Literature Review: Meaning, Structure, Steps on How To Review & All You Need to Know

What is Literature Review?

What does the term literature entail? Literatures are written works, especially those considered of higher ranking or lasting artistic value. While the term review implies a proper assessment of something with the intention of applying change if need be. Therefore; to review the literature means to be ready to identify, evaluate and synthesize relevant literature within a specific field of research. A review of literature presents far more than a summary of relevant scholarly work or article. A literature review consists of three main structures that create it whole and this is often what really makes up a literature review and with none a part of this three it’s not complete.

Literature Review: Meaning, Structure, Steps on How To Review & All You Need to Know 1

The structure of a literature review

A literature review must be structured like all other essay: it should have an introduction, the body, and a conclusion.

1. Introduction

The introduction should:
• Define your topic and supply an appropriate avenue for reviewing the literature;
• Establish your reasons – i.e. point of view
• Reviewing the literature
• Explain the organization i.e. the orderliness of the review;
• Enumerate the scope of the review i.e. what is included and what isn’t included.

For instance, if you were reviewing the literature on anorexia in teenagers you would possibly say something like; there is a small number of studies of anorexic trends within the general population. However, since the main target of this research is on anorexia in teenagers, these would not be reviewed intimately and can only be mentioned as suitable. 

2. Main body

The middle or main body should:
• Organize the literature consistently with frequent material
• Provide insight into the relationship between your chosen topic and therefore the wider discipline e.g. between anorexia in children and anorexia in general
• Move from a general, to a precise focus of your research.

3. Conclusion

The conclusion should;
• Summarize the important aspects of the prevailing body of literature;
• Evaluate the present state of the literature reviewed;
• Pinpoint notable flaws or gaps in prior knowledge;
• Outline areas for future study;
• Link your research to existing knowledge.

Consider your specific area of study. Envisage what interests you and what interests other researchers in your field.

• You, the author
• What tutors want
• What is an essay?
• Understanding the question
• Reading and researching
• Planning and structure
• Drafting and editing
• Making an argument
• Quotes and references
• Humanities vs. sciences
• Reports & presentations
• Literature reviews
• Undergraduate dissertations
• Further help

There are seven (7) steps to enable one write a seamless literature and review well thought-out and detailed techniques to use:

1. Narrow your topic and choose papers accordingly

It is equally advisable to speak to your professor, brainstorm, and skim lecture notes and up to date problems with periodicals within the field, while engaging in research using the accurate research method to acquire applicable and valid results. Also,
limit your scope to a smaller topic area.

2. Look for Literature

Define your source selection criteria (ie. articles published between a selected period that specialize in a selected geographical area, or employing a specific method.

3. Using keywords search a library database.

Reference lists of recent articles and reviews can guide to other needful papers.
Include any studies with oppositional views to yours.

4. Read the chosen articles thoroughly and evaluate them

Evaluate and synthesize the studies, findings and conclusions.

Note the following

  • Assumptions some, or most researchers seem to make
  • Methodologies, testing procedures, subjects, material tested researchers use.
  • Experts in the field: names/labs that are frequently referenced
  • Conflicting theories, results, methodologies
  • Popularity of theories and the way this has/has not changed over time
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5. Organize the chosen papers by trying to find patterns and by developing subtopics

Note the following;

  • Findings that are common/contested
  • Valuable trends in the research
  • The most impactful theories

NB: If your literature review is comprehensive, find an outsized table surface, and there-on place post-it notes or filing cards to arrange all of your findings into categories.

  • Move them around if you need to (a) they are better under different headings, or (b) you would like to determine new topic headings
  • Develop headings/subheadings that reflect the major content and patterns you detected.

 Develop a thesis or purpose statement

Put down in one or two sentences a statement summarizing the conclusion you have reached about the major drifts and developments you see in the research that has been conducted on your subject.

Templates for writing thesis statement

This template issues a two-step guide for writing thesis statements.

How to Write a Strong Thesis Statement

Come to think of it, anything that involves research most essentially requires thesis. Thesis is often found in several places such as a debate speech, a lawyer’s closing argument, even an advertisement. Perhaps the most common place for a thesis statement is in an essay.

Whether you are writing a factious paper, an informative essay, or a compare/contrast statement, you need a thesis. Without a thesis, your argument seems unorganized and hardly drives the point home and your information is unfocused. Since a thesis is very necessary, it’s probably a good idea to look at some tips on how to put together a strong one.

What is a thesis statement?

You may have come across something called a “thesis.” It is what final year students commonly refer to as their final paper before graduation or project. That is not the type of thesis we are referring to. That type of thesis is a long, well-written paper that takes months or probably years to piece together.

Instead, we are talking about a couple of single sentence that ties together the foremost idea of any argument. Within the context of student essays, it’s a press release that encapsulates your topic and declares your stand there-on. This sentence can tell a reader whether your essay is something they would be pleased to read.

Two Categories of Thesis Statements: Informative and Persuasive

Just as essays differ, so does thesis statements. The thesis should align with the essay. For example, with an informative essay, you ought to compose an informative thesis in which you would like to declare your intentions during this essay and guide the reader to whatever conclusion you ultimately reach.

To make a cake it is essential that you simply procure the ingredient necessary, mix them up adequately and put within the oven.

This thesis showed the reader the subject (a sort of cake [chocolate or velvet]) and likewise the direction the essay will take (describing how the cake is made).

Regardless of the essay in question, all of them have thesis statements that takes a stand and debates about it. Unless the essay is written basically for informative purpose, your thesis should be persuasive. A persuasive thesis usually contains an opinion and thus the rationale why your opinion is true.


Chocolate cakes are the simplest sort of cakes because they appeal more to an enormous crowd especially children, not so time consuming while making, and tastes like heaven.

In this persuasive thesis statement, you see that I stated my opinion (the best type of cake), which means I have chosen a stance. I will move on to enumerate why my opinion is correct, highlighting key factors that will drive home my point. This persuasive type of thesis can be used in any essay that contains the writer’s opinion, including, afore mentioned above, compare/contrast essays, narrative essays, etc.

Two (2) Styles of Thesis Statements

Given that there are two contrasting types of thesis statements (informative and persuasive), within the same vein there are two basic styles you could use.

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The first style uses an inventory of two or more points. This sort of thesis is ideal for a brief essay that contains only two or three body paragraphs. This fundamental five-paragraph essay is stereotypical of middle and high school piece of work.

For a book like “fifty shades of grey” that comes in three parts.

In this thesis a claim has been made about the theme in fifty shades of grey followed by the writers reasoning. The broader scope of this thesis allows the writer to write about each of the series (three novels). Hence the writer is no longer limited to how many body paragraphs he can logically use.

Formula for a Strong Argumentative Thesis

One thing I find that is enabling for students is having an understandable and straight forward template. While students often don’t find themselves with a thesis that follows this exact wording, the subsequent template creates an honest starting point;
___________ is true due to ___________, ___________, and a pair of .

Conversely, the formula for a thesis with just one point might follow this template;
___________________ is true because of _____________________.

The Qualities of a Solid Thesis Statement

When writing a thesis, you must put into consideration not only the format, but other qualities like length, position in the essay, and how strong the argument is.

1. Length: A thesis statement can be either short or long; this is dependent on how many points it mentions.

2. Position: A thesis statement is always written at the beginning of an essay. This is because, it is a sentence that tells the reader what the author is about to debate in his research work. Teachers will have different preferences for the particular location of the thesis, but a broadly accurate guide or principle is in the introduction paragraph, within the last two or three sentences.

3. Strength: Ultimately, for a persuasive thesis to be strong, it must be combatable. This means that the statement is not palpable, and it is not something that everyone agrees is true.

Composing a thesis statement does take a touch more in thought, than many other parts of an essay. However, because a thesis statement can contain a whole argument in only a couple of words, it’s worth taking the additional time to compose this sentence. It can direct your research and your argument in order that your essay is tight, focused, and makes readers think.

Write The Paper

Follow the organization chart developed above, including the titles and subtitles you constructed. Make certain that every section links logically to the one before and after. Structure your sections by contents or sub-topics, not by individualized theories or researches.

Tip: If you discover that each paragraph begins with a researcher’s name, it might show that, instead of evaluating and comparing the research literature from a logical point of view, you can easily describe what research has been done.

Always put logic over description.

For example, look at the following two passages and note that Student A merely describes the literature, whereas Student B takes a more logical and evaluative approach by comparing and contrasting. You can also see that this evaluative approach is well signaled by linguistic markers indicating analytical connections (words like “however,” “moreover”) and phrases like “substantiate the claim that,” which shows supporting evidence and Student B’s capability to blend knowledge.

Student A: Smith (2000) concludes that non-public privacy in their quarters is that the foremost vital believe home residents’ perceive is of their autonomy. He suggests that the physical environment within the more public spaces of the building did not have much impact on their perceptions. Neither does the layout of the building nor the activities available seem to make much difference. Jones and Johnstone make the claim that the need to manage ones environment could also be a fundamental need of life (2001), and suggest that the approach of most institutions, which is to provide total care, could even be as bad as no care to say the least. If people have no choices or think that they need none, they become depressed.

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Student B: After studying residents and staff from two intermediate care facilities in Calgary, Alberta, Smith (2000) came to the conclusion that apart from the amount of privacy available to residents, the physical environment of those institutions had minimal effect on their perceptions of control (autonomy). However, French (1998) and Haroon (2000) found that availability of private areas is not the sole aspect of the physical environment that determines residents’ autonomy. Haroon interviewed 115 residents from 32 different nursing homes known to possess different levels of autonomy (2000). It had been found that physical structures, like standardized furniture, heating equipment, and no possession of a house key for residents, limited their feeling of independence.

Moreover, Hope (2002), who interviewed 225 residents from various nursing homes, substantiates the claim that characteristics of the institutional environment just like the extent of resources within their power, such as its location are attributes which inhabitants have recommended as being of great importance to their independence.

Review of Work

Inspect the topic sentences of each paragraph. If you were to read only these sentences, would you discover that your paper presented a transparent position, rationally developed, from beginning to end? The subject sentences of every paragraph should show the most points of your literature review.

  • Make an overview of every section of the paper and choose whether you would like to feature information, to try to do away with irrelevant information, or to re-structure sections.
  • Read your work aloud. That way you will be able to identify where you would like punctuation marks to signal pauses or divisions within sentences, where you have made grammatical blasphemes, or where your sentences do not drive home a point.
  • Since the aim of a literature review is to demonstrate that the author is familiar with the important professional literature on the chosen subject, check to make certain that you simply have covered all of the important, up-to-date, and probable texts. Within the sciences and a few of the social sciences it is important that your literature be quite current; this is often not so important within the humanities.
  • Confirm that all your citations and references are correct, and ensure you are referencing within the acceptable style for your discipline (as various disciplines require to be referenced differently in accordance with their proposed style). If you are unsure of the style to use, ask your professor.
  • Check to ensure that you did not infringe on another person’s work either by failing to cite a source of data, or by using words quoted directly from a source. (Usually when you extract three or more words directly from another source).
  • Text should be written in a clear and brief academic style; it shouldn’t be illustrative in nature or use the language of everyday oration.
  • Sentences should glide fluently and meticulously.
  • There should be no grammatical or spelling blunders

In summary, a literature review without the above listed structures and steps are sure to be invalidated, confounded and lose its concreteness. This simply implies that a thorough research wasn’t administered and such literature review if published can mislead the overall public and have negative impact on them.