A literature review has a special structure which must be followed to make the work useful for scientific society.
A research paper requires information about works done by other specialists. Their description is published in different scientific journals and books. A literary review unites them in a text devoted to a certain scientific question. Thanks to this other approaches, their merits and demerits in comparison with your work become clear. A literature review is a part of a research paper and devoted to a certain problem highlighted in the whole work. It is closely connected with it and allows to get a full view of achievements in a separate branch of a certain field of science.
Different sources used for the analysis represent qualified points of view of the specialists of high level.
Though there is a number of them, they must be united by a certain idea. Usually, it is prompted by the direction in which the research is conducted. At the same time, the review has its own structure which is built around the thesis formulated in the introduction. It is a separate work and a subdivision of the research simultaneously. That is why it must be written so that later there will be a possibility to harmoniously integrate it in the whole research paper.
Thanks to a choice of variants, literature reviews may be written in different ways. There are several types which allow to collect necessary information and reflect it from a certain point of view:
Each type has its peculiarities. They help to highlight important features of a certain research paper. The choice of type depends not only on the problem of a research but on the realm in which it is done, too.
The argumentative literature reviews are used in cases when some idea must be confirmed or refuted. Sources are selected to develop a contrarian point of view. The integrated type generates new perspectives on the topic considering all the literature related to the research problem. The historical type helps to examine the question throughout some period of time. It observes how the problem is being solved from year to year, from century to century, from epoch to epoch. The methodological type concentrates on how the findings were achieved in different cases. The systematic literature review summarizes everything connected with a research problem. The theoretical type helps to establish relationships between theories which already exist.
The main parts of the literary review are the items which are quite common. They include introduction, body, conclusion. These parts may have subdivisions depending on the contents of the work. A well-built structure helps to organize the analysis in the most effective way. As a result, it will make clear what the review is about and will simplify the ability to quickly refer to any part of it. The introduction makes aware of the main idea of the work. The body tells the main information on research. The conclusion sums up what has been said and proves the conformity of body with the idea of work stated in the introduction.
The structure must help to clearly overview a theory and objectives of a work. The sources for analysis should represent different points of view: supporting the position, disproving it and showing an alternative way. It is better to underline how one work differs from others devoted to this problem. Summing up the work it is highly recommended to emphasize the most interesting aspects and features of research that are of greatest value for the scientific world. All parts of the structure must be logically connected with each other and form a single whole.
It is worth paying special attention to the main part — body. This is the section where you analyze literary sources. As most of them are on the topic that your work is devoted to, it is necessary to organize them somehow. You may do it:
The chronological way is suitable when trends change over time. The second method is good when stance of each publication is different. For example, if approaches develop from radical to conservative, arranging by publication show their progress. When the trend is in focus, information may be arranged by this feature uniting time periods or regions. Thematic principle helps to form parts of the body by their meaning.
Structurizing gives a chance to organize literature analysis in form. There are stages which are used to help in organizing the work according to its internal dynamics. Formulate the problem and say on what field of science it is being examined. Organize literature search which will help to find publications relevant to your theme from sources you can trust. Evaluate the data choosing which literature is more precious for your subject. Analyse and interpret the findings of the chosen publications and evaluate how they are suitable for your work.
If you do not know something or it is not clear enough for you, clarify your doubts as soon as possible. You may ask your professor to give answers to your questions. He always knows how to do a literature review and may give a useful piece of advice. Questions may concern any peculiarities of the work — from types of publications, such as articles from journals, books or websites, to a number of subheadings and other formal, at first glance, information. Besides, you can find a model for your work.
There are a lot of similar literature analysis which may become an example for you. Take one of them as a basis but do it formally in order to avoid plagiarism. It will do your work easier if you narrow down the scope of possible themes in your review. It will automatically reduce the number of sources you have to study and will make the work more concrete. If you really want to make a contribution to science you should check the sources for their relevance. Some information may be out of date and you should replace it with fresh data.
Writing the text, pay attention to evidence you use. It confirms your desire to substantiate the ideas that you are expressing and helps to make the whole work argumentative.
Do not forget that this is you, who does the review. Though you put together facts and opinions of other authors, make your voice sound among all this. But even when you paraphrase someone’s work do not forget about citation rules. Select the most important points and do not try to write about everything and immediately. Quote sparingly and summarize each thematic paragraph to make the work consist of logical parts.
Follow the required formatting. Use terms properly. Replace jargon and slang. Your tone must be neutral but credible and convincing. Avoid inaccuracies: the mentioned sources must clearly relate to the review question. Pay attention to primary studies first. Examine critically findings of other researchers — it shows that you study the problem and look for its solution. If you deal with alternative interpretations, include them in your work, too. Do not be afraid to mention in the review works with negative results — they also have value for scientific progress.
Check grammar and spelling — they must comply with the rules of language. After you have finished your draft, take a long pause to look at the text with a fresh eye. Check your reference list to be sure you have marked every quotation. If you have time read aloud all you have written — it will help to hear where you may improve your text. If you want to produce an impression you review must be not only informative but also readable. Ask, if possible, your colleagues to read your work. They may notice something of what you lost sight.
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