If you write a thesis or dissertation, a literature review will be required to place your research within existing knowledge. This may be included in the introduction or theoretical framework, or it may be a separate chapter before the chapters of methodology and tests.

A literature review may also be assigned to you as a stand-alone journal. In this case, the material will look slightly different, but the literature review process will follow the same steps.

To define your Research Question Choose a Topic

A key study subject should guide your literature review. Remember, it is not a set of loosely linked studies in a field, but rather describes context and research trends related to a particular study problem that you are synthesizing, interpreting and analyzing.

Important tips fo you:

  • Make sure that your research is not too wide or too narrow. Is this manageable?
  • Start writing down terms related to your question. These are going to be useful for later searches.
  • If you have the opportunity, talk to your professor about your topic.

Choose a scope for your literature review – collect and evaluate literature

You need a narrowly defined subject before you begin to search for literature.

When you write a thesis or research paper's literature review page, you must look for literature related to your research problem and questions. This is the first step to understanding your topic's state of knowledge before you start your own research.

When you write a literature review as a stand-alone task, you'll need to pick a subject and establish a central issue to guide your quest. This question must be answered without collecting or generating new data, unlike a dissertation research question. You should only be able to respond on the basis of a study of current publications.

Important tips to choose a scope;

  • How many studies need to be examined? How extensive is it supposed to be? How many years does it have to cover?
  • This may depend on your assignment.  How many sources does the assignment require?

Select the databases that you are going to use to search.

Start by creating a list of keywords related to the topic and question of your research. Some useful databases for searching for newspapers and articles include the library catalog of your university.

  • Google Scholar JSTOR EBSCO
  • Project Muse (humanities and social sciences) Medline (life sciences and biomedicine)
  • EconLit (economics) Inspec (physics, engineering and computer science).
  • If you find a useful article, check the reference list to find more relevant sources.
  • Take note of frequent references to find any significant publications that did not appear in your keyword search.
  • When you keep reading the same stories, books or posts, be sure to check them out.
  • Make a list of your search servers.Please remember to include extensive repositories such as WorldCat and, if applicable, Dissertations & Theses.

Find the literature and run your searches.

Keep a track record of your activity!

  • Carefully review the research study abstracts. That's going to save you time.
  • Write down the searches you're doing in each database so you can repeat them if you need to do so later (or stop dead-end searches you've already tried).
  • Use the research studies bibliographies and references to locate others.
  • If you lack any key works in the area, tell your professor or a scholar in the field.
  • Using RefWorks to keep track of quotes from your study. See the tutorial for RefWorks if you need help.

Reviewing the literature

Some questions to help you analyze the research:

  • what was your study's research question? What the researchers are trying to find out?
  • Was the research funded by a source that might impact the findings?
  • What were the methodologies of the research? Analyze your review of the literature, the samples and variables used the results and conclusions.
  • Looks like the research is complete? Could it have been more sound? What additional questions does it raise?
  • Why do you think that's when there are conflicting studies?
  • What is the view of the researchers in the field? Was this study cited? if so, how was this analyzed?

There are different approaches to organizing a review of the body of literature. Before you begin writing, you should have a rough idea of your strategy. You may mix several of these approaches depending on the length of your literature review— for example, the overall structure may be thematic, but each subject is addressed chronologically.


The easiest approach is to trace the theme's development over time. Nonetheless, be careful to avoid simply mentioning and summarizing sources in order if you choose this approach. Try to analyze patterns, turning points, and key discussions that have shaped the field's direction. Give your interpretation of how and why some developments have taken place.


You can organize your literature review into subsections that cover different aspects of the subject if you have identified any recurring central themes.

For example, when you study research on differences in migrant health outcomes, key topics may include health care policy, language barriers, cultural attitudes, legal status, and access to economics.


When you derive your sources from a variety of disciplines or areas using a variety of research methods, you may want to compare the results and conclusions of different approaches. For example: Look at what results have emerged in qualitative versus quantitative research Discuss how the topic has been approached through empirical versus theoretical research.


A study of literature is often the foundation of a theoretical framework. You can use it to explore key concepts with different theories, models and meanings. You might argue for the relevance of a specific theoretical approach, or combine various theoretical concepts to create a framework for your research.

How to organize the literature review


The emphasis and intent of the literature review should be clearly defined in the introduction.


  • You might want to divide the body into subsections depending on the length of your literature review. For each subject, time period, or methodological approach, you can use a subheading.
  • When you compose, you can follow these tips:
  • summarize and synthesize: give a summary of each source's main points and incorporate them into a cohesive whole.
  • Analyze and interpret: not just paraphrase other authors — add your own interpretations where appropriate,
  • examine the importance of results in relation to the literature as a whole.


In summary, the key findings from the literature should be summarized and emphasized.