how to structure a literature review

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How to structure a literature review pale fire critical essay

How to structure a 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. Introduction The introduction should: define your topic and provide an appropriate context for reviewing the literature; establish your reasons — i. For example, if you were reviewing the literature on obesity in children you might say something like: There are a large number of studies of obesity trends in the general population. However, since the focus of this research is on obesity in children, these will not be reviewed in detail and will only be referred to as appropriate.

Main body The middle or main body should: organise the literature according to common themes; provide insight into the relation between your chosen topic and the wider subject area e. Depending on the length of your literature review, you can combine several of these strategies for example, your overall structure might be thematic, but each theme is discussed chronologically.

The simplest approach is to trace the development of the topic over time. However, if you choose this strategy, be careful to avoid simply listing and summarizing sources in order. Try to analyze patterns, turning points and key debates that have shaped the direction of the field. Give your interpretation of how and why certain developments occurred. If you have found some recurring central themes, you can organize your literature review into subsections that address different aspects of the topic.

For example, if you are reviewing literature about inequalities in migrant health outcomes, key themes might include healthcare policy, language barriers, cultural attitudes, legal status, and economic access. If you draw your sources from different disciplines or fields that use a variety of research methods , you might want to compare the results and conclusions that emerge from different approaches.

For example:. A literature review is often the foundation for a theoretical framework. You can use it to discuss various theories, models, and definitions of key concepts. You might argue for the relevance of a specific theoretical approach, or combine various theoretical concepts to create a framework for your research.

Like any other academic text , your literature review should have an introduction , a main body, and a conclusion. What you include in each depends on the objective of your literature review. Depending on the length of your literature review, you might want to divide the body into subsections. You can use a subheading for each theme, time period, or methodological approach.

Example of a paragraph in a literature review Body image issues have been widely associated with social media usage, particularly in young women. The relation between media depictions and body image concerns is well-established; a meta-analysis by Grabe, Ward and Hyde concluded that exposure to mass media is linked to body image dissatisfaction among women. However, in an era of rapidly changing digital technologies, the mass media paradigm is no longer adequate for understanding how people engage with images, and the findings of older studies like this one may not be generalizable to younger generations.

In light of this changing landscape, researchers have become increasingly interested in the specific effects of social media. Perloff theorizes that the interactive aspects of social media may influence its impact on body image, and mentions that young women are among the most active social media users.

Across these studies, there is consistent evidence that body image issues are influenced not by social media usage in general, but by engagement with the visual and interactive aspects of these platforms. Nonetheless, there is a lack of robust research on more highly visual social media HVSM such as Instagram and Snapchat that have gained more recent popularity among younger generations. In the conclusion, you should summarize the key findings you have taken from the literature and emphasize their significance.

Not a language expert? This article has been adapted into lecture slides that you can use to teach your students about writing a literature review. A literature review is a survey of scholarly sources such as books, journal articles, and theses related to a specific topic or research question. It is often written as part of a thesis, dissertation , or research paper , in order to situate your work in relation to existing knowledge. There are several reasons to conduct a literature review at the beginning of a research project:.

Writing the literature review shows your reader how your work relates to existing research and what new insights it will contribute. The literature review usually comes near the beginning of your thesis or dissertation. After the introduction , it grounds your research in a scholarly field and leads directly to your theoretical framework or methodology.

Have a language expert improve your writing. Check your paper for plagiarism in 10 minutes. Do the check. Generate your APA citations for free! APA Citation Generator. Home Knowledge Base Dissertation How to write a literature review. Receive feedback on language, structure and layout Professional editors proofread and edit your paper by focusing on: Academic style Vague sentences Grammar Style consistency See an example.

Body image issues have been widely associated with social media usage, particularly in young women. What is a literature review? What is the purpose of a literature review? Where does the literature review go in a dissertation? Is this article helpful? Shona McCombes Shona has a bachelor's and two master's degrees, so she's an expert at writing a great thesis. She has also worked as an editor and teacher, working with students at all different levels to improve their academic writing.

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Main body The middle or main body should: organise the literature according to common themes; provide insight into the relation between your chosen topic and the wider subject area e. Conclusion The conclusion should: summarise the important aspects of the existing body of literature; evaluate the current state of the literature reviewed; identify significant flaws or gaps in existing knowledge; outline areas for future study; link your research to existing knowledge.

Cookies Policy. Privacy Policy. Twitter Facebook Vimeo. Cone, J. Dissertations and theses from start to finish: Psychology and related fields 2nd ed. American Psychological Association. Mauch, J. Guide to the successful thesis and dissertation: A handbook for students and faculty 5th ed.

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Why reference? Plagiarism Turnitin Common knowledge Referencing styles What type of source is this? Reference list vs. Literature review structure Show all Hide all. As you review books and journals, write down the topic words that you have selected. This section is most likely the longest section of the thesis. It includes: An introduction A review of the past and present literature in relation to your research purpose Clarification of the purpose of study General hypotheses to be tested.

This section outlines relevant theories that impact your study. Cover studies that examine related independent variables. Cover studies that examine related dependent variables. You could organise the review according to personality studies, drinking patterns, relationship skills, and so on. Organise by type of design. The order usually moves from weaker to stronger designs, for example correlational before experimental designs.

Organise by chronology. Particular theories may develop according to strict chronological changes perhaps due to technology, expansion of theories, or social changes, etc. Organise by theoretical premises.

This is useful if you are dealing with competing explanations or when different theories contribute to your research question. Organise by findings.

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