A literature review is a comprehensive and systematic analysis of sources that provide knowledge on a topic. During the research, the sources include books, journals, electronic, and other sources relevant to the issue that a paper discusses. The role of conducting a literature review is to get a better insight into current research and on-going debates with relevance to your area of study or your topic. In the literature review, you present the knowledge you gain after reviewing different sources in the form of a report.
You write a literature review to understand existing research and debates concerning a topic or area of study. You present that knowledge in the form of a written report. The analysis of the state of knowledge should be in-depth and relevant to your study’s objective.
Research is not much about identifying the available information but the missing. Review of literature is like putting a jigsaw puzzle together. You will only see the missing parts and the likely appearance after putting available pieces together. From this point, you can start finding the missing parts. A literature review becomes important by identifying areas of a topic that researchers have not studied in detail. Filling in the gaps contributes to increasing knowledge on the topic.
The Difference with Annotated Bibliography
People associate a literature review with an annotated bibliography as they comprehensive collection of sources. However, that is all they have in common, but the way of writing them is different.
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An annotated bibliography provides a list that a researcher studies to readers. Any explanation on the credibility of and relevance to the topic is so brief.
A literature review is not a mere summary of every source like a bibliography but also explains the most significant sources.
A good literature review should do the following:
Compare and contrast every source to the other related literature on the subject
Evaluate each source critically
Indicate the contribution of every source to the current body of knowledge on the topic
Integrate discussion of sources into the argument about the state of knowledge concerning the topic
How to Draft a Literature Review
Organize your writing into these sections.
The purpose of an introduction is to:
Define the topic and the context in which you are reviewing the literature
Establish the significant reasons for conducting a review and the reasoning behind your choice
Explain the sequence in which you make your presentation
Scope of review, i.e., information that included and that which you did not
The main body is in the middle, and its purpose is to:
Organize literature under review thematically
Provide insight into the relevance of your topic relates to a wider subject
Move the reader from general to specifics of your research
A conclusion serves the following purposes.
Summarize the outstanding issues of available information on the topic
Evaluate the state of literature you are reviewing
Identify major gaps or inconsistencies in knowledge
Outline viable areas for researchers to study in coming days
Connect research to current knowledge
Write to the length that suits your project. A review has no fixed equation depth, but you can use sources that are around half the page count of your project. Use sound judgment to determine the length that also allows room to establish some arguments. You should also consult an instructor about the expectations.
By the end of evaluating available literature, you will know the critical concepts, research, and experimental techniques that apply to your field. As you review literature, you get a deeper understanding of the presentation and discussion of your academic discipline research findings. You also discover the way researchers apply the concepts you read in solving problems occurring in the real world.