Students pursuing a Ph.D. degree need to encounter a research paper at least once in their academic life. They confront various challenges while writing a literature review and one of the most prominent obstacles to writing it. Most students struggle to curate a comprehensive literature overview of the topic provided to them. They either fail to decide the direction of the entire research paper or find themselves lost in the translations of existing information.
A literature overview is the survey of scholarly resources that students need to carry out on a specific topic. Unable to comprehend the concept, most students often ask, “what is a literature review?" To be precise, it is an overview of the current knowledge that allows you to identify suitable methods, theories, and gaps existing in previous researches. It is one of the main pillars of your research paper in which your core idea stands. Moreover, it acts as a backdrop to provide relevance, context, and background to your research problem. Writing a literature review involves searching various publications, analysing them critically, and explaining your findings.
Since there are so many different types of literature review, students often get confused about the format and structure. However, they are also able to determine what a good review should contain. If you are someone struggling with this part of your research paper as well, here are 7 easy steps to help.
Narrow Your Topic
The internet is filled with plenty of information regarding a particular topic. This is when it becomes challenging for the students to pick out relevant information. When given a topic, students are often unable to have a general overview and focus on the topic.
This is when it becomes challenging for them to write a general overview. Narrowing a topic is all about clipping too much information, determining a specific direction for your paper, and identifying the core issue, you will research. If you are struggling to narrow down your topic, follow these strategies:
Consider your specific study area and identify what interests you about that particular topic.
Brainstorm ideas, read journals, periodicals, etc., or talk to your professor to gather relevant information.
Break your topic into forms of questions and finally refine your ideas to form more concrete arguments.
Search for Relevant Sources
Once you have clearly defined your topic, you will have to begin searching relevant literature. If youare wondering what is a literature review and how to search for relevant sources, then you need to identify your research questions and problems. Your references will enable you to gather and convincingly present information.
Therefore, skipping this step and writing from any site you stumble across the net is not wise. Instead, writing from credible sources will allow you to present the original issue and answer it accurately from relevant publications. Here is how you can search for your literature:
Define the criteria for your source selection like articles publication dates, geographic region or specific methodology, etc.
Make a list of keywords and use them to search any literary database.
Include any studies that provide contrary ideas to your point of view, as they can be useful information.
Read and Evaluate Your Sources
It is not possible for you to read everything available on a particular topic. Therefore, you need to evaluate the sources that provide the most relevant answers to your questions. Make sure that you study only credible resources and use significant theories in your field. Moreover, you can also find out how many times the article or journal has been cited. The higher the citation count, the more influential the article is and should indeed find a place in your literature overview. If you are wondering how to evaluate your sources, take a look:
Note the assumptions made by the researchers and mark their methodologies and testing procedures.
See the frequently referenced names or sites as they will be the experts in this field.
Take note and cite your sources to avoid plagiarism and earn credibility as a writer.
Organise the Ideas
A literature review is extensive and can be time-consuming. However, organising your ideas is an important step. To begin structuring your literature review, understand the relationships and connections between the sources. This step will enable you to outline your literature review, and you can show how your research will contribute to the existing knowledge. While organising ideas for your research, here are some things that you can do:
Note the expected findings, trends, and influential theories about your topic.
Reflect on the debates, contradictions, and conflicts that recur across all literature.
Identify pivotal publications or look for any gap areas or missing information that might lead to the weaknesses of the theory.
Curate a Thesis Statement
A thesis statement is the essential element of your literature review. It should be one or two statements long and summarise the conclusion you have reached after completing your research. In addition, it should concisely talk about the major trends and developments that you can identify in your research. If you are unable to curate your thesis statement, here are some tricks:
State the main issue or idea of your topic and make sure to express only one idea.
Give a clear statement supporting your main idea with logical facts and evidence.
Strengthen your statements with opposing ideas and contrasting thoughts.
Write the Literature Review
Now that you have done the entire organisation, outlining, and structuring, it is finally time to write the literature review. While writing, make sure that each section links logically to one another and has seamless transitions. Moreover, prioritise analysis over the description and make sure every paragraph displays the main objective of your writing. Here are some things that should be included in your literature review:
Like every other academic text, you should begin with an introduction that will establish the focus and purpose of your text.
Craft the body depending on the length of your literature review and divide it into paragraphs.
End with a conclusion that will summarise all the key research findings and emphasise their importance.
Edit And Proofread
Reviewing your work is essential if you want to score better grades. Unfortunately, most students don't possess this skill and often end up bleeding ink in their papers. Even minor mistakes can have adverse effects on your grades and academic performance. Therefore, here are some ways by which you can review your papers:
Read the topic sentence for each paragraph and check if you have mentioned all points correctly.
To deliver a taintless paper, look for spelling, typos, or grammatical errors.
Ensure you have followed the structure and formatting guidelines and look for authenticity to avoid plagiarism issues.
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