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How to Write a Literature Review | Guide, Examples, & Templates

Published on January 2, 2023 by Shona McCombes . Revised on September 11, 2023.

What is a literature review? A literature review is a survey of scholarly sources on a specific topic. It provides an overview of current knowledge, allowing you to identify relevant theories, methods, and gaps in the existing research that you can later apply to your paper, thesis, or dissertation topic .

There are five key steps to writing a literature review:

  • Search for relevant literature
  • Evaluate sources
  • Identify themes, debates, and gaps
  • Outline the structure
  • Write your literature review

A good literature review doesn’t just summarize sources—it analyzes, synthesizes , and critically evaluates to give a clear picture of the state of knowledge on the subject.

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Table of contents

What is the purpose of a literature review, examples of literature reviews, step 1 – search for relevant literature, step 2 – evaluate and select sources, step 3 – identify themes, debates, and gaps, step 4 – outline your literature review’s structure, step 5 – write your literature review, free lecture slides, other interesting articles, frequently asked questions, introduction.

  • Quick Run-through
  • Step 1 & 2

When you write a thesis , dissertation , or research paper , you will likely have to conduct a literature review to situate your research within existing knowledge. The literature review gives you a chance to:

  • Demonstrate your familiarity with the topic and its scholarly context
  • Develop a theoretical framework and methodology for your research
  • Position your work in relation to other researchers and theorists
  • Show how your research addresses a gap or contributes to a debate
  • Evaluate the current state of research and demonstrate your knowledge of the scholarly debates around your topic.

Writing literature reviews is a particularly important skill if you want to apply for graduate school or pursue a career in research. We’ve written a step-by-step guide that you can follow below.

Literature review guide

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Writing literature reviews can be quite challenging! A good starting point could be to look at some examples, depending on what kind of literature review you’d like to write.

  • Example literature review #1: “Why Do People Migrate? A Review of the Theoretical Literature” ( Theoretical literature review about the development of economic migration theory from the 1950s to today.)
  • Example literature review #2: “Literature review as a research methodology: An overview and guidelines” ( Methodological literature review about interdisciplinary knowledge acquisition and production.)
  • Example literature review #3: “The Use of Technology in English Language Learning: A Literature Review” ( Thematic literature review about the effects of technology on language acquisition.)
  • Example literature review #4: “Learners’ Listening Comprehension Difficulties in English Language Learning: A Literature Review” ( Chronological literature review about how the concept of listening skills has changed over time.)

You can also check out our templates with literature review examples and sample outlines at the links below.

Download Word doc Download Google doc

Before you begin searching for literature, you need a clearly defined topic .

If you are writing the literature review section of a dissertation or research paper, you will search for literature related to your research problem and questions .

Make a list of keywords

Start by creating a list of keywords related to your research question. Include each of the key concepts or variables you’re interested in, and list any synonyms and related terms. You can add to this list as you discover new keywords in the process of your literature search.

  • Social media, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, TikTok
  • Body image, self-perception, self-esteem, mental health
  • Generation Z, teenagers, adolescents, youth

Search for relevant sources

Use your keywords to begin searching for sources. Some useful databases to search for journals and articles include:

  • Your university’s library catalogue
  • Google Scholar
  • Project Muse (humanities and social sciences)
  • Medline (life sciences and biomedicine)
  • EconLit (economics)
  • Inspec (physics, engineering and computer science)

You can also use boolean operators to help narrow down your search.

Make sure to read the abstract to find out whether an article is relevant to your question. When you find a useful book or article, you can check the bibliography to find other relevant sources.

You likely won’t be able to read absolutely everything that has been written on your topic, so it will be necessary to evaluate which sources are most relevant to your research question.

For each publication, ask yourself:

  • What question or problem is the author addressing?
  • What are the key concepts and how are they defined?
  • What are the key theories, models, and methods?
  • Does the research use established frameworks or take an innovative approach?
  • What are the results and conclusions of the study?
  • How does the publication relate to other literature in the field? Does it confirm, add to, or challenge established knowledge?
  • What are the strengths and weaknesses of the research?

Make sure the sources you use are credible , and make sure you read any landmark studies and major theories in your field of research.

You can use our template to summarize and evaluate sources you’re thinking about using. Click on either button below to download.

Take notes and cite your sources

As you read, you should also begin the writing process. Take notes that you can later incorporate into the text of your literature review.

It is important to keep track of your sources with citations to avoid plagiarism . It can be helpful to make an annotated bibliography , where you compile full citation information and write a paragraph of summary and analysis for each source. This helps you remember what you read and saves time later in the process.

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To begin organizing your literature review’s argument and structure, be sure you understand the connections and relationships between the sources you’ve read. Based on your reading and notes, you can look for:

  • Trends and patterns (in theory, method or results): do certain approaches become more or less popular over time?
  • Themes: what questions or concepts recur across the literature?
  • Debates, conflicts and contradictions: where do sources disagree?
  • Pivotal publications: are there any influential theories or studies that changed the direction of the field?
  • Gaps: what is missing from the literature? Are there weaknesses that need to be addressed?

This step will help you work out the structure of your literature review and (if applicable) show how your own research will contribute to existing knowledge.

  • Most research has focused on young women.
  • There is an increasing interest in the visual aspects of social media.
  • But there is still a lack of robust research on highly visual platforms like Instagram and Snapchat—this is a gap that you could address in your own research.

There are various approaches to organizing the body of a literature review. Depending on the length of your literature review, you can combine several of these strategies (for example, your overall structure might be thematic, but each theme is discussed chronologically).

Chronological

The simplest approach is to trace the development of the topic over time. However, if you choose this strategy, be careful to avoid simply listing and summarizing sources in order.

Try to analyze patterns, turning points and key debates that have shaped the direction of the field. Give your interpretation of how and why certain developments occurred.

If you have found some recurring central themes, you can organize your literature review into subsections that address different aspects of the topic.

For example, if you are reviewing literature about inequalities in migrant health outcomes, key themes might include healthcare policy, language barriers, cultural attitudes, legal status, and economic access.

Methodological

If you draw your sources from different disciplines or fields that use a variety of research methods , you might want to compare the results and conclusions that emerge from different approaches. For example:

  • Look at what results have emerged in qualitative versus quantitative research
  • Discuss how the topic has been approached by empirical versus theoretical scholarship
  • Divide the literature into sociological, historical, and cultural sources

Theoretical

A literature review is often the foundation for a theoretical framework . You can use it to discuss various theories, models, and definitions of key concepts.

You might argue for the relevance of a specific theoretical approach, or combine various theoretical concepts to create a framework for your research.

Like any other academic text , your literature review should have an introduction , a main body, and a conclusion . What you include in each depends on the objective of your literature review.

The introduction should clearly establish the focus and purpose of the literature review.

Depending on the length of your literature review, you might want to divide the body into subsections. You can use a subheading for each theme, time period, or methodological approach.

As you write, you can follow these tips:

  • Summarize and synthesize: give an overview of the main points of each source and combine them into a coherent whole
  • Analyze and interpret: don’t just paraphrase other researchers — add your own interpretations where possible, discussing the significance of findings in relation to the literature as a whole
  • Critically evaluate: mention the strengths and weaknesses of your sources
  • Write in well-structured paragraphs: use transition words and topic sentences to draw connections, comparisons and contrasts

In the conclusion, you should summarize the key findings you have taken from the literature and emphasize their significance.

When you’ve finished writing and revising your literature review, don’t forget to proofread thoroughly before submitting. Not a language expert? Check out Scribbr’s professional proofreading services !

This article has been adapted into lecture slides that you can use to teach your students about writing a literature review.

Scribbr slides are free to use, customize, and distribute for educational purposes.

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If you want to know more about the research process , methodology , research bias , or statistics , make sure to check out some of our other articles with explanations and examples.

  • Sampling methods
  • Simple random sampling
  • Stratified sampling
  • Cluster sampling
  • Likert scales
  • Reproducibility

 Statistics

  • Null hypothesis
  • Statistical power
  • Probability distribution
  • Effect size
  • Poisson distribution

Research bias

  • Optimism bias
  • Cognitive bias
  • Implicit bias
  • Hawthorne effect
  • Anchoring bias
  • Explicit bias

A literature review is a survey of scholarly sources (such as books, journal articles, and theses) related to a specific topic or research question .

It is often written as part of a thesis, dissertation , or research paper , in order to situate your work in relation to existing knowledge.

There are several reasons to conduct a literature review at the beginning of a research project:

  • To familiarize yourself with the current state of knowledge on your topic
  • To ensure that you’re not just repeating what others have already done
  • To identify gaps in knowledge and unresolved problems that your research can address
  • To develop your theoretical framework and methodology
  • To provide an overview of the key findings and debates on the topic

Writing the literature review shows your reader how your work relates to existing research and what new insights it will contribute.

The literature review usually comes near the beginning of your thesis or dissertation . After the introduction , it grounds your research in a scholarly field and leads directly to your theoretical framework or methodology .

A literature review is a survey of credible sources on a topic, often used in dissertations , theses, and research papers . Literature reviews give an overview of knowledge on a subject, helping you identify relevant theories and methods, as well as gaps in existing research. Literature reviews are set up similarly to other  academic texts , with an introduction , a main body, and a conclusion .

An  annotated bibliography is a list of  source references that has a short description (called an annotation ) for each of the sources. It is often assigned as part of the research process for a  paper .  

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A literature review is a document or section of a document that collects key sources on a topic and discusses those sources in conversation with each other (also called synthesis ). The lit review is an important genre in many disciplines, not just literature (i.e., the study of works of literature such as novels and plays). When we say “literature review” or refer to “the literature,” we are talking about the research ( scholarship ) in a given field. You will often see the terms “the research,” “the scholarship,” and “the literature” used mostly interchangeably.

Where, when, and why would I write a lit review?

There are a number of different situations where you might write a literature review, each with slightly different expectations; different disciplines, too, have field-specific expectations for what a literature review is and does. For instance, in the humanities, authors might include more overt argumentation and interpretation of source material in their literature reviews, whereas in the sciences, authors are more likely to report study designs and results in their literature reviews; these differences reflect these disciplines’ purposes and conventions in scholarship. You should always look at examples from your own discipline and talk to professors or mentors in your field to be sure you understand your discipline’s conventions, for literature reviews as well as for any other genre.

A literature review can be a part of a research paper or scholarly article, usually falling after the introduction and before the research methods sections. In these cases, the lit review just needs to cover scholarship that is important to the issue you are writing about; sometimes it will also cover key sources that informed your research methodology.

Lit reviews can also be standalone pieces, either as assignments in a class or as publications. In a class, a lit review may be assigned to help students familiarize themselves with a topic and with scholarship in their field, get an idea of the other researchers working on the topic they’re interested in, find gaps in existing research in order to propose new projects, and/or develop a theoretical framework and methodology for later research. As a publication, a lit review usually is meant to help make other scholars’ lives easier by collecting and summarizing, synthesizing, and analyzing existing research on a topic. This can be especially helpful for students or scholars getting into a new research area, or for directing an entire community of scholars toward questions that have not yet been answered.

What are the parts of a lit review?

Most lit reviews use a basic introduction-body-conclusion structure; if your lit review is part of a larger paper, the introduction and conclusion pieces may be just a few sentences while you focus most of your attention on the body. If your lit review is a standalone piece, the introduction and conclusion take up more space and give you a place to discuss your goals, research methods, and conclusions separately from where you discuss the literature itself.

Introduction:

  • An introductory paragraph that explains what your working topic and thesis is
  • A forecast of key topics or texts that will appear in the review
  • Potentially, a description of how you found sources and how you analyzed them for inclusion and discussion in the review (more often found in published, standalone literature reviews than in lit review sections in an article or research paper)
  • Summarize and synthesize: Give an overview of the main points of each source and combine them into a coherent whole
  • Analyze and interpret: Don’t just paraphrase other researchers – add your own interpretations where possible, discussing the significance of findings in relation to the literature as a whole
  • Critically Evaluate: Mention the strengths and weaknesses of your sources
  • Write in well-structured paragraphs: Use transition words and topic sentence to draw connections, comparisons, and contrasts.

Conclusion:

  • Summarize the key findings you have taken from the literature and emphasize their significance
  • Connect it back to your primary research question

How should I organize my lit review?

Lit reviews can take many different organizational patterns depending on what you are trying to accomplish with the review. Here are some examples:

  • Chronological : The simplest approach is to trace the development of the topic over time, which helps familiarize the audience with the topic (for instance if you are introducing something that is not commonly known in your field). If you choose this strategy, be careful to avoid simply listing and summarizing sources in order. Try to analyze the patterns, turning points, and key debates that have shaped the direction of the field. Give your interpretation of how and why certain developments occurred (as mentioned previously, this may not be appropriate in your discipline — check with a teacher or mentor if you’re unsure).
  • Thematic : If you have found some recurring central themes that you will continue working with throughout your piece, you can organize your literature review into subsections that address different aspects of the topic. For example, if you are reviewing literature about women and religion, key themes can include the role of women in churches and the religious attitude towards women.
  • Qualitative versus quantitative research
  • Empirical versus theoretical scholarship
  • Divide the research by sociological, historical, or cultural sources
  • Theoretical : In many humanities articles, the literature review is the foundation for the theoretical framework. You can use it to discuss various theories, models, and definitions of key concepts. You can argue for the relevance of a specific theoretical approach or combine various theorical concepts to create a framework for your research.

What are some strategies or tips I can use while writing my lit review?

Any lit review is only as good as the research it discusses; make sure your sources are well-chosen and your research is thorough. Don’t be afraid to do more research if you discover a new thread as you’re writing. More info on the research process is available in our "Conducting Research" resources .

As you’re doing your research, create an annotated bibliography ( see our page on the this type of document ). Much of the information used in an annotated bibliography can be used also in a literature review, so you’ll be not only partially drafting your lit review as you research, but also developing your sense of the larger conversation going on among scholars, professionals, and any other stakeholders in your topic.

Usually you will need to synthesize research rather than just summarizing it. This means drawing connections between sources to create a picture of the scholarly conversation on a topic over time. Many student writers struggle to synthesize because they feel they don’t have anything to add to the scholars they are citing; here are some strategies to help you:

  • It often helps to remember that the point of these kinds of syntheses is to show your readers how you understand your research, to help them read the rest of your paper.
  • Writing teachers often say synthesis is like hosting a dinner party: imagine all your sources are together in a room, discussing your topic. What are they saying to each other?
  • Look at the in-text citations in each paragraph. Are you citing just one source for each paragraph? This usually indicates summary only. When you have multiple sources cited in a paragraph, you are more likely to be synthesizing them (not always, but often
  • Read more about synthesis here.

The most interesting literature reviews are often written as arguments (again, as mentioned at the beginning of the page, this is discipline-specific and doesn’t work for all situations). Often, the literature review is where you can establish your research as filling a particular gap or as relevant in a particular way. You have some chance to do this in your introduction in an article, but the literature review section gives a more extended opportunity to establish the conversation in the way you would like your readers to see it. You can choose the intellectual lineage you would like to be part of and whose definitions matter most to your thinking (mostly humanities-specific, but this goes for sciences as well). In addressing these points, you argue for your place in the conversation, which tends to make the lit review more compelling than a simple reporting of other sources.

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  • Correction 09 December 2020

How to write a superb literature review

Andy Tay is a freelance writer based in Singapore.

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Literature reviews are important resources for scientists. They provide historical context for a field while offering opinions on its future trajectory. Creating them can provide inspiration for one’s own research, as well as some practice in writing. But few scientists are trained in how to write a review — or in what constitutes an excellent one. Even picking the appropriate software to use can be an involved decision (see ‘Tools and techniques’). So Nature asked editors and working scientists with well-cited reviews for their tips.

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doi: https://doi.org/10.1038/d41586-020-03422-x

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Correction 09 December 2020 : An earlier version of the tables in this article included some incorrect details about the programs Zotero, Endnote and Manubot. These have now been corrected.

Hsing, I.-M., Xu, Y. & Zhao, W. Electroanalysis 19 , 755–768 (2007).

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Ledesma, H. A. et al. Nature Nanotechnol. 14 , 645–657 (2019).

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Brahlek, M., Koirala, N., Bansal, N. & Oh, S. Solid State Commun. 215–216 , 54–62 (2015).

Choi, Y. & Lee, S. Y. Nature Rev. Chem . https://doi.org/10.1038/s41570-020-00221-w (2020).

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7 Writing a Literature Review

Hundreds of original investigation research articles on health science topics are published each year. It is becoming harder and harder to keep on top of all new findings in a topic area and – more importantly – to work out how they all fit together to determine our current understanding of a topic. This is where literature reviews come in.

In this chapter, we explain what a literature review is and outline the stages involved in writing one. We also provide practical tips on how to communicate the results of a review of current literature on a topic in the format of a literature review.

7.1 What is a literature review?

Screenshot of journal article

Literature reviews provide a synthesis and evaluation  of the existing literature on a particular topic with the aim of gaining a new, deeper understanding of the topic.

Published literature reviews are typically written by scientists who are experts in that particular area of science. Usually, they will be widely published as authors of their own original work, making them highly qualified to author a literature review.

However, literature reviews are still subject to peer review before being published. Literature reviews provide an important bridge between the expert scientific community and many other communities, such as science journalists, teachers, and medical and allied health professionals. When the most up-to-date knowledge reaches such audiences, it is more likely that this information will find its way to the general public. When this happens, – the ultimate good of science can be realised.

A literature review is structured differently from an original research article. It is developed based on themes, rather than stages of the scientific method.

In the article Ten simple rules for writing a literature review , Marco Pautasso explains the importance of literature reviews:

Literature reviews are in great demand in most scientific fields. Their need stems from the ever-increasing output of scientific publications. For example, compared to 1991, in 2008 three, eight, and forty times more papers were indexed in Web of Science on malaria, obesity, and biodiversity, respectively. Given such mountains of papers, scientists cannot be expected to examine in detail every single new paper relevant to their interests. Thus, it is both advantageous and necessary to rely on regular summaries of the recent literature. Although recognition for scientists mainly comes from primary research, timely literature reviews can lead to new synthetic insights and are often widely read. For such summaries to be useful, however, they need to be compiled in a professional way (Pautasso, 2013, para. 1).

An example of a literature review is shown in Figure 7.1.

Video 7.1: What is a literature review? [2 mins, 11 secs]

Watch this video created by Steely Library at Northern Kentucky Library called ‘ What is a literature review? Note: Closed captions are available by clicking on the CC button below.

Examples of published literature reviews

  • Strength training alone, exercise therapy alone, and exercise therapy with passive manual mobilisation each reduce pain and disability in people with knee osteoarthritis: a systematic review
  • Traveler’s diarrhea: a clinical review
  • Cultural concepts of distress and psychiatric disorders: literature review and research recommendations for global mental health epidemiology

7.2 Steps of writing a literature review

Writing a literature review is a very challenging task. Figure 7.2 summarises the steps of writing a literature review. Depending on why you are writing your literature review, you may be given a topic area, or may choose a topic that particularly interests you or is related to a research project that you wish to undertake.

Chapter 6 provides instructions on finding scientific literature that would form the basis for your literature review.

Once you have your topic and have accessed the literature, the next stages (analysis, synthesis and evaluation) are challenging. Next, we look at these important cognitive skills student scientists will need to develop and employ to successfully write a literature review, and provide some guidance for navigating these stages.

Steps of writing a ltierature review which include: research, synthesise, read abstracts, read papers, evaualte findings and write

Analysis, synthesis and evaluation

Analysis, synthesis and evaluation are three essential skills required by scientists  and you will need to develop these skills if you are to write a good literature review ( Figure 7.3 ). These important cognitive skills are discussed in more detail in Chapter 9.

Diagram with the words analysis, synthesis and evaluation. Under analysis it says taking a process or thing and breaking it down. Under synthesis it says combining elements of separate material and under evaluation it says critiquing a product or process

The first step in writing a literature review is to analyse the original investigation research papers that you have gathered related to your topic.

Analysis requires examining the papers methodically and in detail, so you can understand and interpret aspects of the study described in each research article.

An analysis grid is a simple tool you can use to help with the careful examination and breakdown of each paper. This tool will allow you to create a concise summary of each research paper; see Table 7.1 for an example of  an analysis grid. When filling in the grid, the aim is to draw out key aspects of each research paper. Use a different row for each paper, and a different column for each aspect of the paper ( Tables 7.2 and 7.3 show how completed analysis grid may look).

Before completing your own grid, look at these examples and note the types of information that have been included, as well as the level of detail. Completing an analysis grid with a sufficient level of detail will help you to complete the synthesis and evaluation stages effectively. This grid will allow you to more easily observe similarities and differences across the findings of the research papers and to identify possible explanations (e.g., differences in methodologies employed) for observed differences between the findings of different research papers.

Table 7.1: Example of an analysis grid

A tab;e split into columns with annotated comments

Table 7.3: Sample filled-in analysis grid for research article by Ping and colleagues

Source: Ping, WC, Keong, CC & Bandyopadhyay, A 2010, ‘Effects of acute supplementation of caffeine on cardiorespiratory responses during endurance running in a hot and humid climate’, Indian Journal of Medical Research, vol. 132, pp. 36–41. Used under a CC-BY-NC-SA licence.

Step two of writing a literature review is synthesis.

Synthesis describes combining separate components or elements to form a connected whole.

You will use the results of your analysis to find themes to build your literature review around. Each of the themes identified will become a subheading within the body of your literature review.

A good place to start when identifying themes is with the dependent variables (results/findings) that were investigated in the research studies.

Because all of the research articles you are incorporating into your literature review are related to your topic, it is likely that they have similar study designs and have measured similar dependent variables. Review the ‘Results’ column of your analysis grid. You may like to collate the common themes in a synthesis grid (see, for example Table 7.4 ).

Table showing themes of the article including running performance, rating of perceived exertion, heart rate and oxygen uptake

Step three of writing a literature review is evaluation, which can only be done after carefully analysing your research papers and synthesising the common themes (findings).

During the evaluation stage, you are making judgements on the themes presented in the research articles that you have read. This includes providing physiological explanations for the findings. It may be useful to refer to the discussion section of published original investigation research papers, or another literature review, where the authors may mention tested or hypothetical physiological mechanisms that may explain their findings.

When the findings of the investigations related to a particular theme are inconsistent (e.g., one study shows that caffeine effects performance and another study shows that caffeine had no effect on performance) you should attempt to provide explanations of why the results differ, including physiological explanations. A good place to start is by comparing the methodologies to determine if there are any differences that may explain the differences in the findings (see the ‘Experimental design’ column of your analysis grid). An example of evaluation is shown in the examples that follow in this section, under ‘Running performance’ and ‘RPE ratings’.

When the findings of the papers related to a particular theme are consistent (e.g., caffeine had no effect on oxygen uptake in both studies) an evaluation should include an explanation of why the results are similar. Once again, include physiological explanations. It is still a good idea to compare methodologies as a background to the evaluation. An example of evaluation is shown in the following under ‘Oxygen consumption’.

Annotated paragraphs on running performance with annotated notes such as physiological explanation provided; possible explanation for inconsistent results

7.3 Writing your literature review

Once you have completed the analysis, and synthesis grids and written your evaluation of the research papers , you can combine synthesis and evaluation information to create a paragraph for a literature review ( Figure 7.4 ).

Bubble daigram showing connection between synethesis, evaulation and writing a paragraph

The following paragraphs are an example of combining the outcome of the synthesis and evaluation stages to produce a paragraph for a literature review.

Note that this is an example using only two papers – most literature reviews would be presenting information on many more papers than this ( (e.g., 106 papers in the review article by Bain and colleagues discussed later in this chapter). However, the same principle applies regardless of the number of papers reviewed.

Introduction paragraph showing where evaluation occurs

The next part of this chapter looks at the each section of a literature review and explains how to write them by referring to a review article that was published in Frontiers in Physiology and shown in Figure 7.1. Each section from the published article is annotated to highlight important features of the format of the review article, and identifies the synthesis and evaluation information.

In the examination of each review article section we will point out examples of how the authors have presented certain information and where they display application of important cognitive processes; we will use the colour code shown below:

Colour legend

This should be one paragraph that accurately reflects the contents of the review article.

An annotated abstract divided into relevant background information, identification of the problem, summary of recent literature on topic, purpose of the review

Introduction

The introduction should establish the context and importance of the review

An annotated introduction divided into relevant background information, identification of the issue and overview of points covered

Body of literature review

Annotated body of literature review with following comments annotated on the side: subheadings are included to separate body of review into themes; introductory sentences with general background information; identification of gap in current knowledge; relevant theoretical background information; syntheis of literature relating to the potential importance of cerebral metabolism; an evaluation; identification of gaps in knowledge; synthesis of findings related to human studies; author evaluation

The reference section provides a list of the references that you cited in the body of your review article. The format will depend on the journal of publication as each journal has their own specific referencing format.

It is important to accurately cite references in research papers to acknowledge your sources and ensure credit is appropriately given to authors of work you have referred to. An accurate and comprehensive reference list also shows your readers that you are well-read in your topic area and are aware of the key papers that provide the context to your research.

It is important to keep track of your resources and to reference them consistently in the format required by the publication in which your work will appear. Most scientists will use reference management software to store details of all of the journal articles (and other sources) they use while writing their review article. This software also automates the process of adding in-text references and creating a reference list. In the review article by Bain et al. (2014) used as an example in this chapter, the reference list contains 106 items, so you can imagine how much help referencing software would be. Chapter 5 shows you how to use EndNote, one example of reference management software.

Click the drop down below to review the terms learned from this chapter.

Copyright note:

  • The quotation from Pautasso, M 2013, ‘Ten simple rules for writing a literature review’, PLoS Computational Biology is use under a CC-BY licence. 
  • Content from the annotated article and tables are based on Schubert, MM, Astorino, TA & Azevedo, JJL 2013, ‘The effects of caffeinated ‘energy shots’ on time trial performance’, Nutrients, vol. 5, no. 6, pp. 2062–2075 (used under a CC-BY 3.0 licence ) and P ing, WC, Keong , CC & Bandyopadhyay, A 2010, ‘Effects of acute supplementation of caffeine on cardiorespiratory responses during endurance running in a hot and humid climate’, Indian Journal of Medical Research, vol. 132, pp. 36–41 (used under a CC-BY-NC-SA 4.0 licence ). 

Bain, A.R., Morrison, S.A., & Ainslie, P.N. (2014). Cerebral oxygenation and hyperthermia. Frontiers in Physiology, 5 , 92.

Pautasso, M. (2013). Ten simple rules for writing a literature review. PLoS Computational Biology, 9 (7), e1003149.

How To Do Science Copyright © 2022 by University of Southern Queensland is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License , except where otherwise noted.

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Article Contents

Introduction, selection of a topic, scientific literature search and analysis, structure of a scientific review article, tips for success, acknowledgments, conflict of interest statement.

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A Step-by-Step Guide to Writing a Scientific Review Article

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  • Figures & tables
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Manisha Bahl, A Step-by-Step Guide to Writing a Scientific Review Article, Journal of Breast Imaging , Volume 5, Issue 4, July/August 2023, Pages 480–485, https://doi.org/10.1093/jbi/wbad028

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Scientific review articles are comprehensive, focused reviews of the scientific literature written by subject matter experts. The task of writing a scientific review article can seem overwhelming; however, it can be managed by using an organized approach and devoting sufficient time to the process. The process involves selecting a topic about which the authors are knowledgeable and enthusiastic, conducting a literature search and critical analysis of the literature, and writing the article, which is composed of an abstract, introduction, body, and conclusion, with accompanying tables and figures. This article, which focuses on the narrative or traditional literature review, is intended to serve as a guide with practical steps for new writers. Tips for success are also discussed, including selecting a focused topic, maintaining objectivity and balance while writing, avoiding tedious data presentation in a laundry list format, moving from descriptions of the literature to critical analysis, avoiding simplistic conclusions, and budgeting time for the overall process.

Scientific review articles provide a focused and comprehensive review of the available evidence about a subject, explain the current state of knowledge, and identify gaps that could be topics for potential future research.

Detailed tables reviewing the relevant scientific literature are important components of high-quality scientific review articles.

Tips for success include selecting a focused topic, maintaining objectivity and balance, avoiding tedious data presentation, providing a critical analysis rather than only a description of the literature, avoiding simplistic conclusions, and budgeting time for the overall process.

The process of researching and writing a scientific review article can be a seemingly daunting task but can be made manageable, and even enjoyable, if an organized approach is used and a reasonable timeline is given. Scientific review articles provide authors with an opportunity to synthesize the available evidence about a specific subject, contribute their insights to the field, and identify opportunities for future research. The authors, in turn, gain recognition as subject matter experts and thought leaders in the field. An additional benefit to the authors is that high-quality review articles can often be cited many years after publication ( 1 , 2 ). The reader of a scientific review article should gain an understanding of the current state of knowledge on the subject, points of controversy, and research questions that have yet to be answered ( 3 ).

There are two types of review articles, narrative or traditional literature reviews and systematic reviews, which may or may not be accompanied by a meta-analysis ( 4 ). This article, which focuses on the narrative or traditional literature review, is intended to serve as a guide with practical steps for new writers. It is geared toward breast imaging radiologists who are preparing to write a scientific review article for the Journal of Breast Imaging but can also be used by any writer, reviewer, or reader. In the narrative or traditional literature review, the available scientific literature is synthesized and no new data are presented. This article first discusses the process of selecting an appropriate topic. Then, practical tips for conducting a literature search and analyzing the literature are provided. The structure of a scientific review article is outlined and tips for success are described.

Scientific review articles are often solicited by journal editors and written by experts in the field. For solicited or invited articles, a senior expert in the field may be contacted and, in turn, may ask junior faculty or trainees to help with the literature search and writing process. Most journals also consider proposals for review article topics. The journal’s editorial office can be contacted via e-mail with a topic proposal, ideally with an accompanying outline or an extended abstract to help explain the proposal.

When selecting a topic for a scientific review article, the following considerations should be taken into account: The authors should be knowledgeable about and interested in the topic; the journal’s audience should be interested in the topic; and the topic should be focused, with a sufficient number of current research studies ( Figure 1 ). For the Journal of Breast Imaging , a scientific review article on breast MRI would be too broad in scope. Examples of more focused topics include abbreviated breast MRI ( 5 ), concerns about gadolinium deposition in the setting of screening MRI ( 6 ), Breast Imaging Reporting and Data System (BI-RADS) 3 assessments on MRI ( 7 , 8 ), the science of background parenchymal enhancement ( 9 ), and screening MRI in women at intermediate risk ( 10 ).

Summary of the factors to consider when selecting a topic for a scientific review article. Adapted with permission from Dhillon et al (2).

Summary of the factors to consider when selecting a topic for a scientific review article. Adapted with permission from Dhillon et al ( 2 ).

Once a well-defined topic is selected, the next step is to conduct a literature search. There are multiple indexing databases that can be used for a literature search, including PubMed, SCOPUS, and Web of Science ( 11–13 ). A list of databases with links can be found on the National Institutes of Health website ( 14 ). It is advised to keep track of the search terms that are used so that the search could be replicated if needed.

While reading articles, taking notes and keeping track of findings in a spreadsheet or database can be helpful. The following points should be considered for each article: What is the purpose of the article, and is it relevant to the review article topic? What was the study design (eg, retrospective analysis, randomized controlled trial)? Are the conclusions that are drawn based on the presented data valid and reasonable? What are the strengths and limitations of the study? In the discussion section, do the authors discuss other literature that both supports and contradicts their findings? It can also be helpful to read accompanying editorials, if available, that are written by experts to explain the importance of the original scientific article in the context of other work in the field.

If previous review articles on the same topic are discovered during the literature search, then the following strategies could be considered: discussing approaches used and limitations of past reviews, identifying a new angle that has not been previously covered, and/or focusing on new research that has been published since the most recent reviews on the topic ( 3 ). It is highly encouraged to create an outline and solicit feedback from co-authors before writing begins.

Writing a high-quality scientific review article is “a balancing act between the scientific rigor needed to select and critically appraise original studies, and the art of telling a story by providing context, exploring the known and the unknown, and pointing the way forward” ( 15 ). The ideal scientific review article is balanced and authoritative and serves as a definitive reference on the topic. Review articles tend to be 4000 to 5000 words in length, with 80% to 90% devoted to the body.

When preparing a scientific review article, writers can consider using the Scale for the Assessment of Narrative Review Articles, which has been proposed as a critical appraisal tool to help editors, reviewers, and readers assess non–systematic review articles ( 16 ). It is composed of the following six items, which are rated from 0 to 2 (with 0 being low quality and 2 being high quality): explanation of why the article is important, statement of aims or questions to be addressed, description of the literature search strategy, inclusion of appropriate references, scientific reasoning, and appropriate data presentation. In a study with three raters each reviewing 30 articles, the scale was felt to be feasible in daily editorial work and had high inter-rater reliability.

The components of a scientific review article include the abstract, introduction, body, conclusion, references, tables, and figures, which are described below.

Abstracts are typically structured as a single paragraph, ranging from 200 to 250 words in length. The abstract briefly explains why the topic is important, provides a summary of the main conclusions that are being drawn based on the research studies that were included and analyzed in the review article, and describes how the article is organized ( 17 ). Because the abstract should provide a summary of the main conclusions being drawn, it is often written last, after the other sections of the article have been completed. It does not include references.

The introduction provides detailed background about the topic and outlines the objectives of the review article. It is important to explain why the literature on that topic should be reviewed (eg, no prior reviews, different angle from prior reviews, new published research). The problem-gap-hook approach can be used, in which the topic is introduced, the gap is explained (eg, lack of published synthesis), and the hook (or why it matters) is provided ( 18 ). If there are prior review articles on the topic, particularly recent ones, then the authors are encouraged to justify how their review contributes to the existing literature. The content in the introduction section should be supported with references, but specific findings from recent research studies are typically not described, instead being discussed in depth in the body.

In a traditional or narrative review article, a methods section is optional. The methods section should include a list of the databases and years that were searched, search terms that were used, and a summary of the inclusion and exclusion criteria for articles ( 17 , 19 ).

The body can take different forms depending on the topic but should be organized into sections with subheadings, with each subsection having an independent introduction and conclusion. In the body, published studies should be reviewed in detail and in an organized fashion. In general, each paragraph should begin with a thesis statement or main point, and the sentences that follow it should consist of supporting evidence drawn from the literature. Research studies need not be discussed in chronological order, and the results from one research study may be discussed in different sections of the body. For example, if writing a scientific review article on screening digital breast tomosynthesis, cancer detection rates reported in one study may be discussed in a separate paragraph from the false-positive rates that were reported in the same study.

Emphasis should be placed on the significance of the study results in the broader context of the subject. The strengths and weaknesses of individual studies should be discussed. An example of this type of discussion is as follows: “Smith et al found no differences in re-excision rates among breast cancer patients who did and did not undergo preoperative MRI. However, there were several important limitations of this study. The radiologists were not required to have breast MRI interpretation experience, nor was it required that MRI-detected findings undergo biopsy prior to surgery.” Other examples of phrases that can be used for constructive criticism are available online ( 20 ).

The conclusion section ties everything together and clearly states the conclusions that are being drawn based on the research studies included and analyzed in the article. The authors are also encouraged to provide their views on future research, important challenges, and unanswered questions.

Scientific review articles tend to have a large number of supporting references (up to 100). When possible, referencing the original article (rather than a review article referring to the original article) is preferred. The use of a reference manager, such as EndNote (Clarivate, London, UK) ( 21 ), Mendeley Desktop (Elsevier, Amsterdam, the Netherlands) ( 22 ), Paperpile (Paperpile LLC, Cambridge, MA) ( 23 ), RefWorks (ProQuest, Ann Arbor, MI) ( 24 ), or Zotero (Corporation for Digital Scholarship, Fairfax, VA) ( 25 ), is highly encouraged, as it ensures appropriate reference ordering even when text is moved or added and can facilitate the switching of formats based on journal requirements ( 26 ).

Tables and Figures

The inclusion of tables and figures can improve the readability of the review. Detailed tables that review the scientific literature are expected ( Table 1 ). A table listing gaps in knowledge as potential areas for future research may also be included ( 17 ). Although scientific review articles are not expected to be as figure-rich as educational review articles, figures can be beneficial to illustrate complex concepts and summarize or synthesize relevant data ( Figure 2 ). Of note, if nonoriginal figures are used, permission from the copyright owner must be obtained.

Example of an Effective Table From a Scientific Review Article About Screening MRI in Women at Intermediate Risk of Breast Cancer.

Abbreviations: ADH, atypical ductal hyperplasia; ALH, atypical lobular hyperplasia; CDR, cancer detection rate; LCIS, lobular carcinoma in situ; NR, not reported; PPV, positive predictive value. NOTE: The Detailed Table Provides a Summary of the Relevant Scientific Literature on Screening MRI in women with lobular neoplasia or ADH. Adapted with permission from Bahl ( 10 ).

a The reported CDR is an incremental CDR in the studies by Friedlander et al and Chikarmane et al. In all studies, some, but not all, included patients had a prior MRI examination, so the reported CDR represents a combination of both the prevalent and incident CDRs.

b This study included 455 patients with LCIS (some of whom had concurrent ALH or ADH). Twenty-nine cancers were MRI-detected, and 115 benign biopsies were prompted by MRI findings.

Example of an effective figure from a scientific review article about breast cancer risk assessment. The figure provides a risk assessment algorithm for breast cancer. Reprinted with permission from Kim et al (28).

Example of an effective figure from a scientific review article about breast cancer risk assessment. The figure provides a risk assessment algorithm for breast cancer. Reprinted with permission from Kim et al ( 28 ).

Select a Focused but Broad Enough Topic

A common pitfall is to be too ambitious in scope, resulting in a very time-consuming literature search and superficial coverage of some aspects of the topic. The ideal topic should be focused enough to be manageable but with a large enough body of available research to justify the need for a review article. One article on the topic of scientific reviews suggests that at least 15 to 20 relevant research papers published within the previous five years should be easily identifiable to warrant writing a review article ( 2 ).

Provide a Summary of Main Conclusions in the Abstract

Another common pitfall is to only introduce the topic and provide a roadmap for the article in the abstract. The abstract should also provide a summary of the main conclusions that are being drawn based on the research studies that were included and analyzed in the review article.

Be Objective

The content and key points of the article should be based on the published scientific literature and not biased toward one’s personal opinion.

Avoid Tedious Data Presentation

Extensive lists of statements about the findings of other authors (eg, author A found Z, author B found Y, while author C found X, etc) make it difficult for the reader to understand and follow the article. It is best for the writing to be thematic based on research findings rather than author-centered ( 27 ). Each paragraph in the body should begin with a thesis statement or main point, and the sentences that follow should consist of supporting evidence drawn from the literature. For example, in a scientific review article about artificial intelligence (AI) for screening mammography, one approach would be to write that article A found a higher cancer detection rate, higher efficiency, and a lower false-positive rate with use of the AI algorithm and article B found a similar cancer detection rate and higher efficiency, while article C found a higher cancer detection rate and higher false-positive rate. Rather, a better approach would be to write one or more paragraphs summarizing the literature on cancer detection rates, one or more paragraphs on false-positive rates, and one or more paragraphs on efficiency. The results from one study (eg, article A) need not all be discussed in the same paragraph.

Move from Description (Summary) to Analysis

A common pitfall is to describe and summarize the published literature without providing a critical analysis. The purpose of the narrative or traditional review article is not only to summarize relevant discoveries but also to synthesize the literature, discuss its limitations and implications, and speculate on the future.

Avoid Simplistic Conclusions

The scientific review article’s conclusions should consider the complexity of the topic and the quality of the evidence. When describing a study’s findings, it is best to use language that reflects the quality of the evidence rather than making definitive statements. For example, rather than stating that “The use of preoperative breast MRI leads to a reduction in re-excision rates,” the following comments could be made: “Two single-institution retrospective studies found that preoperative MRI was associated with lower rates of positive surgical margins, which suggests that preoperative MRI may lead to reduced re-excision rates. Larger studies with randomization of patients are needed to validate these findings.”

Budget Time for Researching, Synthesizing, and Writing

The amount of time necessary to write a high-quality scientific review article can easily be underestimated. The process of searching for and synthesizing the scientific literature on a topic can take weeks to months to complete depending on the number of authors involved in this process.

Scientific review articles are common in the medical literature and can serve as definitive references on the topic for other scientists, clinicians, and trainees. The first step in the process of preparing a scientific review article is to select a focused topic. This step is followed by a literature search and critical analysis of the published data. The components of the article include an abstract, introduction, body, and conclusion, with the majority devoted to the body, in which the relevant literature is reviewed in detail. The article should be objective and balanced, with summaries and critical analysis of the available evidence. Budgeting time for researching, synthesizing, and writing; taking advantage of the resources listed in this article and available online; and soliciting feedback from co-authors at various stages of the process (eg, after an outline is created) can help new writers produce high-quality scientific review articles.

The author thanks Susanne L. Loomis (Medical and Scientific Communications, Strategic Communications, Department of Radiology, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA) for creating Figure 1 in this article.

None declared.

M.B. is a consultant for Lunit (medical AI software company) and an expert panelist for 2nd.MD (a digital health company). She also receives funding from the National Institutes of Health (K08CA241365). M.B. is an associate editor of the Journal of Breast Imaging . As such, she was excluded from the editorial process.

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How to Write a Good Scientific Literature Review

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Nowadays, there is a huge demand for scientific literature reviews as they are especially appreciated by scholars or researchers when designing their research proposals. While finding information is less of a problem to them, discerning which paper or publication has enough quality has become one of the biggest issues. Literature reviews narrow the current knowledge on a certain field and examine the latest publications’ strengths and weaknesses. This way, they are priceless tools not only for those who are starting their research, but also for all those interested in recent publications. To be useful, literature reviews must be written in a professional way with a clear structure. The amount of work needed to write a scientific literature review must be considered before starting one since the tasks required can overwhelm many if the working method is not the best.

Designing and Writing a Scientific Literature Review

Writing a scientific review implies both researching for relevant academic content and writing , however, writing without having a clear objective is a common mistake. Sometimes, studying the situation and defining the work’s system is so important and takes equally as much time as that required in writing the final result. Therefore, we suggest that you divide your path into three steps.

Define goals and a structure

Think about your target and narrow down your topic. If you don’t choose a well-defined topic, you can find yourself dealing with a wide subject and plenty of publications about it. Remember that researchers usually deal with really specific fields of study.

It is time to be a critic and locate only pertinent publications. While researching for content consider publications that were written 3 years ago at the most. Write notes and summarize the content of each paper as that will help you in the next step.

Time to write

Check some literature review examples to decide how to start writing a good literature review . When your goals and structure are defined, begin writing without forgetting your target at any moment.

Related: Conducting a literature survey? Wish to learn more about scientific misconduct? Check out this resourceful infographic.

Here you have a to-do list to help you write your review :

Review Article

  • A scientific literature review usually includes a title, abstract, index, introduction, corpus, bibliography, and appendices (if needed).
  • Present the problem clearly.
  • Mention the paper’s methodology, research methods, analysis, instruments, etc.
  • Present literature review examples that can help you express your ideas.
  • Remember to cite accurately.
  • Limit your bias
  • While summarizing also identify strengths and weaknesses as this is critical.

Scholars and researchers are usually the best candidates to write scientific literature reviews, not only because they are experts in a certain field, but also because they know the exigencies and needs that researchers have while writing research proposals or looking for information among thousands of academic papers. Therefore, considering your experience as a researcher can help you understand how to write a scientific literature review.

Have you faced challenges while drafting your first literature review? How do you think can these tips help you in acing your next literature review? Let us know in the comments section below! You can also visit our  Q&A forum  for frequently asked questions related to copyrights answered by our team that comprises eminent researchers and publication experts.

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Thank you for your information. It adds knowledge on critical review being a first time to do it, it helps a lot.

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What is a Literature Review? | Guide, Template, & Examples

Published on 22 February 2022 by Shona McCombes . Revised on 7 June 2022.

What is a literature review? A literature review is a survey of scholarly sources on a specific topic. It provides an overview of current knowledge, allowing you to identify relevant theories, methods, and gaps in the existing research.

There are five key steps to writing a literature review:

  • Search for relevant literature
  • Evaluate sources
  • Identify themes, debates and gaps
  • Outline the structure
  • Write your literature review

A good literature review doesn’t just summarise sources – it analyses, synthesises, and critically evaluates to give a clear picture of the state of knowledge on the subject.

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Table of contents

Why write a literature review, examples of literature reviews, step 1: search for relevant literature, step 2: evaluate and select sources, step 3: identify themes, debates and gaps, step 4: outline your literature review’s structure, step 5: write your literature review, frequently asked questions about literature reviews, introduction.

  • Quick Run-through
  • Step 1 & 2

When you write a dissertation or thesis, you will have to conduct a literature review to situate your research within existing knowledge. The literature review gives you a chance to:

  • Demonstrate your familiarity with the topic and scholarly context
  • Develop a theoretical framework and methodology for your research
  • Position yourself in relation to other researchers and theorists
  • Show how your dissertation addresses a gap or contributes to a debate

You might also have to write a literature review as a stand-alone assignment. In this case, the purpose is to evaluate the current state of research and demonstrate your knowledge of scholarly debates around a topic.

The content will look slightly different in each case, but the process of conducting a literature review follows the same steps. We’ve written a step-by-step guide that you can follow below.

Literature review guide

Prevent plagiarism, run a free check.

Writing literature reviews can be quite challenging! A good starting point could be to look at some examples, depending on what kind of literature review you’d like to write.

  • Example literature review #1: “Why Do People Migrate? A Review of the Theoretical Literature” ( Theoretical literature review about the development of economic migration theory from the 1950s to today.)
  • Example literature review #2: “Literature review as a research methodology: An overview and guidelines” ( Methodological literature review about interdisciplinary knowledge acquisition and production.)
  • Example literature review #3: “The Use of Technology in English Language Learning: A Literature Review” ( Thematic literature review about the effects of technology on language acquisition.)
  • Example literature review #4: “Learners’ Listening Comprehension Difficulties in English Language Learning: A Literature Review” ( Chronological literature review about how the concept of listening skills has changed over time.)

You can also check out our templates with literature review examples and sample outlines at the links below.

Download Word doc Download Google doc

Before you begin searching for literature, you need a clearly defined topic .

If you are writing the literature review section of a dissertation or research paper, you will search for literature related to your research objectives and questions .

If you are writing a literature review as a stand-alone assignment, you will have to choose a focus and develop a central question to direct your search. Unlike a dissertation research question, this question has to be answerable without collecting original data. You should be able to answer it based only on a review of existing publications.

Make a list of keywords

Start by creating a list of keywords related to your research topic. Include each of the key concepts or variables you’re interested in, and list any synonyms and related terms. You can add to this list if you discover new keywords in the process of your literature search.

  • Social media, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, TikTok
  • Body image, self-perception, self-esteem, mental health
  • Generation Z, teenagers, adolescents, youth

Search for relevant sources

Use your keywords to begin searching for sources. Some databases to search for journals and articles include:

  • Your university’s library catalogue
  • Google Scholar
  • Project Muse (humanities and social sciences)
  • Medline (life sciences and biomedicine)
  • EconLit (economics)
  • Inspec (physics, engineering and computer science)

You can use boolean operators to help narrow down your search:

Read the abstract to find out whether an article is relevant to your question. When you find a useful book or article, you can check the bibliography to find other relevant sources.

To identify the most important publications on your topic, take note of recurring citations. If the same authors, books or articles keep appearing in your reading, make sure to seek them out.

You probably won’t be able to read absolutely everything that has been written on the topic – you’ll have to evaluate which sources are most relevant to your questions.

For each publication, ask yourself:

  • What question or problem is the author addressing?
  • What are the key concepts and how are they defined?
  • What are the key theories, models and methods? Does the research use established frameworks or take an innovative approach?
  • What are the results and conclusions of the study?
  • How does the publication relate to other literature in the field? Does it confirm, add to, or challenge established knowledge?
  • How does the publication contribute to your understanding of the topic? What are its key insights and arguments?
  • What are the strengths and weaknesses of the research?

Make sure the sources you use are credible, and make sure you read any landmark studies and major theories in your field of research.

You can find out how many times an article has been cited on Google Scholar – a high citation count means the article has been influential in the field, and should certainly be included in your literature review.

The scope of your review will depend on your topic and discipline: in the sciences you usually only review recent literature, but in the humanities you might take a long historical perspective (for example, to trace how a concept has changed in meaning over time).

Remember that you can use our template to summarise and evaluate sources you’re thinking about using!

Take notes and cite your sources

As you read, you should also begin the writing process. Take notes that you can later incorporate into the text of your literature review.

It’s important to keep track of your sources with references to avoid plagiarism . It can be helpful to make an annotated bibliography, where you compile full reference information and write a paragraph of summary and analysis for each source. This helps you remember what you read and saves time later in the process.

You can use our free APA Reference Generator for quick, correct, consistent citations.

To begin organising your literature review’s argument and structure, you need to understand the connections and relationships between the sources you’ve read. Based on your reading and notes, you can look for:

  • Trends and patterns (in theory, method or results): do certain approaches become more or less popular over time?
  • Themes: what questions or concepts recur across the literature?
  • Debates, conflicts and contradictions: where do sources disagree?
  • Pivotal publications: are there any influential theories or studies that changed the direction of the field?
  • Gaps: what is missing from the literature? Are there weaknesses that need to be addressed?

This step will help you work out the structure of your literature review and (if applicable) show how your own research will contribute to existing knowledge.

  • Most research has focused on young women.
  • There is an increasing interest in the visual aspects of social media.
  • But there is still a lack of robust research on highly-visual platforms like Instagram and Snapchat – this is a gap that you could address in your own research.

There are various approaches to organising the body of a literature review. You should have a rough idea of your strategy before you start writing.

Depending on the length of your literature review, you can combine several of these strategies (for example, your overall structure might be thematic, but each theme is discussed chronologically).

Chronological

The simplest approach is to trace the development of the topic over time. However, if you choose this strategy, be careful to avoid simply listing and summarising sources in order.

Try to analyse patterns, turning points and key debates that have shaped the direction of the field. Give your interpretation of how and why certain developments occurred.

If you have found some recurring central themes, you can organise your literature review into subsections that address different aspects of the topic.

For example, if you are reviewing literature about inequalities in migrant health outcomes, key themes might include healthcare policy, language barriers, cultural attitudes, legal status, and economic access.

Methodological

If you draw your sources from different disciplines or fields that use a variety of research methods , you might want to compare the results and conclusions that emerge from different approaches. For example:

  • Look at what results have emerged in qualitative versus quantitative research
  • Discuss how the topic has been approached by empirical versus theoretical scholarship
  • Divide the literature into sociological, historical, and cultural sources

Theoretical

A literature review is often the foundation for a theoretical framework . You can use it to discuss various theories, models, and definitions of key concepts.

You might argue for the relevance of a specific theoretical approach, or combine various theoretical concepts to create a framework for your research.

Like any other academic text, your literature review should have an introduction , a main body, and a conclusion . What you include in each depends on the objective of your literature review.

The introduction should clearly establish the focus and purpose of the literature review.

If you are writing the literature review as part of your dissertation or thesis, reiterate your central problem or research question and give a brief summary of the scholarly context. You can emphasise the timeliness of the topic (“many recent studies have focused on the problem of x”) or highlight a gap in the literature (“while there has been much research on x, few researchers have taken y into consideration”).

Depending on the length of your literature review, you might want to divide the body into subsections. You can use a subheading for each theme, time period, or methodological approach.

As you write, make sure to follow these tips:

  • Summarise and synthesise: give an overview of the main points of each source and combine them into a coherent whole.
  • Analyse and interpret: don’t just paraphrase other researchers – add your own interpretations, discussing the significance of findings in relation to the literature as a whole.
  • Critically evaluate: mention the strengths and weaknesses of your sources.
  • Write in well-structured paragraphs: use transitions and topic sentences to draw connections, comparisons and contrasts.

In the conclusion, you should summarise the key findings you have taken from the literature and emphasise their significance.

If the literature review is part of your dissertation or thesis, reiterate how your research addresses gaps and contributes new knowledge, or discuss how you have drawn on existing theories and methods to build a framework for your research. This can lead directly into your methodology section.

A literature review is a survey of scholarly sources (such as books, journal articles, and theses) related to a specific topic or research question .

It is often written as part of a dissertation , thesis, research paper , or proposal .

There are several reasons to conduct a literature review at the beginning of a research project:

  • To familiarise yourself with the current state of knowledge on your topic
  • To ensure that you’re not just repeating what others have already done
  • To identify gaps in knowledge and unresolved problems that your research can address
  • To develop your theoretical framework and methodology
  • To provide an overview of the key findings and debates on the topic

Writing the literature review shows your reader how your work relates to existing research and what new insights it will contribute.

The literature review usually comes near the beginning of your  dissertation . After the introduction , it grounds your research in a scholarly field and leads directly to your theoretical framework or methodology .

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Reviewing the Literature: Why do it?

  • Personal: To familiarize yourself with a new area of research, to get an overview of a topic, so you don't want to miss something important, etc.
  • Required writing for a journal article, thesis or dissertation, grant application, etc.

Literature reviews vary; there are many ways to write a literature review based on discipline, material type, and other factors.

Background:

  • Literature Reviews - UNC Writing Center
  • Literature Reviews: An Overview for Graduate Students  - What is a literature review? What purpose does it serve in research? What should you expect when writing one? - NCSU Video

Where to get help (there are lots of websites, blogs , articles,  and books on this topic) :

  • The Center for writing and Communicating Ideas (CWCI)
  • (these are non-STEM examples: dissertation guidance , journal guidelines )
  • How to prepare a scientific doctoral dissertation based on research articles (2012)
  • Writing a graduate thesis or dissertation (2016)
  • The good paper : a handbook for writing papers in higher education (2015)
  • Proposals that work : a guide for planning dissertations and grant proposals (2014)
  • Theses and dissertations : a guide to planning, research, and writing (2008)
  • Talk to your professors, advisors, mentors, peers, etc. for advice

READ related material and pay attention to how others write their literature reviews:

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What is a Literature Review?

A literature review is a body of text that aims to review the critical points of current knowledge on a particular topic. Most often associated with science-oriented literature, such as a thesis, the literature review usually proceeds a research proposal, methodology and results section. Its ultimate goals is to bring the reader up to date with current literature on a topic and forms that basis for another goal, such as the justification for future research in the area. (retrieved from  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Literature_review )

Writing a Literature Review

The literature review is the section of your paper in which you cite and briefly review the related research studies that have been conducted. In this space, you will describe the foundation on which  your  research will be/is built. You will:

  • discuss the work of others
  • evaluate their methods and findings
  • identify any gaps in their research
  • state how  your  research is different

The literature review should be selective and should group the cited studies in some logical fashion.

If you need some additional assistance writing your literature review, the Knight Institute for Writing in the Disciplines offers a  Graduate Writing Service .

Demystifying the Literature Review

For more information, visit our guide devoted to " Demystifying the Literature Review " which includes:

  • guide to conducting a literature review,
  • a recorded 1.5 hour workshop covering the steps of a literature review, a checklist for drafting your topic and search terms, citation management software for organizing your results, and database searching.

Online Resources

  • A Guide to Library Research at Cornell University
  • Literature Reviews: An Overview for Graduate Students North Carolina State University 
  • The Literature Review: A Few Tips on Conducting Written by Dena Taylor, Director, Health Sciences Writing Centre, and Margaret Procter, Coordinator, Writing Support, University of Toronto
  • How to Write a Literature Review University Library, University of California, Santa Cruz
  • Review of Literature The Writing Center, University of Wisconsin-Madison

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  • 1 The FEBS Journal Editorial Office, Cambridge, UK.
  • PMID: 35792782
  • DOI: 10.1111/febs.16565

Literature reviews are valuable resources for the scientific community. With research accelerating at an unprecedented speed in recent years and more and more original papers being published, review articles have become increasingly important as a means to keep up to date with developments in a particular area of research. A good review article provides readers with an in-depth understanding of a field and highlights key gaps and challenges to address with future research. Writing a review article also helps to expand the writer's knowledge of their specialist area and to develop their analytical and communication skills, amongst other benefits. Thus, the importance of building review-writing into a scientific career cannot be overstated. In this instalment of The FEBS Journal's Words of Advice series, I provide detailed guidance on planning and writing an informative and engaging literature review.

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What is a literature review?

A literature review is an integrated analysis -- not just a summary-- of scholarly writings and other relevant evidence related directly to your research question.  That is, it represents a synthesis of the evidence that provides background information on your topic and shows a association between the evidence and your research question.

A literature review may be a stand alone work or the introduction to a larger research paper, depending on the assignment.  Rely heavily on the guidelines your instructor has given you.

Why is it important?

A literature review is important because it:

  • Explains the background of research on a topic.
  • Demonstrates why a topic is significant to a subject area.
  • Discovers relationships between research studies/ideas.
  • Identifies major themes, concepts, and researchers on a topic.
  • Identifies critical gaps and points of disagreement.
  • Discusses further research questions that logically come out of the previous studies.

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1. Choose a topic. Define your research question.

Your literature review should be guided by your central research question.  The literature represents background and research developments related to a specific research question, interpreted and analyzed by you in a synthesized way.

  • Make sure your research question is not too broad or too narrow.  Is it manageable?
  • Begin writing down terms that are related to your question. These will be useful for searches later.
  • If you have the opportunity, discuss your topic with your professor and your class mates.

2. Decide on the scope of your review

How many studies do you need to look at? How comprehensive should it be? How many years should it cover? 

  • This may depend on your assignment.  How many sources does the assignment require?

3. Select the databases you will use to conduct your searches.

Make a list of the databases you will search. 

Where to find databases:

  • use the tabs on this guide
  • Find other databases in the Nursing Information Resources web page
  • More on the Medical Library web page
  • ... and more on the Yale University Library web page

4. Conduct your searches to find the evidence. Keep track of your searches.

  • Use the key words in your question, as well as synonyms for those words, as terms in your search. Use the database tutorials for help.
  • Save the searches in the databases. This saves time when you want to redo, or modify, the searches. It is also helpful to use as a guide is the searches are not finding any useful results.
  • Review the abstracts of research studies carefully. This will save you time.
  • Use the bibliographies and references of research studies you find to locate others.
  • Check with your professor, or a subject expert in the field, if you are missing any key works in the field.
  • Ask your librarian for help at any time.
  • Use a citation manager, such as EndNote as the repository for your citations. See the EndNote tutorials for help.

Review the literature

Some questions to help you analyze the research:

  • What was the research question of the study you are reviewing? What were the authors trying to discover?
  • Was the research funded by a source that could influence the findings?
  • What were the research methodologies? Analyze its literature review, the samples and variables used, the results, and the conclusions.
  • Does the research seem to be complete? Could it have been conducted more soundly? What further questions does it raise?
  • If there are conflicting studies, why do you think that is?
  • How are the authors viewed in the field? Has this study been cited? If so, how has it been analyzed?

Tips: 

  • Review the abstracts carefully.  
  • Keep careful notes so that you may track your thought processes during the research process.
  • Create a matrix of the studies for easy analysis, and synthesis, across all of the studies.
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15 Literature Review Examples

literature review examples, types, and definition, explained below

Literature reviews are a necessary step in a research process and often required when writing your research proposal . They involve gathering, analyzing, and evaluating existing knowledge about a topic in order to find gaps in the literature where future studies will be needed.

Ideally, once you have completed your literature review, you will be able to identify how your research project can build upon and extend existing knowledge in your area of study.

Generally, for my undergraduate research students, I recommend a narrative review, where themes can be generated in order for the students to develop sufficient understanding of the topic so they can build upon the themes using unique methods or novel research questions.

If you’re in the process of writing a literature review, I have developed a literature review template for you to use – it’s a huge time-saver and walks you through how to write a literature review step-by-step:

Get your time-saving templates here to write your own literature review.

Literature Review Examples

For the following types of literature review, I present an explanation and overview of the type, followed by links to some real-life literature reviews on the topics.

1. Narrative Review Examples

Also known as a traditional literature review, the narrative review provides a broad overview of the studies done on a particular topic.

It often includes both qualitative and quantitative studies and may cover a wide range of years.

The narrative review’s purpose is to identify commonalities, gaps, and contradictions in the literature .

I recommend to my students that they should gather their studies together, take notes on each study, then try to group them by themes that form the basis for the review (see my step-by-step instructions at the end of the article).

Example Study

Title: Communication in healthcare: a narrative review of the literature and practical recommendations

Citation: Vermeir, P., Vandijck, D., Degroote, S., Peleman, R., Verhaeghe, R., Mortier, E., … & Vogelaers, D. (2015). Communication in healthcare: a narrative review of the literature and practical recommendations. International journal of clinical practice , 69 (11), 1257-1267.

Source: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/pdf/10.1111/ijcp.12686  

Overview: This narrative review analyzed themes emerging from 69 articles about communication in healthcare contexts. Five key themes were found in the literature: poor communication can lead to various negative outcomes, discontinuity of care, compromise of patient safety, patient dissatisfaction, and inefficient use of resources. After presenting the key themes, the authors recommend that practitioners need to approach healthcare communication in a more structured way, such as by ensuring there is a clear understanding of who is in charge of ensuring effective communication in clinical settings.

Other Examples

  • Burnout in United States Healthcare Professionals: A Narrative Review (Reith, 2018) – read here
  • Examining the Presence, Consequences, and Reduction of Implicit Bias in Health Care: A Narrative Review (Zestcott, Blair & Stone, 2016) – read here
  • A Narrative Review of School-Based Physical Activity for Enhancing Cognition and Learning (Mavilidi et al., 2018) – read here
  • A narrative review on burnout experienced by medical students and residents (Dyrbye & Shanafelt, 2015) – read here

2. Systematic Review Examples

This type of literature review is more structured and rigorous than a narrative review. It involves a detailed and comprehensive plan and search strategy derived from a set of specified research questions.

The key way you’d know a systematic review compared to a narrative review is in the methodology: the systematic review will likely have a very clear criteria for how the studies were collected, and clear explanations of exclusion/inclusion criteria. 

The goal is to gather the maximum amount of valid literature on the topic, filter out invalid or low-quality reviews, and minimize bias. Ideally, this will provide more reliable findings, leading to higher-quality conclusions and recommendations for further research.

You may note from the examples below that the ‘method’ sections in systematic reviews tend to be much more explicit, often noting rigid inclusion/exclusion criteria and exact keywords used in searches.

Title: The importance of food naturalness for consumers: Results of a systematic review  

Citation: Roman, S., Sánchez-Siles, L. M., & Siegrist, M. (2017). The importance of food naturalness for consumers: Results of a systematic review. Trends in food science & technology , 67 , 44-57.

Source: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S092422441730122X  

Overview: This systematic review included 72 studies of food naturalness to explore trends in the literature about its importance for consumers. Keywords used in the data search included: food, naturalness, natural content, and natural ingredients. Studies were included if they examined consumers’ preference for food naturalness and contained empirical data. The authors found that the literature lacks clarity about how naturalness is defined and measured, but also found that food consumption is significantly influenced by perceived naturalness of goods.

  • A systematic review of research on online teaching and learning from 2009 to 2018 (Martin, Sun & Westine, 2020) – read here
  • Where Is Current Research on Blockchain Technology? (Yli-Huumo et al., 2016) – read here
  • Universities—industry collaboration: A systematic review (Ankrah & Al-Tabbaa, 2015) – read here
  • Internet of Things Applications: A Systematic Review (Asghari, Rahmani & Javadi, 2019) – read here

3. Meta-analysis

This is a type of systematic review that uses statistical methods to combine and summarize the results of several studies.

Due to its robust methodology, a meta-analysis is often considered the ‘gold standard’ of secondary research , as it provides a more precise estimate of a treatment effect than any individual study contributing to the pooled analysis.

Furthermore, by aggregating data from a range of studies, a meta-analysis can identify patterns, disagreements, or other interesting relationships that may have been hidden in individual studies.

This helps to enhance the generalizability of findings, making the conclusions drawn from a meta-analysis particularly powerful and informative for policy and practice.

Title: Cholesterol and Alzheimer’s Disease Risk: A Meta-Meta-Analysis

Citation: Sáiz-Vazquez, O., Puente-Martínez, A., Ubillos-Landa, S., Pacheco-Bonrostro, J., & Santabárbara, J. (2020). Cholesterol and Alzheimer’s disease risk: a meta-meta-analysis. Brain sciences, 10(6), 386.

Source: https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci10060386  

O verview: This study examines the relationship between cholesterol and Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Researchers conducted a systematic search of meta-analyses and reviewed several databases, collecting 100 primary studies and five meta-analyses to analyze the connection between cholesterol and Alzheimer’s disease. They find that the literature compellingly demonstrates that low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) levels significantly influence the development of Alzheimer’s disease.

  • The power of feedback revisited: A meta-analysis of educational feedback research (Wisniewski, Zierer & Hattie, 2020) – read here
  • How Much Does Education Improve Intelligence? A Meta-Analysis (Ritchie & Tucker-Drob, 2018) – read here
  • A meta-analysis of factors related to recycling (Geiger et al., 2019) – read here
  • Stress management interventions for police officers and recruits (Patterson, Chung & Swan, 2014) – read here

Other Types of Reviews

  • Scoping Review: This type of review is used to map the key concepts underpinning a research area and the main sources and types of evidence available. It can be undertaken as stand-alone projects in their own right, or as a precursor to a systematic review.
  • Rapid Review: This type of review accelerates the systematic review process in order to produce information in a timely manner. This is achieved by simplifying or omitting stages of the systematic review process.
  • Integrative Review: This review method is more inclusive than others, allowing for the simultaneous inclusion of experimental and non-experimental research. The goal is to more comprehensively understand a particular phenomenon.
  • Critical Review: This is similar to a narrative review but requires a robust understanding of both the subject and the existing literature. In a critical review, the reviewer not only summarizes the existing literature, but also evaluates its strengths and weaknesses. This is common in the social sciences and humanities .
  • State-of-the-Art Review: This considers the current level of advancement in a field or topic and makes recommendations for future research directions. This type of review is common in technological and scientific fields but can be applied to any discipline.

How to Write a Narrative Review (Tips for Undergrad Students)

Most undergraduate students conducting a capstone research project will be writing narrative reviews. Below is a five-step process for conducting a simple review of the literature for your project.

  • Search for Relevant Literature: Use scholarly databases related to your field of study, provided by your university library, along with appropriate search terms to identify key scholarly articles that have been published on your topic.
  • Evaluate and Select Sources: Filter the source list by selecting studies that are directly relevant and of sufficient quality, considering factors like credibility , objectivity, accuracy, and validity.
  • Analyze and Synthesize: Review each source and summarize the main arguments  in one paragraph (or more, for postgrad). Keep these summaries in a table.
  • Identify Themes: With all studies summarized, group studies that share common themes, such as studies that have similar findings or methodologies.
  • Write the Review: Write your review based upon the themes or subtopics you have identified. Give a thorough overview of each theme, integrating source data, and conclude with a summary of the current state of knowledge then suggestions for future research based upon your evaluation of what is lacking in the literature.

Literature reviews don’t have to be as scary as they seem. Yes, they are difficult and require a strong degree of comprehension of academic studies. But it can be feasibly done through following a structured approach to data collection and analysis. With my undergraduate research students (who tend to conduct small-scale qualitative studies ), I encourage them to conduct a narrative literature review whereby they can identify key themes in the literature. Within each theme, students can critique key studies and their strengths and limitations , in order to get a lay of the land and come to a point where they can identify ways to contribute new insights to the existing academic conversation on their topic.

Ankrah, S., & Omar, A. T. (2015). Universities–industry collaboration: A systematic review. Scandinavian Journal of Management, 31(3), 387-408.

Asghari, P., Rahmani, A. M., & Javadi, H. H. S. (2019). Internet of Things applications: A systematic review. Computer Networks , 148 , 241-261.

Dyrbye, L., & Shanafelt, T. (2016). A narrative review on burnout experienced by medical students and residents. Medical education , 50 (1), 132-149.

Geiger, J. L., Steg, L., Van Der Werff, E., & Ünal, A. B. (2019). A meta-analysis of factors related to recycling. Journal of environmental psychology , 64 , 78-97.

Martin, F., Sun, T., & Westine, C. D. (2020). A systematic review of research on online teaching and learning from 2009 to 2018. Computers & education , 159 , 104009.

Mavilidi, M. F., Ruiter, M., Schmidt, M., Okely, A. D., Loyens, S., Chandler, P., & Paas, F. (2018). A narrative review of school-based physical activity for enhancing cognition and learning: The importance of relevancy and integration. Frontiers in psychology , 2079.

Patterson, G. T., Chung, I. W., & Swan, P. W. (2014). Stress management interventions for police officers and recruits: A meta-analysis. Journal of experimental criminology , 10 , 487-513.

Reith, T. P. (2018). Burnout in United States healthcare professionals: a narrative review. Cureus , 10 (12).

Ritchie, S. J., & Tucker-Drob, E. M. (2018). How much does education improve intelligence? A meta-analysis. Psychological science , 29 (8), 1358-1369.

Roman, S., Sánchez-Siles, L. M., & Siegrist, M. (2017). The importance of food naturalness for consumers: Results of a systematic review. Trends in food science & technology , 67 , 44-57.

Sáiz-Vazquez, O., Puente-Martínez, A., Ubillos-Landa, S., Pacheco-Bonrostro, J., & Santabárbara, J. (2020). Cholesterol and Alzheimer’s disease risk: a meta-meta-analysis. Brain sciences, 10(6), 386.

Vermeir, P., Vandijck, D., Degroote, S., Peleman, R., Verhaeghe, R., Mortier, E., … & Vogelaers, D. (2015). Communication in healthcare: a narrative review of the literature and practical recommendations. International journal of clinical practice , 69 (11), 1257-1267.

Wisniewski, B., Zierer, K., & Hattie, J. (2020). The power of feedback revisited: A meta-analysis of educational feedback research. Frontiers in Psychology , 10 , 3087.

Yli-Huumo, J., Ko, D., Choi, S., Park, S., & Smolander, K. (2016). Where is current research on blockchain technology?—a systematic review. PloS one , 11 (10), e0163477.

Zestcott, C. A., Blair, I. V., & Stone, J. (2016). Examining the presence, consequences, and reduction of implicit bias in health care: a narrative review. Group Processes & Intergroup Relations , 19 (4), 528-542

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Literature Reviews

  • Types of reviews
  • Getting started

Types of reviews and examples

Choosing a review type.

  • 1. Define your research question
  • 2. Plan your search
  • 3. Search the literature
  • 4. Organize your results
  • 5. Synthesize your findings
  • 6. Write the review
  • Thompson Writing Studio This link opens in a new window
  • Need to write a systematic review? This link opens in a new window

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Overview of types of literature reviews

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  • Literature (narrative)
  • Scoping / Evidence map
  • Meta-analysis

Characteristics:

  • Provides examination of recent or current literature on a wide range of subjects
  • Varying levels of completeness / comprehensiveness, non-standardized methodology
  • May or may not include comprehensive searching, quality assessment or critical appraisal

Mitchell, L. E., & Zajchowski, C. A. (2022). The history of air quality in Utah: A narrative review.  Sustainability ,  14 (15), 9653.  doi.org/10.3390/su14159653

  • Assessment of what is already known about an issue
  • Similar to a systematic review but within a time-constrained setting
  • Typically employs methodological shortcuts, increasing risk of introducing bias, includes basic level of quality assessment
  • Best suited for issues needing quick decisions and solutions (i.e., policy recommendations)

Learn more about the method:

Khangura, S., Konnyu, K., Cushman, R., Grimshaw, J., & Moher, D. (2012). Evidence summaries: the evolution of a rapid review approach.  Systematic reviews, 1 (1), 1-9.  https://doi.org/10.1186/2046-4053-1-10

Virginia Commonwealth University Libraries. (2021). Rapid Review Protocol .

Quarmby, S., Santos, G., & Mathias, M. (2019). Air quality strategies and technologies: A rapid review of the international evidence.  Sustainability, 11 (10), 2757.  https://doi.org/10.3390/su11102757

  • Compiles evidence from multiple reviews into one document
  • Often defines a broader question than is typical of a traditional systematic review.

Choi, G. J., & Kang, H. (2022). The umbrella review: a useful strategy in the rain of evidence.  The Korean Journal of Pain ,  35 (2), 127–128.  https://doi.org/10.3344/kjp.2022.35.2.127

Aromataris, E., Fernandez, R., Godfrey, C. M., Holly, C., Khalil, H., & Tungpunkom, P. (2015). Summarizing systematic reviews: Methodological development, conduct and reporting of an umbrella review approach. International Journal of Evidence-Based Healthcare , 13(3), 132–140. https://doi.org/10.1097/XEB.0000000000000055

Rojas-Rueda, D., Morales-Zamora, E., Alsufyani, W. A., Herbst, C. H., Al Balawi, S. M., Alsukait, R., & Alomran, M. (2021). Environmental risk factors and health: An umbrella review of meta-analyses.  International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Dealth ,  18 (2), 704.  https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18020704

  • Main purpose is to map out and categorize existing literature, identify gaps in literature
  • Search comprehensiveness determined by time/scope constraints, could take longer than a systematic review
  • No formal quality assessment or critical appraisal

Learn more about the methods :

Arksey, H., & O'Malley, L. (2005) Scoping studies: towards a methodological framework.  International Journal of Social Research Methodology ,  8 (1), 19-32.  https://doi.org/10.1080/1364557032000119616

Levac, D., Colquhoun, H., & O’Brien, K. K. (2010). Scoping studies: Advancing the methodology. Implementation Science: IS, 5, 69. https://doi.org/10.1186/1748-5908-5-69

Miake-Lye, I. M., Hempel, S., Shanman, R., & Shekelle, P. G. (2016). What is an evidence map? A systematic review of published evidence maps and their definitions, methods, and products.  Systematic reviews, 5 (1), 1-21.  https://doi.org/10.1186/s13643-016-0204-x

Example : 

Rahman, A., Sarkar, A., Yadav, O. P., Achari, G., & Slobodnik, J. (2021). Potential human health risks due to environmental exposure to nano-and microplastics and knowledge gaps: A scoping review.  Science of the Total Environment, 757 , 143872.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2020.143872

  • Seeks to systematically search for, appraise, and synthesize research evidence
  • Adheres to strict guidelines, protocols, and frameworks
  • Time-intensive and often take months to a year or more to complete. 
  • The most commonly referred to type of evidence synthesis. Sometimes confused as a blanket term for other types of reviews.

Gascon, M., Triguero-Mas, M., Martínez, D., Dadvand, P., Forns, J., Plasència, A., & Nieuwenhuijsen, M. J. (2015). Mental health benefits of long-term exposure to residential green and blue spaces: a systematic review.  International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health ,  12 (4), 4354–4379.  https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph120404354

  • Statistical technique for combining results of quantitative studies to provide more precise effect of results
  • Aims for exhaustive, comprehensive searching
  • Quality assessment may determine inclusion/exclusion criteria
  • May be conducted independently or as part of a systematic review

Berman, N. G., & Parker, R. A. (2002). Meta-analysis: Neither quick nor easy. BMC Medical Research Methodology , 2(1), 10. https://doi.org/10.1186/1471-2288-2-10

Hites R. A. (2004). Polybrominated diphenyl ethers in the environment and in people: a meta-analysis of concentrations.  Environmental Science & Technology ,  38 (4), 945–956.  https://doi.org/10.1021/es035082g

Flowchart of review types

  • Review Decision Tree - Cornell University For more information, check out Cornell's review methodology decision tree.
  • LitR-Ex.com - Eight literature review methodologies Learn more about 8 different review types (incl. Systematic Reviews and Scoping Reviews) with practical tips about strengths and weaknesses of different methods.
  • << Previous: Getting started
  • Next: 1. Define your research question >>
  • Last Updated: Feb 15, 2024 1:45 PM
  • URL: https://guides.library.duke.edu/lit-reviews

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  • © 2021

Literature Reviews

Modern Methods for Investigating Scientific and Technological Knowledge

  • Ana Paula Cardoso Ermel   ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-3874-9792 0 ,
  • D. P. Lacerda   ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-8011-3376 1 ,
  • Maria Isabel W. M. Morandi   ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-1337-1487 2 ,
  • Leandro Gauss   ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-5708-5912 3

Production and Systems Engineering, Universidade do Vale do Rio dos Sinos, São Leopoldo, Brazil

You can also search for this author in PubMed   Google Scholar

Offers a new method of reviewing, analysing, and synthesising scientific literature into a systematic review

Presents computational tools to aid in this technique

Provides several illustrative examples of the methodology in action

9307 Accesses

11 Citations

2 Altmetric

  • Table of contents

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Table of contents (10 chapters)

Front matter, introduction.

Ana Paula Cardoso Ermel, D. P. Lacerda, Maria Isabel W. M. Morandi, Leandro Gauss

Scientific Contributions of Systematic Literature Reviews: Fundamentals in Karl Popper

  • Systematic Literature Review
  • Literature Analysis
  • Literature Synthesis

Literature Grounded Theory (LGT)

Computational tools for literature review, analysis, and synthesis, what to consider in a systematic literature review: three examples from design science research, future perspectives, correction to: literature reviews.

This book begins by introducing the topic of knowledge in literature, including its scientific foundations. Due to the ever-increasing number of scientific publications, literature reviews are becoming more and more essential to stay updated.  Literature Reviews  describes an innovative system for creating systematic literature reviews, through reviewing, analyzing, and synthesizing scientific and technological literature.

It then discusses systematic literature reviews, content analysis, and literature synthesis separately, before presenting the methodology to combine them in one process. It showcases computational tools to aid in this technique and offers examples of the method in action. Finally, the book takes a new of future developments in the subject.

This book is of interest to graduate students, as well as researchers and academics, helping them to deepen insights and improve skills needed to conduct thorough literature reviews.

  • Literature Grounded Theory
  • Content Analysis
  • Meta-Analysis

Ana Paula Cardoso Ermel  holds a Master's degree in Production and Systems Engineering (UNISINOS) and a Bachelor's degree in Mechanical Engineering (URI). She has extensive knowledge in the implementation of quality management systems in the metalworking industry and holds the position of a permanent researcher at the Research Group on Modeling for Learning (GMAP | UNISINOS).

Daniel Pacheco Lacerda  holds a Doctoral degree in Production and Systems Engineering (COPPE/UFRJ) and Master’s and Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration (UNISINOS and SJT). He is a permanent researcher and associate professor in the Graduate Program of Production and Systems Engineering at UNISINOS University. In this same institution, he coordinates the Undergraduate Program of Production and Systems Engineering, and the Research Group on Modeling for Learning (GMAP | UNISINOS). Over the last ten years, he accumulated a list of academic recognitions within and outside Brazil and has been recently identified as the 12th most prolific author on the Theory of Constraints worldwide. He has published numerous journal articles and eighteen books.

Maria Isabel Wolf Motta Morandi  holds Doctoral and Master’s degrees in Production and Systems Engineering (UNISINOS), a Bachelor’s degree in Chemistry Engineering (UFRGS), and Specializations in Management and Logistics (FGV). She is a permanent researcher and coordinator at the Research Group on Modeling for Learning (GMAP | UNISINOS) and an associate professor in the Undergraduate Program of Production and Systems Engineering at UNISINOS University. She also has 18 years of experience as an executive in the chemical industry, 13 years of experience in specialized consultancies for multinational companies, as well as extensive knowledge in applied research regarding systems thinking, systems dynamics, discrete-event simulation, and mathematical modeling.

Leandro Gauss  holds a Master's degree in Production and Systems Engineering (UNISINOS) and a Bachelor's degree in Industrial Design and Mechanical Engineering (ULBRA). For more than seventeen years, he has been working on the design process of capital goods for manufacturing environments within and outside Brazil, and since 2018 integrates the Research Group on Modeling for Learning (GMAP | UNISINOS) as a permanent researcher. He is also an assistant professor in the Undergraduate Program of Production and Systems Engineering at UNISINOS University,  and in the last two years received awards for best article and dissertation at master's level from the two most renowned Production Engineering Associations in Brazil (ANPEPRO and ABEPRO).

Book Title : Literature Reviews

Book Subtitle : Modern Methods for Investigating Scientific and Technological Knowledge

Authors : Ana Paula Cardoso Ermel, D. P. Lacerda, Maria Isabel W. M. Morandi, Leandro Gauss

DOI : https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-75722-9

Publisher : Springer Cham

eBook Packages : Education , Education (R0)

Copyright Information : The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2021

Hardcover ISBN : 978-3-030-75721-2 Published: 31 August 2021

Softcover ISBN : 978-3-030-75724-3 Published: 01 September 2022

eBook ISBN : 978-3-030-75722-9 Published: 30 August 2021

Edition Number : 1

Number of Pages : XVII, 202

Number of Illustrations : 18 b/w illustrations, 73 illustrations in colour

Topics : Research Skills , Thesis and Dissertation , Research Methods in Education , Operations Research, Management Science , Operations Management

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  • v.12(3); 2021 Jun

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Writing, reading, and critiquing reviews

Écrire, lire et revue critique, douglas archibald.

1 University of Ottawa, Ontario, Canada;

Maria Athina Martimianakis

2 University of Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Why reviews matter

What do all authors of the CMEJ have in common? For that matter what do all health professions education scholars have in common? We all engage with literature. When you have an idea or question the first thing you do is find out what has been published on the topic of interest. Literature reviews are foundational to any study. They describe what is known about given topic and lead us to identify a knowledge gap to study. All reviews require authors to be able accurately summarize, synthesize, interpret and even critique the research literature. 1 , 2 In fact, for this editorial we have had to review the literature on reviews . Knowledge and evidence are expanding in our field of health professions education at an ever increasing rate and so to help keep pace, well written reviews are essential. Though reviews may be difficult to write, they will always be read. In this editorial we survey the various forms review articles can take. As well we want to provide authors and reviewers at CMEJ with some guidance and resources to be able write and/or review a review article.

What are the types of reviews conducted in Health Professions Education?

Health professions education attracts scholars from across disciplines and professions. For this reason, there are numerous ways to conduct reviews and it is important to familiarize oneself with these different forms to be able to effectively situate your work and write a compelling rationale for choosing your review methodology. 1 , 2 To do this, authors must contend with an ever-increasing lexicon of review type articles. In 2009 Grant and colleagues conducted a typology of reviews to aid readers makes sense of the different review types, listing fourteen different ways of conducting reviews, not all of which are mutually exclusive. 3 Interestingly, in their typology they did not include narrative reviews which are often used by authors in health professions education. In Table 1 , we offer a short description of three common types of review articles submitted to CMEJ.

Three common types of review articles submitted to CMEJ

More recently, authors such as Greenhalgh 4 have drawn attention to the perceived hierarchy of systematic reviews over scoping and narrative reviews. Like Greenhalgh, 4 we argue that systematic reviews are not to be seen as the gold standard of all reviews. Instead, it is important to align the method of review to what the authors hope to achieve, and pursue the review rigorously, according to the tenets of the chosen review type. Sometimes it is helpful to read part of the literature on your topic before deciding on a methodology for organizing and assessing its usefulness. Importantly, whether you are conducting a review or reading reviews, appreciating the differences between different types of reviews can also help you weigh the author’s interpretation of their findings.

In the next section we summarize some general tips for conducting successful reviews.

How to write and review a review article

In 2016 David Cook wrote an editorial for Medical Education on tips for a great review article. 13 These tips are excellent suggestions for all types of articles you are considering to submit to the CMEJ. First, start with a clear question: focused or more general depending on the type of review you are conducting. Systematic reviews tend to address very focused questions often summarizing the evidence of your topic. Other types of reviews tend to have broader questions and are more exploratory in nature.

Following your question, choose an approach and plan your methods to match your question…just like you would for a research study. Fortunately, there are guidelines for many types of reviews. As Cook points out the most important consideration is to be sure that the methods you follow lead to a defensible answer to your review question. To help you prepare for a defensible answer there are many guides available. For systematic reviews consult PRISMA guidelines ; 13 for scoping reviews PRISMA-ScR ; 14 and SANRA 15 for narrative reviews. It is also important to explain to readers why you have chosen to conduct a review. You may be introducing a new way for addressing an old problem, drawing links across literatures, filling in gaps in our knowledge about a phenomenon or educational practice. Cook refers to this as setting the stage. Linking back to the literature is important. In systematic reviews for example, you must be clear in explaining how your review builds on existing literature and previous reviews. This is your opportunity to be critical. What are the gaps and limitations of previous reviews? So, how will your systematic review resolve the shortcomings of previous work? In other types of reviews, such as narrative reviews, its less about filling a specific knowledge gap, and more about generating new research topic areas, exposing blind spots in our thinking, or making creative new links across issues. Whatever, type of review paper you are working on, the next steps are ones that can be applied to any scholarly writing. Be clear and offer insight. What is your main message? A review is more than just listing studies or referencing literature on your topic. Lead your readers to a convincing message. Provide commentary and interpretation for the studies in your review that will help you to inform your conclusions. For systematic reviews, Cook’s final tip is most likely the most important– report completely. You need to explain all your methods and report enough detail that readers can verify the main findings of each study you review. The most common reasons CMEJ reviewers recommend to decline a review article is because authors do not follow these last tips. In these instances authors do not provide the readers with enough detail to substantiate their interpretations or the message is not clear. Our recommendation for writing a great review is to ensure you have followed the previous tips and to have colleagues read over your paper to ensure you have provided a clear, detailed description and interpretation.

Finally, we leave you with some resources to guide your review writing. 3 , 7 , 8 , 10 , 11 , 16 , 17 We look forward to seeing your future work. One thing is certain, a better appreciation of what different reviews provide to the field will contribute to more purposeful exploration of the literature and better manuscript writing in general.

In this issue we present many interesting and worthwhile papers, two of which are, in fact, reviews.

Major Contributions

A chance for reform: the environmental impact of travel for general surgery residency interviews by Fung et al. 18 estimated the CO 2 emissions associated with traveling for residency position interviews. Due to the high emissions levels (mean 1.82 tonnes per applicant), they called for the consideration of alternative options such as videoconference interviews.

Understanding community family medicine preceptors’ involvement in educational scholarship: perceptions, influencing factors and promising areas for action by Ward and team 19 identified barriers, enablers, and opportunities to grow educational scholarship at community-based teaching sites. They discovered a growing interest in educational scholarship among community-based family medicine preceptors and hope the identification of successful processes will be beneficial for other community-based Family Medicine preceptors.

Exploring the global impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on medical education: an international cross-sectional study of medical learners by Allison Brown and team 20 studied the impact of COVID-19 on medical learners around the world. There were different concerns depending on the levels of training, such as residents’ concerns with career timeline compared to trainees’ concerns with the quality of learning. Overall, the learners negatively perceived the disruption at all levels and geographic regions.

The impact of local health professions education grants: is it worth the investment? by Susan Humphrey-Murto and co-authors 21 considered factors that lead to the publication of studies supported by local medical education grants. They identified several factors associated with publication success, including previous oral or poster presentations. They hope their results will be valuable for Canadian centres with local grant programs.

Exploring the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on medical learner wellness: a needs assessment for the development of learner wellness interventions by Stephana Cherak and team 22 studied learner-wellness in various training environments disrupted by the pandemic. They reported a negative impact on learner wellness at all stages of training. Their results can benefit the development of future wellness interventions.

Program directors’ reflections on national policy change in medical education: insights on decision-making, accreditation, and the CanMEDS framework by Dore, Bogie, et al. 23 invited program directors to reflect on the introduction of the CanMEDS framework into Canadian postgraduate medical education programs. Their survey revealed that while program directors (PDs) recognized the necessity of the accreditation process, they did not feel they had a voice when the change occurred. The authors concluded that collaborations with PDs would lead to more successful outcomes.

Experiential learning, collaboration and reflection: key ingredients in longitudinal faculty development by Laura Farrell and team 24 stressed several elements for effective longitudinal faculty development (LFD) initiatives. They found that participants benefited from a supportive and collaborative environment while trying to learn a new skill or concept.

Brief Reports

The effect of COVID-19 on medical students’ education and wellbeing: a cross-sectional survey by Stephanie Thibaudeau and team 25 assessed the impact of COVID-19 on medical students. They reported an overall perceived negative impact, including increased depressive symptoms, increased anxiety, and reduced quality of education.

In Do PGY-1 residents in Emergency Medicine have enough experiences in resuscitations and other clinical procedures to meet the requirements of a Competence by Design curriculum? Meshkat and co-authors 26 recorded the number of adult medical resuscitations and clinical procedures completed by PGY1 Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians in Emergency Medicine residents to compare them to the Competence by Design requirements. Their study underscored the importance of monitoring collection against pre-set targets. They concluded that residency program curricula should be regularly reviewed to allow for adequate clinical experiences.

Rehearsal simulation for antenatal consults by Anita Cheng and team 27 studied whether rehearsal simulation for antenatal consults helped residents prepare for difficult conversations with parents expecting complications with their baby before birth. They found that while rehearsal simulation improved residents’ confidence and communication techniques, it did not prepare them for unexpected parent responses.

Review Papers and Meta-Analyses

Peer support programs in the fields of medicine and nursing: a systematic search and narrative review by Haykal and co-authors 28 described and evaluated peer support programs in the medical field published in the literature. They found numerous diverse programs and concluded that including a variety of delivery methods to meet the needs of all participants is a key aspect for future peer-support initiatives.

Towards competency-based medical education in addictions psychiatry: a systematic review by Bahji et al. 6 identified addiction interventions to build competency for psychiatry residents and fellows. They found that current psychiatry entrustable professional activities need to be better identified and evaluated to ensure sustained competence in addictions.

Six ways to get a grip on leveraging the expertise of Instructional Design and Technology professionals by Chen and Kleinheksel 29 provided ways to improve technology implementation by clarifying the role that Instructional Design and Technology professionals can play in technology initiatives and technology-enhanced learning. They concluded that a strong collaboration is to the benefit of both the learners and their future patients.

In his article, Seven ways to get a grip on running a successful promotions process, 30 Simon Field provided guidelines for maximizing opportunities for successful promotion experiences. His seven tips included creating a rubric for both self-assessment of likeliness of success and adjudication by the committee.

Six ways to get a grip on your first health education leadership role by Stasiuk and Scott 31 provided tips for considering a health education leadership position. They advised readers to be intentional and methodical in accepting or rejecting positions.

Re-examining the value proposition for Competency-Based Medical Education by Dagnone and team 32 described the excitement and controversy surrounding the implementation of competency-based medical education (CBME) by Canadian postgraduate training programs. They proposed observing which elements of CBME had a positive impact on various outcomes.

You Should Try This

In their work, Interprofessional culinary education workshops at the University of Saskatchewan, Lieffers et al. 33 described the implementation of interprofessional culinary education workshops that were designed to provide health professions students with an experiential and cooperative learning experience while learning about important topics in nutrition. They reported an enthusiastic response and cooperation among students from different health professional programs.

In their article, Physiotherapist-led musculoskeletal education: an innovative approach to teach medical students musculoskeletal assessment techniques, Boulila and team 34 described the implementation of physiotherapist-led workshops, whether the workshops increased medical students’ musculoskeletal knowledge, and if they increased confidence in assessment techniques.

Instagram as a virtual art display for medical students by Karly Pippitt and team 35 used social media as a platform for showcasing artwork done by first-year medical students. They described this shift to online learning due to COVID-19. Using Instagram was cost-saving and widely accessible. They intend to continue with both online and in-person displays in the future.

Adapting clinical skills volunteer patient recruitment and retention during COVID-19 by Nazerali-Maitland et al. 36 proposed a SLIM-COVID framework as a solution to the problem of dwindling volunteer patients due to COVID-19. Their framework is intended to provide actionable solutions to recruit and engage volunteers in a challenging environment.

In Quick Response codes for virtual learner evaluation of teaching and attendance monitoring, Roxana Mo and co-authors 37 used Quick Response (QR) codes to monitor attendance and obtain evaluations for virtual teaching sessions. They found QR codes valuable for quick and simple feedback that could be used for many educational applications.

In Creation and implementation of the Ottawa Handbook of Emergency Medicine Kaitlin Endres and team 38 described the creation of a handbook they made as an academic resource for medical students as they shift to clerkship. It includes relevant content encountered in Emergency Medicine. While they intended it for medical students, they also see its value for nurses, paramedics, and other medical professionals.

Commentary and Opinions

The alarming situation of medical student mental health by D’Eon and team 39 appealed to medical education leaders to respond to the high numbers of mental health concerns among medical students. They urged leaders to address the underlying problems, such as the excessive demands of the curriculum.

In the shadows: medical student clinical observerships and career exploration in the face of COVID-19 by Law and co-authors 40 offered potential solutions to replace in-person shadowing that has been disrupted due to the COVID-19 pandemic. They hope the alternatives such as virtual shadowing will close the gap in learning caused by the pandemic.

Letters to the Editor

Canadian Federation of Medical Students' response to “ The alarming situation of medical student mental health” King et al. 41 on behalf of the Canadian Federation of Medical Students (CFMS) responded to the commentary by D’Eon and team 39 on medical students' mental health. King called upon the medical education community to join the CFMS in its commitment to improving medical student wellbeing.

Re: “Development of a medical education podcast in obstetrics and gynecology” 42 was written by Kirubarajan in response to the article by Development of a medical education podcast in obstetrics and gynecology by Black and team. 43 Kirubarajan applauded the development of the podcast to meet a need in medical education, and suggested potential future topics such as interventions to prevent learner burnout.

Response to “First year medical student experiences with a clinical skills seminar emphasizing sexual and gender minority population complexity” by Kumar and Hassan 44 acknowledged the previously published article by Biro et al. 45 that explored limitations in medical training for the LGBTQ2S community. However, Kumar and Hassen advocated for further progress and reform for medical training to address the health requirements for sexual and gender minorities.

In her letter, Journey to the unknown: road closed!, 46 Rosemary Pawliuk responded to the article, Journey into the unknown: considering the international medical graduate perspective on the road to Canadian residency during the COVID-19 pandemic, by Gutman et al. 47 Pawliuk agreed that international medical students (IMGs) do not have adequate formal representation when it comes to residency training decisions. Therefore, Pawliuk challenged health organizations to make changes to give a voice in decision-making to the organizations representing IMGs.

In Connections, 48 Sara Guzman created a digital painting to portray her approach to learning. Her image of a hand touching a neuron showed her desire to physically see and touch an active neuron in order to further understand the brain and its connections.

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  1. How to Write a Literature Review

    Step 1 - Search for relevant literature Step 2 - Evaluate and select sources Step 3 - Identify themes, debates, and gaps Step 4 - Outline your literature review's structure Step 5 - Write your literature review Free lecture slides Other interesting articles Frequently asked questions Introduction Quick Run-through Step 1 & 2 Step 3 Step 4 Step 5

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    Purdue OWL Research and Citation Conducting Research Writing a Literature Review Writing a Literature Review A literature review is a document or section of a document that collects key sources on a topic and discusses those sources in conversation with each other (also called synthesis ).

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    Literature reviews are in great demand in most scientific fields. Their need stems from the ever-increasing output of scientific publications [1]. For example, compared to 1991, in 2008 three, eight, and forty times more papers were indexed in Web of Science on malaria, obesity, and biodiversity, respectively [2].

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    Analysing literature gives an overview of the "WHs": WHat has been reported in a particular feld or topic, WHo the key writers are, WHat are the prevailing theories and hypotheses, WHat questions ...

  7. A Step-by-Step Guide to Writing a Scientific Review Article

    Scientific review articles are comprehensive, focused reviews of the scientific literature written by subject matter experts. The task of writing a scientific review article can seem overwhelming; however, it can be managed by using an organized approach and devoting sufficient time to the process.

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    Here you have a to-do list to help you write your review: A scientific literature review usually includes a title, abstract, index, introduction, corpus, bibliography, and appendices (if needed). Present the problem clearly. Mention the paper's methodology, research methods, analysis, instruments, etc. Present literature review examples that ...

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    Here, I provide tips on planning and writing a review article, with examples of well-crafted review articles published in The FEBS Journal. The advice given here is mostly relevant for the writing of a traditional literature-based review rather than other forms of review such as a systematic review or meta-analysis, which have their own ...

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    Knowledge Base Dissertation What is a Literature Review? | Guide, Template, & Examples Published on 22 February 2022 by Shona McCombes . Revised on 7 June 2022. What is a literature review? A literature review is a survey of scholarly sources on a specific topic.

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    Personal: To familiarize yourself with a new area of research, to get an overview of a topic, so you don't want to miss something important, etc. Required writing for a journal article, thesis or dissertation, grant application, etc. Literature reviews vary; there are many ways to write a literature review based on discipline, material type ...

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    A literature review is a body of text that aims to review the critical points of current knowledge on a particular topic. Most often associated with science-oriented literature, such as a thesis, the literature review usually proceeds a research proposal, methodology and results section.

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    A scientific literature review is a critical account of what has been published on a topic by accredited researchers. It may be: A stand-alone assignment An introduction to an essay, report, thesis, etc. Part of research/grant proposals Scientific Literature Review: Writing a literature review will: Improve your topic knowledge

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    addresses the problems and solutions for a better literature review (Section4), and then draws conclusion (Section5). 2. Making Sense of a Literature Review: What It Is All About A literature review is an evaluation of research works available on a specific academic theme or topic or subject under investigation by a researcher. It involves a ...

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    Literature reviews are valuable resources for the scientific community. With research accelerating at an unprecedented speed in recent years and more and more original papers being published, review articles have become increasingly important as a means to keep up to date with developments in a part …

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    A literature review is an integrated analysis-- not just a summary-- of scholarly writings and other relevant evidence related directly to your research question.That is, it represents a synthesis of the evidence that provides background information on your topic and shows a association between the evidence and your research question.

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    Have an exemplary literature review? Have you written a stellar literature review you care to share for teaching purposes? Are you an instructor who has received an exemplary literature review and have permission from the student to post? Please contact Britt McGowan at [email protected] for inclusion in this guide.

  18. 15 Literature Review Examples (2024)

    1. Narrative Review Examples Also known as a traditional literature review, the narrative review provides a broad overview of the studies done on a particular topic. It often includes both qualitative and quantitative studies and may cover a wide range of years.

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    Literature reviews play a critical role in scholarship because science remains, first and foremost, a cumulative endeavour (vom Brocke et al., 2009). As in any academic discipline, rigorous knowledge syntheses are becoming indispensable in keeping up with an exponentially growing eHealth literature, assisting practitioners, academics, and graduate students in finding, evaluating, and ...

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    Literature Reviews describes an innovative system for creating systematic literature reviews, through reviewing, analyzing, and synthesizing scientific and technological literature. It then discusses systematic literature reviews, content analysis, and literature synthesis separately, before presenting the methodology to combine them in one ...

  23. Writing, reading, and critiquing reviews

    More recently, authors such as Greenhalgh 4 have drawn attention to the perceived hierarchy of systematic reviews over scoping and narrative reviews. Like Greenhalgh, 4 we argue that systematic reviews are not to be seen as the gold standard of all reviews. Instead, it is important to align the method of review to what the authors hope to achieve, and pursue the review rigorously, according to ...

  24. 39 Best Literature Review Examples (Guide & Samples)

    A literature review is a compilation of current knowledge on a particular topic derived from the critical evaluation of different scholarly sources such as books, articles, and publications, which is then presented in an organized manner to relate to a specific research problem being investigated. ... For example, a scientific review will be ...