William Shakespeare’s personality- Highlight facts and myths
- Choose two famous British novels and then compare the characters in them
- Explain the viewpoint of different writers about the Utopian civilization idea
- With Harry Potter books in mind, explain why some literature books are considered classics
- Explain how love and romantic love are presented in Charlotte Bronte’s works
- Explain how modern literary works have been affected by the Victorian period works
- Discuss the adultery theme in Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
- Who are the main characters in Lake Poets’ works?
- Explain how violent imagery was used in World War I poetry
- Explain talent as a theme in Milton’s on His Blindness
- Explain innocence loss in William Golding’s Lord of the Flies
- Explain the theme of individualism versus collectivism in Oliver Twist
- Explain why the popularity of detective novels increased in the XIX century
- What role did the supernatural play in Macbeth: a case study of three witches
- Class demarcation in XVII century- The vengeance theme
American Literature Topics
Some teachers ask students to choose American literature research topics for certain reasons. If asked to write on such topics, here are some of the American literature research paper topics to consider.
- Analyze key aspects of American ideology, particularly in the literature written before the 20th century.
- Determine thematic concerns and literary styles of the major historical period of American literature between the colonial period and post-modernism.
- Show the American identity uniqueness of texts
- Propose connections between the American literature concerns and themes in the larger historical development and social issues that face the present world
- Examine major concerns and themes that reappear across the American literature
- Highlight the major themes in Absalom, Absalom by William Faulkner
- Explain the African American Experience with female authors like Alice Walker, Zora Neal Hurston, and Toni Morrison
- Explain the predominant theme in The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton
- Explain how Jonathan Edwards epitomizes Puritan definitions in his sermons
- Explain the use of historical personalities and events by Washington Irving as the background for his works
- The Crucible demonstrates how a community can be torn apart by hysteria. Explain
- Explain how Sylvia Plath demonstrates the social pressure faced by women in the 1960s in the Bell Jar.
- Explain how John Knowles demonstrates the impact of war on everyone
- Explain the strong belief in the education power by Maya Angelou as depicted in I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings
- Explain how Thornton Wilder conveys life as a gift in Our Town
- Discuss the themes of anger and pity in the Grapes of Wrath
- Explain how Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck portrays the Great Depression struggles
- Discuss the portrayal of the unconquerable spirit in Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway.
- Plays by Eugene O’Neil are tragically realistic. Explain
- God is humanized in The Creation poem by James Weldon Johnson. Explain
Some of the ideas here are great poetry topics. Nevertheless, they require careful research and analysis to write about.
High School Literary Essay Topics
Some topics in literature are ideal for high school essays. Here are examples of literary analysis paper topics for high school students.
- Compare and contrast the major characters in your preferred book
- Choose your favorite character in a book and explain your reasons for liking it
- Please explain why the quality of a literature book is not determined by its length
- Highlight the similarities of your favorite books
- Discuss the top 4 authors in horror books
- Explain why reading some books is more difficult than reading others
- Explain what it takes to write a high-quality poem
- Who is your favorite poet and why?
- Explain what makes your favorite book interesting
- Who is your favorite character in literary works and why?
- What makes some literature books difficult to read?
- Who are your favorite top 5 authors and why?
- Should the age of readers be restricted to some books?
- What is your favorite literary genre?
- Explain why the author determines the quality of a book more than the story
- Discuss the literary works of your favorite authors
- Why is it important to captivate readers with the introductory chapter of a book?
- Which book genre makes great movies?
- Why is the work of Harry Potter so popular?
- Explain why your favorite horror book is scary
Unique Research Topics in English Literature
Some literature research topics are unique and can be written about by learners at different study levels. Here are examples of such topics.
- Analyze the use of literary devices in novels
- Discuss the author’s autobiography
- Analyze literary genres and the role played by an artist in them
- Compare the works of a similar genre
- Highlight the gender roles of characters in literary works
- Social stratification and Harry Potter- Discuss
- With Charles Dickens’ work in mind, explain the peculiarity of the bildungsroman genre.
- Explain how The Lord of the Rings uses artificial language
- Explain how the Sherlock Holmes image influences the world of detective fiction
- Explain the war theme in the world literature
These are also great literary journalism topics. Nevertheless, they require extensive research to write about.
In a nutshell, students have many literary argument topics to consider. The most important thing is to choose an interesting topic that you can find sufficient data to write about. Also, don’t hesitate to check our history topics .
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How to write a literature review introduction (+ examples)
The introduction to a literature review serves as your reader’s guide through your academic work and thought process. Explore the significance of literature review introductions in review papers, academic papers, essays, theses, and dissertations. We delve into the purpose and necessity of these introductions, explore the essential components of literature review introductions, and provide step-by-step guidance on how to craft your own, along with examples.
Why you need an introduction for a literature review
When you need an introduction for a literature review, what to include in a literature review introduction, examples of literature review introductions, steps to write your own literature review introduction.
A literature review is a comprehensive examination of the international academic literature concerning a particular topic. It involves summarizing published works, theories, and concepts while also highlighting gaps and offering critical reflections.
In academic writing , the introduction for a literature review is an indispensable component. Effective academic writing requires proper paragraph structuring to guide your reader through your argumentation. This includes providing an introduction to your literature review.
It is imperative to remember that you should never start sharing your findings abruptly. Even if there isn’t a dedicated introduction section .
Instead, you should always offer some form of introduction to orient the reader and clarify what they can expect.
There are three main scenarios in which you need an introduction for a literature review:
- Academic literature review papers: When your literature review constitutes the entirety of an academic review paper, a more substantial introduction is necessary. This introduction should resemble the standard introduction found in regular academic papers.
- Literature review section in an academic paper or essay: While this section tends to be brief, it’s important to precede the detailed literature review with a few introductory sentences. This helps orient the reader before delving into the literature itself.
- Literature review chapter or section in your thesis/dissertation: Every thesis and dissertation includes a literature review component, which also requires a concise introduction to set the stage for the subsequent review.
You may also like: How to write a fantastic thesis introduction (+15 examples)
It is crucial to customize the content and depth of your literature review introduction according to the specific format of your academic work.
In practical terms, this implies, for instance, that the introduction in an academic literature review paper, especially one derived from a systematic literature review , is quite comprehensive. Particularly compared to the rather brief one or two introductory sentences that are often found at the beginning of a literature review section in a standard academic paper. The introduction to the literature review chapter in a thesis or dissertation again adheres to different standards.
Here’s a structured breakdown based on length and the necessary information:
Academic literature review paper
The introduction of an academic literature review paper, which does not rely on empirical data, often necessitates a more extensive introduction than the brief literature review introductions typically found in empirical papers. It should encompass:
- The research problem: Clearly articulate the problem or question that your literature review aims to address.
- The research gap: Highlight the existing gaps, limitations, or unresolved aspects within the current body of literature related to the research problem.
- The research relevance: Explain why the chosen research problem and its subsequent investigation through a literature review are significant and relevant in your academic field.
- The literature review method: If applicable, describe the methodology employed in your literature review, especially if it is a systematic review or follows a specific research framework.
- The main findings or insights of the literature review: Summarize the key discoveries, insights, or trends that have emerged from your comprehensive review of the literature.
- The main argument of the literature review: Conclude the introduction by outlining the primary argument or statement that your literature review will substantiate, linking it to the research problem and relevance you’ve established.
- Preview of the literature review’s structure: Offer a glimpse into the organization of the literature review paper, acting as a guide for the reader. This overview outlines the subsequent sections of the paper and provides an understanding of what to anticipate.
By addressing these elements, your introduction will provide a clear and structured overview of what readers can expect in your literature review paper.
Regular literature review section in an academic article or essay
Most academic articles or essays incorporate regular literature review sections, often placed after the introduction. These sections serve to establish a scholarly basis for the research or discussion within the paper.
In a standard 8000-word journal article, the literature review section typically spans between 750 and 1250 words. The first few sentences or the first paragraph within this section often serve as an introduction. It should encompass:
- An introduction to the topic: When delving into the academic literature on a specific topic, it’s important to provide a smooth transition that aids the reader in comprehending why certain aspects will be discussed within your literature review.
- The core argument: While literature review sections primarily synthesize the work of other scholars, they should consistently connect to your central argument. This central argument serves as the crux of your message or the key takeaway you want your readers to retain. By positioning it at the outset of the literature review section and systematically substantiating it with evidence, you not only enhance reader comprehension but also elevate overall readability. This primary argument can typically be distilled into 1-2 succinct sentences.
In some cases, you might include:
- Methodology: Details about the methodology used, but only if your literature review employed a specialized method. If your approach involved a broader overview without a systematic methodology, you can omit this section, thereby conserving word count.
By addressing these elements, your introduction will effectively integrate your literature review into the broader context of your academic paper or essay. This will, in turn, assist your reader in seamlessly following your overarching line of argumentation.
Introduction to a literature review chapter in thesis or dissertation
The literature review typically constitutes a distinct chapter within a thesis or dissertation. Often, it is Chapter 2 of a thesis or dissertation.
Some students choose to incorporate a brief introductory section at the beginning of each chapter, including the literature review chapter. Alternatively, others opt to seamlessly integrate the introduction into the initial sentences of the literature review itself. Both approaches are acceptable, provided that you incorporate the following elements:
- Purpose of the literature review and its relevance to the thesis/dissertation research: Explain the broader objectives of the literature review within the context of your research and how it contributes to your thesis or dissertation. Essentially, you’re telling the reader why this literature review is important and how it fits into the larger scope of your academic work.
- Primary argument: Succinctly communicate what you aim to prove, explain, or explore through the review of existing literature. This statement helps guide the reader’s understanding of the review’s purpose and what to expect from it.
- Preview of the literature review’s content: Provide a brief overview of the topics or themes that your literature review will cover. It’s like a roadmap for the reader, outlining the main areas of focus within the review. This preview can help the reader anticipate the structure and organization of your literature review.
- Methodology: If your literature review involved a specific research method, such as a systematic review or meta-analysis, you should briefly describe that methodology. However, this is not always necessary, especially if your literature review is more of a narrative synthesis without a distinct research method.
By addressing these elements, your introduction will empower your literature review to play a pivotal role in your thesis or dissertation research. It will accomplish this by integrating your research into the broader academic literature and providing a solid theoretical foundation for your work.
Comprehending the art of crafting your own literature review introduction becomes significantly more accessible when you have concrete examples to examine. Here, you will find several examples that meet, or in most cases, adhere to the criteria described earlier.
Example 1: An effective introduction for an academic literature review paper
To begin, let’s delve into the introduction of an academic literature review paper. We will examine the paper “How does culture influence innovation? A systematic literature review”, which was published in 2018 in the journal Management Decision.
The entire introduction spans 611 words and is divided into five paragraphs. In this introduction, the authors accomplish the following:
- In the first paragraph, the authors introduce the broader topic of the literature review, which focuses on innovation and its significance in the context of economic competition. They underscore the importance of this topic, highlighting its relevance for both researchers and policymakers.
- In the second paragraph, the authors narrow down their focus to emphasize the specific role of culture in relation to innovation.
- In the third paragraph, the authors identify research gaps, noting that existing studies are often fragmented and disconnected. They then emphasize the value of conducting a systematic literature review to enhance our understanding of the topic.
- In the fourth paragraph, the authors introduce their specific objectives and explain how their insights can benefit other researchers and business practitioners.
- In the fifth and final paragraph, the authors provide an overview of the paper’s organization and structure.
In summary, this introduction stands as a solid example. While the authors deviate from previewing their key findings (which is a common practice at least in the social sciences), they do effectively cover all the other previously mentioned points.
Example 2: An effective introduction to a literature review section in an academic paper
The second example represents a typical academic paper, encompassing not only a literature review section but also empirical data, a case study, and other elements. We will closely examine the introduction to the literature review section in the paper “The environmentalism of the subalterns: a case study of environmental activism in Eastern Kurdistan/Rojhelat”, which was published in 2021 in the journal Local Environment.
The paper begins with a general introduction and then proceeds to the literature review, designated by the authors as their conceptual framework. Of particular interest is the first paragraph of this conceptual framework, comprising 142 words across five sentences:
“ A peripheral and marginalised nationality within a multinational though-Persian dominated Iranian society, the Kurdish people of Iranian Kurdistan (a region referred by the Kurds as Rojhelat/Eastern Kurdi-stan) have since the early twentieth century been subject to multifaceted and systematic discriminatory and exclusionary state policy in Iran. This condition has left a population of 12–15 million Kurds in Iran suffering from structural inequalities, disenfranchisement and deprivation. Mismanagement of Kurdistan’s natural resources and the degradation of its natural environmental are among examples of this disenfranchisement. As asserted by Julian Agyeman (2005), structural inequalities that sustain the domination of political and economic elites often simultaneously result in environmental degradation, injustice and discrimination against subaltern communities. This study argues that the environmental struggle in Eastern Kurdistan can be asserted as a (sub)element of the Kurdish liberation movement in Iran. Conceptually this research is inspired by and has been conducted through the lens of ‘subalternity’ ” ( Hassaniyan, 2021, p. 931 ).
In this first paragraph, the author is doing the following:
- The author contextualises the research
- The author links the research focus to the international literature on structural inequalities
- The author clearly presents the argument of the research
- The author clarifies how the research is inspired by and uses the concept of ‘subalternity’.
Thus, the author successfully introduces the literature review, from which point onward it dives into the main concept (‘subalternity’) of the research, and reviews the literature on socio-economic justice and environmental degradation.
While introductions to a literature review section aren’t always required to offer the same level of study context detail as demonstrated here, this introduction serves as a commendable model for orienting the reader within the literature review. It effectively underscores the literature review’s significance within the context of the study being conducted.
Examples 3-5: Effective introductions to literature review chapters
The introduction to a literature review chapter can vary in length, depending largely on the overall length of the literature review chapter itself. For example, a master’s thesis typically features a more concise literature review, thus necessitating a shorter introduction. In contrast, a Ph.D. thesis, with its more extensive literature review, often includes a more detailed introduction.
Numerous universities offer online repositories where you can access theses and dissertations from previous years, serving as valuable sources of reference. Many of these repositories, however, may require you to log in through your university account. Nevertheless, a few open-access repositories are accessible to anyone, such as the one by the University of Manchester . It’s important to note though that copyright restrictions apply to these resources, just as they would with published papers.
Master’s thesis literature review introduction
The first example is “Benchmarking Asymmetrical Heating Models of Spider Pulsar Companions” by P. Sun, a master’s thesis completed at the University of Manchester on January 9, 2024. The author, P. Sun, introduces the literature review chapter very briefly but effectively:
PhD thesis literature review chapter introduction
The second example is Deep Learning on Semi-Structured Data and its Applications to Video-Game AI, Woof, W. (Author). 31 Dec 2020, a PhD thesis completed at the University of Manchester . In Chapter 2, the author offers a comprehensive introduction to the topic in four paragraphs, with the final paragraph serving as an overview of the chapter’s structure:
PhD thesis literature review introduction
The last example is the doctoral thesis Metacognitive strategies and beliefs: Child correlates and early experiences Chan, K. Y. M. (Author). 31 Dec 2020 . The author clearly conducted a systematic literature review, commencing the review section with a discussion of the methodology and approach employed in locating and analyzing the selected records.
Having absorbed all of this information, let’s recap the essential steps and offer a succinct guide on how to proceed with creating your literature review introduction:
- Contextualize your review : Begin by clearly identifying the academic context in which your literature review resides and determining the necessary information to include.
- Outline your structure : Develop a structured outline for your literature review, highlighting the essential information you plan to incorporate in your introduction.
- Literature review process : Conduct a rigorous literature review, reviewing and analyzing relevant sources.
- Summarize and abstract : After completing the review, synthesize the findings and abstract key insights, trends, and knowledge gaps from the literature.
- Craft the introduction : Write your literature review introduction with meticulous attention to the seamless integration of your review into the larger context of your work. Ensure that your introduction effectively elucidates your rationale for the chosen review topics and the underlying reasons guiding your selection.
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- What Is a Thesis? | Ultimate Guide & Examples
What Is a Thesis? | Ultimate Guide & Examples
Published on September 14, 2022 by Tegan George . Revised on July 18, 2023.
A thesis is a type of research paper based on your original research. It is usually submitted as the final step of a master’s program or a capstone to a bachelor’s degree.
Writing a thesis can be a daunting experience. Other than a dissertation , it is one of the longest pieces of writing students typically complete. It relies on your ability to conduct research from start to finish: choosing a relevant topic , crafting a proposal , designing your research , collecting data , developing a robust analysis, drawing strong conclusions , and writing concisely .
You can also download our full thesis template in the format of your choice below. Our template includes a ready-made table of contents , as well as guidance for what each chapter should include. It’s easy to make it your own, and can help you get started.
Download Word template Download Google Docs template
Table of contents
Thesis vs. thesis statement, how to structure a thesis, acknowledgements or preface, list of figures and tables, list of abbreviations, introduction, literature review, methodology, reference list, proofreading and editing, defending your thesis, other interesting articles, frequently asked questions about theses.
You may have heard the word thesis as a standalone term or as a component of academic writing called a thesis statement . Keep in mind that these are two very different things.
- A thesis statement is a very common component of an essay, particularly in the humanities. It usually comprises 1 or 2 sentences in the introduction of your essay , and should clearly and concisely summarize the central points of your academic essay .
- A thesis is a long-form piece of academic writing, often taking more than a full semester to complete. It is generally a degree requirement for Master’s programs, and is also sometimes required to complete a bachelor’s degree in liberal arts colleges.
- In the US, a dissertation is generally written as a final step toward obtaining a PhD.
- In other countries (particularly the UK), a dissertation is generally written at the bachelor’s or master’s level.
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The final structure of your thesis depends on a variety of components, such as:
- Your discipline
- Your theoretical approach
Humanities theses are often structured more like a longer-form essay . Just like in an essay, you build an argument to support a central thesis.
In both hard and social sciences, theses typically include an introduction , literature review , methodology section , results section , discussion section , and conclusion section . These are each presented in their own dedicated section or chapter. In some cases, you might want to add an appendix .
We’ve compiled a list of thesis examples to help you get started.
- Example thesis #1: “Abolition, Africans, and Abstraction: the Influence of the ‘Noble Savage’ on British and French Antislavery Thought, 1787-1807” by Suchait Kahlon.
- Example thesis #2: “’A Starving Man Helping Another Starving Man’: UNRRA, India, and the Genesis of Global Relief, 1943-1947″ by Julian Saint Reiman.
- Example thesis #3: “An Introduction to Higher-Order Frames in Communication: How Controversial Organizations Maintain Legitimacy Over Time” by Kees Smeets
The very first page of your thesis contains all necessary identifying information, including:
- Your full title
- Your full name
- Your department
- Your institution and degree program
- Your submission date.
Sometimes the title page also includes your student ID, the name of your supervisor, or the university’s logo. Check out your university’s guidelines if you’re not sure.
Read more about title pages
The acknowledgements section is usually optional. Its main point is to allow you to thank everyone who helped you in your thesis journey, such as supervisors, friends, or family. You can also choose to write a preface , but it’s typically one or the other, not both.
Read more about acknowledgements Read more about prefaces
An abstract is a short summary of your thesis. Usually a maximum of 300 words long, it’s should include brief descriptions of your research objectives , methods, results, and conclusions. Though it may seem short, it introduces your work to your audience, serving as a first impression of your thesis.
Read more about abstracts
A table of contents lists all of your sections, plus their corresponding page numbers and subheadings if you have them. This helps your reader seamlessly navigate your document.
Your table of contents should include all the major parts of your thesis. In particular, don’t forget the the appendices. If you used heading styles, it’s easy to generate an automatic table Microsoft Word.
Read more about tables of contents
While not mandatory, if you used a lot of tables and/or figures, it’s nice to include a list of them to help guide your reader. It’s also easy to generate one of these in Word: just use the “Insert Caption” feature.
Read more about lists of figures and tables
If you have used a lot of industry- or field-specific abbreviations in your thesis, you should include them in an alphabetized list of abbreviations . This way, your readers can easily look up any meanings they aren’t familiar with.
Read more about lists of abbreviations
Relatedly, if you find yourself using a lot of very specialized or field-specific terms that may not be familiar to your reader, consider including a glossary . Alphabetize the terms you want to include with a brief definition.
Read more about glossaries
An introduction sets up the topic, purpose, and relevance of your thesis, as well as expectations for your reader. This should:
- Ground your research topic , sharing any background information your reader may need
- Define the scope of your work
- Introduce any existing research on your topic, situating your work within a broader problem or debate
- State your research question(s)
- Outline (briefly) how the remainder of your work will proceed
In other words, your introduction should clearly and concisely show your reader the “what, why, and how” of your research.
Read more about introductions
A literature review helps you gain a robust understanding of any extant academic work on your topic, encompassing:
- Selecting relevant sources
- Determining the credibility of your sources
- Critically evaluating each of your sources
- Drawing connections between sources, including any themes, patterns, conflicts, or gaps
A literature review is not merely a summary of existing work. Rather, your literature review should ultimately lead to a clear justification for your own research, perhaps via:
- Addressing a gap in the literature
- Building on existing knowledge to draw new conclusions
- Exploring a new theoretical or methodological approach
- Introducing a new solution to an unresolved problem
- Definitively advocating for one side of a theoretical debate
Read more about literature reviews
Your literature review can often form the basis for your theoretical framework, but these are not the same thing. A theoretical framework defines and analyzes the concepts and theories that your research hinges on.
Read more about theoretical frameworks
Your methodology chapter shows your reader how you conducted your research. It should be written clearly and methodically, easily allowing your reader to critically assess the credibility of your argument. Furthermore, your methods section should convince your reader that your method was the best way to answer your research question.
A methodology section should generally include:
- Your overall approach ( quantitative vs. qualitative )
- Your research methods (e.g., a longitudinal study )
- Your data collection methods (e.g., interviews or a controlled experiment
- Any tools or materials you used (e.g., computer software)
- The data analysis methods you chose (e.g., statistical analysis , discourse analysis )
- A strong, but not defensive justification of your methods
Read more about methodology sections
Your results section should highlight what your methodology discovered. These two sections work in tandem, but shouldn’t repeat each other. While your results section can include hypotheses or themes, don’t include any speculation or new arguments here.
Your results section should:
- State each (relevant) result with any (relevant) descriptive statistics (e.g., mean , standard deviation ) and inferential statistics (e.g., test statistics , p values )
- Explain how each result relates to the research question
- Determine whether the hypothesis was supported
Additional data (like raw numbers or interview transcripts ) can be included as an appendix . You can include tables and figures, but only if they help the reader better understand your results.
Read more about results sections
Your discussion section is where you can interpret your results in detail. Did they meet your expectations? How well do they fit within the framework that you built? You can refer back to any relevant source material to situate your results within your field, but leave most of that analysis in your literature review.
For any unexpected results, offer explanations or alternative interpretations of your data.
Read more about discussion sections
Your thesis conclusion should concisely answer your main research question. It should leave your reader with an ultra-clear understanding of your central argument, and emphasize what your research specifically has contributed to your field.
Why does your research matter? What recommendations for future research do you have? Lastly, wrap up your work with any concluding remarks.
Read more about conclusions
In order to avoid plagiarism , don’t forget to include a full reference list at the end of your thesis, citing the sources that you used. Choose one citation style and follow it consistently throughout your thesis, taking note of the formatting requirements of each style.
Which style you choose is often set by your department or your field, but common styles include MLA , Chicago , and APA.
Create APA citations Create MLA citations
In order to stay clear and concise, your thesis should include the most essential information needed to answer your research question. However, chances are you have many contributing documents, like interview transcripts or survey questions . These can be added as appendices , to save space in the main body.
Read more about appendices
Once you’re done writing, the next part of your editing process begins. Leave plenty of time for proofreading and editing prior to submission. Nothing looks worse than grammar mistakes or sloppy spelling errors!
Consider using a professional thesis editing service or grammar checker to make sure your final project is perfect.
Once you’ve submitted your final product, it’s common practice to have a thesis defense, an oral component of your finished work. This is scheduled by your advisor or committee, and usually entails a presentation and Q&A session.
After your defense , your committee will meet to determine if you deserve any departmental honors or accolades. However, keep in mind that defenses are usually just a formality. If there are any serious issues with your work, these should be resolved with your advisor way before a defense.
If you want to know more about AI for academic writing, AI tools, or research bias, make sure to check out some of our other articles with explanations and examples or go directly to our tools!
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The conclusion of your thesis or dissertation shouldn’t take up more than 5–7% of your overall word count.
If you only used a few abbreviations in your thesis or dissertation , you don’t necessarily need to include a list of abbreviations .
If your abbreviations are numerous, or if you think they won’t be known to your audience, it’s never a bad idea to add one. They can also improve readability, minimizing confusion about abbreviations unfamiliar to your reader.
When you mention different chapters within your text, it’s considered best to use Roman numerals for most citation styles. However, the most important thing here is to remain consistent whenever using numbers in your dissertation .
A thesis or dissertation outline is one of the most critical first steps in your writing process. It helps you to lay out and organize your ideas and can provide you with a roadmap for deciding what kind of research you’d like to undertake.
Generally, an outline contains information on the different sections included in your thesis or dissertation , such as:
- Your anticipated title
- Your abstract
- Your chapters (sometimes subdivided into further topics like literature review , research methods , avenues for future research, etc.)
A thesis is typically written by students finishing up a bachelor’s or Master’s degree. Some educational institutions, particularly in the liberal arts, have mandatory theses, but they are often not mandatory to graduate from bachelor’s degrees. It is more common for a thesis to be a graduation requirement from a Master’s degree.
Even if not mandatory, you may want to consider writing a thesis if you:
- Plan to attend graduate school soon
- Have a particular topic you’d like to study more in-depth
- Are considering a career in research
- Would like a capstone experience to tie up your academic experience
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George, T. (2023, July 18). What Is a Thesis? | Ultimate Guide & Examples. Scribbr. Retrieved November 3, 2023, from https://www.scribbr.com/dissertation/thesis/
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How To Find A-Grade Literature For Review
Sourcing, evaluating and organising.
By: David Phair (PhD) and Peter Quella (PhD) | January 2022
As we’ve discussed previously on our blog and YouTube channel, the first step of the literature review process is to source high-quality , relevant resources for your review, and to catalogue these pieces of literature in a systematic way so that you can digest and synthesise all the content efficiently.
In this article, we’ll look discuss 6 important things to keep in mind for the initial stage of your literature review so that you can source high-quality, relevant resources, quickly and efficiently. Let’s get started!
Overview: Literature Review Sourcing
- Develop and follow a clear literature search strategy
- Understand and use different types of literature correctly
- Carefully evaluate the quality of your potential sources
- Use a reference manager and a literature catalogue
- Read as broadly and comprehensively as possible
- Keep your golden thread front of mind throughout the process
1. Have a clear literature search strategy
As with any task in the research process, you need to have a clear plan of action before you get started, or you’ll end up wasting a lot of time and energy. So, before you begin your literature review , it’s useful to develop a simple search strategy . Broadly speaking, a good literature search strategy should include the following steps:
Step one – Clearly identify your golden thread
Your golden thread consists of your research aims , research objectives and research questions . These three components should be tightly aligned to form the focus of your research. If you’re unclear what your research aims and research questions are, you’re not going to have a clear direction when trying to source literature. As a result, you’re going to waste a lot of time reviewing irrelevant resources.
So, make sure that you have clarity regarding your golden thread before you start searching for literature. Of course, your research aims, objectives and questions may evolve or shift as a result of the literature review process (in fact, this is quite common), but you still need to have a clear focus to get things started.
Step two – Develop a keyword/keyphrase list
Once you’ve clearly articulated your golden thread in terms of the research aims, objectives and questions, the next step is to develop a list of keywords or keyphrases, based on these three elements (the golden thread). You’ll also want to include synonyms and alternative spellings (for example, American vs British English) in your list.
For example, if your research aims and research questions involve investigating organisational trust , your keyword list might include:
- Organisational trust
- Organizational trust (US spelling)
- Consumer trust
- Brand trust
- Online trust
When it comes to brainstorming keywords, the more the better . Don’t hold back at this stage. You’ll quickly find out which ones are useful, and which aren’t when you start searching. So, it’s best to just go as broad as possible here to ensure you cast a wide net.
Step three – Identify the relevant databases
Now that you’ve got a comprehensive set of keywords, the next step is to identify which literature databases will be most useful and relevant for your particular study. There are hundreds, if not thousands of databases out there, and they are often subject or discipline-specific . For example, within the medicine space, Medline is a popular one.
To identify relevant databases, it’s best to speak to your research advisor/supervisor, Grad Coach or a librarian at your university library. Oftentimes, a quick chat with a skilled librarian can yield tremendous insight. Don’t be shy to ask – chances are, they’ll be thrilled that you asked!
At this stage, you might be asking, “why not just use Google Scholar?”. Of course, an academic search engine like Google Scholar will be useful in terms of getting started and finding a broad range of resources, but it won’t always present every possible resource or the best quality resources. It also has limited filtering options compared to some of the specialist databases, so you shouldn’t rely purely on Google Scholar.
Step four – Use Boolean operators to refine your search
Once you’ve identified your keywords and databases, it’s time to start searching for literature – hooray! However, you’ll quickly find that there is a seemingly endless number of journal articles to sift through, and you have limited time to work through the literature. So, you’ll need to get smart about how you use these databases – enter Boolean operators.
Boolean operators are special characters that allow you to refine your search. Common operators include:
- AND – only show results that contain both X and Y
- OR – show results that contain X or Y
- NOT – show results that include X, but not Y
These operators are incredibly useful, especially when there are topics that are very similar to yours but are not relevant . For example, if you’re researching something about the growth of apples, you’ll want to exclude all literature related to Apple, the company. Boolean operators allow you to cut out the irrelevant content and improve the signal to noise ratio in your search.
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2. Use different types of literature correctly
Once you start searching for literature, you’ll quickly notice that there are different “types” of resources that come up. It’s important to understand the different types of literature available to you and how to use each of them appropriately.
Generally speaking, you’ll find three categories of literature:
Primary literature refers to journal articles , typically peer reviewed, which document a study that was undertaken, where data were collected and analysed, and findings were discussed. For example, a journal article that involves the collection and analysis of survey data to identify differences in personality between two groups of people.
Primary literature should, ideally, form the foundation of your literature review – the bread and butter, so to speak. You’ll likely refer to many of the arguments made and findings identified in these types of articles to build your own arguments throughout your literature review. You’ll also rely on these types of articles for theoretical models and frameworks, which may form the foundation of your own proposed framework, depending on the nature of your research.
Lastly, primary literature can be a useful source of measurement scales for quantitative studies. For example, many journal articles will include a copy of the survey measures they used at the end of the article, which will typically be reliable and valid. You can either use these “as is” or as a foundation for your own survey measures .
So, long story short, you’ll need a good stockpile of these types of resources. They are, admittedly, more “dense” and challenging to digest than the other types of literature, but taking the time to work through them will pay off greatly.
Secondary literature refers to journal articles that summarise and integrate the findings from primary literature. For example, you’ll likely find “review of the literature” type journal articles which provide an overview of the current state of the research (at the time of publication, of course).
Secondary literature is very useful for orienting yourself with regards to the current state of knowledge and identifying key researchers , seminal works and so on. In other words, they’re a good tool to make sure you’ve got a broad, comprehensive view of what all is out there. They’re not going to give you the level of detail that primary literature will (and they’ll likely be a bit outdated), but they’ll point you in the right direction.
In practical terms, it’s a good idea to start by reviewing secondary literature-type articles to help you get a bird’s eye view of the landscape and then dive deeper into the primary literature to get a grasp of the specifics and to bring your knowledge up to date with the most current studies.
The final category of literature refers to sources that would be considered less academic and scientifically rigorous in nature, but up to date and highly relevant. For example, sources such as current industry and country reports published by management consulting groups, news articles, blog posts and so on.
While these sources are not as credible and trustworthy as journal articles (especially peer-reviewed ones), they can provide very up to date information , whereas academic research tends to roll out quite slowly. Therefore, they can be very useful for contextualising your research topic and/or demonstrating a current trend. Quite often, you’d cite these types of sources in your introduction chapter rather than your literature review chapter, but you may still have use for them in the latter.
In summary, it’s important to understand the three different types of literature – primary, secondary and tertiary, and use them appropriately in your dissertation, thesis or research project.
3. Carefully evaluate the quality of your sources
As we’ve alluded to, not all literature is created equally. Not only does literature vary in terms of type (i.e., primary vs secondary), it also varies in terms of overall quality .
Simply put, all sources exist on a quality spectrum . On the high end of the spectrum are peer-reviewed articles published in popular, credible journals. Next are journal articles that are not peer-reviewed, or that are published in lower quality or lesser-known journals. In the middle are sources like textbooks and reports by professional organisations (e.g., management consulting firms). On the low end are sources like newspapers, blog posts and social media posts.
As you can probably see, this loosely reflects the categories we mentioned previously (primary, secondary and tertiary literature), so there is once again a trade-off between quality and recency . Therefore, you need to carefully evaluate the quality of each potential source and let this inform how you use it in your literature review. Importantly, this doesn’t mean that you can’t include a newspaper article or blog post as a source – it just means that you shouldn’t rely too heavily on these types of courses as the core of your argument.
When evaluating journal articles, you can consider their citation count (i.e., the number of other articles that reference them) as a quality indicator. But keep in mind that citation count is a product of many factors , including the popularity of the article, the popularity of the research field and most importantly, time. In other words, it’s natural for newer articles to have lower citation counts. This is useful to keep in mind, as you ideally want to focus on more recent literature (published within the last 3-5 years) in your literature review.
In summary, aim to focus on higher-quality literature , especially when you’re building core arguments in your literature review. You don’t, for example, want to make an argument regarding the importance and novelty of your research (i.e., its justification) based on some blogger’s opinion.
4. Use a reference manager and literature catalogue
As you review the literature and build your collection of potential sources, you’ll need a way to stay on top of all the details. To this end, it’s essential that you make use of both a reference manager and a literature catalogue . Let’s take a look at each of these.
The reference manager
Reference management software helps you store the reference information for each of your articles and manages the citation and reference list building task as you write up your actual literature review chapter. In other words, a reference manager ensures that your citations and reference list are correctly formatted in the reference style required by your university – e.g., Harvard, APA , MLA, etc.
Using a reference manager saves you the hassle of trying to manually type out your in-text citations and reference list, which you’re bound to mess up in some way. A simple comma out of place, incorrect italicisation or boldfacing can result in you losing marks, and that’s highly likely when you’re dealing with a large number of references. So, it just makes sense to use a piece of software for this task.
The good news is that there are loads of options , many of which are free . For new researchers, we usually recommend Mendeley or Zotero . So, don’t waste your time trying to manage your references manually – get yourself a reference manager ASAP.
The literature catalogue
The second tool you’ll need is a literature catalogue. This is simply an Excel document that you can easily compile yourself (or download our free one here ), where you list and categorise all your literature. You might doubt whether it’s really necessary to have a separate catalogue when you’ve already logged your reference data in a reference manager, but trust us, you’re going to need it. It’s quite common that throughout the literature review process, you’ll review hundreds of articles , so it’s simply impossible that you’ll remember all the details.
What makes a literature catalogue extremely powerful is that you can store as much information as you want for each piece of literature that you include (whereas a reference manager only includes basic fields). Typically, you would include things like:
- Title of the article
- One-line summary of the research
- Key findings and takeaways
- Context (i.e. where did it take place)
- Useful quotes
- Methodology (e.g. qualitative, quantitative or mixed methods)
- Category (you can customise as many categories as makes sense for you)
- Quality of resource
- Type of literature (e.g. primary, secondary or tertiary)
These are just some examples – ultimately you need to customise your catalogue to suit your needs. But, as you can see, the more detailed you get, the more useful your catalogue will become when it’s time to synthesise the research and write up your literature. For example, you could quickly filter the catalogue to display all papers that support a certain hypothesis, that argue in a specific direction, or that were written at a certain time.
5. Read widely (and efficiently)
As we’ve discussed in other posts , the purpose of the literature review chapter is to present and synthesise the current state of knowledge in relation to your research aims, objectives and research questions. To do this, you’ll need to read as broadly and comprehensively as possible. You’ll need to demonstrate to your marker that you “know your stuff” and have a strong understanding of the relevant literature.
Ideally, your literature review should include an eclectic mix of research that features multiple perspectives . In other words, you need to avoid getting tunnel vision and running down one narrow stream of literature. Ideally, you want to highlight both the agreements and disagreements in the literature to show that you’ve got a well-balanced view of the situation.
If your topic is particularly novel and there isn’t a lot of literature available, you can focus your efforts on adjacent literature . For example, if you’re researching factors that cultivate organisational trust in Germany, but there’s very little literature on this, you can draw on US and UK-based studies to form your theoretical foundation. Similarly, if you’re investigating an occurrence in an under-researched industry, you can look at other industries for literature.
As you read each journal article, be sure to scan the reference list for further reading (this technique is called “snowballing”). By doing this, you will quickly identify key literature within a topic area and fast-track your literature review process. You can also check which articles have cited any given article using Google Scholar, which will give you a “forward view” in terms of the progress of the literature.
Given that you’ll need to work through a large amount of literature, it’s useful to adopt a “strategic skimming ” approach when you’re initially assessing articles, so that you don’t need to read the entire journal article . In practical terms, this means you can focus on just the title and abstract at first, and if the article seems relevant based on those, you can jump to the findings section and limitations section. These sections will give you a solid indicator as to whether the resource is relevant to your study, which you can then shortlist for full reading.
6. Keep your golden thread front of mind
Your golden thread (i.e., your research aims, objectives and research questions) needs to guide every decision you make throughout your dissertation, thesis, or research project. This is especially true in the literature review stage, as the golden thread should act as a litmus test for relevance whenever you’re reviewing potential articles or resources. In other words, if an article doesn’t relate to your golden thread, its probably not worth spending time on.
Keep in mind that your research aims, objectives and research questions may evolve as a result of the literature review process. For example, you may find that after reviewing the literature in more depth, your topic focus is not as novel as you originally thought, or that there’s an adjacent area that is more deserving of investigation. This is perfectly natural, so don’t be surprised if your focus shifts somewhat during the review process. Just remember to update your literature review in this case and be sure to update any previous chapters so that your document has a consistent focus throughout.
In this article, we covered 6 pointers to help you find and evaluate high-quality resources for your literature review. To recap:
- Understand and use different types of literature for the right purpose
If you have any questions, please feel free to leave a comment . Alternatively, if you’d like hands-on help with your literature review, be sure to check out our 1-on-1 private coaching services here.
Psst… there’s more!
This post is an extract from our bestselling Udemy Course, Literature Review Bootcamp . If you want to work smart, you don't want to miss this .
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this is very helpful to any researcher, I am learning this for the benefit of myself and overs as a library staff
Of course this is useful to most of researchers. I have learnt a lot issues which are relevant to teaching research. Surely they will enjoy my research sessions.
Thank you. Very clear and concise
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How to Write a Complete Literature Review for Your Thesis/Dissertation
A literature review critically evaluates and synthesizes existing research and scholarly publications on a specific topic or research question. Its goal is to provide a comprehensive understanding of the current state of knowledge on the topic, identify gaps in the literature, and highlight areas for future research. A well-conducted literature review is an essential component of research because it helps to establish the research context, justify the need for the study, and guide the development of research questions or hypotheses.
The literature review of your thesis/dissertation is a very significant part of your paper. It provides readers with an understanding of previously published research in relation to your topic. It also highlights where your research fits into the existing literature. In other words, it provides valuable context for your readers about the field as a whole and the specific topic you have chosen to cover in your thesis/dissertation.
Literature reviews: An overview
A literature review does not only summarize what has been written about a topic already: it also offers a critical analysis of the existing literature.
Literature reviews can take different forms depending on what type of research you are doing and what your field of research is about. Literature reviews are a key part of the majority of academic articles or theses, and can even be written as articles all on their own. A literature review does not only summarize what has been written about a topic already: it also offers a critical analysis of the existing literature. In other words, you, the author, offer your analysis or critique on what has been written already. A literature review, however, should not just be a description of what has been written or a set of summaries.
The idea of reviewing and analyzing all the research that has been done on a topic can sound overwhelming; however, the task is easier than it sounds. This is also a vital step in performing the work necessary to write a good thesis. As you prepare and write your literature review, you will select and filter which sources are relevant to your work and which are not. As you review the literature, you will develop a clear understanding of the work that has come before you. This will enable you to write about it in such a way that you clearly demonstrate how you arrived at your own thesis statement or hypothesis.
A literature review can be quite short (5% of a paper) or quite long (30% of a paper) depending on the type of paper. For a thesis/dissertation, a literature review may be a full chapter, and is usually at least 10-20% of your paper.
Types of literature reviews
There are different types of literature reviews and the type you choose will be determined by the topic you are researching. Four common types of literature reviews are summarized below, but there are also other types that may be preferable depending on your thesis topic.
This type of literature review organizes sources and their ideas by the date of publication. For example, if you are writing about chronic Lyme disease, you would start with articles describing and identifying Lyme disease (1970s), then describe initial treatments and discoveries (1980s), increased prevalence of Lyme disease and rise of people with chronic Lyme disease (2000s), and finally discuss the current controversies and treatments (2010s).
This type is often used in social science papers such as political science or public policy. They focus on specific trends in a field and can still include a chronological component. For example, you could write about changes in approaches to early childhood education by discussing the rise and fall in popularity of public preschool, highlighting relevant case studies, and presenting arguments that there is no need for schooling so early. This is often used to highlight competing schools of thought in a field.
This focuses less on what is said in different sources and more on how previous research has been performed. For example, a methodological review of the treatment of chronic Lyme disease might reveal that previous studies which relied solely on laboratory tests dismissed persistent Lyme symptoms as “all in the patients’ heads,” while studies that focused on interviewing patients as well as doctors classified the disease as an unidentified syndrome. Methodological studies can highlight how approaches to research have changed over time and how the approaches used in research influence the results.
Theoretical literature reviews are often found in fields like philosophy or humanities, but are also prevalent in social sciences. They review existing theories and their relationships, as well as what has been tested and what has not. This kind of review is quite useful in demonstrating where existing theories fall short in describing a particular phenomenon in the field.
Structuring your literature review
A literature review is usually a chapter in your thesis/dissertation and as such generally includes an introduction, main body, and conclusion. The introduction will explain:
- The type of literature review you have performed
- Why you have chosen to perform that type of literature review
- Your criteria for selecting sources
Your main body will be the actual literature review, which we will discuss further in the next section. In your conclusion, you will summarize the major arguments that you have highlighted in your literature review and center your own research among them. The conclusion of the literature review should explain why your research study is necessary (what gap in the literature it fulfils) to lead smoothly into your next thesis chapter.
How do I review the literature?
An easy way to find relevant sources is to look at the citations of papers you find that are on the topic you want to research.
Before you write a literature review, you need to:
- Become familiar with the literature
- Select which sources are relevant to your thesis topic
- Organize your sources
- Choose the type of literature review you will write
- Arrange your notes to reflect the type of literature review
How do you become familiar with the literature?
If you aren’t sure where to start, try going to Google Scholar and typing in some keywords about your topic. For example, if you’re researching chronic Lyme disease, you could type in keywords such as “chronic Lyme” “post-treatment Lyme disease syndrome” and “Lyme disease treatment” to see what results show up. As you search, you will be able to identify more keywords that are relevant to what you want to search. Making a list of these keywords can help you as you engage in this task. When you find an article that looks promising, copy the citation information from Google Scholar and save it in a file or use a reference manager like Mendeley . You will thank yourself for this later. You can then search your academic institution’s online library to download the article.
An easy way to find relevant sources is to look at the citations of papers you find that are on the topic you want to research. If you aren’t sure whether an article or paper you are reading is reputable , you can check its citation metrics using Google Scholar, which can tell you how many other people cited a particular source. Generally, it holds true that the more highly cited a source is, the more reliable and useful it is. Of course, your citation sources don’t need to be limited to journal articles. Books , news articles , interviews, and other sources are all acceptable .
Finally, as you read through sources and organize them, you will want to take notes. Don’t just save an article and hope you’ll remember why you did. Jot down a few sentences about the main argument of this source and why/how it is relevant to your research study. Once you have done this, you will want to go ahead and organize your sources in an order that reflects the type of literature review you have chosen to do. For example, if you are doing a thematic review, you should organize sources by a theme or type of argument. If you are doing a historical review, you would organize them in chronological order.
Writing the literature review
As you write your literature review, you will want to walk the reader through what has happened in the literature review and offer your analysis of it.
Now that you’ve reviewed the literature, taken notes, organized your sources and your notes, you are ready to begin! As we mentioned above, a literature review needs an introduction and a conclusion. As you write your literature review, you will want to walk the reader through what has happened in the literature review and offer your analysis of it. For example, you could say “while Yue and Xu argue that Lyme disease is a bacterial infection and should not result in symptoms resembling post-viral syndromes, others such as Scott and Zebrowski have noted the strong similarities between patients with chronic Lyme disease and the newly emerging group of COVID long-haulers. Scott and Zebrowski appear to be at the forefront of the changing perspective on chronic Lyme disease as newer evidence supports their position.”
Your literature review will include the ideas of many other people, but it should not be a lengthy chapter directly quoting other papers. You should instead paraphrase what others say. Of course you can use some quotes! They are not off limits. Short quotes like “Marx said ‘religion is the opiate of the masses’ while Mao Zedong said ‘religion is poison’” is fine. Longer blocks of text should be used only when necessary and properly indicated within the text .
Now you are ready to write your thesis literature review! Check out our site for more tips on how to write a good thesis, where to find the best thesis editing services, and more about thesis editing and proofreading services .
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Checklist for writing a literature review
Below is a list of points to remember when writing your literature review. These will help you make sure that your literature review is thorough and properly structured.
Do a thorough review of the sources in your field that are relevant to your thesis topic.
Make sure your sources are reliable and high-quality.
Take detailed notes and maintain an organized list of your sources.
Cover a wide variety of viewpoints, not just those that support or agree with your argument. Make it clear what controversies and unsettled point of views exist.
Make sure your literature review chapter has a clear introduction, main body, and conclusion.
Use quotes sparingly.
What is a literature review? +
A literature review is a summary of the major studies and sources related to your topic that already exist and provides critical analysis of these sources. A literature review is not a bibliography or a list of sources. It is written in a narrative format.
e.g. “Clowes and McKnight (2002) argue that chronic Lyme disease is analogous to post-viral syndrome.”
What kinds of sources can be included in a literature review? +
Anything you can cite in an academic paper can be included in a literature review. This includes journal articles, books, news sources, interviews, and so on. You should not include Wikipedia or your Uncle Bob as a source in the literature review (unless your Uncle Bob is a recognized expert in your topic!).
Do I really have to write a literature review? +
A literature review is part of most social science or natural science theses/dissertations. your institutional requirements inform you to, then you have to write a literature review. If you are writing a thesis/dissertation in humanities or in another field where the structure does not mandate a literature review, you may be able to skip it. Always check with your advisor and your institution about the requirements of your thesis/dissertation structure.
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