College learning involves many things there are many assignments that comes within, and the student has no option but to deal with them head-on. It should be an important aspect for the student to decide the best way to deal with every assignment given the importance that is accorded to each one of it. Students should ensure these assignments are done professionally and reflect their thought process excellently. Some of these assignments are quite tricky especially because of the type of in-depth research they might require.  In these research assignments comes literature review, where a student must demonstrate his knowledge and discuss issues using the existing knowledge in the field.

As such, they must understand what a literature review is and its importance in any research paper. More so, they need to know that a literature review can come as a section in a length paper or an independent paper altogether. However, it is important first to understand what literature review is before going further. There are different definitions of this type of paper or section within the paper, but we are going to include only one. A literature review is a section or a document that surveys the information found within scholarly material, which can be books, articles, or any other literature that relates to your topic or area of study.

The idea here is to summarise, describe, evaluate, and clarify what previous research did on your topic.  It transcends summary research of others and demonstrates the relationship within the literature.  It shows what has already been investigated and identifies potential gaps, relationships between ideas. It also defines and measures important concepts and relates the research that has already been completed in the field of study. Simply put, the literature review should:

  • Describe, summarise, evaluate, clarify and integrate information on your project
  • Place your project within the context of established work
  • Survey scholarly works like articles, books and other relevant sources that relate to your topic
  • Describe, summaries and critically evaluate significant works

The definition points out the aspects that should be covered within this type of paper. Regardless of whether you are writing it as a section of the paper or as a standalone project. Sometimes you will get lectures which will want to test a student understanding of writing a review of the literature and have them do it as a standalone project. The definition will still apply, and all the necessary steps of preparation must follow to ensure the entire paper meets the standards sets by the lecturer.

How to select literature

When selecting the material, for your literature review, you have to indicate the scope of your review. You also need to include balanced coverage of the available material and information. It is crucial to note that those papers must always work with the most recent and valuable studies. It makes no sense to use a study that was done twenty years before whereas there are relevant studies that have been performed quite recently. Using the recent studies shows that the writer is moving with time and is aware of the recent discoveries that were a culmination or recent research activities and are somehow related to what he is handling. Consider including all the material that shows the development and limitation in this area.  You have to use primary and secondary source for all the relevant information to use in your paper.  These sources are supposed to be referenced accurately and within the confines of the type of format of referencing that has been prescribed by the supervisor.

Critiquing the sources

In the process of knowing how to write a literature review, several aspects come in handy especially with the sources that you are going to use.  You have to clearly and logically order and sort your research with a focus on the themes or concepts instead of authors. In other words, concentrate more on the information that you get from these sources instead of the author as a person.  Look at your review to ascertain if it has moved from broader concepts to a more focused approach.  You also need to find out if there is enough critique of the research limitations, which includes methodology and design. Finds out if the studies are contrasted or compared with controversies that come up and their relevance to the problem at hand.

Summary and interpretation

Fig out if your literature review has made an overall interpretation of that is available. Show if his implications provide theoretical or empirical; justification of the research you are conducting based on the hypothesis or questions therein.  Find out if there is a rationale for your research and design. All these are important aspects that help you in writing a perfect literature review.

Types of Research Reviews

Many types of research conduct different studies that are finally published. The reviews of these studies summarise and offer new interpretations that are based on the extension of the primary studies. The review of literature is designed to give an overview and synthesis of the crucial sources that have been explored. As such, there are several approaches or types of a literature review that you need to be aware of.  They include:

  • Argumentative review

This is a selective examination of literature to refute or support an argument, a deeply embedded assumption, a philosophical problem that is existing in the literature. The idea here is to develop information that establishes a contrary point of view.

  • Integrative review

 This reviews, critiques and synthesizes representative literature on a subject in an integrated manner. It allows for the generation of new frameworks and ideas on the topic.

  • Historical review

Some things are anchored in historical precedent, and this type of view focuses on the research running throughout the time. It starts with the first time an issue or a concept emerged in the literature and traced its evolution in the scholarship areas.

Other reviews include methodological reviews, systematic, and theoretical. You can also use a literature review sample to see how it is written.