Writing A Literature Review


What is a literature review? A literature review is a survey of scholarly sources on a specific topic. It provides an overview of current knowledge, allowing you lớn identify relevant theories, methods, và gaps in the existing research that you can later apply to lớn your paper, thesis, or dissertation topic.

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There are five key steps to writing a literature review:

A good literature review doesn’t just summarize sources—it analyzes, synthesizes, and critically evaluates lớn give a clear picture of the state of knowledge on the subject.

TipWe’ve also compiled a few examples, templates, and sample outlines for you below.

Table of contents

What is the purpose of a literature review?

When you write a thesis, dissertation, or research paper, you will likely have lớn conduct a literature reviews to situate your research within existing knowledge. The literature reviews gives you a chance to:

Demonstrate your familiarity with the topic & its scholarly contextPosition your work in relation khổng lồ other researchers và theoristsShow how your research addresses a gap or contributes lớn a debateEvaluate the current state of research và demonstrate your knowledge of the scholarly debates around your topic.

Writing literature đánh giá is a particularly important skill if you want to lớn apply for graduate school or pursue a career in research. We’ve written a step-by-step guide that you can follow below.


See editing example

Step 1 – tìm kiếm for relevant literature

Before you begin searching for literature, you need a clearly defined topic.

If you are writing the literature reviews section of a dissertation or research paper, you will tìm kiếm for literature related to your research problem and questions.

Literature nhận xét research question exampleWhat is the impact of social truyền thông media on toàn thân image among Generation Z?

Make a menu of keywords

Start by creating a danh mục of từ khoá related lớn your research question. Include each of the key concepts or variables you’re interested in, & list any synonyms và related terms. You can add to this các mục as you discover new từ khoá in the process of your literature search.

Keywords exampleSocial media, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, TikTokBody image, self-perception, self-esteem, mental healthGeneration Z, teenagers, adolescents, youth

Search for relevant sources

Use your keyword to begin searching for sources. Some useful databases to search for journals and articles include:

Your university’s library catalogue

You can also use boolean operators to lớn help narrow down your search.

Make sure khổng lồ read the abstract to lớn find out whether an article is relevant to lớn your question. When you find a useful book or article, you can check the bibliography to find other relevant sources.

Step 2 – Evaluate & select sources

You likely won’t be able lớn read absolutely everything that has been written on your topic, so it will be necessary lớn evaluate which sources are most relevant to your research question.

For each publication, ask yourself:

What question or problem is the author addressing?What are the key concepts and how are they defined?What are the key theories, models, and methods?Does the research use established frameworks or take an innovative approach?What are the results and conclusions of the study?How does the publication relate to lớn other literature in the field? Does it confirm, add to, or challenge established knowledge?What are the strengths và weaknesses of the research?

Make sure the sources you use are credible, & make sure you read any landmark studies and major theories in your field of research.

You can use our template lớn summarize & evaluate sources you’re thinking about using. Click on either button below to download.

tải về Word docDownload Google doc

Take notes & cite your sources

As you read, you should also begin the writing process. Take notes that you can later incorporate into the text of your literature review.

It is important lớn keep track of your sources with citations to lớn avoid plagiarism. It can be helpful lớn make an annotated bibliography, where you compile full citation information và write a paragraph of summary and analysis for each source. This helps you remember what you read and saves time later in the process.

TipYou can use vtvplus.vn’s miễn phí APA citation generator or MLA citation generator khổng lồ quickly create correct & consistent citations. Want to check your literature đánh giá for plagiarism? Try vtvplus.vn’s Plagiarism Checker for students.

Step 3 – Identify themes, debates, and gaps

To begin organizing your literature review’s argument & structure, be sure you understand the connections and relationships between the sources you’ve read. Based on your reading and notes, you can look for:

Trends & patterns (in theory, method or results): bởi certain approaches become more or less popular over time?Themes: what questions or concepts recur across the literature?Debates, conflicts và contradictions: where do sources disagree?Pivotal publications: are there any influential theories or studies that changed the direction of the field?Gaps: what is missing from the literature? Are there weaknesses that need lớn be addressed?

This step will help you work out the structure of your literature reviews and (if applicable) show how your own research will contribute to lớn existing knowledge.

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Example of trends and gapsIn reviewing the literature on social truyền thông and body toàn thân image, you chú ý that:Most research has focused on young women.There is an increasing interest in the visual aspects of social media.But there is still a lack of robust research on highly visual platforms lượt thích Instagram và Snapchat—this is a gap that you could address in your own research.

Step 4 – Outline your literature review’s structure

There are various approaches lớn organizing the body of a literature review. Depending on the length of your literature review, you can combine several of these strategies (for example, your overall structure might be thematic, but each theme is discussed chronologically).


The simplest approach is to lớn trace the development of the topic over time. However, if you choose this strategy, be careful to avoid simply listing & summarizing sources in order.

Try khổng lồ analyze patterns, turning points và key debates that have shaped the direction of the field. Give your interpretation of how and why certain developments occurred.


If you have found some recurring central themes, you can organize your literature đánh giá into subsections that address different aspects of the topic.

For example, if you are reviewing literature about inequalities in migrant health outcomes, key themes might include healthcare policy, language barriers, cultural attitudes, legal status, và economic access.


If you draw your sources from different disciplines or fields that use a variety of research methods, you might want to compare the results and conclusions that emerge from different approaches. For example:

Discuss how the topic has been approached by empirical versus theoretical scholarshipDivide the literature into sociological, historical, and cultural sources


A literature review is often the foundation for a theoretical framework. You can use it lớn discuss various theories, models, & definitions of key concepts.

You might argue for the relevance of a specific theoretical approach, or combine various theoretical concepts lớn create a framework for your research.

TipMake sure to check out our examples of literature review for each type

Step 5 – Write your literature review

Like any other academic text, your literature đánh giá should have an introduction, a main body, & a conclusion. What you include in each depends on the objective of your literature review.


The introduction should clearly establish the focus and purpose of the literature review.

TipIf you are writing the literature đánh giá as part of your dissertation or thesis, reiterate your central problem or research question and give a brief summary of the scholarly context. You can emphasize the timeliness of the topic (“many recent studies have focused on the problem of x”) or highlight a gap in the literature (“while there has been much research on x, few researchers have taken y into consideration”).


Depending on the length of your literature review, you might want to lớn divide the body into subsections. You can use a subheading for each theme, time period, or methodological approach.

As you write, you can follow these tips:

Critically evaluate: mention the strengths và weaknesses of your sources


In the conclusion, you should summarize the key findings you have taken from the literature and emphasize their significance.

TipBe sure to show how your research addresses gaps và contributes new knowledge, or discuss how you have drawn on existing theories and methods khổng lồ build a framework for your research.

When you’ve finished writing and revising your literature review, don’t forget to proofread thoroughly before submitting. Not a language expert? check out vtvplus.vn’s professional proofreading services!

Free lecture slides

This article has been adapted into lecture slides that you can use lớn teach your students about writing a literature review.

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