How to Write a Good Literature Review for a Research Paper

Writing various papers such as dissertations, thesis or even research papers, you must conduct literature review to place your research paper within the existing knowledge. Many students and researchers are usually stuck in this section of the paper, wondering how well they are supposed to handle it. This article gives you a step by step guide on handling the literature review section of any paper.

What is a literature review?
Literature Review is the section of a research paper that aims to do a survey, reviewing and discussing published scholarly sources for a particular topic or a subject. It offers an overview of the existing knowledge, giving the student or the researcher the ability to scrutinize different theories related to the research topic and identify gaps in the current research.

Why is literature review necessary?
This question aims at finding out why we need to review literature, whereas we can write our paper without referring to other peoples’ work. But we can’t run away from the fact that there is always a gap in research that needs to be addressed. You as a researcher need to explain or show how you contribute to that particular topic or show how to handle your research handle the gaps you identified. On the other hand, as a researcher, you need to show that you are familiar to try the scholarly context and the research topic. Also, Literature review is needed when developing the methodology for your research and the theoretical framework. Finally, as a researcher, you need to it’s your role to position among other researchers and can only be achieved through literature review.

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what are the key steps when conducting literature review?
• Choosing a relevant topic
• Sources search
• Evaluating the Selected Articles
• Developing Sub-Topics from the Selected Articles
• Developing a thesis or Purpose Statement
• Writing your paper
• Reviewing Your Paper

Choosing a Relevant Topic
Just like in any research paper, when conducting literature review, you must have a relevant topic in mind. Your research topic may be too wide if you haven’t selected the research topic. Always choose a topic that is clear and concise and also an interesting one. Also, ensure that others already have researched your topic choice, which will help find the most relevant articles to review. This step is imperative because you can have an interesting topic, but if no one has researched about it before, it won’t be of any help when conducting your literature review.
Make your topic as narrow as possible. This is done by considering your specific study area. As much as your interest is of importance to you, it must be of interest to others as well.

Literature Sources Search
In this section, you start by defining the criteria for selecting your sources. For example;
• Articles focusing on a particular research methodology or,
• Articles published in a specific period
• Explore different keywords when searching for sources
• Searching for articles published recently, e.g. within five years, can also lead to great papers.

Evaluating the Selected Articles
This step allows you to read your selected articles thoroughly while evaluating and synthesizing their findings as well as conclusions.
You are supposed to;
• Note assumptions that the researchers of those articles seem to make.
• Note the methodologies, materials, and testing procedures and subjects used by the researchers.
• Note the methodologies, results as well as conflicting theories.
• Note the theories and their popularity.

Developing Sub-Topics from the Selected Articles
In this section, you organize the selected articles noting their findings, the trends in them, and the most influential theories.
Here you;
• Write about what you read
• You identify the key terms used.
• Making a lot of questions as you read
• Look for contrary opinions connections among the sources
• Determine your main idea.

Developing a Thesis or Purpose Statement
This is a summary statement of the conclusion you have made about the major developments and trends you see in the articles selected on your research subject.

Writing your paper
• Provide enough evidence to support your thesis.
• Focus primarily on analysis rather
• Review and revise your paper to reflect your argument.

Reviewing Your Paper
• Start by looking at the topic sentence. Each sentence must show the major point of your Literature review.
• Ensure you have an outline of each section to decide on where additional information is needed, where you need to delete unnecessary information as well as restructuring sections.
• Proofread your work
• Ensure your work is properly cited as well references are correct.
• Ensure there is no plagiarism

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