How to write a literature review

There are several key steps to follow when writing a literature review. First, determine the topic and choose appropriate sources, paying attention to their relevance. Next, use a systematic approach to literature review, grouping papers by topic and method. It is important to consider the development of research over time. Describe major theories, results, and methods, identifying gaps in knowledge. Provide a logical connection between the works and highlight the main trends. Conclude the review with a summary of important findings and directions for further research. Remember to be accurate in citing and citing sources for the reliability of your work.

Literature review definitions

The literature review also helps identify gaps in the scientific discourse and identify areas for further research. It is important to consider that a literature review is not just a recalculation of published data, but also a critical look at them, the identification of their advantages and disadvantages, as well as the development of one’s own thoughts and concepts. This helps the researcher understand the context of the research and contribute to the development of science. Therefore, the literature review is a key component of the scientific process, contributing to the understanding of the current state of research and the identification of new directions for the development of science.


  • Highlight the importance of the main topic in a particular subject area.
  • Demonstrate and explain the research background for a particular subject.
  • Help find out the themes, principles, concepts, and researchers that exist in a topic.
  • Helps reveal the relationship between existing ideas / studies on a topic.
  • Reveal the main points of controversy and gaps in a topic.
  • Suggest questions to encourage further research based on previous research.
  • Exploring racism in ” To kill mockingbirds “,” The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn “, and ” Uncle Tom’s Cabin “
  • Isolationism in “The Catcher in the Rye”, “Frankenstein”, and ” 1984 
  • Understanding the Moral Dilemma in “Crime and Punishment”, “The Scarlet Letter”, and “The Lifeboat”
  • Power corruption in “Macbeth”, “all men kings”, and “animal farm”
  • Emotional and physical survival in “Lord of the Flies”, “Hatchet” and “Congo”

How long does a literature review take?

You should also ensure that you use the proper methods for gathering and analyzing information. This will help you complete your literature review quickly and effectively.


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Literature Review Formats: APA, MLA, and Chicago

The format for literature reviews can vary depending on the citation style preferred by the academic institution or the publication. Three common citation styles are the American Psychological Association (APA), the Modern Language Association (MLA), and the Chicago Manual of Style. Here’s an overview of how literature reviews are typically formatted in each style:

APA (American Psychological Association):

Title Page: Include the title of the literature review, your name, institutional affiliation, and the course.

Introduction: Begin with a clear introduction that presents the topic and the scope of the review.

Body: Organize the body of the literature review by themes, concepts, or methodologies. Discuss relevant studies and their findings.

Conclusion: Summarize the key findings, identify gaps in the literature, and suggest areas for future research.

References: Provide a comprehensive list of all the sources cited in the review. Follow APA citation guidelines for formatting.

MLA (Modern Language Association):

Header: Include your last name and page number in the upper right corner of each page.

Title: Center the title on the first page. Avoid bold or underlining.

Introduction: Begin with a concise introduction that establishes the context and purpose of the literature review.

Body: Organize the body into sections based on themes or topics. Discuss relevant studies and their contributions.

Conclusion: Summarize the main findings, highlight the significance, and suggest potential avenues for future research.

Works Cited: Provide a list of all sources cited in the review. Follow MLA citation guidelines for formatting.

Chicago Manual of Style:

Title Page: Include the title, your name, course details, and date. The title should be centered about one-third of the way down the page.

Introduction: Provide an introduction that sets the stage for the literature review.

Body: Organize the body into sections, and discuss relevant studies, concepts, or methodologies.

Conclusion: Summarize the key points and propose directions for further research.

Bibliography: Provide a comprehensive bibliography of all sources cited. Follow Chicago style guidelines for citation format.

It’s crucial to adhere to the specific guidelines of the chosen citation style to ensure accuracy and consistency throughout the literature review. Always consult the latest edition of the respective style guide for the most up-to-date formatting instructions.

Literature review structure

The structure of a literature review typically follows a general framework, but the specific requirements may vary based on the academic discipline and the nature of the research. Here’s a commonly used structure for a literature review:

  1. Introduction:

    • Contextualization: Provide an overview of the general topic and its relevance to your research.
    • Scope: Define the scope and boundaries of your literature review. Indicate the specific aspects or themes you will be addressing.
  2. Body:

    • Organize by Themes or Concepts: Group relevant studies, theories, or concepts based on common themes or topics. This organization helps to highlight trends and connections in the literature.
    • Chronological Order: Alternatively, you can organize the literature chronologically to show the historical development of ideas or research in your field.
    • Methodological Approach: Some literature reviews are structured based on the methodologies used in the studies, providing insights into different research methods and their contributions.
  3. Critical Analysis:

    • Evaluate Studies: Critically assess the methodologies, findings, and contributions of each study. Discuss the strengths and weaknesses of the research.
    • Identify Gaps: Highlight gaps or inconsistencies in the existing literature. Discuss areas where further research is needed.
  4. Synthesis:

    • Integration of Findings: Synthesize the key findings and arguments from the selected studies. Show how they contribute to the understanding of the topic.
    • Theoretical Framework: If applicable, discuss how the literature contributes to or challenges existing theoretical frameworks.
  5. Conclusion:

    • Summary: Summarize the main findings and contributions of the literature.
    • Implications: Discuss the implications of the reviewed literature for your research or the broader field.
    • Future Research: Suggest potential avenues for future research based on the gaps identified in the existing literature.
  6. References:

    • Provide a comprehensive list of all the sources cited in the literature review. Follow the specific citation style guidelines (e.g., APA, MLA, Chicago).

Remember to check the specific requirements or guidelines provided by your institution or the publication you are submitting to, as they may have variations in the expected structure or additional components. Additionally, maintaining a clear and logical flow throughout the literature review is essential for readers to follow your argument and understand the context of your research.

How to write a good literature review

Writing a good literature review involves careful planning, critical analysis, and effective synthesis of relevant literature. Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you write a strong literature review:

Define the Scope and Purpose:

Clearly articulate the scope and purpose of your literature review. What specific aspect of the topic are you addressing? What is the goal of your review?

Conduct a Comprehensive Literature Search:

Use academic databases, journals, books, and other reputable sources to gather relevant literature. Ensure your search is thorough and up-to-date.

Organize Your Sources:

Categorize the literature based on themes, concepts, methodologies, or any other relevant criteria. This organization will help you identify patterns and connections in the research.

Create a Logical Structure:

Plan the structure of your literature review. Consider organizing it chronologically, thematically, or by methodology, depending on what best suits your research.

Start Writing:

Begin with a clear and concise introduction that provides context for your literature review. State the purpose and scope and outline the structure.

Provide Clear Citations:

Cite each source accurately and consistently using the appropriate citation style (APA, MLA, Chicago). Be meticulous about citation details, including authors, publication years, and page numbers.

Summarize and Analyze:

Summarize the key findings, methodologies, and contributions of each source. Analyze and critique the strengths and weaknesses of the studies. Highlight any controversies or debates in the literature.

Identify Themes and Trends:

Identify common themes, trends, or patterns across the literature. Discuss how different studies contribute to the understanding of your research topic.

Critical Evaluation:

Evaluate the quality and reliability of the studies. Discuss the credibility of the authors, the methodologies employed, and the validity of the results.

Synthesize Information:

Synthesize the information from various sources to build a coherent narrative. Show how the studies relate to each other and contribute to the overall understanding of the topic.

Address Gaps and Controversies:

Highlight any gaps in the existing literature. Discuss areas where further research is needed and address any controversies or conflicting findings.

Conclude Effectively:

Summarize the main findings and contributions of the literature. Emphasize the significance of your review and its relevance to your research question or thesis.

Revise and Edit:

Review your literature review for clarity, coherence, and flow. Ensure that your writing is concise, and remove any unnecessary repetition.

Seek Feedback:

Before finalizing your literature review, seek feedback from peers, advisors, or colleagues. Incorporate constructive feedback to enhance the quality of your work.

By following these steps, you can create a well-structured and insightful literature review that not only summarizes existing research but also contributes to the scholarly conversation on your chosen topic.

Example of a literature review

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