A literature review is an inherent part of any academic thesis or dissertation. Therefore, every student or research scholar needs to know the basics of what a literature review is and how it should be prepared. If you approach it in a careless manner or fail to attach sufficient care to the various aspects you may land in deep trouble later. So, take care to follow the basic guidelines in preparing your literature review.
What exactly is a literature review?
It is actually the consolidated, systematic, written summary of all the available literature on a specific topic. That is really the collection of all the findings from all the research that has been carried out so far on our subject. Naturally, it is a laborious process to collect all that information. Therefore, we must be very careful in each stage.
First of all be aware of the type of literature review you are to prepare. That is because a literature review may vary in shape and size depending on whether it is to be part of a thesis, a scholarly article, a research proposal, etc. In the case of an academic dissertation the literature review must be comprehensive, exhaustive and long whereas in the other cases it can be less exhaustive.
Then pay attention to the specific requirements your instructor, institution or journal may have given you. They may specify, for example, that your sources must be post-2000 ones, or that they must all be from peer-reviewed, international journals. In some cases you may be asked not to include any web sources. Some literature reviews deal only with the literature which has a direct bearing on our exact research topic. Thus, be certain that you know what you are expected to collect and use in the literature review. And do not forget to collect all details regarding the literature you collect, in order to use in the literature review you will have to write.
Take care to study, analyse, organize and consolidate the literature you have gathered to suit the various aspects of your research topic. Identify where previous research agrees with you, where disagrees, and where needs to be supplemented or substantiated. That is really what we are expected to be doing in our research.
Lastly, take care to follow all the specifications of the prescribed style of documentation when you use citations in the text and follow them up with references.