Have a language expert improve your writing

Run a free plagiarism check in 10 minutes, generate accurate citations for free.

  • Knowledge Base

Methodology

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

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.

Instantly correct all language mistakes in your text

Upload your document to correct all your mistakes in minutes

upload-your-document-ai-proofreader

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

Here's why students love Scribbr's proofreading services

Discover proofreading & editing

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.

The only proofreading tool specialized in correcting academic writing - try for free!

The academic proofreading tool has been trained on 1000s of academic texts and by native English editors. Making it the most accurate and reliable proofreading tool for students.

literature review template harvard

Try for free

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.

Open Google Slides Download PowerPoint

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 .  

Cite this Scribbr article

If you want to cite this source, you can copy and paste the citation or click the “Cite this Scribbr article” button to automatically add the citation to our free Citation Generator.

McCombes, S. (2023, September 11). How to Write a Literature Review | Guide, Examples, & Templates. Scribbr. Retrieved February 22, 2024, from https://www.scribbr.com/dissertation/literature-review/

Is this article helpful?

Shona McCombes

Shona McCombes

Other students also liked, what is a theoretical framework | guide to organizing, what is a research methodology | steps & tips, how to write a research proposal | examples & templates, what is your plagiarism score.

Gutman Library

  • Gutman Library
  • Ask Us @ Gutman Library

Q. How do I write a literature review?

  • 1 3-in-1 search
  • 6 Appointments
  • 1 Avoiding Plagiarism
  • 1 Borrow Direct
  • 2 Borrowing
  • 2 Boston Globe
  • 1 Case Studies
  • 2 Check Harvard Library Bookmark
  • 1 Chronicle of Higher Education
  • 1 Communications Lab
  • 1 Contact Us
  • 2 Course evaluations
  • 9 Course Materials
  • 1 Dissertations
  • 1 Distance Services
  • 1 Ed News & Trends
  • 1 Education Week
  • 1 Equipment
  • 1 Financial Times
  • 1 Google Scholar
  • 1 Higher Education
  • 2 Interlibrary Loan
  • 1 K-12 News & Trends
  • 2 Lean Library
  • 1 Lost & Found
  • 1 Marshall Memo
  • 1 Master's Research Guides
  • 1 Network Login
  • 1 New York Times
  • 4 Newspapers
  • 1 Qualifying Papers
  • 1 Quiet Space
  • 2 Research Applications
  • 1 Research Appointments
  • 2 Research Assistants
  • 2 Research Guides
  • 1 Research Librarians
  • 1 Research Methods & Software Appointments
  • 1 Room Reservations
  • 1 Scan & Deliver
  • 2 Services for Faculty
  • 2 Services for Staff
  • 9 Special Collections
  • 2 Statistical Applications
  • 2 Streaming video
  • 1 Tutorials
  • 1 U.S. Education System
  • 1 Wall Street Journal
  • 1 Washington Post
  • 1 Websites for Educators
  • 2 Writing Appointments

Answered By: Ning Zou Last Updated: Sep 20, 2021     Views: 1254

To get started, visit our tutorial, The Literature Review: A Research Journey . The tutorial begins with a discussion of the definition and purpose of a literature review followed by modules on defining a research question; finding literature; managing research; synthesizing the literature; and writing the review.  

For additional assistance searching the literature, schedule a research appointment by using the Gutman Library Research Appointment tool .

For additional assistance writing a literature review, HGSE students may schedule a writing appointment by using the writing appointment sign-up tool . 

  • Share on Facebook

Was this helpful? Yes 5 No 2

Comments (0)

Related topics.

  • Appointments
  • Writing Appointments

Gutman librarians are available to answer your questions Monday - Friday, 9am - 5pm EST. 

Email : Use our Ask Us form

Drop in on Gutman's 2nd floor:  Monday - Friday, 9am - 5pm EST. 

Need more in-depth research help? Make a virtual appointment to work with a research librarian.

To schedule a time, use the Gutman Library Research Appointment tool .

Systematic Reviews and Meta Analysis

  • Getting Started
  • Guides and Standards
  • Review Protocols
  • Databases and Sources
  • Randomized Controlled Trials
  • Controlled Clinical Trials
  • Observational Designs
  • Tests of Diagnostic Accuracy
  • Software and Tools
  • Where do I get all those articles?
  • Collaborations
  • EPI 233/528
  • Countway Mediated Search
  • Risk of Bias (RoB)

Living Systematic Review

Carole Mitnick, Molly Franke, Celia Fung, Andrew Lindeborg. Clinical Outcomes of Individuals with COVID-19 and Tuberculosis Disease: a Living Systematic Review . PROSPERO 2020 CRD42020187349 

Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

Brindle ME, Roberts DJ, Daodu O, Haynes AB, Cauley C, Dixon E, La Flamme C, Bain P, Berry W. Deriving literature-based benchmarks for surgical complications in high-income countries: a protocol for a systematic review and meta-analysis. BMJ Open. 2017 May 9. PMID: 28487456

We require a completed protocol before we will carry out final searches on any knowledge synthesis project.

We encourage you to use this template, which is based on the PRISMA-P checklist (Moher D, et al. Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis Protocols (PRISMA-P) 2015 statement. Syst Rev. 2015;4(1):1. PMID: 25554246 .)

  • Countway Protocol Template

Why a Protocol

From the Cochrane Handbook :

“The protocol sets out the context in which the review is being conducted. It presents an opportunity to develop ideas that are foundational for the review.” “Preparing a systematic review is complex and involves many judgements. To minimize the potential for bias in the review process, these judgements should be made as far as possible in ways that do not depend on the findings of the studies included in the review.” “Publication of a protocol for a review that is written without knowledge of the available studies reduces the impact of review authors’ biases, promotes transparency of methods and processes, reduces the potential for duplication, allows peer review of the planned methods before they have been completed, and offers an opportunity for the review team to plan resources and logistics for undertaking the review itself.”

Lasserson TJ, Thomas J, Higgins JPT. Chapter 1: Starting a review. In: Higgins JPT, Thomas J, Chandler J, Cumpston M, Li T, Page MJ, Welch VA (editors). Cochrane Handbook for Systematic Reviews of Interventions version 6.4 (updated August 2023). Cochrane, 2023. Available from www.training.cochrane.org/handbook.

A protocol is your plan for carrying out your knowledge synthesis. It presents the rationale for carrying out the project and clearly states the aims of the work. The protocol describes the process for selecting research for inclusion, including the provision of explicit criteria for assessing reports for inclusion and for analyzing the included reports. Hence, it is an internal document that helps team members work together more smoothly. But it also is a hedge against bias by clearly stating the rules of the game before any work has begun. A protocol makes it more difficult to alter selection patterns based on perceived results. Beyond acting as a roadmap for your research, protocols, when registered or published in some way, allow others to see your research plan, establishing priority and reducing the risk of duplicate research.

Protocol Reporting Guidelines

  • PRISMA (Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews) PRISMA-P was published in 2015 aiming to facilitate the development and reporting of systematic review protocols.
  • MECIR (Methodological Expectations of Cochrane Intervention Reviews) Standards for the conduct of new Cochrane Intervention Reviews, and the planning and conduct of updates

Protocol Registries

  • PROSPERO International prospective register of systematic reviews
  • OSF (Open Science Framework) OSF is a free, open platform to support your research and enable collaboration.
  • Cochrane If planning a Cochrane Review, you must publish your protocol with them after your proposal has been accepted.

Additional Resources

  • Writing a review protocol - good practice and common errors This is a two part webinar provided by Cochrane Training intended to provide up to date guidance for review authors wishing to learn more about developing their own protocol.
  • << Previous: Guides and Standards
  • Next: Databases and Sources >>
  • Last Updated: Feb 14, 2024 2:47 PM
  • URL: https://guides.library.harvard.edu/meta-analysis

Grad Coach (R)

What’s Included: Literature Review Template

This template is structure is based on the tried and trusted best-practice format for formal academic research projects such as dissertations and theses. The literature review template includes the following sections:

  • Before you start – essential groundwork to ensure you’re ready
  • The introduction section
  • The core/body section
  • The conclusion /summary
  • Extra free resources

Each section is explained in plain, straightforward language , followed by an overview of the key elements that you need to cover. We’ve also included practical examples and links to more free videos and guides to help you understand exactly what’s required in each section.

The cleanly-formatted Google Doc can be downloaded as a fully editable MS Word Document (DOCX format), so you can use it as-is or convert it to LaTeX.

PS – if you’d like a high-level template for the entire thesis, you can we’ve got that too .

FAQs: Literature Review Template

What format is the template (doc, pdf, ppt, etc.).

The literature review chapter template is provided as a Google Doc. You can download it in MS Word format or make a copy to your Google Drive. You’re also welcome to convert it to whatever format works best for you, such as LaTeX or PDF.

What types of literature reviews can this template be used for?

The template follows the standard format for academic literature reviews, which means it will be suitable for the vast majority of academic research projects (especially those within the sciences), whether they are qualitative or quantitative in terms of design.

Keep in mind that the exact requirements for the literature review chapter will vary between universities and degree programs. These are typically minor, but it’s always a good idea to double-check your university’s requirements before you finalize your structure.

Is this template for an undergrad, Master or PhD-level thesis?

This template can be used for a literature review at any level of study. Doctoral-level projects typically require the literature review to be more extensive/comprehensive, but the structure will typically remain the same.

Can I modify the template to suit my topic/area?

Absolutely. While the template provides a general structure, you should adapt it to fit the specific requirements and focus of your literature review.

What structural style does this literature review template use?

The template assumes a thematic structure (as opposed to a chronological or methodological structure), as this is the most common approach. However, this is only one dimension of the template, so it will still be useful if you are adopting a different structure.

Does this template include the Excel literature catalog?

No, that is a separate template, which you can download for free here . This template is for the write-up of the actual literature review chapter, whereas the catalog is for use during the literature sourcing and sorting phase.

How long should the literature review chapter be?

This depends on your university’s specific requirements, so it’s best to check with them. As a general ballpark, literature reviews for Masters-level projects are usually 2,000 – 3,000 words in length, while Doctoral-level projects can reach multiples of this.

Can I include literature that contradicts my hypothesis?

Yes, it’s important to acknowledge and discuss literature that presents different viewpoints or contradicts your hypothesis. So, don’t shy away from existing research that takes an opposing view to yours.

How do I avoid plagiarism in my literature review?

Always cite your sources correctly and paraphrase ideas in your own words while maintaining the original meaning. You can always check our plagiarism score before submitting your work to help ease your mind. 

Do you have an example of a populated template?

We provide a walkthrough of the template and review an example of a high-quality literature research chapter here .

Can I share this literature review template with my friends/colleagues?

Yes, you’re welcome to share this template in its original format (no editing allowed). If you want to post about it on your blog or social media, all we ask is that you reference this page as your source.

Do you have templates for the other dissertation/thesis chapters?

Yes, we do. You can find our full collection of templates here .

Can Grad Coach help me with my literature review?

Yes, you’re welcome to get in touch with us to discuss our private coaching services , where we can help you work through the literature review chapter (and any other chapters).

Free Webinar: Literature Review 101

Brown University Homepage

Organizing and Creating Information

  • Citation and Attribution

What Is a Literature Review?

Review the literature, write the literature review, further reading, learning objectives, attribution.

This guide is designed to:

  • Identify the sections and purpose of a literature review in academic writing
  • Review practical strategies and organizational methods for preparing a literature review

A literature review is a summary and synthesis of scholarly research on a specific topic. It should answer questions such as:

  • What research has been done on the topic?
  • Who are the key researchers and experts in the field?
  • What are the common theories and methodologies?
  • Are there challenges, controversies, and contradictions?
  • Are there gaps in the research that your approach addresses?

The process of reviewing existing research allows you to fine-tune your research question and contextualize your own work. Preparing a literature review is a cyclical process. You may find that the research question you begin with evolves as you learn more about the topic.

Once you have defined your research question , focus on learning what other scholars have written on the topic.

In order to  do a thorough search of the literature  on the topic, define the basic criteria:

  • Databases and journals: Look at the  subject guide  related to your topic for recommended databases. Review the  tutorial on finding articles  for tips. 
  • Books: Search BruKnow, the Library's catalog. Steps to searching ebooks are covered in the  Finding Ebooks tutorial .
  • What time period should it cover? Is currency important?
  • Do I know of primary and secondary sources that I can use as a way to find other information?
  • What should I be aware of when looking at popular, trade, and scholarly resources ? 

One strategy is to review bibliographies for sources that relate to your interest. For more on this technique, look at the tutorial on finding articles when you have a citation .

Tip: Use a Synthesis Matrix

As you read sources, themes will emerge that will help you to organize the review. You can use a simple Synthesis Matrix to track your notes as you read. From this work, a concept map emerges that provides an overview of the literature and ways in which it connects. Working with Zotero to capture the citations, you build the structure for writing your literature review.

How do I know when I am done?

A key indicator for knowing when you are done is running into the same articles and materials. With no new information being uncovered, you are likely exhausting your current search and should modify search terms or search different catalogs or databases. It is also possible that you have reached a point when you can start writing the literature review.

Tip: Manage Your Citations

These citation management tools also create citations, footnotes, and bibliographies with just a few clicks:

Zotero Tutorial

Endnote Tutorial

Your literature review should be focused on the topic defined in your research question. It should be written in a logical, structured way and maintain an objective perspective and use a formal voice.

Review the Summary Table you created for themes and connecting ideas. Use the following guidelines to prepare an outline of the main points you want to make. 

  • Synthesize previous research on the topic.
  • Aim to include both summary and synthesis.
  • Include literature that supports your research question as well as that which offers a different perspective.
  • Avoid relying on one author or publication too heavily.
  • Select an organizational structure, such as chronological, methodological, and thematic.

The three elements of a literature review are introduction, body, and conclusion.

Introduction

  • Define the topic of the literature review, including any terminology.
  • Introduce the central theme and organization of the literature review.
  • Summarize the state of research on the topic.
  • Frame the literature review with your research question.
  • Focus on ways to have the body of literature tell its own story. Do not add your own interpretations at this point.
  • Look for patterns and find ways to tie the pieces together.
  • Summarize instead of quote.
  • Weave the points together rather than list summaries of each source.
  • Include the most important sources, not everything you have read.
  • Summarize the review of the literature.
  • Identify areas of further research on the topic.
  • Connect the review with your research.
  • DeCarlo, M. (2018). 4.1 What is a literature review? In Scientific Inquiry in Social Work. Open Social Work Education. https://scientificinquiryinsocialwork.pressbooks.com/chapter/4-1-what-is-a-literature-review/
  • Literature Reviews (n.d.) https://writingcenter.unc.edu/tips-and-tools/literature-reviews/ Accessed Nov. 10, 2021

This guide was designed to: 

  • Identify the sections and purpose of a literature review in academic writing 
  • Review practical strategies and organizational methods for preparing a literature review​

Content on this page adapted from: 

Frederiksen, L. and Phelps, S. (2017).   Literature Reviews for Education and Nursing Graduate Students.  Licensed CC BY 4.0

  • << Previous: EndNote
  • Last Updated: Jan 9, 2024 3:05 PM
  • URL: https://libguides.brown.edu/organize

moBUL - Mobile Brown University Library

Brown University Library  |  Providence, RI 02912  |  (401) 863-2165  |  Contact  |  Comments  |  Library Feedback  |  Site Map

Library Intranet

Purdue Online Writing Lab Purdue OWL® College of Liberal Arts

Writing a Literature Review

OWL logo

Welcome to the Purdue OWL

This page is brought to you by the OWL at Purdue University. When printing this page, you must include the entire legal notice.

Copyright ©1995-2018 by The Writing Lab & The OWL at Purdue and Purdue University. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, reproduced, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission. Use of this site constitutes acceptance of our terms and conditions of fair use.

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.

Have a language expert improve your writing

Run a free plagiarism check in 10 minutes, automatically generate references for free.

  • Knowledge Base
  • Dissertation
  • What is a Literature Review? | Guide, Template, & Examples

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.

Instantly correct all language mistakes in your text

Be assured that you'll submit flawless writing. Upload your document to correct all your mistakes.

upload-your-document-ai-proofreader

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 .

Cite this Scribbr article

If you want to cite this source, you can copy and paste the citation or click the ‘Cite this Scribbr article’ button to automatically add the citation to our free Reference Generator.

McCombes, S. (2022, June 07). What is a Literature Review? | Guide, Template, & Examples. Scribbr. Retrieved 22 February 2024, from https://www.scribbr.co.uk/thesis-dissertation/literature-review/

Is this article helpful?

Shona McCombes

Shona McCombes

Other students also liked, how to write a dissertation proposal | a step-by-step guide, what is a theoretical framework | a step-by-step guide, what is a research methodology | steps & tips.

Boatwright Memorial Library

Citing sources research guide: literature reviews.

  • Quick Citing in Databases
  • Chicago/Turabian
  • ASA & AAA (Soc/Ant)
  • ACS (Chemistry)
  • AP (Associated Press)
  • APSA (Political Science)
  • SBL (Society of Biblical Literature)
  • Harvard Style
  • MS Word Help
  • DOIs (Digital Object Identifiers)
  • Annotated Bibliographies
  • Literature Reviews
  • EndNote Web
  • Citation exercises This link opens in a new window

Literature Reviews: Overview

This video from NCSU Libraries gives a helpful overview of literature reviews. Even though it says it's "for graduate students," the principles are the same for undergraduate students too!

Reading a Scholarly Article

  • Reading a Scholarly Article or Literature Review Highlights sections of a scholarly article to identify structure of a literature review.
  • Anatomy of a Scholarly Article (NCSU Libraries) Interactive tutorial that describes parts of a scholarly article typical of a Sciences or Social Sciences research article.
  • Evaluating Information | Reading a Scholarly Article (Brown University Library) Provides examples and tips across disciplines for reading academic articles.
  • Reading Academic Articles for Research [LIBRE Project] Gabriel Winer & Elizabeth Wadell (ASCCC Open Educational Resources Initiative (OERI))

Literature Review Examples

UR Libraries subscription

What is a Literature Review?

The literature review is a written explanation by you, the author, of the research already done on the topic, question or issue at hand. What do we know (or not know) about this issue/topic/question?

  • A literature review provides a thorough background of the topic by giving your reader a guided overview of major findings and current gaps in what is known so far about the topic. 
  • The literature review is not a list (like an annotated bibliography) -- it is a narrative helping your reader understand the topic and where you will "stand" in the debate between scholars regarding the interpretation of meaning and understanding why things happen. Your literature review  helps your reader start to see the "camps" or "sides" within a debate, plus who studies the topic and their arguments. 
  • A good literature review should help the reader sense how you will answer your research question and should highlight the preceding arguments and evidence you think are most helpful in moving the topic forward.
  • The purpose of the literature review is to dive into the existing debates on the topic to learn about the various schools of thought and arguments, using your research question as an anchor. If you find something that doesn't help answer your question, you don't have to read (or include) it. That's the power of the question format: it helps you filter what to read and include in your literature review, and what to ignore.

How Do I Start?

Essentially you will need to:

  • Identify and evaluate relevant literature (books, journal articles, etc.) on your topic/question.
  • Figure out how to classify what you've gathered. You could do this by schools of thought, different answers to a question, the authors' disciplinary approaches, the research methods used, or many other ways.
  • Use those groupings to craft a narrative, or story, about the relevant literature on this topic. 
  • Remember to cite your sources properly! 
  • Research: Getting Started Visit this guide to learn more about finding and evaluating resources.
  • Literature Review: Synthesizing Multiple Sources (IUPUI Writing Center) An in-depth guide on organizing and synthesizing what you've read into a literature review.
  • Guide to Using a Synthesis Matrix (NCSU Writing and Speaking Tutorial Service) Overview of using a tool called a Synthesis Matrix to organize your literature review.
  • Synthesis Matrix Template (VCU Libraries) A word document from VCU Libraries that will help you create your own Synthesis Matrix.

Additional Tutorials and Resources

  • UR Writer's Web: Using Sources Guidance from the UR Writing Center on how to effectively use sources in your writing (which is what you're doing in your literature review!).
  • Write a Literature Review (VCU Libraries) "Lit Reviews 101" with links to helpful tools and resources, including powerpoint slides from a literature review workshop.
  • Literature Reviews (UNC Writing Center) Overview of the literature review process, including examples of different ways to organize a lit review.
  • “Ten Simple Rules for Writing a Literature Review.” Pautasso, Marco. “Ten Simple Rules for Writing a Literature Review.” PLOS Computational Biology, vol. 9, no. 7, July 2013, p. e1003149.
  • Writing the Literature Review Part I (University of Maryland University College) Video that explains more about what a literature review is and is not. Run time: 5:21.
  • Writing the Literature Review Part II (University of Maryland University College) Video about organizing your sources and the writing process. Run time: 7:40.
  • Writing a Literature Review (OWL @ Purdue)
  • << Previous: Annotated Bibliographies
  • Next: Zotero >>
  • Last Updated: Jan 31, 2024 5:09 PM
  • URL: https://libguides.richmond.edu/citingsources

Creative Commons License

Illustration

  • Dissertation & Thesis Guides
  • Basics of Dissertation & Thesis Writing
  • How to Write a Literature Review for Research: Guide, Structure & Template Examples
  • Speech Topics
  • Basics of Essay Writing
  • Essay Topics
  • Other Essays
  • Main Academic Essays
  • Research Paper Topics
  • Basics of Research Paper Writing
  • Miscellaneous
  • Chicago/ Turabian
  • Data & Statistics
  • Methodology
  • Admission Writing Tips
  • Admission Advice
  • Other Guides
  • Student Life
  • Studying Tips
  • Understanding Plagiarism
  • Academic Writing Tips

Illustration

  • Essay Guides
  • Research Paper Guides
  • Formatting Guides
  • Basics of Research Process
  • Admission Guides

How to Write a Literature Review for Research: Guide, Structure & Template Examples

Literature_Review

Table of contents

Illustration

Use our free Readability checker

A literature review is a critical analysis of published research on a particular topic. It involves reviewing and analyzing a range of sources, such as academic articles, books, and reports. Students conduct a literature review before writing a research paper or dissertation to gain an understanding of the existing knowledge and recognize areas for further exploration.

Evaluating scholarly works is a crucial aspect of academic work because it establishes the foundation for an inquiry and uncovers new information or gaps in studies. Thus, it is essential to develop and structure it correctly.  In this guide you will find:

  • A detailed definition
  • Elements of a good literary review
  • How to do a literature review
  • Examples of literature review template.

Read on to explore the structure and straightforward steps for assessing existing sources on your topic.  In case you are looking for a quick solution, consider giving our literature review services a try. 

What Is a Literature Review: Definition

Before delving further, let’s first define what is a literature review in research. As a researcher, you might need to objectively synthesize, explore, and evaluate existing studies conducted by others. A literature review helps you identify gaps or areas that require further investigation. It boils down to analyzing and making sense of a massive body of knowledge. It is crucial to be critical during the entire process as it is the most effective approach to engaging with texts. You need to objectively identify their strengths and weaknesses, and convey your positive or negative views.   In other words, literature reviews are about deducing specific sources and comparing relevant studies to find similarities and differences. This process may reveal new perspectives or offer a thorough outline for further developments in a specific field. It can also inform readers about the relevance and validity of existing documents to the statement of the problem . You conduct a lit review to get an overview of concepts surrounding your subject, keep up to date with trends in your field, and enhance your credibility. Besides, it offers a solid background for a research paper , thesis or dissertation .

Literature review definition

What Is the Purpose of a Literature Review?

A literature review must highlight your overall knowledge of a research subject and help you develop an argument, mostly by responding to a specific question. It is not just a summary of what you have read.  Commonly, the purpose of a literature review is to help you:

  • Understand and convey the current state of literature on your research topic .
  • Find adequate documents on your subject to form your perspective.
  • Create a framework for your paper based on research goals.
  • Identify gaps in studies and develop novel research questions .
  • Select appropriate methods by locating tried and tested techniques.

Note that keeping all these points in mind is important to get the most from an evaluation process when conducting the review.

Types of Literature Reviews

There are various types of literature reviews, each with specific expectations in terms of depth, structure, length, and scope. Here are the main ones:

  • Stand-alone literature review. This type involves a comprehensive analysis of prior research related to a specific question. Here, your task is to evaluate and compare existing studies, identify trends, and recognize gaps, weaknesses, and controversies in the field.
  • Literature review for a journal article. In this case, the analysis of literature focuses on providing background information for an inquiry being conducted. It is usually placed in an introduction or combined with the discussion of results.
  • Literature review assignment. Students may be assigned a selective project to familiarize themselves with a theme and studies in their field. The intention could also be to identify gaps in the current knowledge base to suggest new questions, develop a theoretical framework in research , or determine a suitable methodology for future exploration. This type deals with a small part of research on a subject and stands as a complete work.
  • Research paper literature review. The main objective here is to facilitate scholars in gathering, condensing, synthesizing, and examining current research on a specific issue. This is particularly beneficial to academics who are investigating a new area of study or seeking guidance on topics that have not yet been thoroughly explored.
  • Thesis or dissertation literature review. This is a separate chapter placed after the Ph.D. thesis introduction and before the dissertation methodology section. It helps the author understand what has already been studied and what gaps exist in the current knowledge. By analyzing the existing research, a researcher can identify opportunities for further investigation and ensure that their study is original and significant.

How Long Should a Literature Review Be?

If the instructions for a task do not specify the required length of the literature review, there are some guidelines to consider. In general, it would be enough to have 20-25% of the total size of your work as an analysis part. Typically, the analysis section of the review should constitute around 20-25% of the total length of the work. However, several factors, such as the project purpose, intended audience, type, and scope, may affect how long a literature review is. For example, a dissertation usually requires an extensive literature evaluation section. The best assessments, however, are usually not less than 2 pages long.  If you are uncertain about the appropriate length, refer to the table below for guidance. Literature Review Length in Different Projects

Unlock your academic potential and save time by letting the experts handle your work! Buy literature review from our experts and receive a top-quality work tailored to your needs.

Features of a Good Literature Review

Regardless of your work’s nature, composing a good literature review is a laborious process that many students rightfully find challenging. This is because you may need to go through numerous studies and identify gaps, recognize frameworks, cite sources, and ensure coherence. Therefore, to develop a decent piece it is essential to consider the characteristics described below. The best work:

  • Is more than just a list of relevant studies: you should critically examine others’ ideas and assess how they are presented.
  • Considers a variety of reliable and applicable sources: a scientific literature review should demonstrate that you are familiar with relevant readings on your topic. Thus, ensure you have covered important, broad, latest, and pertinent texts. Such an approach enhances the depth of your evaluation and highlights various viewpoints.
  • Demonstrates an awareness of values and theories underpinning the work: in the first place, you must understand why exactly you are conducting the evaluation. If you don’t know the purpose and function of the process, you will not write effectively.
  • Relates papers to each other by comparing and contrasting them: a literature review in research moves past simple descriptions of what others have written. Rather, it entails connecting, finding differences and similarities, and interpreting concepts.
  • Offers personal reactions and opinions to manuscripts: after comparing, contrasting, and critiquing others’ works, you should present your own interpretation and analysis.
  • Showcases research gaps that your study will deal with and help address.
  • Applies appropriate linking/transition words such as “similarly”, “however”, “also”, “contend”, “conclude”, “argue”, and “assert”: this helps you group together related notions, highlight contrasting views, and introduce others’ opinions or texts while remaining objective throughout the analysis.

literature review characteristics

What to Include in a Literature Review?

At this point, you understand the definitions, purpose, and features of a literature review. Now you need to present information effectively. Like in any other formal paper, your work must have a basic structure comprising an introduction, body, and conclusion.  But what does it look like? The layout goes beyond these sections because you must also consider how your themes and arguments will be organized.  Here is a detailed description of the three main parts of a literature review:

  • Introduction Your first section should be brief, direct, and focused. Explain the main themes or topics to be analyzed, the arguments you will present, and the underlying reasons for your claims.
  • Body In this section, conduct a comprehensive evaluation of the selected sources and organize them using a specific approach, such as themes or topics. Make sure to present your arguments clearly, linking them to studies that support or contradict your assessment. Remember to include viewpoints that disagree with your position to strengthen your evaluation. Cite the works of various authors you are critically analyzing, and limit the use of direct quotes. Instead, paraphrase and include references.
  • Conclusion Summarize your literature review by highlighting the conclusions drawn from your analysis. You can restate gaps in knowledge, explain how your study will address them, and recommend future research needed on the topic.

Look at the example of the literature review template below to learn more.

Literature Review Template

Read more: Literature Review Outline

How to Structure a Literature Review?

Once you are ready to begin writing a literature review, it is necessary to think about how you will organize information. This helps avoid the risk of your work turning into a loose sequence of summaries instead of a logical and integrated analysis.  A literature review structure should be chosen based on the style used in your body section. Here are the major approaches you can use:

  • Thematic This approach involves organizing your analysis around themes, topics, or issues. It is particularly useful when focusing on a single overarching subject and enables you to highlight critical debates within sub-themes.
  • Chronological Literature reviews using this format organize studies based on when they were published, typically moving from older to newer works to explore the topic's development over time. It is important to analyze sources by considering any debates and turning points that influenced the subject and offer your interpretation.
  • Methodological This design focuses on the methods other researchers used. A review of literature using this layout considers the perspective from which a particular theme was examined or the procedures used to answer a specific question. It may use qualitative, quantitative, or other strategies within these two broad techniques.
  • Theoretical A theoretical approach involves a systematic and critical examination of existing theories, models, and frameworks related to the research topic or question. This approach helps to establish the context, identify gaps, and provide a foundation for your own research.

Approaches to structuring a literature review

How to Write a Literature Review?

If you are still wondering how to write a literature review for a research paper, thesis or dissertation, this guideline will help you get started. While you have learned about important elements such as structuring and organization, you may still need guidance on how to establish your foundation for creating your review.  The following sections provide easy-to-understand explanations on how to write a lit review. Below are 7 steps you must follow to develop a decent paper.

How to write a literature review in 7 steps

1. Select a Topic and Narrow It Down

As you begin reviewing literature, it is vital to get your focus correct. Depending on your field of study, the selected topic must be:

  • Relevant and important Explore a crucial concern in your field so that people will be interested in your work and you will have sufficient material to base your project on.
  • Interesting This is essential because learning how to write a good literature review starts with being inquisitive since you can’t investigate something that doesn’t arouse your curiosity.
  • Well defined this helps you include only relevant publications to make your paper helpful.
  • Narrow Your theme must be specific yet researched enough to allow for an in-depth analysis. Broad issues usually necessitate a large number of studies, which will be impossible to explore meaningfully.

2. Search for Pertinent Literature

After having selected a topic for your research literature review, you need to search for studies. As you do this research, you'll want to take note of the keywords and phrases that appear frequently in the articles. These keywords can be used to create a list of search terms that you'll use to find additional articles on your topic. To ensure that your search terms are effective, you should try to identify the most important keywords and phrases related to your topic. These might be the names of key researchers, conceptual frameworks , theories, or techniques related to your topic. Consider the headings that the documents have been tagged with and words occurring in abstracts and titles. You can then organize your phrases into blocks based on the main ideas. Once you have identified the relevant keywords for your scientific literature review, it's time to search for articles. To do this, you'll need to choose at least two credible databases to search for good articles. Popular options include:

  • Google Scholar

But there may be other databases that are more appropriate for your specific topic. When searching across different databases, it's important to use a uniform search strategy. This means combining your search terms using " OR " and " AND " to create a block of related terms. You can then type this block into the basic search box or use the advanced search feature, enclosing the terms in parentheses. This makes it easier to find specific articles. For example, consider these keywords:

Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, adolescents, young adults, and management. The search term block would be “(Crohn’s disease OR ulcerative colitis) AND (young adults OR adolescent) AND management”.

Since the generated results may contain irrelevant or unreliable sources, ensure that you select only dependable ones. This is a key skill to develop when conducting a literature review because it allows you to choose the best articles to support your arguments.

3. Analyze and Choose Relevant Sources

After completing your search for articles and selecting databases, it's time to review the sources and choose which ones to include in your lit review. Focus on studies that are relevant to your topic and meet any other inclusion criteria.  To determine whether an article is relevant to your project, you'll need to read it carefully and grasp the arguments presented. Take notes as you read, recording interesting facts, main points, and any thoughts you have about the article. This will help you remember which author made which arguments, your impressions of the article, and any relationships you identified between different sources. As you read, try to answer these questions:

  • What is the main argument of the article?
  • How does the author support their argument?
  • What is the research question or objective of the study?
  • What research methods were used, and were they appropriate for the research question?
  • What were the main findings or results of the study?
  • Were the results statistically significant, and were the conclusions supported by the data?
  • Are there any limitations or weaknesses to the study that should be considered?
  • Are the authors qualified to conduct this research?
  • Are there any conflicts of interest or biases that may affect the study's findings?
  • Is the article well-written and easy to understand?
  • Are the sources cited in the article reliable and relevant to the topic?

Remember that you can only start to write your literature review after going through all your manuscripts. Therefore, creating a rough draft is essential as this gives you a general idea of the volume of available material available. While conducting a literature review, you must examine the quality of all sources critically. This typically entails using a checklist or table to evaluate aspects such as methods, results, and presentation. An example of a template to assess sources for a literature review is provided below. It contains questions and criteria that assist in locating bias, errors, or flaws. Template for Literature Evaluation

Template for Evaluation of Existing Literature

4. Group the Sources by Categories

To write a review of literature, you need to sort your sources. After reading and evaluating your articles, you should have a general idea of the main achievements, major debates, themes, trends, and outstanding issues/questions. The next step is to organize your sources into logical categories. Good research literature reviews are systematic and consistent. You may choose to arrange your sources by topic, research methodology , geographic location, or other relevant criteria. It's also helpful to use subheadings within each category to further organize your sources. As you group your sources, be sure to consider how they relate to one another and to the overall research question or topic. You may find that certain sources address multiple themes or issues. In this case you'll need to decide which category is the most appropriate for each source. Remember that the purpose of organizing your sources is to provide a clear and coherent structure for your literature review. By grouping your sources into logical categories, you make it easier for your readers to follow your arguments and understand the connections between different sources. Here is an example of how to group sources by categories.

Example of how to group existing sources by categories

5. Build Connection Between Your Ideas and the Literature

To complete this step of the literature review, you need to connect your research, arguments, or ideas to the texts you've gathered. Begin by using your research question to identify connections between your sources and insights into your findings. Match your key concepts with the central points in each article to establish associations between topics. Be aware that you may see differences or contradictions between readings. To ensure that you're ready to write your literature review, use your key concepts as headings in your notes to easily locate articles that address specific themes. Observe and make explicit the relationships that emerge between your arguments and the manuscripts. These connections will be useful when structuring your work and selecting the papers to include in your project.

6. Write a Literature Review

At this point, you can start a literature review because you have already synthesized relevant works in your mind and recorded the details. With that information in mind, it is time to begin composing the actual analysis and thoroughly creating each of the components of a literature review.  Initiate the process by highlighting your topic and your overall argument or view.  Just like any other academic essay , your project must be well-structured and contain an introduction, main part, and conclusion. Consider the following explanations on how to write a literature review for a dissertation, thesis, or research paper.

Literature Review Introduction

The introduction section should provide the necessary background information and clarify the purpose of your analysis.  Begin by broadly announcing the topic and providing contextual details of major concepts and terms, such as what is already known about the subject and how the field has developed. Next, provide specific and relevant information about the issue and explain why it is important or why readers should engage with your work. Finally, describe the organization, scope, and aim or highlight the key points that will be discussed. Look at the following example to see how you can write an introduction for a literature review. Literature Review Introduction Example

The concentration of carbon emissions has been increasing throughout the years. The amount was 290 ppm before the industrial revolution but rose to 450 ppm afterward (Block, 2019, Wbeltz, 2020). These changes will affect the global climate significantly by influencing mean temperatures and precipitation levels. In turn, this will put pressure on global agricultural production and affect the growth speed, crop quality, and yield of staple foods like wheat (Wbeltz, 2020). Since over 90% of people worldwide depend on this crop, it must survive any climate changes. Thus, the purpose of this review is to evaluate how carbon emissions will affect global wheat production and identify any mitigation measures. The paper will explore wheat growth, yield, and quality in the face of elevated carbon levels.

Lit Review Body

The body section of your literature review is where you analyze relevant studies related to your topic. It is essential to organize your analysis coherently and logically.  Identify important sub-topics and structuring them to support your arguments. Using subheadings under major themes can help to order and focus your work effectively.  While writing the body of your literature review, you should critically examine texts.  This involves recognizing gaps, points of agreement or disagreement, and key subjects.  You can structure this section chronologically, thematically, theoretically, or methodologically, depending on your research question and the nature of your sources. Remember to use reliable and accurate references to support your arguments. Consider this example: Example of a Literature Review Paper Body Section

Various studies show that elevated carbon emissions result in increased crop growth. Adams (2018) attributes this to improved photosynthesis in leaves when exposed to high carbon levels in the air. Other studies argue that carbon enriches crops, accelerates and amplifies their productivity, and causes improved growth (Hog, 2020). In an experimental study, Li (2019) compared crop growth under high carbon conditions and found that a 500 ppm level enhances growth by nearly 8%. Nevertheless, high carbon levels also result in other effects such as high temperatures (Daley, 2019). In turn, this leads to short growth periods or cycles. Thus, an increase in temperature while accelerating the time for growth adversely affects crop quality (Adams, 2020).

Literature Review Conclusion

The concluding section of a literature review should show how you addressed the topic or achieved your purpose. You should then mention the major arguments you examined before identifying their implications in the broader field. Remember to recommend any applicable future research. Also, keep in mind these things when writing your literature review conclusion:

  • Avoid in-text citations.
  • Do not include new information.
  • Highlight main ideas raised in the body paragraphs.
  • Give your general view of the studies and explain your conclusions and underlying reasons.

Here is a sample literature review conclusion. Literature Review Conclusion Example

The review aimed to explore the effect of elevated carbon levels on global wheat production. Assessments of effects on the crop’s growth, yield, and quality were conducted to understand how changes in climate due to increasing carbon emissions will affect global agriculture. Findings demonstrate a definite impact of these changes on the aforementioned aspects. In particular, elevated carbon levels lead to enhanced growth, shorter growth cycle, and low and poor quality yields. It is suggested that future studies should further explore the role of other factors such as soil health and fertilizer use in explaining these effects because modern agricultural techniques are considered to harm soil quality.

7. Proofread and Revise Your Review of Literature

Once you are done with reviewing your literature, give yourself some time off and then come back to edit it. Attend to its narrative and flow by ensuring that all parts fit together and transition smoothly from one paragraph to another. Improve any poor connections, revise to enhance clarity, or re-write sentences to eradicate construction mistakes. You can then give your scientific literature review to a colleague or friend, who is not an expert in the field, and ask their opinion about the message of your overall paper. Also, seek responses from your supervisor if possible. Use any feedback you get to better your project further. At this point, you understand how to do a lit review. Additional tips are provided below.

Literature Review Format

Besides following the aforementioned steps, you must also consider how to format a literature review. Be sure to check with your institution or target journal about style guidelines and the specific rules of your work’s layout.  Each style has instructions regarding the major sections, in-text citations, and a literature reference page.  For example, an APA paper format is based on an “author-date” approach, in which the author’s name and publication year are cited inside the document. A reference list is included on your paper’s last page. APA literature review format is dominant in the sciences, psychology, and education fields.  In contrast, an MLA format paper follows a “researcher-page number” style accompanied by works cited page, which is common in the humanities.  A Chicago style paper requires footnotes or endnotes with a bibliography section for all sources. It is mostly used in fine arts, history, and business disciplines.

Literature Review Examples

At this point, you are ready to start writing your review. Before proceeding, it is advisable to consider an example of literature review in a research paper, thesis or dissertation in your field. Thoroughly read the samples you find to get familiar with aspects such as organization, argument presentation, and referencing sources correctly. This is an effective way of learning ways of framing and structuring your work. Additionally, going through how to write a literature review example helps you understand what is expected in this task. Also, when reading these samples, pay attention to the academic language used. Look at the following free examples: Literature review example (APA 7th Edition)

Illustration

Literature review for research paper example

Thesis/dissertation literature review example

Tips on Writing a Literature Review in Research

Now that you have a well-rounded idea about how to write a literature review, read the recommendation described here as they remind you of essential points. Before proceeding, remember that you should include sources that are associated with your work directly. This helps you avoid frustrating and distracting readers or making them lose sight of your purpose. Also, once you start writing your review, stick to the previously created outline and keep these tips in mind:

  • Analyze Do not just list studies, rather, examine them critically to find similarities, differences, relationships, or contradictions.
  • Time management Take your time to select a topic, gather literature, evaluate, read, and write. The last part should take about half of your time, while the remainder is for the other tasks.
  • Revise Anticipate revising countless times before delivering a final version.
  • Presentation A literature review in a research paper, thesis or dissertation must be specific and provide concrete examples. For example, rather than “this” use “this result”. First-person references should be avoided because they signal unsupported arguments. Everything written should have a reason. Also, use short paragraphs as they are easier to read. Additionally, structure your work with headings, subheadings, and subsections to make it flow.
  • Paraphrase Avoid relying too much on quoting directly from sources or one researcher. Rather, paraphrase and compare authors between themselves and with your ideas.
  • References Give credit to every outside idea or language by citing their work in your paper.

Literature Review Checklist

Now that you are through with composing your literature review, it is essential to be sure that your work is ready for delivery or publication. Therefore, you must take your time and reflect on the following questions to ensure that every section is covered thoroughly. Consider this final checklist:

Final Thoughts on Writing a Scientific Literature Review

We have provided you with all the necessary information on how to write a review of literature. Follow our step-by-step guide to identify the right keywords, evaluate sources, and select credible and relevant articles. Make sure to structure your writing clearly and logically using the key components of a literature review that we have outlined for you.  To help you further, we have included examples of literature reviews for you to check. With these simplified requirements, you are ready to start practicing and creating your own literature reviews. Remember, practice is essential to mastering this type of writing, so keep it up!

Illustration

If you are looking for some quick solution, we got you covered! Go to StudyCrumb and ask our professional writers for help. Just leave a ‘ write my paper ’ notice along with requirements and get high-quality work that will bring you an A.

FAQ About Literature Reviews

1. what is a literature review in a research paper.

The literature review of a research paper is a type of academic essay that analyzes and evaluates previous or existing studies on a topic. It aims to survey readings, synthesize, and digest the obtained information. It also critically explores the data by identifying gaps in knowledge, demonstrating limitations in manuscripts, examining contradictions, and determining areas for additional research. The final piece is presented logically.

2. Where does a literature review go in a research paper?

A literature review generally comes after an introduction and before the methodology chapter of dissertations. Here, it is used to analyze relevant scholarship about a topic, ground your research paper in a specific field, and inform your data collection methods and analysis procedures.

3. How to start a literature review?

Start a literature review by describing the background of what you will analyze in your body paragraphs. There is no need to be comprehensive here. Rather, show that you clearly understand your paper’s scope. In particular, begin by conveying the established ideas and knowledge on the subject being explored to your audience.

4. What is the difference between a literature review and an annotated bibliography?

The main difference between the two is that literature reviews focus on providing an overview and analysis of existing research on a particular theme. They aim to identify the strengths and weaknesses of arguments and draw conclusions. In contrast, the purpose of an annotated bibliography is to collect sources for a specific project and offer summaries of what they are about.

5. What is the importance of a literature review?

A literature review is important because:

  • It establishes a rapport with your readers They will trust you because you have examined and analyzed facts appropriately.
  • Helps researchers deliver original work The entire process of conducting the assessment assists you to evade repeating something done by someone else.
  • It improves your research focus Synthesizing and analyzing studies can guide and shape your investigation in new directions by providing novel insights and views on a theme.

Joe_Eckel_1_ab59a03630.jpg

Joe Eckel is an expert on Dissertations writing. He makes sure that each student gets precious insights on composing A-grade academic writing.

You may also like

Literature_Review_Outline

  • checkbox I stated the reason for conducting my project and outlined its scope.
  • checkbox I chose relevant and credible studies.
  • checkbox I have identified recent trends.
  • checkbox I have logically presented a review of literature in my research paper or dissertation.
  • checkbox I organized my information based on themes/issues/methods/theories.
  • checkbox I have located gaps in research and literature.
  • checkbox I displayed how details supporting a topic relate to its significance.
  • checkbox I wrote my literature review critically.
  • checkbox I have demonstrated instances when findings contradicted each other or were inconclusive.
  • checkbox I explored designs, theories, questions, models, and hypotheses.
  • checkbox I highlighted each source’s importance to my theme.
  • checkbox I have included an introduction, body, and conclusion.
  • checkbox I have checked for grammatical issues.
  • - Google Chrome

Intended for healthcare professionals

  • Access provided by Google Indexer
  • My email alerts
  • BMA member login
  • Username * Password * Forgot your log in details? Need to activate BMA Member Log In Log in via OpenAthens Log in via your institution

Home

Search form

  • Advanced search
  • Search responses
  • Search blogs
  • The PRISMA 2020...

The PRISMA 2020 statement: an updated guideline for reporting systematic reviews

PRISMA 2020 explanation and elaboration: updated guidance and exemplars for reporting systematic reviews

  • Related content
  • Peer review
  • Matthew J Page , senior research fellow 1 ,
  • Joanne E McKenzie , associate professor 1 ,
  • Patrick M Bossuyt , professor 2 ,
  • Isabelle Boutron , professor 3 ,
  • Tammy C Hoffmann , professor 4 ,
  • Cynthia D Mulrow , professor 5 ,
  • Larissa Shamseer , doctoral student 6 ,
  • Jennifer M Tetzlaff , research product specialist 7 ,
  • Elie A Akl , professor 8 ,
  • Sue E Brennan , senior research fellow 1 ,
  • Roger Chou , professor 9 ,
  • Julie Glanville , associate director 10 ,
  • Jeremy M Grimshaw , professor 11 ,
  • Asbjørn Hróbjartsson , professor 12 ,
  • Manoj M Lalu , associate scientist and assistant professor 13 ,
  • Tianjing Li , associate professor 14 ,
  • Elizabeth W Loder , professor 15 ,
  • Evan Mayo-Wilson , associate professor 16 ,
  • Steve McDonald , senior research fellow 1 ,
  • Luke A McGuinness , research associate 17 ,
  • Lesley A Stewart , professor and director 18 ,
  • James Thomas , professor 19 ,
  • Andrea C Tricco , scientist and associate professor 20 ,
  • Vivian A Welch , associate professor 21 ,
  • Penny Whiting , associate professor 17 ,
  • David Moher , director and professor 22
  • 1 School of Public Health and Preventive Medicine, Monash University, Melbourne, Australia
  • 2 Department of Clinical Epidemiology, Biostatistics and Bioinformatics, Amsterdam University Medical Centres, University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, Netherlands
  • 3 Université de Paris, Centre of Epidemiology and Statistics (CRESS), Inserm, F 75004 Paris, France
  • 4 Institute for Evidence-Based Healthcare, Faculty of Health Sciences and Medicine, Bond University, Gold Coast, Australia
  • 5 University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, San Antonio, Texas, USA; Annals of Internal Medicine
  • 6 Knowledge Translation Program, Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute, Toronto, Canada; School of Epidemiology and Public Health, Faculty of Medicine, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Canada
  • 7 Evidence Partners, Ottawa, Canada
  • 8 Clinical Research Institute, American University of Beirut, Beirut, Lebanon; Department of Health Research Methods, Evidence, and Impact, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
  • 9 Department of Medical Informatics and Clinical Epidemiology, Oregon Health & Science University, Portland, Oregon, USA
  • 10 York Health Economics Consortium (YHEC Ltd), University of York, York, UK
  • 11 Clinical Epidemiology Program, Ottawa Hospital Research Institute, Ottawa, Canada; School of Epidemiology and Public Health, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Canada; Department of Medicine, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Canada
  • 12 Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine Odense (CEBMO) and Cochrane Denmark, Department of Clinical Research, University of Southern Denmark, Odense, Denmark; Open Patient data Exploratory Network (OPEN), Odense University Hospital, Odense, Denmark
  • 13 Department of Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine, The Ottawa Hospital, Ottawa, Canada; Clinical Epidemiology Program, Blueprint Translational Research Group, Ottawa Hospital Research Institute, Ottawa, Canada; Regenerative Medicine Program, Ottawa Hospital Research Institute, Ottawa, Canada
  • 14 Department of Ophthalmology, School of Medicine, University of Colorado Denver, Denver, Colorado, United States; Department of Epidemiology, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, Maryland, USA
  • 15 Division of Headache, Department of Neurology, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Head of Research, The BMJ , London, UK
  • 16 Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Indiana University School of Public Health-Bloomington, Bloomington, Indiana, USA
  • 17 Population Health Sciences, Bristol Medical School, University of Bristol, Bristol, UK
  • 18 Centre for Reviews and Dissemination, University of York, York, UK
  • 19 EPPI-Centre, UCL Social Research Institute, University College London, London, UK
  • 20 Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute of St. Michael's Hospital, Unity Health Toronto, Toronto, Canada; Epidemiology Division of the Dalla Lana School of Public Health and the Institute of Health Management, Policy, and Evaluation, University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada; Queen's Collaboration for Health Care Quality Joanna Briggs Institute Centre of Excellence, Queen's University, Kingston, Canada
  • 21 Methods Centre, Bruyère Research Institute, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada; School of Epidemiology and Public Health, Faculty of Medicine, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Canada
  • 22 Centre for Journalology, Clinical Epidemiology Program, Ottawa Hospital Research Institute, Ottawa, Canada; School of Epidemiology and Public Health, Faculty of Medicine, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Canada
  • Correspondence to: M J Page matthew.page{at}monash.edu
  • Accepted 4 January 2021

The Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) statement, published in 2009, was designed to help systematic reviewers transparently report why the review was done, what the authors did, and what they found. Over the past decade, advances in systematic review methodology and terminology have necessitated an update to the guideline. The PRISMA 2020 statement replaces the 2009 statement and includes new reporting guidance that reflects advances in methods to identify, select, appraise, and synthesise studies. The structure and presentation of the items have been modified to facilitate implementation. In this article, we present the PRISMA 2020 27-item checklist, an expanded checklist that details reporting recommendations for each item, the PRISMA 2020 abstract checklist, and the revised flow diagrams for original and updated reviews.

Systematic reviews serve many critical roles. They can provide syntheses of the state of knowledge in a field, from which future research priorities can be identified; they can address questions that otherwise could not be answered by individual studies; they can identify problems in primary research that should be rectified in future studies; and they can generate or evaluate theories about how or why phenomena occur. Systematic reviews therefore generate various types of knowledge for different users of reviews (such as patients, healthcare providers, researchers, and policy makers). 1 2 To ensure a systematic review is valuable to users, authors should prepare a transparent, complete, and accurate account of why the review was done, what they did (such as how studies were identified and selected) and what they found (such as characteristics of contributing studies and results of meta-analyses). Up-to-date reporting guidance facilitates authors achieving this. 3

The Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) statement published in 2009 (hereafter referred to as PRISMA 2009) 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 is a reporting guideline designed to address poor reporting of systematic reviews. 11 The PRISMA 2009 statement comprised a checklist of 27 items recommended for reporting in systematic reviews and an “explanation and elaboration” paper 12 13 14 15 16 providing additional reporting guidance for each item, along with exemplars of reporting. The recommendations have been widely endorsed and adopted, as evidenced by its co-publication in multiple journals, citation in over 60 000 reports (Scopus, August 2020), endorsement from almost 200 journals and systematic review organisations, and adoption in various disciplines. Evidence from observational studies suggests that use of the PRISMA 2009 statement is associated with more complete reporting of systematic reviews, 17 18 19 20 although more could be done to improve adherence to the guideline. 21

Many innovations in the conduct of systematic reviews have occurred since publication of the PRISMA 2009 statement. For example, technological advances have enabled the use of natural language processing and machine learning to identify relevant evidence, 22 23 24 methods have been proposed to synthesise and present findings when meta-analysis is not possible or appropriate, 25 26 27 and new methods have been developed to assess the risk of bias in results of included studies. 28 29 Evidence on sources of bias in systematic reviews has accrued, culminating in the development of new tools to appraise the conduct of systematic reviews. 30 31 Terminology used to describe particular review processes has also evolved, as in the shift from assessing “quality” to assessing “certainty” in the body of evidence. 32 In addition, the publishing landscape has transformed, with multiple avenues now available for registering and disseminating systematic review protocols, 33 34 disseminating reports of systematic reviews, and sharing data and materials, such as preprint servers and publicly accessible repositories. To capture these advances in the reporting of systematic reviews necessitated an update to the PRISMA 2009 statement.

Summary points

To ensure a systematic review is valuable to users, authors should prepare a transparent, complete, and accurate account of why the review was done, what they did, and what they found

The PRISMA 2020 statement provides updated reporting guidance for systematic reviews that reflects advances in methods to identify, select, appraise, and synthesise studies

The PRISMA 2020 statement consists of a 27-item checklist, an expanded checklist that details reporting recommendations for each item, the PRISMA 2020 abstract checklist, and revised flow diagrams for original and updated reviews

We anticipate that the PRISMA 2020 statement will benefit authors, editors, and peer reviewers of systematic reviews, and different users of reviews, including guideline developers, policy makers, healthcare providers, patients, and other stakeholders

Development of PRISMA 2020

A complete description of the methods used to develop PRISMA 2020 is available elsewhere. 35 We identified PRISMA 2009 items that were often reported incompletely by examining the results of studies investigating the transparency of reporting of published reviews. 17 21 36 37 We identified possible modifications to the PRISMA 2009 statement by reviewing 60 documents providing reporting guidance for systematic reviews (including reporting guidelines, handbooks, tools, and meta-research studies). 38 These reviews of the literature were used to inform the content of a survey with suggested possible modifications to the 27 items in PRISMA 2009 and possible additional items. Respondents were asked whether they believed we should keep each PRISMA 2009 item as is, modify it, or remove it, and whether we should add each additional item. Systematic review methodologists and journal editors were invited to complete the online survey (110 of 220 invited responded). We discussed proposed content and wording of the PRISMA 2020 statement, as informed by the review and survey results, at a 21-member, two-day, in-person meeting in September 2018 in Edinburgh, Scotland. Throughout 2019 and 2020, we circulated an initial draft and five revisions of the checklist and explanation and elaboration paper to co-authors for feedback. In April 2020, we invited 22 systematic reviewers who had expressed interest in providing feedback on the PRISMA 2020 checklist to share their views (via an online survey) on the layout and terminology used in a preliminary version of the checklist. Feedback was received from 15 individuals and considered by the first author, and any revisions deemed necessary were incorporated before the final version was approved and endorsed by all co-authors.

The PRISMA 2020 statement

Scope of the guideline.

The PRISMA 2020 statement has been designed primarily for systematic reviews of studies that evaluate the effects of health interventions, irrespective of the design of the included studies. However, the checklist items are applicable to reports of systematic reviews evaluating other interventions (such as social or educational interventions), and many items are applicable to systematic reviews with objectives other than evaluating interventions (such as evaluating aetiology, prevalence, or prognosis). PRISMA 2020 is intended for use in systematic reviews that include synthesis (such as pairwise meta-analysis or other statistical synthesis methods) or do not include synthesis (for example, because only one eligible study is identified). The PRISMA 2020 items are relevant for mixed-methods systematic reviews (which include quantitative and qualitative studies), but reporting guidelines addressing the presentation and synthesis of qualitative data should also be consulted. 39 40 PRISMA 2020 can be used for original systematic reviews, updated systematic reviews, or continually updated (“living”) systematic reviews. However, for updated and living systematic reviews, there may be some additional considerations that need to be addressed. Where there is relevant content from other reporting guidelines, we reference these guidelines within the items in the explanation and elaboration paper 41 (such as PRISMA-Search 42 in items 6 and 7, Synthesis without meta-analysis (SWiM) reporting guideline 27 in item 13d). Box 1 includes a glossary of terms used throughout the PRISMA 2020 statement.

Glossary of terms

Systematic review —A review that uses explicit, systematic methods to collate and synthesise findings of studies that address a clearly formulated question 43

Statistical synthesis —The combination of quantitative results of two or more studies. This encompasses meta-analysis of effect estimates (described below) and other methods, such as combining P values, calculating the range and distribution of observed effects, and vote counting based on the direction of effect (see McKenzie and Brennan 25 for a description of each method)

Meta-analysis of effect estimates —A statistical technique used to synthesise results when study effect estimates and their variances are available, yielding a quantitative summary of results 25

Outcome —An event or measurement collected for participants in a study (such as quality of life, mortality)

Result —The combination of a point estimate (such as a mean difference, risk ratio, or proportion) and a measure of its precision (such as a confidence/credible interval) for a particular outcome

Report —A document (paper or electronic) supplying information about a particular study. It could be a journal article, preprint, conference abstract, study register entry, clinical study report, dissertation, unpublished manuscript, government report, or any other document providing relevant information

Record —The title or abstract (or both) of a report indexed in a database or website (such as a title or abstract for an article indexed in Medline). Records that refer to the same report (such as the same journal article) are “duplicates”; however, records that refer to reports that are merely similar (such as a similar abstract submitted to two different conferences) should be considered unique.

Study —An investigation, such as a clinical trial, that includes a defined group of participants and one or more interventions and outcomes. A “study” might have multiple reports. For example, reports could include the protocol, statistical analysis plan, baseline characteristics, results for the primary outcome, results for harms, results for secondary outcomes, and results for additional mediator and moderator analyses

PRISMA 2020 is not intended to guide systematic review conduct, for which comprehensive resources are available. 43 44 45 46 However, familiarity with PRISMA 2020 is useful when planning and conducting systematic reviews to ensure that all recommended information is captured. PRISMA 2020 should not be used to assess the conduct or methodological quality of systematic reviews; other tools exist for this purpose. 30 31 Furthermore, PRISMA 2020 is not intended to inform the reporting of systematic review protocols, for which a separate statement is available (PRISMA for Protocols (PRISMA-P) 2015 statement 47 48 ). Finally, extensions to the PRISMA 2009 statement have been developed to guide reporting of network meta-analyses, 49 meta-analyses of individual participant data, 50 systematic reviews of harms, 51 systematic reviews of diagnostic test accuracy studies, 52 and scoping reviews 53 ; for these types of reviews we recommend authors report their review in accordance with the recommendations in PRISMA 2020 along with the guidance specific to the extension.

How to use PRISMA 2020

The PRISMA 2020 statement (including the checklists, explanation and elaboration, and flow diagram) replaces the PRISMA 2009 statement, which should no longer be used. Box 2 summarises noteworthy changes from the PRISMA 2009 statement. The PRISMA 2020 checklist includes seven sections with 27 items, some of which include sub-items ( table 1 ). A checklist for journal and conference abstracts for systematic reviews is included in PRISMA 2020. This abstract checklist is an update of the 2013 PRISMA for Abstracts statement, 54 reflecting new and modified content in PRISMA 2020 ( table 2 ). A template PRISMA flow diagram is provided, which can be modified depending on whether the systematic review is original or updated ( fig 1 ).

Noteworthy changes to the PRISMA 2009 statement

Inclusion of the abstract reporting checklist within PRISMA 2020 (see item #2 and table 2 ).

Movement of the ‘Protocol and registration’ item from the start of the Methods section of the checklist to a new Other section, with addition of a sub-item recommending authors describe amendments to information provided at registration or in the protocol (see item #24a-24c).

Modification of the ‘Search’ item to recommend authors present full search strategies for all databases, registers and websites searched, not just at least one database (see item #7).

Modification of the ‘Study selection’ item in the Methods section to emphasise the reporting of how many reviewers screened each record and each report retrieved, whether they worked independently, and if applicable, details of automation tools used in the process (see item #8).

Addition of a sub-item to the ‘Data items’ item recommending authors report how outcomes were defined, which results were sought, and methods for selecting a subset of results from included studies (see item #10a).

Splitting of the ‘Synthesis of results’ item in the Methods section into six sub-items recommending authors describe: the processes used to decide which studies were eligible for each synthesis; any methods required to prepare the data for synthesis; any methods used to tabulate or visually display results of individual studies and syntheses; any methods used to synthesise results; any methods used to explore possible causes of heterogeneity among study results (such as subgroup analysis, meta-regression); and any sensitivity analyses used to assess robustness of the synthesised results (see item #13a-13f).

Addition of a sub-item to the ‘Study selection’ item in the Results section recommending authors cite studies that might appear to meet the inclusion criteria, but which were excluded, and explain why they were excluded (see item #16b).

Splitting of the ‘Synthesis of results’ item in the Results section into four sub-items recommending authors: briefly summarise the characteristics and risk of bias among studies contributing to the synthesis; present results of all statistical syntheses conducted; present results of any investigations of possible causes of heterogeneity among study results; and present results of any sensitivity analyses (see item #20a-20d).

Addition of new items recommending authors report methods for and results of an assessment of certainty (or confidence) in the body of evidence for an outcome (see items #15 and #22).

Addition of a new item recommending authors declare any competing interests (see item #26).

Addition of a new item recommending authors indicate whether data, analytic code and other materials used in the review are publicly available and if so, where they can be found (see item #27).

PRISMA 2020 item checklist

  • View inline

PRISMA 2020 for Abstracts checklist*

Fig 1

PRISMA 2020 flow diagram template for systematic reviews. The new design is adapted from flow diagrams proposed by Boers, 55 Mayo-Wilson et al. 56 and Stovold et al. 57 The boxes in grey should only be completed if applicable; otherwise they should be removed from the flow diagram. Note that a “report” could be a journal article, preprint, conference abstract, study register entry, clinical study report, dissertation, unpublished manuscript, government report or any other document providing relevant information.

  • Download figure
  • Open in new tab
  • Download powerpoint

We recommend authors refer to PRISMA 2020 early in the writing process, because prospective consideration of the items may help to ensure that all the items are addressed. To help keep track of which items have been reported, the PRISMA statement website ( http://www.prisma-statement.org/ ) includes fillable templates of the checklists to download and complete (also available in the data supplement on bmj.com). We have also created a web application that allows users to complete the checklist via a user-friendly interface 58 (available at https://prisma.shinyapps.io/checklist/ and adapted from the Transparency Checklist app 59 ). The completed checklist can be exported to Word or PDF. Editable templates of the flow diagram can also be downloaded from the PRISMA statement website.

We have prepared an updated explanation and elaboration paper, in which we explain why reporting of each item is recommended and present bullet points that detail the reporting recommendations (which we refer to as elements). 41 The bullet-point structure is new to PRISMA 2020 and has been adopted to facilitate implementation of the guidance. 60 61 An expanded checklist, which comprises an abridged version of the elements presented in the explanation and elaboration paper, with references and some examples removed, is available in the data supplement on bmj.com. Consulting the explanation and elaboration paper is recommended if further clarity or information is required.

Journals and publishers might impose word and section limits, and limits on the number of tables and figures allowed in the main report. In such cases, if the relevant information for some items already appears in a publicly accessible review protocol, referring to the protocol may suffice. Alternatively, placing detailed descriptions of the methods used or additional results (such as for less critical outcomes) in supplementary files is recommended. Ideally, supplementary files should be deposited to a general-purpose or institutional open-access repository that provides free and permanent access to the material (such as Open Science Framework, Dryad, figshare). A reference or link to the additional information should be included in the main report. Finally, although PRISMA 2020 provides a template for where information might be located, the suggested location should not be seen as prescriptive; the guiding principle is to ensure the information is reported.

Use of PRISMA 2020 has the potential to benefit many stakeholders. Complete reporting allows readers to assess the appropriateness of the methods, and therefore the trustworthiness of the findings. Presenting and summarising characteristics of studies contributing to a synthesis allows healthcare providers and policy makers to evaluate the applicability of the findings to their setting. Describing the certainty in the body of evidence for an outcome and the implications of findings should help policy makers, managers, and other decision makers formulate appropriate recommendations for practice or policy. Complete reporting of all PRISMA 2020 items also facilitates replication and review updates, as well as inclusion of systematic reviews in overviews (of systematic reviews) and guidelines, so teams can leverage work that is already done and decrease research waste. 36 62 63

We updated the PRISMA 2009 statement by adapting the EQUATOR Network’s guidance for developing health research reporting guidelines. 64 We evaluated the reporting completeness of published systematic reviews, 17 21 36 37 reviewed the items included in other documents providing guidance for systematic reviews, 38 surveyed systematic review methodologists and journal editors for their views on how to revise the original PRISMA statement, 35 discussed the findings at an in-person meeting, and prepared this document through an iterative process. Our recommendations are informed by the reviews and survey conducted before the in-person meeting, theoretical considerations about which items facilitate replication and help users assess the risk of bias and applicability of systematic reviews, and co-authors’ experience with authoring and using systematic reviews.

Various strategies to increase the use of reporting guidelines and improve reporting have been proposed. They include educators introducing reporting guidelines into graduate curricula to promote good reporting habits of early career scientists 65 ; journal editors and regulators endorsing use of reporting guidelines 18 ; peer reviewers evaluating adherence to reporting guidelines 61 66 ; journals requiring authors to indicate where in their manuscript they have adhered to each reporting item 67 ; and authors using online writing tools that prompt complete reporting at the writing stage. 60 Multi-pronged interventions, where more than one of these strategies are combined, may be more effective (such as completion of checklists coupled with editorial checks). 68 However, of 31 interventions proposed to increase adherence to reporting guidelines, the effects of only 11 have been evaluated, mostly in observational studies at high risk of bias due to confounding. 69 It is therefore unclear which strategies should be used. Future research might explore barriers and facilitators to the use of PRISMA 2020 by authors, editors, and peer reviewers, designing interventions that address the identified barriers, and evaluating those interventions using randomised trials. To inform possible revisions to the guideline, it would also be valuable to conduct think-aloud studies 70 to understand how systematic reviewers interpret the items, and reliability studies to identify items where there is varied interpretation of the items.

We encourage readers to submit evidence that informs any of the recommendations in PRISMA 2020 (via the PRISMA statement website: http://www.prisma-statement.org/ ). To enhance accessibility of PRISMA 2020, several translations of the guideline are under way (see available translations at the PRISMA statement website). We encourage journal editors and publishers to raise awareness of PRISMA 2020 (for example, by referring to it in journal “Instructions to authors”), endorsing its use, advising editors and peer reviewers to evaluate submitted systematic reviews against the PRISMA 2020 checklists, and making changes to journal policies to accommodate the new reporting recommendations. We recommend existing PRISMA extensions 47 49 50 51 52 53 71 72 be updated to reflect PRISMA 2020 and advise developers of new PRISMA extensions to use PRISMA 2020 as the foundation document.

We anticipate that the PRISMA 2020 statement will benefit authors, editors, and peer reviewers of systematic reviews, and different users of reviews, including guideline developers, policy makers, healthcare providers, patients, and other stakeholders. Ultimately, we hope that uptake of the guideline will lead to more transparent, complete, and accurate reporting of systematic reviews, thus facilitating evidence based decision making.

Acknowledgments

We dedicate this paper to the late Douglas G Altman and Alessandro Liberati, whose contributions were fundamental to the development and implementation of the original PRISMA statement.

We thank the following contributors who completed the survey to inform discussions at the development meeting: Xavier Armoiry, Edoardo Aromataris, Ana Patricia Ayala, Ethan M Balk, Virginia Barbour, Elaine Beller, Jesse A Berlin, Lisa Bero, Zhao-Xiang Bian, Jean Joel Bigna, Ferrán Catalá-López, Anna Chaimani, Mike Clarke, Tammy Clifford, Ioana A Cristea, Miranda Cumpston, Sofia Dias, Corinna Dressler, Ivan D Florez, Joel J Gagnier, Chantelle Garritty, Long Ge, Davina Ghersi, Sean Grant, Gordon Guyatt, Neal R Haddaway, Julian PT Higgins, Sally Hopewell, Brian Hutton, Jamie J Kirkham, Jos Kleijnen, Julia Koricheva, Joey SW Kwong, Toby J Lasserson, Julia H Littell, Yoon K Loke, Malcolm R Macleod, Chris G Maher, Ana Marušic, Dimitris Mavridis, Jessie McGowan, Matthew DF McInnes, Philippa Middleton, Karel G Moons, Zachary Munn, Jane Noyes, Barbara Nußbaumer-Streit, Donald L Patrick, Tatiana Pereira-Cenci, Ba’ Pham, Bob Phillips, Dawid Pieper, Michelle Pollock, Daniel S Quintana, Drummond Rennie, Melissa L Rethlefsen, Hannah R Rothstein, Maroeska M Rovers, Rebecca Ryan, Georgia Salanti, Ian J Saldanha, Margaret Sampson, Nancy Santesso, Rafael Sarkis-Onofre, Jelena Savović, Christopher H Schmid, Kenneth F Schulz, Guido Schwarzer, Beverley J Shea, Paul G Shekelle, Farhad Shokraneh, Mark Simmonds, Nicole Skoetz, Sharon E Straus, Anneliese Synnot, Emily E Tanner-Smith, Brett D Thombs, Hilary Thomson, Alexander Tsertsvadze, Peter Tugwell, Tari Turner, Lesley Uttley, Jeffrey C Valentine, Matt Vassar, Areti Angeliki Veroniki, Meera Viswanathan, Cole Wayant, Paul Whaley, and Kehu Yang. We thank the following contributors who provided feedback on a preliminary version of the PRISMA 2020 checklist: Jo Abbott, Fionn Büttner, Patricia Correia-Santos, Victoria Freeman, Emily A Hennessy, Rakibul Islam, Amalia (Emily) Karahalios, Kasper Krommes, Andreas Lundh, Dafne Port Nascimento, Davina Robson, Catherine Schenck-Yglesias, Mary M Scott, Sarah Tanveer and Pavel Zhelnov. We thank Abigail H Goben, Melissa L Rethlefsen, Tanja Rombey, Anna Scott, and Farhad Shokraneh for their helpful comments on the preprints of the PRISMA 2020 papers. We thank Edoardo Aromataris, Stephanie Chang, Toby Lasserson and David Schriger for their helpful peer review comments on the PRISMA 2020 papers.

Contributors: JEM and DM are joint senior authors. MJP, JEM, PMB, IB, TCH, CDM, LS, and DM conceived this paper and designed the literature review and survey conducted to inform the guideline content. MJP conducted the literature review, administered the survey and analysed the data for both. MJP prepared all materials for the development meeting. MJP and JEM presented proposals at the development meeting. All authors except for TCH, JMT, EAA, SEB, and LAM attended the development meeting. MJP and JEM took and consolidated notes from the development meeting. MJP and JEM led the drafting and editing of the article. JEM, PMB, IB, TCH, LS, JMT, EAA, SEB, RC, JG, AH, TL, EMW, SM, LAM, LAS, JT, ACT, PW, and DM drafted particular sections of the article. All authors were involved in revising the article critically for important intellectual content. All authors approved the final version of the article. MJP is the guarantor of this work. The corresponding author attests that all listed authors meet authorship criteria and that no others meeting the criteria have been omitted.

Funding: There was no direct funding for this research. MJP is supported by an Australian Research Council Discovery Early Career Researcher Award (DE200101618) and was previously supported by an Australian National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Early Career Fellowship (1088535) during the conduct of this research. JEM is supported by an Australian NHMRC Career Development Fellowship (1143429). TCH is supported by an Australian NHMRC Senior Research Fellowship (1154607). JMT is supported by Evidence Partners Inc. JMG is supported by a Tier 1 Canada Research Chair in Health Knowledge Transfer and Uptake. MML is supported by The Ottawa Hospital Anaesthesia Alternate Funds Association and a Faculty of Medicine Junior Research Chair. TL is supported by funding from the National Eye Institute (UG1EY020522), National Institutes of Health, United States. LAM is supported by a National Institute for Health Research Doctoral Research Fellowship (DRF-2018-11-ST2-048). ACT is supported by a Tier 2 Canada Research Chair in Knowledge Synthesis. DM is supported in part by a University Research Chair, University of Ottawa. The funders had no role in considering the study design or in the collection, analysis, interpretation of data, writing of the report, or decision to submit the article for publication.

Competing interests: All authors have completed the ICMJE uniform disclosure form at http://www.icmje.org/conflicts-of-interest/ and declare: EL is head of research for the BMJ ; MJP is an editorial board member for PLOS Medicine ; ACT is an associate editor and MJP, TL, EMW, and DM are editorial board members for the Journal of Clinical Epidemiology ; DM and LAS were editors in chief, LS, JMT, and ACT are associate editors, and JG is an editorial board member for Systematic Reviews . None of these authors were involved in the peer review process or decision to publish. TCH has received personal fees from Elsevier outside the submitted work. EMW has received personal fees from the American Journal for Public Health , for which he is the editor for systematic reviews. VW is editor in chief of the Campbell Collaboration, which produces systematic reviews, and co-convenor of the Campbell and Cochrane equity methods group. DM is chair of the EQUATOR Network, IB is adjunct director of the French EQUATOR Centre and TCH is co-director of the Australasian EQUATOR Centre, which advocates for the use of reporting guidelines to improve the quality of reporting in research articles. JMT received salary from Evidence Partners, creator of DistillerSR software for systematic reviews; Evidence Partners was not involved in the design or outcomes of the statement, and the views expressed solely represent those of the author.

Provenance and peer review: Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

Patient and public involvement: Patients and the public were not involved in this methodological research. We plan to disseminate the research widely, including to community participants in evidence synthesis organisations.

This is an Open Access article distributed in accordance with the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY 4.0) license, which permits others to distribute, remix, adapt and build upon this work, for commercial use, provided the original work is properly cited. See: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/ .

  • Gurevitch J ,
  • Koricheva J ,
  • Nakagawa S ,
  • Liberati A ,
  • Tetzlaff J ,
  • Altman DG ,
  • PRISMA Group
  • Tricco AC ,
  • Sampson M ,
  • Shamseer L ,
  • Leoncini E ,
  • de Belvis G ,
  • Ricciardi W ,
  • Fowler AJ ,
  • Leclercq V ,
  • Beaudart C ,
  • Ajamieh S ,
  • Rabenda V ,
  • Tirelli E ,
  • O’Mara-Eves A ,
  • McNaught J ,
  • Ananiadou S
  • Marshall IJ ,
  • Noel-Storr A ,
  • Higgins JPT ,
  • Chandler J ,
  • McKenzie JE ,
  • López-López JA ,
  • Becker BJ ,
  • Campbell M ,
  • Sterne JAC ,
  • Savović J ,
  • Sterne JA ,
  • Hernán MA ,
  • Reeves BC ,
  • Whiting P ,
  • Higgins JP ,
  • ROBIS group
  • Hultcrantz M ,
  • Stewart L ,
  • Bossuyt PM ,
  • Flemming K ,
  • McInnes E ,
  • France EF ,
  • Cunningham M ,
  • Rethlefsen ML ,
  • Kirtley S ,
  • Waffenschmidt S ,
  • PRISMA-S Group
  • ↵ Higgins JPT, Thomas J, Chandler J, et al, eds. Cochrane Handbook for Systematic Reviews of Interventions : Version 6.0. Cochrane, 2019. Available from https://training.cochrane.org/handbook .
  • Dekkers OM ,
  • Vandenbroucke JP ,
  • Cevallos M ,
  • Renehan AG ,
  • ↵ Cooper H, Hedges LV, Valentine JV, eds. The Handbook of Research Synthesis and Meta-Analysis. Russell Sage Foundation, 2019.
  • IOM (Institute of Medicine)
  • PRISMA-P Group
  • Salanti G ,
  • Caldwell DM ,
  • Stewart LA ,
  • PRISMA-IPD Development Group
  • Zorzela L ,
  • Ioannidis JP ,
  • PRISMAHarms Group
  • McInnes MDF ,
  • Thombs BD ,
  • and the PRISMA-DTA Group
  • Beller EM ,
  • Glasziou PP ,
  • PRISMA for Abstracts Group
  • Mayo-Wilson E ,
  • Dickersin K ,
  • MUDS investigators
  • Stovold E ,
  • Beecher D ,
  • Noel-Storr A
  • McGuinness LA
  • Sarafoglou A ,
  • Boutron I ,
  • Giraudeau B ,
  • Porcher R ,
  • Chauvin A ,
  • Schulz KF ,
  • Schroter S ,
  • Stevens A ,
  • Weinstein E ,
  • Macleod MR ,
  • IICARus Collaboration
  • Kirkham JJ ,
  • Petticrew M ,
  • Tugwell P ,
  • PRISMA-Equity Bellagio group

literature review template harvard

  • UWF Libraries

Literature Review: Conducting & Writing

  • Sample Literature Reviews
  • Steps for Conducting a Lit Review
  • Finding "The Literature"
  • Organizing/Writing
  • Chicago: Notes Bibliography

Sample Lit Reviews from Communication Arts

Have an exemplary literature review.

  • Literature Review Sample 1
  • Literature Review Sample 2
  • Literature Review Sample 3

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. All disciplines welcome and encouraged.

  • << Previous: MLA Style
  • Next: Get Help! >>
  • Last Updated: Jan 18, 2024 9:21 AM
  • URL: https://libguides.uwf.edu/litreview

IMAGES

  1. 50 Smart Literature Review Templates (APA) ᐅ TemplateLab

    literature review template harvard

  2. 50 Smart Literature Review Templates (APA) ᐅ TemplateLab

    literature review template harvard

  3. Sample literature review mla format

    literature review template harvard

  4. Literature Review Example Harvard Style

    literature review template harvard

  5. 50 Smart Literature Review Templates (APA) ᐅ TemplateLab

    literature review template harvard

  6. 😱 Sample of review of literature. Sample format of a literature review

    literature review template harvard

VIDEO

  1. Is Harvard’s resume template actually good🧐💡 #SHORTS

  2. Literature Review Template for Thesis/Proposal

  3. Write Your Literature Review FAST

  4. The ultimate Harvard glitch💀 (template by @ErenLenox )

  5. Writing Literature review on history 2024

  6. FUNCTIONS OF LITERATURE (VBU SEM 1 ENGLISH) #VBU #net

COMMENTS

  1. PDF LITERATURE REVIEWS

    2. MOTIVATE YOUR RESEARCH in addition to providing useful information about your topic, your literature review must tell a story about how your project relates to existing literature. popular literature review narratives include: ¡ plugging a gap / filling a hole within an incomplete literature

  2. Literature Review

    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):

  3. PDF The Thesis Writing Process and Literature Review

    Ley_ThesisWritingWorkshop_LitReview.pptx The Thesis Writing Process and Literature Review From Splattered Ink Notes to Refined Arguments Christy Ley Senior Thesis Tutorial October 10, 2013 Overview: Thesis Structure Introduction Literature Review Hypotheses Methods Results Conclusion Today's Focus Introduction (in short) Literature Review

  4. PDF The Critical Literature Review

    The Critical Literature Review Q: What is a literature review? Stated most simply, it is an overview of published and unpublished materials which help answer two fundamental questions: 1. What are the current theoretical or policy issues and debates related to your topic? 2. What is the current state of knowledge about these issues and problems?

  5. How to Write a Literature Review

    Introduction Quick Run-through Step 1 & 2 Step 3 Step 4 Step 5 What is the purpose of a literature review? 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.

  6. PDF Lab Literature Review

    A literature review summarizes the published material on a topic in order to address a specific research question. The writer's job is to select, interpret, and arrange the prior research so that it accurately reflects the current state of knowledge, while at the same time showing how it supports your own ideas.

  7. PDF How To Write A Literature Review

    Stage 1 - Thinking Of Ideas. Brainstorm and source key literature in your area(s) — Books, papers, articles and so on written by key authors in the field — Policy and guidance documents. Some initial starting points: — Abstracts. — Course bibliographies in your module handbooks. — List of references in textbooks, articles and so on.

  8. Q. How do I write a literature review?

    Sep 20, 2021 1241 To get started, visit our tutorial, The Literature Review: A Research Journey. The tutorial begins with a discussion of the definition and purpose of a literature review followed by modules on defining a research question; finding literature; managing research; synthesizing the literature; and writing the review.

  9. PDF The Literature Review: A Research Journey In writing the literature

    Your review of the literature identifies what is known and not known about your research question. Because your review offers an examination of past and current research, you may be able to offer implications for practice and for future research. Remember, a well-written review reflects your scholarly accomplishment.

  10. Systematic Reviews and Meta Analysis

    PRISMA-P is a 17-item checklist for elements considered essential in protocol for a systematic review or meta-analysis. The documentation contains an excellent rationale for completing a protocol, too. Use PRISMA-ScR, a 20-item checklist, for reporting scoping reviews. The documentation provides a clear overview of scoping reviews.

  11. Review Protocols

    We require a completed protocol before we will carry out final searches on any knowledge synthesis project. We encourage you to use this template, which is based on the PRISMA-P checklist (Moher D, et al. Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis Protocols (PRISMA-P) 2015 statement.

  12. Literature Review Catalog (Excel Template)

    Need a template for the actual literature review chapter? You can get that here. How to use the Excel template effectively. A quick overview. The first tab (labelled "Literature") is where you'll record specific details of all the reading you'll do.

  13. How To Structure A Literature Review (Free Template)

    How To Structure A Literature Review (Free Template) - Grad Coach How To Structure Your Literature Review 3 Options To Help Structure Your Chapter By: Amy Rommelspacher (PhD) | Reviewer: Dr Eunice Rautenbach | November 2020 (Updated May 2023)

  14. Free Literature Review Template (Word Doc & PDF)

    What's Included: Literature Review Template This template is structure is based on the tried and trusted best-practice format for formal academic research projects such as dissertations and theses. The literature review template includes the following sections: Before you start - essential groundwork to ensure you're ready The introduction section

  15. Literature Reviews

    Structure. The three elements of a literature review are introduction, body, and conclusion. Introduction. Define the topic of the literature review, including any terminology. Introduce the central theme and organization of the literature review. Summarize the state of research on the topic. Frame the literature review with your research question.

  16. 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 ). The lit review is an important genre in many disciplines, not just literature (i.e., the study of works of literature such as novels ...

  17. What is a Literature Review?

    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.

  18. CITING SOURCES RESEARCH GUIDE: Literature Reviews

    The purpose of the literature review is to dive into the existing debates on the topic to learn about the various schools of thought and arguments, using your research question as an anchor. If you find something that doesn't help answer your question, you don't have to read (or include) it. That's the power of the question format: it helps you ...

  19. PDF Notes on Note-Taking: Review of Research and ...

    This literature overview is designed as a resource for both students and instructors. to gain insight into what education research reveals about note-taking. Specifically, this. review discusses the cognitive mechanisms behind note-taking, how to assess the quality. of notes, and optimal practices.

  20. How to Write a Literature Review: Guide, Template, Examples

    An example of a template to assess sources for a literature review is provided below. It contains questions and criteria that assist in locating bias, errors, or flaws. Begin by broadly announcing the topic and providing contextual details of major concepts and terms, such as what is already known about the subject and how the field has developed.

  21. The PRISMA 2020 statement: an updated guideline for reporting ...

    The Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) statement, published in 2009, was designed to help systematic reviewers transparently report why the review was done, what the authors did, and what they found. Over the past decade, advances in systematic review methodology and terminology have necessitated an update to the guideline. The PRISMA 2020 statement ...

  22. Literature Review: Conducting & Writing

    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. All disciplines welcome and encouraged. <<

  23. 20 FREE Literature Review Templates and Examples

    A Literature Review Template is a formatted document that allows you to capture the available scholarly sources on a given topic of research. It outlines the methods, gaps, and theories in the research while analyzing your understanding of the subject. Literature Review Templates & Examples #1 #2 #3 #4 #5 #6 #7 #8 #9 #10 #11 #12 #13 #14 #15 #16 #17