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How to Write a Literature Review

A literature review is a description of the literature sources you have used during your academic work writing. Usually is written as the essential part of a research or thesis proposal. Literature review writing supposes that you have already studied all available resources and could indicate them with full description.

Optimally your work can be divided into several stages:

Besides monographs, publications, articles you also should become familiar with reviews of already defended dissertations, but better with original works.

A review of already defended dissertations is reasonable because of several reasons:

Stages of Literature Review Writing

1. Literature gathering

To make the best literature review, you should look through different catalogues, essay' collections, dissertations, academic works' collections, different periodical publications and take main information out of there. If you decided to use periodical publications it would be better to start from the last issue, because, as usual, it contains the list of all articles which were published during last year.

When you have complete the list of the literature you can start visit libraries and gather all required data: examine and select needed information, make annotations, notes, extracts and copies. Do not forget to sign any new source otherwise you can forget the author's name or other essential information.

If you don't have access to a large library you should use online variants or order required book or an article via the Internet. You can try to find some free resources. But in any case don't forget to indicate your sources or you will be accused in plagiarism.

During the process of literature selection you should follow the subject matter of your work. Very often the volume of literature is so big that you will need years for reading. That's why you should concentrate on the most important sources. All methodological guides recommend starting with general materials and then moving to the materials which directly concern subject of your work. If you want to write a good literature review and save your time you should start with the most perspective sources, the usage of which will be the most useful for your literature review writing.

2. Writing

A literature review is an essential part of any academic work and that's why you should approach to its writing very carefully and thoughtfully. Reading your literature review the supervisor and your audience will understand why you have examined exactly this topic, who and when investigated it before.

A literature review is writing only in connection with the work topic. For its writing you don't need to have calculations, scientific experiments and investigations. What you need is to read a hundred of books and set your priorities. Using all your imagination, experience and knowledge of the investigated topic you should write a couple of sentences about the work of each author and compare them with each other. And all this you should do on 20 or more pages (depends on the type of your work and requirements of your supervisor). The time you spend for literature review writing is half less then you spend for work in general.

You need to process the source to have only one page of it, then a passage and then only a sentence or two in the end. It will be the key point of the literature review: the essence, the most important thought among the variety of authors and ideas.

The principle of literature review writing is chosen by you. You can structure it according to authors or according to scientific aspects. You can choose any of the available sources – it is the key point of the any scientific investigation and literature review writing. You are free in your selection.

The Features of a Literature Review

1. Pay attention to details

A sound literature review should be analytical, good structured and the logical one. Some attention you should pay to the related sciences, put quotations to sources and investigations (the results of experiments, calculations and theories). All details should have equal weight and relate to the topic of the investigation.

The weight of facts is very difficult for estimation. Everything is depends on time and other conditions of studied topic. Where did we have the same investigations? When did the overturn happen and how did it influence at scientific area? What explorations influenced on it? The answers for these questions should be within the researched subject. The importance of the different factors is estimated firstly by you and then by your supervisor. Sometimes he can order to forget about some sources and to use the other ones.

2. Estimate the volume

Depending on the topic elaboration and scientific newness the researcher can put a literature review in 15 pages and the other will use 60 or more. You can use the simple scheme: literature review – theoretical investigation – practical realization. Remember: less studied topics have less volume of literature but is more difficult for writing. Decide what is more important for you.

3. Title

It is very important to give a sound name for your literature review because it may be considered being one of the theses.

4. Introduction

In the beginning of the literature review write a couple of sentences about the current situation in the studied science, what progress was achieved by other scientists and what are the perspectives for future investigations.

5. Structuredness

Divide your literary review into several logical parts, add methods and essential factors, remove outdated sources and replace them with new and actual investigations.

6. Uniqueness

Try not to use common and well-known phrases, such as: "the authors consider that...", "according to... an investigation we can see..." and so on. Produce something new and unusual. Attract readers' attention and present yourself being an outstanding writer and investigator. But don't forget to use a literary language and use 'we' instead of 'I'.

Read this guide properly. Try to understand the key features of literature review writing. But in any case don't forget about the most powerful tool – your own imagination and your own writing skills.

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