Research papers are one of the most important assignments in your academic life. These essays are the closest to real academic research. Notably, the literature review chapter is a crucial part of any research. And it involves much more than just collecting literature on the topic.
Any proper literature review shows the researcher’s knowledge of the topic and what has already been done in the field. Every student knows that a literature review requires a significant amount of preparation and attention to detail. However, it will be much less intimidating if you follow these simple seven steps.
Know your topic
A part of writing a literature review is doing in-depth research on the chosen topic. However, any online essay writer or student should have a pretty good scope of the subject before searching for the literature itself. You have to understand the basics and crucial aspects of your topic.
For example, if your research is related to World War II, you’re expected to know the general timeline, crucial historical figures, and main events. Thus, you are eligible to come up with the relevant specific topic and search for the right literature to review.
Devise your keywords
For an effective search of your sources, you would need to come up with the right keywords. If you have a well-formulated topic, you already have some to look for. However, you have to consider more than just words mentioned in your topic. Think about all the aspects that your topic covers.
Continuing with the World War II example, if you’re writing on the rise of Hitler in the 1930s Germany, you’d need to take into account things like:
- social and economic factors
- previous historical circumstances
- outcomes of World War I for Germany and its effects on society
- the roots of Hitler’s ideology
Thus, according to every block that covers your research, you would need several variations of your keyword phrases.
Check your sources for credibility
Credible sources are one of the most important parts of a proper literature review. Do not waste your time on random websites; go to reliable databases like EBSCO or Google Scholar. This way, you would be already searching for the literature among peer-reviewed sources.
However, you still have to be cautious. Check the credibility of the journal which you are getting your article from. Be sure that it is not a predatory academic journal that fooled its way into reliable databases. Run an identity check on the author of the book before dedicating hours to reading it. Better spend more time on the search than waste it.
The most difficult task of a literature review is finding the right sources. Of course, you would not be able to read every book and article on the topic. Hence, you would need to do a quick review of any source that you think might relate to your topic. Luckily, there are things that can help you quickly understand if the source is useful to your literature review.
For instance, almost any academic article starts with an abstract that gives you a clear idea of what the piece is about and what was done in this research. There are also book reviews and annotations to look through to see if the book is worth mentioning on the topic. Also, it is a good tip to pay attention to the repeated names of scholars in the sources.
In-depth reading and note taking
After you have selected your sources, start studying them. This step will take the longest, so be sure that you have enough time on your hands. To do a proper literature review, it would not be enough to rely solely on abstracts and annotations of the chosen sources. You would need to read them all and to reflect critically on their content to get a grasp on the topic.
Do not read your sources passively. Try to find possible answers to your research question when reading. Take extensive notes of the main points and the author’s perspective. Thus, when you would need to write the actual review, you already have the content for the description of each source and how it fits in the research’s framework.
Structuring your review
Another part of writing a successful literature review is following a structure. Every literature review needs an introduction with a brief scope of the topic and an explanation of how these sources contribute to answering the research question. Then you will need to describe the background of the topic, relevant studies, and the ones that you use for your research.
With each source, you would need to explain why it is relevant to your research and what you get from it. Notably, if you spend time on the previous step, it will not take you too much time. Thus, remember to follow the structure and devise your literature review according to academic requirements.
Save time for editing
Research is a much more fluid process than it might seem. Regardless of all the rigid rules and guidelines, discovering one source can turn the entire research in a completely different direction. Even your initial research question might change in the end. Thus, make sure that when doing your literature review, there is enough room for editing.
It might be so that even with all the preciousness, the book that you’ve been reading for a week does not fit the direction that your research went. Hence, you would need to search for more new sources and spend additional time crafting your literature review. Do not underestimate these factors and save time for potential major editing and revision.
And here you have it. Have a good scope on your chosen topic, come up with the relevant keywords, rely only on credible sources, select literature based on a quick look-through, work mindfully with your sources, follow the required structure of the literature review, and reserve time for editing. Follow these steps, and lit reviews will be a piece of cake for you.As an Amazon Associate, Icy Canada earns from qualifying purchases.