How to Prepare for Writing a Literature Review

There are still quite many people who think that writing a literature review is similar to the process of reading a book and then telling if it was interesting or not. This opinion is erroneous. A literature review is even more than just a search of necessary information, as every included work should be read, analyzed and evaluated. Therefore, the review has to describe, clarify and summarize the literature related to the study. Usually, the literary review presents a part of some research paper. Its aim is to avoid plagiarism and show the way of the following research. If it is clear what the literature review is, you have to answer several questions to make sure that you are ready for a productive work.

Are you aware of the professor’s demands?

If you want to get a desirable grade, you have to start with the professor’s requirements and base your work on them. Don’t be afraid to ask additional questions if you are not confident that you have understood the explanations properly. So, the points that should be taken into consideration are the number or resources to be used, their types and the number of each type. Ask if your review will require a thesis and if it needs critiquing or only summarizing. After that, make sure that your opinion has to be offered and if it is necessary to use such background information as histories or definitions for aiding the audience’s comprehension. And at last, specify word and paragraph requirements.

Have you narrowed the topic?

The topic should be narrowed, as you can still have numerous necessary sources. For example, if you are applying for birth order, you usually get hundreds of books, while searching for the birth order of a definite-sex sibling your investigation is going to be more manageable and much quicker.

Do you have the current information?

It definitely depends on your topic but sometimes it is really important to consider the latest information, data and dates to provide your work with authentic facts. It can be quite easy to get lost in a great variety of resources, so try to keep organized notes in the sequence your review and discipline demands.

Have you found the focus?

As you understand, your task is not only to gather various sources and summarize the ideas, it is necessary to determine what theme connects all resources together. Imagine that all these books are like a group of your friends, who have a dispute on the topic. Now make a conclusion in what way they are the same or they differ. If you want to save the time, read between the lines, searching for the explicit content. Doing this, you can realize which aspect of the necessary field is missing and if all sources relate to one definite theory. During this process, you will be able to structure the paper and get the focus of the whole work.

Do you keep your personal voice?

You, certainly, use the information based on the reliable resources but not just the ideas that have come out of your head. However, you have to start and end every paragraph with your personal words. Keep in mind, that while paraphrasing some source, you have to be accurate not to distort the general idea or facts.

Have you read other examples of a literature review?

Reading various literature reviews, you can make a conclusion which one seems more successful and which one is not and what the reason is. Probably, you will see the way of presenting information and the structure that seems more attractive. After all, you will get a picture of the review you need.