Literature Review Examples (2023)

Literature Review Examples (1)

Usually, a literature review can be described as an objective, concise, and critical summary of published research literature pertinent to the subject being researched in an article. A literature can be an end in itself (an analysis of what is known about a topic) or a prologue to and rationale for engaging in primary research.

Basic Guidelines

The following are guidelines on how to write a literature review:

  • Organize the literature review around key topics of concepts. Use headings or topic sentences to convey your organizational principle.

  • Tell a story about the research. This will assist you with your organization.

  • Be selective. Incorporate only studies that are pertinent to your subject.

  • Synthesize and evaluate.

  • Use a summary to assist the reader to relate every section to the wider topic and to clarify your argument's movement. Where have we just been and where are we heading to?

Organizing Tips

When writing your literature review, place background information, for example, explanations of a theoretical model or clinical situation, at sections where it will be most helpful for your readers. For instance, if various researchers have utilized a similar theoretical approach, define that framework before reviewing those studies.

Split your literature review into segments with appropriate descriptions, following the guidelines of the documentation system you're using. Your outline provides the basis for this division since it has already clustered studies together under headings and subheadings.

Conclude each section in your review with a summary section or paragraph. The summary's length ought to reflect the length of the section. Conclude the whole review with a summary that recaps the most important aspects and findings. This final summary is also the section where you'll make major comparisons, convey your opinion or critique the adequacy of research methods and approaches, and identify inconsistencies. Your critique enables you to end your literature review by posing unanswered questions, proposing approaches upcoming research. If your literature review is an introduction to your study, your critique ought to support the rationale for carrying out the research. You'll then state your research question(s) and hypothesis.

(Video) How to Write a Literature Review: 3 Minute Step-by-step Guide | Scribbr 🎓

Example of a Literature Review Conclusion

Here is an example of a literature review conclusion:

"The objective of this review was to view the trends in composition studies within the past fifty years and see how commentary on student writing has transformed and is still transforming. It's clear from the research reviewed that evaluative commentary is widely practiced all through composition programs in universities today. Together with this, it's also evident that the field of composition studies in regards to the kinds of commentary that students get on their writing is varied and continues to be examined and analyzed to benefit both composition students and the society at large. Moreover, corrective vs. evaluative commentary is still being discussed, and continues to be problematic in the discourse community of college composition and also high school writing as viewed in Bardine et al.'s research." Assisting students to become better writers is important in our current society with reducing school budgets."

Outlining Your Review

Assuming that you want to compose a literature review concerning the efficiency of short-term group therapy in lowering depression amongst residents of a nursing home. You've now done research and compiled a list of the areas covered by your research:

  • Pharmacological treatment of depression

  • The elderly in nursing homes

  • Measurement tools for depression

  • Utilization of psychotherapy among the elderly

  • Depression - causes, behavioral manifestations, and effects

  • Societal attitudes towards aging

  • Impacts of group therapy

  • Side effects of drugs utilized to treat depression

  • Psychological issues in the elderly

    (Video) Literature Review with Practical Example

A possible outline for the literature review can be:

  • Depression in general

    • Causation theories

    • Behavioral manifestation

    • Impacts

  • Depression in the elderly, especially in nursing homes (problem and its scope)

  • Impacts of therapy on depression

    • Long-term - disadvantages

    • Short-term

    • Group

The outline moves from general to specific. As you proceed down the outline, you'll deal with the material in rising depth, just as the significance of the information to your project rises.

Concerns about Sentence Level

Look at how the following literature review example apa impacts readability: sentence strength, focus, placement of citation, active vs. passive voice, and transition.

(Video) LITERATURE REVIEW: Step by step guide for writing an effective literature review


"The relationship that exists between motivation and the decision to attain literacy has been examined by Smith (1975), Jones (1983), and Brown (1988). Motivation entails various expectations (Snappe, 1986; Krkel, 1988). A large study done by Amundson (1981) examined the beliefs people entering literacy programs, particularly outcome expectations and self-efficacy regardless of obstacles. Paape (1979), and in a follow-up project Johnson (1985), examined resistance to motivational efforts or the tendency to overlook information about an issue that's difficult to acknowledge. A literacy promotion program needs to overcome the inclination to minimize the problem and to assist people to believe."


"Research suggests that various factors influence an adult' decision to obtain literacy. Individuals need to be motivated to make such a decision (Smith, 1975; Jones, 1983; Brown, 1988). Motivation involves at least two types of expectations (Snappe, 1986: Krakel, 1988). One must believe that literacy will positively affect one's life (outcome expectations) and also one can succeed in the effort to learn new skills regardless of obstacles (Amunon, 1981). Other research reveals that when the problem isn't easy to acknowledge, people tend to overlook information about, that is, to resist motivational efforts 9Paape, 1979; Johnson, 1985). All these findings suggest that a literacy promotion program needs to overcome the tendency to minimize the problem and to assist people to believe."

Comparing the above literature review example paragraphs ought to demonstrate how some rhetorical choices impact readability and clarity.

Some guidelines;

  • Use headings and topic sentences to inform readers what the subject is and what point the material is contributing to the discussion.

  • Do not just point to the existence of literature on the topic; compose about methods or results in the studies you discuss.

  • Test sentences for relevance to the main point.

  • Put citations where they don't distract from the line of thought you are presenting.

  • Utilize active verbs that are strong and rich in content.

  • Make use of transition words.

Style Tips

(Video) How to Write a Literature Review in 30 Minutes or Less

  • Your tone should be objective as you summarize the research. Don't allow your objectivity to turn your literature review to an annotated bibliography. Instead, point out as you proceed how studies relate to one another (for example, Smith (1988) and Jones (1990) utilized various samples to study the same phenomenon).

  • Try to be analytical. Composing a review is an exercise in comparative thinking. Your critique should be in your final discussion, where they will be more efficient and significant to the reader.

  • Connect paragraphs to one another, and link studies within paragraphs. Try to make your literature review attractive by coming up with the topic sentence of each paragraph in a way that it achieves two things: it hooks in a way to the previous paragraph and also reveals what this new paragraph will be about, for instance; "In contrast to these studies, which have tried to measure the amount of stress a person is subjected to, various researchers are now concentrating on a person's perception of demanding life events."

These connections may need to be made within a paragraph and also among a group of paragraphs, for instance, "Jones (1989) and Smith (1991) were amongst the first persons to investigate the impacts of abuse towards children... Like Jones, Smith also utilized the State-Trait Inventory but incorporated males in his sample" or "Lee's studies of learned vulnerability support this study's view of modification of behavior as situation-specific."

  • Select verbs that precisely describe what the research did; hypothesized, questioned, developed, executed, measured, tested, and modified have divergent meanings.

  • Use direct quotes sparingly. They take up more space than sentences constructed to recap the original. Quotations my comprise concept and vocabulary not familiar to the reader.

  • Utilize verb tenses appropriately. Use the past tense to recap studies and procedures, for instance, "At least a third of those sampled in one study said that they would both reject socially and dread violence from someone exhibiting behaviors associated with various mental illnesses." Use the present perfect tense to suggest that something has happened more than once in the past and may be continuing; for instance, "In the last twenty years, researchers have often concentrated on the effects of posttraumatic stress disorder." Moreover, use the present tense to define theory and instruments, (for instance,"Developmental undertakings are key to Piaget's theory"), to discuss and critique (for instance,"The utilization of self-report has two main drawbacks"), and to generalize (for example"These findings imply that adult learners prefer self-evaluation"). In addition, use the active and passive voice correctly. The active voice ("Jennifer repeated the test with three samples") is not as wordy as the passive voice ("This test was repeated with three samples by Jennifer"). Nevertheless, it's good to use the passive voice when the object is more important than the subject (for instance,"The players from the senior team were shown the video"); when the subject is unknown ("This phenomenon was first defined in line with 18th century standards"); when it wouldn't be a good idea to identify the subject ("The first set of data wasn't correctly coded"); and when putting the object before the subject more lucidly connects to a previous sentence or paragraph ("...screen techniques that increase job satisfaction. These techniques were also assessed..."). Overuse of the passive voice implies that research is happening by itself and the reader will be confused about who's doing what.

Don'ts of Writing a Literature Review

  • Citing supportive sources only - It is crucial that you also mention those studies that contradict your stance. In other words, mention some dissenting studies and explain why they deviate from your thinking.

  • Using non-scholarly articles.

  • Depending on direct quotations - Even though it's okay to include direct quotations, don't depend on them too much.

  • Composing a narrowly-focused literature review.


If you want to know more about how to write a literature review, the information above will greatly assist you. Remember, a literature review can be termed as discursive prose, not a list summarizing several pieces of literature. Organize your review into segments that present themes or pinpoint trends, including pertinent theory. Your task isn't to list all published material; it's to synthesize and examine it in line with the guiding concept of your research question or thesis.

(Video) The fastest way to do your literature review [Do it in SECONDS]

To see how these tips are brought to life, go through an example of literature review. Contact us today for some literature review samples.


What should a literature review answer? ›

Answer. The purpose of a literature review is to offer an overview of existing literature on a specific topic along with an evaluation of the strengths and weaknesses of the author's arguments. You are summarizing what is available on a certain topic and then drawing conclusions about the topic.

How many literature review is enough? ›

As a very rough rule of thumb – you may choose 8-10 significant pieces (books and/or articles) for an 8,000 word dissertation, up to 20 major pieces of work for 12-15,000 words, and so on.

How to write literature review examples? ›

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.
Feb 22, 2022

How do you write a literature review efficiently? ›

How do I write a literature review?
  1. Step 1: Define your research scope. What is the specific research question that your literature review helps to define? ...
  2. Step 2: Identify the literature. Start by searching broadly. ...
  3. Step 3: Critically analyze the literature. ...
  4. Step 4: Categorize your resources.

What are the 3 parts of literature review? ›

Consider organization. Just like most academic papers, literature reviews also must contain at least three basic elements: an introduction or background information section; the body of the review containing the discussion of sources; and, finally, a conclusion and/or recommendations section to end the paper.

What does a good literature review look like? ›

Qualities of A Good Lit Review

A good literature review is NOT simply a list describing or summarizing several articles; a literature review is discursive prose which proceeds to a conclusion by reason or argument. A good literature review shows signs of synthesis and understanding of the topic.

Can you fail a literature review? ›

Poor writing in a literature review is often the result of failing to integrate arguments into the review. Many people make the mistake of simply summarising their readings. Avoid using words like 'are reported'. These types of words often lead to descriptive writing.

How many citations is good for a literature review? ›

My "rule of thumb" has always been to use a maximum of three references to support a particular statement. The role of a literature review is to provide a targeted review of the literature. In my view, there are several reasons why it is wise not to use too many references: It really disturbs the flow of the paper.

How long does it take to write a good literature review? ›

How much time? That depends on the requirements of your department and how quickly you work. "Some [departments] prefer a very broad and comprehensive review, whereas others prefer a review that is more publication-ready," Rudestam says. The average review may take six months to write and require multiple revisions.

What are the 5 rules for writing a literature review? ›

  • Rule 1: Define a Topic and Audience.
  • Rule 2: Search and Re-search the Literature.
  • Rule 3: Take Notes While Reading.
  • Rule 4: Choose the Type of Review You Wish to Write.
  • Rule 5: Keep the Review Focused, but Make It of Broad Interest.
  • Rule 6: Be Critical and Consistent.
  • Rule 7: Find a Logical Structure.
Jul 18, 2013

How do you start a sentence with a literature review? ›

Start by writing your thesis statement. This is an important introductory sentence that will tell your reader what the topic is and the overall perspective or argument you will be presenting. Like essays, a literature review must have an introduction, a body and a conclusion.

How do you start a literature review paragraph? ›

Your literature review, like any other document, should contain an introduction, a body, and a conclusion. Your introduction should clearly explain the overall research topic and the depth of the information to be presented; it often also explains the types of sources that will be used.

What makes a bad literature review? ›

There are several mistakes that may happen while writing an effective literature review includes no proper lines like dispute statement, absences of appropriate research, indicating the sources incorrectly, the poor formation of paper, plagiarism checking.

Can I write a literature review in a week? ›

Even if you are a slow writer, you can write a whole paper in a single week — if you follow my strategy. Read below about what you need to prepare and how to approach this project. I wrote my first scientific research article in 7 days. It started as a desperate effort to stop my procrastination and “just do it”.

What are the 4 stages of literature review? ›

Place each work in the context of its contribution to the understanding of the subject under review. Describe the relationship of each work to the others under consideration. Identify new ways to interpret, and shed light on any gaps in, previous research. Resolve conflicts amongst seemingly contradictory previous ...

How do you write a literature review in 3 simple steps? ›

Write a Literature Review
  1. Narrow your topic and select papers accordingly.
  2. Search for literature.
  3. Read the selected articles thoroughly and evaluate them.
  4. Organize the selected papers by looking for patterns and by developing subtopics.
  5. Develop a thesis or purpose statement.
  6. Write the paper.
  7. Review your work.
Nov 8, 2022

What should not be included in a literature review? ›

Do not include extended quotations, and use direct quotes sparingly, if at all. The literature review is a synthesis and analysis of research on your topic in your own words. Most ideas can be and should be paraphrased. Professors sometimes perceive undue reliance on quotations as intellectual laziness.

Is literature review just copying? ›

Avoiding Plagiarism in Literature Reviews

Most academics know they cannot simply duplicate other people's writing and present it as their own. They generally know not to copy and paste from other articles without properly using a quote format and citing the article appropriately to give the original authors credit.

What are the mistakes made in literature review? ›

Recap: 7 Literature Review Mistakes
  • Over-reliance on low-quality sources.
  • A lack of landmark/seminal literature.
  • A lack of current literature.
  • Description instead of integration and synthesis.
  • Irrelevant or unfocused content.
  • Poor chapter structure and layout.
  • Plagiarism and poor referencing.

Is the literature review the hardest part of a thesis? ›

In a thesis or dissertation the Literature review is perhaps one of the hardest things to write. It is here that you show you fully understand how others think about your topic and that you are able to critically examine what has been written.

What is considered highly cited? ›

Highly Cited Papers are papers published in the last 10 years that are receiving the most citations (top 1%) when compared to peer papers (same field, same publication year).

Do you cite every sentence in a literature review? ›

The MLA Style Center

No. The citation should appear only after the final sentence of the paraphrase. If, however, it will be unclear to your reader where your source's idea begins, include the author of the source in your prose rather than in a parenthetical citation.

Do you have to cite every sentence in a literature review? ›

Summaries are generally shorter than the original text, and address salient topics presented by the original author (1). Citations should occur in each sentence that includes unoriginal material. Even if your entire paragraph is a summary, you should cite in each sentence rather than at the end of the paragraph.

Is writing a literature review hard? ›

Writing a literature review is often the most daunting part of writing an article, book, thesis, or dissertation. “The literature” seems (and often is) massive. I have found it helpful to be as systematic as possible when completing this gargantuan task.

Is it hard to get a literature review published? ›

If you ever tried it, you might know that publishing a literature review paper in an academic journal is a tricky task. The literature review publications come in so many forms, and there is no single cheat-sheet or established format like for empirical papers that you could follow to ensure success in publication.

Can you write a literature review in one day? ›

One day is more than enough to write a literature review. What is the main topic of the book you are writing about? Think. Concentrate and try to formulate some sentences that fully explain an idea, a problem and a motto of the text.

What are the 6 characteristics of a good literature review? ›

Characteristics of an effective literature review

Outlining important research trends. Assessing strengths and weaknesses (of individual studies as well the existing research as a whole). Identifying potential gaps in knowledge. Establishing a need for current and/or future research projects.

How long does it take to write a 3000 word literature review? ›

Writing 3,000 words can take anywhere between six and 24 hours depending on the topic but, with our tips, you can easily get it done within a day.

What are some good sentence starters? ›

Below is a list of possible sentence starters, transitional and other words that may be useful. This essay discusses … … is explored … … is defined … The definition of … will be given … is briefly outlined … … is explored … The issue focused on …. … is demonstrated ... … is included …

What are three sentence structures for literature review? ›

A literature review should be structured like any other essay: it should have an introduction, a middle or main body, and a conclusion.

What are the 6 steps in writing a literature review? ›

A literature review is a critical, analytical account of the existing research on a particular topic.
  • Refine your topic. • Brainstorm on paper or have a discussion around your topic with. ...
  • Plan your Research. Before you start, decide: ...
  • Search for Sources. ...
  • Read and Record. ...
  • Write, revise, reference. ...
  • Reflect and Organise.

Can you say I in a literature review? ›

Research writers frequently wonder whether the first person can be used in academic and scientific writing. In truth, for generations, we've been discouraged from using “I” and “we” in academic writing simply due to old habits. That's right—there's no reason why you can't use these words!

How many pages is a good literature review? ›

The length of a literature review varies depending on its purpose and audience. In a thesis or dissertation, the review is usually a full chapter (at least 20 pages), but for an assignment it may only be a few pages. There are several ways to organize and structure a literature review.

How far back should a literature review go? ›

A good rule of thumb is to use sources published in the past 10 years for research in the arts, humanities, literature, history, etc.

How long does it take to write a 5 page literature review? ›

Writing 5 pages will take about 1 hours for the average writer typing on a keyboard and 2.1 hours for handwriting. However, if the content needs to include in-depth research, links, citations, or graphics such as for a blog article or high school essay, the length can grow to 8.3 hours.

What are the 5 characteristics of a good literature review? ›

Characteristics of an effective literature review

Outlining important research trends. Assessing strengths and weaknesses (of individual studies as well the existing research as a whole). Identifying potential gaps in knowledge. Establishing a need for current and/or future research projects.

Does a literature review answer research questions? ›

A literature review for publication often seeks to answer a single research question, whereas a literature review for a thesis may seek to answer several questions.

What are the 5 C's in literature review? ›

To introduce you to this world of academic writing, in this chapter I suggest that you should focus on five hierarchical characteristics of good writing, or the “5 Cs” of good academic writing, which include Clarity, Cogency, Conventionality, Completeness, and Concision.

What are the 4 parts of literature review? ›

It helps to deconstruct the literature review into a four-part process, including: 1) Developing a Topic; 2) Searching the Literature; 3) Narrowing the Scope; and 4) Synthesizing Prior Research.

Is a literature review hard? ›

The process of writing a dissertation's literature review is undoubtedly labor-intensive, but it can also be immensely rewarding.


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