Each of us during our life had to engage in research activities and the design of scientific research. We made our first attempts to conduct this kind of scientific research while being schoolchildren. After all, almost everyone had to write scientific papers, projects to participate in school conferences. After graduation, we moved on to a new level of study and entered either universities or colleges. Here we faced a new version of the same scientific research - term papers and theses / dissertations, which are a prerequisite for obtaining the coveted education certificates.
Some of us decide to continue our educational path after a university, to become Associates, Masters, PhD's, which will need all the same scientific opuses to be written for: Masters and PhD ones. And, despite the fact that the concept of "a research paper” is not new for us, not everyone knows what a literature review is. Although, paradoxically, one is very fluent in practicing it. We know that any scientific/research paper consists of certain parts, each of which has its own name, and, accordingly, represents a special kind of information containing part.
So since school, we mastered the concepts: introduction (introductory part), main part, paragraph, chapter, conclusion, bibliography. In your high school, terms such as introduction and chapter were added to this. But - where is the Literature Review here?
A literature review is just one of the parts, as a rule, of the introduction of any research. It includes systematic information about the info sources used while writing a study. It is Not a kind of bibliography - a common mistake for many authors-researchers. On top of the general concepts of this term, we will try to give an example of drawing up a review plan, as well as give some practical tips for writing it in a thesis.
What is a Literature Review and Why to Write it
A literature review is part of the research paper, it contains information that gives an idea of the theoretical works that you take as the basis for your research. Many wrongfully confuse this concept with bibliography. So in the second case, we are dealing only with a certain kind of list of authors and titles of books to which you turned for the entire time of research. In the case of a literature review, you do not just name this or that paper.
You draw parallels with other texts (based on a common time frame, common political views of the authors, etc.), look for differences, express your opinion on the point of view presented in the book. It is imperative that in this part of the work you emphasize the importance of your research, namely, specify how deeply this or that problematic issue has been studied, whether it has been examined from all sides, in the works of famous scientists that you mentioned.
Do not confuse a literary review with a review. In the review, as a rule, a comparative analysis is not carried out with other similar publications on the subject, genre, but a specific description of this book is given, with the obligatory account of the reader’s impressions of reading it.
The literature review does not have any limitations in the number of words or letters, but, as a rule, it takes approximately 20-30% of the total volume of done paper. The main and the most important rule here - better write briefly, but qualitatively, rather than long, but not specifically.
Some would ask “Why do we need a literature review?”. Being an integral part of the introduction of any study or even its separate chapter, a literature review is extremely important, cause it gives an idea of what has already been done on this issue earlier, as well as the need for your participation in the development of this issue. In this case, it is worth mentioning that in the case of the study of any medications, diseases, technical inventions, methods, it is extremely important to study and present the most relevant information in a literature review.
Making a Review Plan
As a rule the review plan consists of the following chapters:
- The number of sources that must be agreed with the head of research.
- The nature of the description of the sources (analytical, comparative, with the addition of their own opinions).
- The size of the review, which can be expressed in the number of pages, words, characters without spaces.
- The exact wording of the topic, which will narrow down your search for the right sources.
- Terms of design of the review, which include the nuances associated with citation, the use of fonts, line spacing and indentation.
In order to write a good literature review, it is crucial to draw up an action plan. Namely, a guide to collecting the necessary information.
General guidelines for writing a literature review
- Writing an introduction with a smooth transition to the topic of the review - is an obligatory condition.
- Visually highlight the main part (in red, bold), and also provide information, for example, in a form of publication.
- A conclusion is absolutely necessary; the part in which you once again return to the words of the introduction, and most importantly summarize the analyzed material, it will successfully reduce all of the above to the conditions of modern life. (For example, the review dealt with the inequality of the sexes and the peculiarities of their confrontation in the works of poets of the Silver Age. At the end, we can cite as an example lines from the work of some modern author that touch upon the same problems).
- During the analysis, look for the things in common between the authors' views on the problem or the lack of accurate information about anything that suits your hand, as a condition for the relevance of your research.
- Enter your theses into the text, and use the sources as a refutation or evidence.
- Give a good assessment of the source in terms of time frame, impartiality regarding the stated topic, informativeness and evidence of the author’s arguments.
- Use your own words when filling out the information you have studied; do not plagiarize.
- After writing the paper, make sure that all the requirements (points of your plan) are met.
- Pay attention to the logic in the construction of the text, and most importantly to the smooth transitions from paragraph to paragraph.
- It is necessary to exclude jargon and obscene expressions from the final text, however, if research features require it, then this should not be done (for example, many poetic texts contain jargon and examples of obscene words for a certain kind of figurative stylization).
Also - be sure to carry out the correction procedure, in an ideal case, give the finished paper to someone to read out errors which you could have overlooked out of habit.
Writing a literature review for the thesis
Any graduate’s diploma should also have a literature review that will determine the place of your scientific paper among others on the same issue.
The main difficulty for compiling the review is selecting the necessary literature, namely, one that will show the incompleteness of the problem's study. At the same time, it will confirm the importance of the issue under discussion for modern science. As it was mentioned above, most often the review is placed in the "Introduction" section. From the point of view of the introduction as well as the whole thesis structure, the literature review is presented in several points: the degree of development in the literature and scientific novelty.
By the way, referring to the opinion of the authors mentioned in the review can and should be done throughout the entire research paper. For example, as a reinforcement of your point of view, or vice versa - for reliable indication of discrepancies in the results. When writing a review, it should be compiled initially in abstract form and shown to the supervisor to clarify further ways of searching for the necessary information.
Writing a review is much easier as you progress on your diploma, as it will be easier to adjust. In addition, the literature presented in the review should not be highly specialized, it should be relevant (new) and even represent the points of view of foreign authors. The main emphasis in the analysis of sources should be done not on the research itself, but on its effectiveness. Remember that you cannot use whole pieces of the finished source text, quoting is permissible in the amount of 5-10% of the entire text.
Referring to any authoritative point of view, it is necessary to find the very first version of its presentation. Undoubtedly, in order for your review to be of high quality, it is advisable to personally be familiar with the indicated sources (at least fragmentarily). However, modern science is growing on a daily basis, and to simplify the work of reviewing information, a number of computer programs (software) have been invented today. The principle of the programs is that, automatically analyzing from hundreds of sources offered to it, it selects a kind of keywords, phrases, fragments of texts that reflect the vision of a given problem.
Such programs provide, of course, a superficial knowledge of the material, but they can serve as an excellent help to a student who does not have time to study thick monographs.
In conclusion of this conversation, it is necessary to say that often the mentor (professor) or supervisor asks his ward not the first chapter or the entire paper, but a literary review. It would seem that it’s just a fragment of the introduction, and it takes from 1-3 pages... But it is this information that will allow the professor to form an opinion not only about your way of expressing your own thoughts, ability to work with various kinds of scientific sources, but, most importantly, will show how much the study is interesting and relevant.
Therefore, a literature review should be given due attention when writing any scientific paper, regardless of whether you are a schoolboy, student or promising, but still a young PhD.
So, it’s extremely important to draw up this “piece of research” competently, correctly, logically and from the standpoint of the greatest benefit for your own research views. Do not spare the energy and time for what will work later on to form the correct image of your paper!
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