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How To Write A Research Paper Literature Review: Basic Rules To Follow

After writing the introduction section of your research, you have to situate the study within the currently available literature and demonstrate how it moves the existing body of knowledge forward. This is known as literature review and it must be conducted in any type of research paper. While the format of a literature review may vary from one discipline to another, there are certain basic rules to follow on how to write a research paper literature review.

Focus on Issues that are Directly Related to the Study

One common mistake among many students is losing the sight of the purpose of the literature review. The purpose of this section is to explain the basis for the study and the contribution of your study. The review should only be focused on the issues that are directly relevant to the project. It should be organized in a manner to call attention to your project’s contributions. It is not meant to demonstrate that you have studied widely. Simply summarizing a lot of articles and books, regardless of whether they are directly related to your research question is a poor strategy. A brief and well-focused review is more effective than a long and meandering one. Additionally, you should be able to show that you understand the current state of the subject area.

Use a Systematic Organization Scheme

While there are numerous possible ways of structuring a literature review effectively, there is no single technique of organizing and reporting on the current state of the subject area. Nevertheless, it is advisable to select an organization scheme and proceed in a purposeful fashion from one point to the next and guide the reader to a final conclusion. You should design your literature review in such a way that it leads the reader to a conclusion that your study is a valuable next step in improving our understanding of the issue in question.

Debate among Competing Theories

One effective way to frame your study is to debate among two or several competing theories of the same issue. Your study can discriminate between certain theories and lead to a conclusion that a particular one is more appropriate. Alternatively, your paper can integrate various theories and lead to a suggestion that they are not competing at all. In both cases, you will utilize the existing body of knowledge as a “foil” and present reasons why your approach to the issue is the best.

In conclusion, an effective literature review will persuade the reader that your study fits within the existing body of knowledge and addresses a particular issue of concern in the scholarly community. Additionally it should persuade the readers that your study contributes to our better understanding of the subject by presenting something new.