How to write literature review in research paper?

We all used to face the struggle of writing the literature review for our research paper. The literature review writing is the comprehensive overview of all the theoretical data of our research topic till today’s date can be taken for the reference.

When we decided to write the literature review for our research paper we have to go through the previously published research papers on the topic in which we undertake our research work and so this eventually helps us in writing literature review for our research paper.

Literature review is the main pillar in our research work because literature review alone can play a vital role in providing the actual and relevant context for the research problem that we are exploring.

There are two types of Literature review:

  1. Experimental Literature review.
  2. Theoretical Literature review.

The Experimental literature review mainly focuses on the surveying of all the information that is available on a particular topic by referring many sources. Experimental literature review also used in analysing the gap on the particular topic that is needed to be worked. Writing the experimental literature review is the very first experiment of any research work.

The Theoretical literature review is written by surveying and critically reading the existing literature. Theoretical literature review is mainly done in an organized manner of putting the data gathered from the existing literature from the foundation to till date.

Literature reviews for the research paper

The main purpose of the literature review is to make the readers understand the purpose and the need for conducting the research process in the field where researchers are working. A literature review of the research paper should consists of the actual and thorough literature data for that we can search for the literature data using our relevant data.

We can search for using the relevant data in the different journal papers. After gathering all the informations from the online databases we need to organise the informations in the literature review of our research paper.

Steps to follow while writing the literature review using the gathered informations from various online databases:

Step: 1 we have to write the background literature regarding the research topic so the readers can understand about the research topic from the scratch in the field of study.

Step: 2 we have to highlight the recent progress on the research topic which can be organised thematically or by chronologically. We should show various themes in the separate form while organizing the gathered information in the chronological manner because this helps the readers to clearly understand the evolution of research over the time and to highlight the progress of work in the field.

Step: 3 we have to include the comparison and the contrast of different studies in the literature review of our research paper. The controversial aspects of the study when discussed help to identify the main gap in the fields that is needed to be worked.  This highlights the significance of the research study and used in defining the problem statement of the study.

Step: 4 once after defining the problem statement we should discuss about the strengths and pitfalls of the other studies that have tackled the problem statement. By doing this we can establish the need and novelty required for the research paper.

A literature review should not be the recounting of all the available study of research work rather it should be written by the self-analysis and our literature review should be able to describe the main theme of our research paper among the readers.

There are stand-alone literature reviews that can be written by not following the actual experimental data. The stand-alone literature reviews basically falls in the two broad categories they are narrative reviews and the systematic reviews.

  1. Narrative reviews

The narrative review consists of the theoretical discussions of the relevant informations on a particular concept or the topic of our research paper gathered by our critical analysis. The narrative reviews are qualitative in nature and more over it resembles the review work of the large articles.

Narrative reviews are usually organized as the below mentioned method:

Introduction: In this we establish the context of the field of research and the topic of the review work for the research paper.

Concept: In this section we have to mention the various themes under the main topic of research work by segregating the topic into various subheadings. In this section we have to compare and contrast the existing studies.

 By comparing and contrasting the existing studies we should identify the gaps that have not been properly addressed.

Conclusion: In this section we have to describe the main conclusions from the analysis of all the existing studies and have to put them as the conclusion of our research paper based on the findings of the existing research paper.

This section should produce the ideas in findings of the solution for the existing problems and also this section adds the value to the existing literature because it has the complete knowledge of critical analysis of the author.

  1. Systematic reviews

The systematic review contains the quantitative and qualitative data that has been analysed by the author from various studies. The systematic review focuses only on the single concept and displays the clear objective of the works in a systematic organized manner. The study is based on the well-defined strategy.

Systematic reviews are usually organized as the below mentioned method:

Introduction: In this section the systematic reviews starts with specific concept of the research and then they are elaborately explained with the sample terms and also the research outcomes that is needed to be studied in this research paper. We should have focus on both the key concept and also on the outcomes that are needed to be studied.

Methods: We write the methods only for the systematic review. In this section we have to mention a comprehensive methodology that starts by narrowing down the literature for the review.

 Usually, specific necessary and unwanted criteria are set based on the research databases that are searched based on the necessary and unwanted criteria. Once the sample studies have been shortlisted, they are analysed in detail.

Results: The results section for these studies involves comprehensive data analysis to determine the significance of the study outcomes. Systematic reviews can be accompanied with Meta-analysis which involves statistical analysis using the meta data of the included studies to increase the power of the results.

Discussion: This section usually interprets the study data based on their weighted significance and the power of the results. The study therefore provides strengthened results that are validated by the scientific findings of the analytical method.

Before starting to write a review, it is important to determine what kind of review we want to write and follow the appropriate style and guidelines. An effective literature review is important for the complete life cycle of a research from defining the right research goals to correctly interpreting and presenting the research results.


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