A literature review is an academic writing task that contains reviews of credible or trusted sources for relevant information on a topic. Writing a literature review aims to summarize, synthesize, and critically analyze the concepts, thoughts, findings, and ideas of different authors without roping in your personal perspective, opinions, or ideas.
Writing a literature review is an opportunity for a student to demonstrate their research skills as well as their academic writing skills.
You will most likely need to write a number of literature reviews in your college life and even as you advance through graduate studies. You will write literature reviews for reports, thesis papers, dissertations, proposals, term papers, white papers, and research papers. Therefore, knowing how to write an excellent literature review is a valuable skill.
Probably the most important thing you need to write an excellent review is an outline. And in this post, we will share everything important you need to know about writing a literature review outline.
A well-written literature review gives a snapshot of what other authors have already covered regarding a topic, which helps establish the literature gap. Sometimes, it helps show the relationship between concepts or ideas and helps establish controversial elements of a topic worth considering going forward.
Drafting a well-structured outline is akin to having your literature review 50% done.
A proper literature review outline has three key elements- an introduction, a body, and a conclusion. Your literature review will be incomplete if it doesn't have any of these elements.
Your literature review outline must include an introduction. The introduction part of your outline should be easy to write. This is because it simply involves presenting the topic and providing background information on what you will review. In a nutshell, your introduction should give your reader a brief overview of the topic you will focus on. The introduction should also include reasons you chose the literature you chose to review.
Your literature review outline must have a body element or section. The body section is the middle section, probably the most crucial part of your outline.
The body section of your outline should be divided into body paragraphs depending on the themes, ideas, and concepts covered in the literature. You should highlight the major point you will focus on in each body paragraph. Doing this will give your outline a nice flow. And a flowing outline almost always means a flowing literature review.
When outlining the body of a literature review, it is imperative to think of the most effective strategies to structure the paragraphs, which will determine how your literature review flows. The three commonly used strategies include:
After writing your literature review, you want to write a neat conclusion that wraps up everything nicely. So, the conclusion element is a must-have element in your literature review outline.
The conclusion must begin with a restatement of the thesis and a summary of all the major points. Finally, the last sentence in the conclusion is the closing statement. You should undoubtedly write a powerful closing statement to leave a lasting impression on your readers.
Follow the five steps below to write a proper literature review outline.
The first thing you need to do before you start writing a literature review outline is to brainstorm. Think clearly about the literature review instructions to identify the topic and what is needed of you.
Once you identify the topic, you should search for more information on Google. As you search for more information on the topic, you should skim through the various sources to learn more about the topic. You should also identify keywords and phrases in the texts to search for more relevant materials.
As you skim through the sources you find, keep thinking about the topic and going back to it to make sure you are on track. First, note everything relevant to your topic. Then, try to group the things you note down to clearly understand what you have discovered so far.
Of course, when you note essential topics, subtopics, ideas, or concepts, you should also capture where you have taken the information from.
After brainstorming and researching online, you will have a rough idea of what to do. You will have a couple of sources that you will have identified, plus subtopics or concepts of interest.
At this point, you should identify reliable sources from your sources. Then, you should conduct more detailed research on the topic in trusted online databases and libraries.
Your literature review must be based on reliable or trusted sources. While you can find such sources using a Google search, you should definitely search trusted online databases and libraries to find credible sources.
Once you have identified all the sources you need for your topic; you should re-read your topic and then examine the sources again to see if they are all relevant. Eliminate those that are not relevant and prioritize the remaining ones based on relevancy.
Now, you have your topic, subtopic, reliable sources, and a rough idea of what you want to write. The next thing you need to do is decide on your review's structure.
You can take different approaches to writing a literature review. The approach you choose will determine the structure of your literature review outline. You should not attempt to write an academic paper outline before deciding your approach.
The simplest way to write a literature review is to divide it into three sections - introduction, body, and conclusion. And then, decide how you will include the information you have gathered in the body so that the information is flowing and coherent. Once you do this, you have written a very rough outline for your review.
Identifying the main themes in your research and sources will help you write an excellent review. And to do this, you need to read through your selected literature many times to understand the links between concepts and the sources. You can take notes as you read to make the process enjoyable and fast. It will help you to make your review more logical and flowing. It will also help to simplify your literature review.
When identifying the main themes, note the main concepts and themes that recur throughout your sources. Ensure that you also note any gaps that you notice in the literature. Of course, you should also note any conflicts or contradictions you discover in the literature.
Noting all these things will make your literature review complete and useful. It will show your professor you have taken your time to go through credible sources to find and investigate all the relevant information that could be found about the topic.
After completing the four steps above, you will have credible sources, citations, a rough outline, extra notes, themes, and patterns. All you need to do now is write your official or detailed outline. Writing your literature review outline at this point should be very easy because you have everything.
Organize everything you have gathered and put it in a structure to create your first outline. Ensure the structure has three parts: an introduction, a body, and a conclusion.
Read the section below to know how to structure your literature review outline. It has all the information you need.
Of course, after outlining your literature review, you should read and edit it to ensure it is error-free and easily understandable.
Video Illustration by Scribbr might help you visually envision your literature review outline.
You should follow the conventional academic paper outline structure to present all the details you have gathered during your research. In this section, we will share a sample literature review outline that you can use as a template for your outline.
Topic: COVID-19 transmission
As you can see, structuring a literature review is not very difficult. However, it must also be said that it is not very easy. If you can follow the instructions in this literature review outline guide, do so. If you feel that you need some help, simply order a literature review outline from us. It will be custom, properly formatted, and confidential. You can use it as a sample or any other way you please.
To write an excellent literature review outline, you need to follow the right steps and format or structure your review correctly. If you do this, all the pieces of literature you decide to review will fit nicely in your outline, and in the review, you will write. Find out more about writing a quality literature review in the section below.
Writing a literature review outline is not the easiest thing to do. It is daunting, sometimes tiring, and arduous. Of course, the hardest part is the research part. However, you can do it by following the five steps, structure, and tips in this guide.
Writing a literature review outline following the information we have provided in this blog will help you write a quality literature review outline.
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