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How to Write a Literature Review | Guide, Examples, & Templates

Published on January 2, 2023 by Shona McCombes . Revised on September 11, 2023.

What is a literature review? A literature review is a survey of scholarly sources on a specific topic. It provides an overview of current knowledge, allowing you to identify relevant theories, methods, and gaps in the existing research that you can later apply to your paper, thesis, or dissertation topic .

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

A good literature review doesn’t just summarize sources—it analyzes, synthesizes , and critically evaluates to give a clear picture of the state of knowledge on the subject.

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Table of contents

What is the purpose of a literature review, examples of literature reviews, step 1 – search for relevant literature, step 2 – evaluate and select sources, step 3 – identify themes, debates, and gaps, step 4 – outline your literature review’s structure, step 5 – write your literature review, free lecture slides, other interesting articles, frequently asked questions, introduction.

  • Quick Run-through
  • Step 1 & 2

When you write a thesis , dissertation , or research paper , you will likely have to conduct a literature review to situate your research within existing knowledge. The literature review gives you a chance to:

  • Demonstrate your familiarity with the topic and its scholarly context
  • Develop a theoretical framework and methodology for your research
  • Position your work in relation to other researchers and theorists
  • Show how your research addresses a gap or contributes to a debate
  • Evaluate the current state of research and demonstrate your knowledge of the scholarly debates around your topic.

Writing literature reviews is a particularly important skill if you want to apply for graduate school or pursue a career in research. We’ve written a step-by-step guide that you can follow below.

Literature review guide

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how to make a review of related studies in research

Writing literature reviews can be quite challenging! A good starting point could be to look at some examples, depending on what kind of literature review you’d like to write.

  • Example literature review #1: “Why Do People Migrate? A Review of the Theoretical Literature” ( Theoretical literature review about the development of economic migration theory from the 1950s to today.)
  • Example literature review #2: “Literature review as a research methodology: An overview and guidelines” ( Methodological literature review about interdisciplinary knowledge acquisition and production.)
  • Example literature review #3: “The Use of Technology in English Language Learning: A Literature Review” ( Thematic literature review about the effects of technology on language acquisition.)
  • Example literature review #4: “Learners’ Listening Comprehension Difficulties in English Language Learning: A Literature Review” ( Chronological literature review about how the concept of listening skills has changed over time.)

You can also check out our templates with literature review examples and sample outlines at the links below.

Download Word doc Download Google doc

Before you begin searching for literature, you need a clearly defined topic .

If you are writing the literature review section of a dissertation or research paper, you will search for literature related to your research problem and questions .

Make a list of keywords

Start by creating a list of keywords related to your research question. Include each of the key concepts or variables you’re interested in, and list any synonyms and related terms. You can add to this list as you discover new keywords in the process of your literature search.

  • Social media, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, TikTok
  • Body image, self-perception, self-esteem, mental health
  • Generation Z, teenagers, adolescents, youth

Search for relevant sources

Use your keywords to begin searching for sources. Some useful databases to search for journals and articles include:

  • Your university’s library catalogue
  • Google Scholar
  • Project Muse (humanities and social sciences)
  • Medline (life sciences and biomedicine)
  • EconLit (economics)
  • Inspec (physics, engineering and computer science)

You can also use boolean operators to help narrow down your search.

Make sure to read the abstract to find out whether an article is relevant to your question. When you find a useful book or article, you can check the bibliography to find other relevant sources.

You likely won’t be able to read absolutely everything that has been written on your topic, so it will be necessary to evaluate which sources are most relevant to your research question.

For each publication, ask yourself:

  • What question or problem is the author addressing?
  • What are the key concepts and how are they defined?
  • What are the key theories, models, and methods?
  • Does the research use established frameworks or take an innovative approach?
  • What are the results and conclusions of the study?
  • How does the publication relate to other literature in the field? Does it confirm, add to, or challenge established knowledge?
  • What are the strengths and weaknesses of the research?

Make sure the sources you use are credible , and make sure you read any landmark studies and major theories in your field of research.

You can use our template to summarize and evaluate sources you’re thinking about using. Click on either button below to download.

Take notes and cite your sources

As you read, you should also begin the writing process. Take notes that you can later incorporate into the text of your literature review.

It is important to keep track of your sources with citations to avoid plagiarism . It can be helpful to make an annotated bibliography , where you compile full citation information and write a paragraph of summary and analysis for each source. This helps you remember what you read and saves time later in the process.

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To begin organizing your literature review’s argument and structure, be sure you understand the connections and relationships between the sources you’ve read. Based on your reading and notes, you can look for:

  • Trends and patterns (in theory, method or results): do certain approaches become more or less popular over time?
  • Themes: what questions or concepts recur across the literature?
  • Debates, conflicts and contradictions: where do sources disagree?
  • Pivotal publications: are there any influential theories or studies that changed the direction of the field?
  • Gaps: what is missing from the literature? Are there weaknesses that need to be addressed?

This step will help you work out the structure of your literature review and (if applicable) show how your own research will contribute to existing knowledge.

  • Most research has focused on young women.
  • There is an increasing interest in the visual aspects of social media.
  • But there is still a lack of robust research on highly visual platforms like Instagram and Snapchat—this is a gap that you could address in your own research.

There are various approaches to organizing the body of a literature review. 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:

  • Look at what results have emerged in qualitative versus quantitative research
  • Discuss how the topic has been approached by empirical versus theoretical scholarship
  • Divide the literature into sociological, historical, and cultural sources


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.

The introduction should clearly establish the focus and purpose of the 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.

As you write, you can follow these tips:

  • Summarize and synthesize: give an overview of the main points of each source and combine them into a coherent whole
  • Analyze and interpret: don’t just paraphrase other researchers — add your own interpretations where possible, discussing the significance of findings in relation to the literature as a whole
  • Critically evaluate: mention the strengths and weaknesses of your sources
  • Write in well-structured paragraphs: use transition words and topic sentences to draw connections, comparisons and contrasts

In the conclusion, you should summarize the key findings you have taken from the literature and emphasize their significance.

When you’ve finished writing and revising your literature review, don’t forget to proofread thoroughly before submitting. Not a language expert? Check out Scribbr’s professional proofreading services !

This article has been adapted into lecture slides that you can use to teach your students about writing a literature review.

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If you want to know more about the research process , methodology , research bias , or statistics , make sure to check out some of our other articles with explanations and examples.

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Research bias

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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:

  • To familiarize yourself with the current state of knowledge on your topic
  • To ensure that you’re not just repeating what others have already done
  • To identify gaps in knowledge and unresolved problems that your research can address
  • To develop your theoretical framework and methodology
  • To provide an overview of the key findings and debates on the topic

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 .

A literature review is a survey of credible sources on a topic, often used in dissertations , theses, and research papers . Literature reviews give an overview of knowledge on a subject, helping you identify relevant theories and methods, as well as gaps in existing research. Literature reviews are set up similarly to other  academic texts , with an introduction , a main body, and a conclusion .

An  annotated bibliography is a list of  source references that has a short description (called an annotation ) for each of the sources. It is often assigned as part of the research process for a  paper .  

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Ten Simple Rules for Writing a Literature Review

Marco pautasso.

1 Centre for Functional and Evolutionary Ecology (CEFE), CNRS, Montpellier, France

2 Centre for Biodiversity Synthesis and Analysis (CESAB), FRB, Aix-en-Provence, France

Literature reviews are in great demand in most scientific fields. Their need stems from the ever-increasing output of scientific publications [1] . For example, compared to 1991, in 2008 three, eight, and forty times more papers were indexed in Web of Science on malaria, obesity, and biodiversity, respectively [2] . Given such mountains of papers, scientists cannot be expected to examine in detail every single new paper relevant to their interests [3] . Thus, it is both advantageous and necessary to rely on regular summaries of the recent literature. Although recognition for scientists mainly comes from primary research, timely literature reviews can lead to new synthetic insights and are often widely read [4] . For such summaries to be useful, however, they need to be compiled in a professional way [5] .

When starting from scratch, reviewing the literature can require a titanic amount of work. That is why researchers who have spent their career working on a certain research issue are in a perfect position to review that literature. Some graduate schools are now offering courses in reviewing the literature, given that most research students start their project by producing an overview of what has already been done on their research issue [6] . However, it is likely that most scientists have not thought in detail about how to approach and carry out a literature review.

Reviewing the literature requires the ability to juggle multiple tasks, from finding and evaluating relevant material to synthesising information from various sources, from critical thinking to paraphrasing, evaluating, and citation skills [7] . In this contribution, I share ten simple rules I learned working on about 25 literature reviews as a PhD and postdoctoral student. Ideas and insights also come from discussions with coauthors and colleagues, as well as feedback from reviewers and editors.

Rule 1: Define a Topic and Audience

How to choose which topic to review? There are so many issues in contemporary science that you could spend a lifetime of attending conferences and reading the literature just pondering what to review. On the one hand, if you take several years to choose, several other people may have had the same idea in the meantime. On the other hand, only a well-considered topic is likely to lead to a brilliant literature review [8] . The topic must at least be:

  • interesting to you (ideally, you should have come across a series of recent papers related to your line of work that call for a critical summary),
  • an important aspect of the field (so that many readers will be interested in the review and there will be enough material to write it), and
  • a well-defined issue (otherwise you could potentially include thousands of publications, which would make the review unhelpful).

Ideas for potential reviews may come from papers providing lists of key research questions to be answered [9] , but also from serendipitous moments during desultory reading and discussions. In addition to choosing your topic, you should also select a target audience. In many cases, the topic (e.g., web services in computational biology) will automatically define an audience (e.g., computational biologists), but that same topic may also be of interest to neighbouring fields (e.g., computer science, biology, etc.).

Rule 2: Search and Re-search the Literature

After having chosen your topic and audience, start by checking the literature and downloading relevant papers. Five pieces of advice here:

  • keep track of the search items you use (so that your search can be replicated [10] ),
  • keep a list of papers whose pdfs you cannot access immediately (so as to retrieve them later with alternative strategies),
  • use a paper management system (e.g., Mendeley, Papers, Qiqqa, Sente),
  • define early in the process some criteria for exclusion of irrelevant papers (these criteria can then be described in the review to help define its scope), and
  • do not just look for research papers in the area you wish to review, but also seek previous reviews.

The chances are high that someone will already have published a literature review ( Figure 1 ), if not exactly on the issue you are planning to tackle, at least on a related topic. If there are already a few or several reviews of the literature on your issue, my advice is not to give up, but to carry on with your own literature review,

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The bottom-right situation (many literature reviews but few research papers) is not just a theoretical situation; it applies, for example, to the study of the impacts of climate change on plant diseases, where there appear to be more literature reviews than research studies [33] .

  • discussing in your review the approaches, limitations, and conclusions of past reviews,
  • trying to find a new angle that has not been covered adequately in the previous reviews, and
  • incorporating new material that has inevitably accumulated since their appearance.

When searching the literature for pertinent papers and reviews, the usual rules apply:

  • be thorough,
  • use different keywords and database sources (e.g., DBLP, Google Scholar, ISI Proceedings, JSTOR Search, Medline, Scopus, Web of Science), and
  • look at who has cited past relevant papers and book chapters.

Rule 3: Take Notes While Reading

If you read the papers first, and only afterwards start writing the review, you will need a very good memory to remember who wrote what, and what your impressions and associations were while reading each single paper. My advice is, while reading, to start writing down interesting pieces of information, insights about how to organize the review, and thoughts on what to write. This way, by the time you have read the literature you selected, you will already have a rough draft of the review.

Of course, this draft will still need much rewriting, restructuring, and rethinking to obtain a text with a coherent argument [11] , but you will have avoided the danger posed by staring at a blank document. Be careful when taking notes to use quotation marks if you are provisionally copying verbatim from the literature. It is advisable then to reformulate such quotes with your own words in the final draft. It is important to be careful in noting the references already at this stage, so as to avoid misattributions. Using referencing software from the very beginning of your endeavour will save you time.

Rule 4: Choose the Type of Review You Wish to Write

After having taken notes while reading the literature, you will have a rough idea of the amount of material available for the review. This is probably a good time to decide whether to go for a mini- or a full review. Some journals are now favouring the publication of rather short reviews focusing on the last few years, with a limit on the number of words and citations. A mini-review is not necessarily a minor review: it may well attract more attention from busy readers, although it will inevitably simplify some issues and leave out some relevant material due to space limitations. A full review will have the advantage of more freedom to cover in detail the complexities of a particular scientific development, but may then be left in the pile of the very important papers “to be read” by readers with little time to spare for major monographs.

There is probably a continuum between mini- and full reviews. The same point applies to the dichotomy of descriptive vs. integrative reviews. While descriptive reviews focus on the methodology, findings, and interpretation of each reviewed study, integrative reviews attempt to find common ideas and concepts from the reviewed material [12] . A similar distinction exists between narrative and systematic reviews: while narrative reviews are qualitative, systematic reviews attempt to test a hypothesis based on the published evidence, which is gathered using a predefined protocol to reduce bias [13] , [14] . When systematic reviews analyse quantitative results in a quantitative way, they become meta-analyses. The choice between different review types will have to be made on a case-by-case basis, depending not just on the nature of the material found and the preferences of the target journal(s), but also on the time available to write the review and the number of coauthors [15] .

Rule 5: Keep the Review Focused, but Make It of Broad Interest

Whether your plan is to write a mini- or a full review, it is good advice to keep it focused 16 , 17 . Including material just for the sake of it can easily lead to reviews that are trying to do too many things at once. The need to keep a review focused can be problematic for interdisciplinary reviews, where the aim is to bridge the gap between fields [18] . If you are writing a review on, for example, how epidemiological approaches are used in modelling the spread of ideas, you may be inclined to include material from both parent fields, epidemiology and the study of cultural diffusion. This may be necessary to some extent, but in this case a focused review would only deal in detail with those studies at the interface between epidemiology and the spread of ideas.

While focus is an important feature of a successful review, this requirement has to be balanced with the need to make the review relevant to a broad audience. This square may be circled by discussing the wider implications of the reviewed topic for other disciplines.

Rule 6: Be Critical and Consistent

Reviewing the literature is not stamp collecting. A good review does not just summarize the literature, but discusses it critically, identifies methodological problems, and points out research gaps [19] . After having read a review of the literature, a reader should have a rough idea of:

  • the major achievements in the reviewed field,
  • the main areas of debate, and
  • the outstanding research questions.

It is challenging to achieve a successful review on all these fronts. A solution can be to involve a set of complementary coauthors: some people are excellent at mapping what has been achieved, some others are very good at identifying dark clouds on the horizon, and some have instead a knack at predicting where solutions are going to come from. If your journal club has exactly this sort of team, then you should definitely write a review of the literature! In addition to critical thinking, a literature review needs consistency, for example in the choice of passive vs. active voice and present vs. past tense.

Rule 7: Find a Logical Structure

Like a well-baked cake, a good review has a number of telling features: it is worth the reader's time, timely, systematic, well written, focused, and critical. It also needs a good structure. With reviews, the usual subdivision of research papers into introduction, methods, results, and discussion does not work or is rarely used. However, a general introduction of the context and, toward the end, a recapitulation of the main points covered and take-home messages make sense also in the case of reviews. For systematic reviews, there is a trend towards including information about how the literature was searched (database, keywords, time limits) [20] .

How can you organize the flow of the main body of the review so that the reader will be drawn into and guided through it? It is generally helpful to draw a conceptual scheme of the review, e.g., with mind-mapping techniques. Such diagrams can help recognize a logical way to order and link the various sections of a review [21] . This is the case not just at the writing stage, but also for readers if the diagram is included in the review as a figure. A careful selection of diagrams and figures relevant to the reviewed topic can be very helpful to structure the text too [22] .

Rule 8: Make Use of Feedback

Reviews of the literature are normally peer-reviewed in the same way as research papers, and rightly so [23] . As a rule, incorporating feedback from reviewers greatly helps improve a review draft. Having read the review with a fresh mind, reviewers may spot inaccuracies, inconsistencies, and ambiguities that had not been noticed by the writers due to rereading the typescript too many times. It is however advisable to reread the draft one more time before submission, as a last-minute correction of typos, leaps, and muddled sentences may enable the reviewers to focus on providing advice on the content rather than the form.

Feedback is vital to writing a good review, and should be sought from a variety of colleagues, so as to obtain a diversity of views on the draft. This may lead in some cases to conflicting views on the merits of the paper, and on how to improve it, but such a situation is better than the absence of feedback. A diversity of feedback perspectives on a literature review can help identify where the consensus view stands in the landscape of the current scientific understanding of an issue [24] .

Rule 9: Include Your Own Relevant Research, but Be Objective

In many cases, reviewers of the literature will have published studies relevant to the review they are writing. This could create a conflict of interest: how can reviewers report objectively on their own work [25] ? Some scientists may be overly enthusiastic about what they have published, and thus risk giving too much importance to their own findings in the review. However, bias could also occur in the other direction: some scientists may be unduly dismissive of their own achievements, so that they will tend to downplay their contribution (if any) to a field when reviewing it.

In general, a review of the literature should neither be a public relations brochure nor an exercise in competitive self-denial. If a reviewer is up to the job of producing a well-organized and methodical review, which flows well and provides a service to the readership, then it should be possible to be objective in reviewing one's own relevant findings. In reviews written by multiple authors, this may be achieved by assigning the review of the results of a coauthor to different coauthors.

Rule 10: Be Up-to-Date, but Do Not Forget Older Studies

Given the progressive acceleration in the publication of scientific papers, today's reviews of the literature need awareness not just of the overall direction and achievements of a field of inquiry, but also of the latest studies, so as not to become out-of-date before they have been published. Ideally, a literature review should not identify as a major research gap an issue that has just been addressed in a series of papers in press (the same applies, of course, to older, overlooked studies (“sleeping beauties” [26] )). This implies that literature reviewers would do well to keep an eye on electronic lists of papers in press, given that it can take months before these appear in scientific databases. Some reviews declare that they have scanned the literature up to a certain point in time, but given that peer review can be a rather lengthy process, a full search for newly appeared literature at the revision stage may be worthwhile. Assessing the contribution of papers that have just appeared is particularly challenging, because there is little perspective with which to gauge their significance and impact on further research and society.

Inevitably, new papers on the reviewed topic (including independently written literature reviews) will appear from all quarters after the review has been published, so that there may soon be the need for an updated review. But this is the nature of science [27] – [32] . I wish everybody good luck with writing a review of the literature.


Many thanks to M. Barbosa, K. Dehnen-Schmutz, T. Döring, D. Fontaneto, M. Garbelotto, O. Holdenrieder, M. Jeger, D. Lonsdale, A. MacLeod, P. Mills, M. Moslonka-Lefebvre, G. Stancanelli, P. Weisberg, and X. Xu for insights and discussions, and to P. Bourne, T. Matoni, and D. Smith for helpful comments on a previous draft.

Funding Statement

This work was funded by the French Foundation for Research on Biodiversity (FRB) through its Centre for Synthesis and Analysis of Biodiversity data (CESAB), as part of the NETSEED research project. The funders had no role in the preparation of the manuscript.

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A literature review surveys prior research published in books, scholarly articles, and any other sources relevant to a particular issue, area of research, or theory, and by so doing, provides a description, summary, and critical evaluation of these works in relation to the research problem being investigated. Literature reviews are designed to provide an overview of sources you have used in researching a particular topic and to demonstrate to your readers how your research fits within existing scholarship about the topic.

Fink, Arlene. Conducting Research Literature Reviews: From the Internet to Paper . Fourth edition. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE, 2014.

Importance of a Good Literature Review

A literature review may consist of simply a summary of key sources, but in the social sciences, a literature review usually has an organizational pattern and combines both summary and synthesis, often within specific conceptual categories . A summary is a recap of the important information of the source, but a synthesis is a re-organization, or a reshuffling, of that information in a way that informs how you are planning to investigate a research problem. The analytical features of a literature review might:

  • Give a new interpretation of old material or combine new with old interpretations,
  • Trace the intellectual progression of the field, including major debates,
  • Depending on the situation, evaluate the sources and advise the reader on the most pertinent or relevant research, or
  • Usually in the conclusion of a literature review, identify where gaps exist in how a problem has been researched to date.

Given this, the purpose of a literature review is to:

  • Place each work in the context of its contribution to understanding the research problem being studied.
  • Describe the relationship of each work to the others under consideration.
  • Identify new ways to interpret prior research.
  • Reveal any gaps that exist in the literature.
  • Resolve conflicts amongst seemingly contradictory previous studies.
  • Identify areas of prior scholarship to prevent duplication of effort.
  • Point the way in fulfilling a need for additional research.
  • Locate your own research within the context of existing literature [very important].

Fink, Arlene. Conducting Research Literature Reviews: From the Internet to Paper. 2nd ed. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, 2005; Hart, Chris. Doing a Literature Review: Releasing the Social Science Research Imagination . Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, 1998; Jesson, Jill. Doing Your Literature Review: Traditional and Systematic Techniques . Los Angeles, CA: SAGE, 2011; Knopf, Jeffrey W. "Doing a Literature Review." PS: Political Science and Politics 39 (January 2006): 127-132; Ridley, Diana. The Literature Review: A Step-by-Step Guide for Students . 2nd ed. Los Angeles, CA: SAGE, 2012.

Types of Literature Reviews

It is important to think of knowledge in a given field as consisting of three layers. First, there are the primary studies that researchers conduct and publish. Second are the reviews of those studies that summarize and offer new interpretations built from and often extending beyond the primary studies. Third, there are the perceptions, conclusions, opinion, and interpretations that are shared informally among scholars that become part of the body of epistemological traditions within the field.

In composing a literature review, it is important to note that it is often this third layer of knowledge that is cited as "true" even though it often has only a loose relationship to the primary studies and secondary literature reviews. Given this, while literature reviews are designed to provide an overview and synthesis of pertinent sources you have explored, there are a number of approaches you could adopt depending upon the type of analysis underpinning your study.

Argumentative Review This form examines literature selectively in order to support or refute an argument, deeply embedded assumption, or philosophical problem already established in the literature. The purpose is to develop a body of literature that establishes a contrarian viewpoint. Given the value-laden nature of some social science research [e.g., educational reform; immigration control], argumentative approaches to analyzing the literature can be a legitimate and important form of discourse. However, note that they can also introduce problems of bias when they are used to make summary claims of the sort found in systematic reviews [see below].

Integrative Review Considered a form of research that reviews, critiques, and synthesizes representative literature on a topic in an integrated way such that new frameworks and perspectives on the topic are generated. The body of literature includes all studies that address related or identical hypotheses or research problems. A well-done integrative review meets the same standards as primary research in regard to clarity, rigor, and replication. This is the most common form of review in the social sciences.

Historical Review Few things rest in isolation from historical precedent. Historical literature reviews focus on examining research throughout a period of time, often starting with the first time an issue, concept, theory, phenomena emerged in the literature, then tracing its evolution within the scholarship of a discipline. The purpose is to place research in a historical context to show familiarity with state-of-the-art developments and to identify the likely directions for future research.

Methodological Review A review does not always focus on what someone said [findings], but how they came about saying what they say [method of analysis]. Reviewing methods of analysis provides a framework of understanding at different levels [i.e. those of theory, substantive fields, research approaches, and data collection and analysis techniques], how researchers draw upon a wide variety of knowledge ranging from the conceptual level to practical documents for use in fieldwork in the areas of ontological and epistemological consideration, quantitative and qualitative integration, sampling, interviewing, data collection, and data analysis. This approach helps highlight ethical issues which you should be aware of and consider as you go through your own study.

Systematic Review This form consists of an overview of existing evidence pertinent to a clearly formulated research question, which uses pre-specified and standardized methods to identify and critically appraise relevant research, and to collect, report, and analyze data from the studies that are included in the review. The goal is to deliberately document, critically evaluate, and summarize scientifically all of the research about a clearly defined research problem . Typically it focuses on a very specific empirical question, often posed in a cause-and-effect form, such as "To what extent does A contribute to B?" This type of literature review is primarily applied to examining prior research studies in clinical medicine and allied health fields, but it is increasingly being used in the social sciences.

Theoretical Review The purpose of this form is to examine the corpus of theory that has accumulated in regard to an issue, concept, theory, phenomena. The theoretical literature review helps to establish what theories already exist, the relationships between them, to what degree the existing theories have been investigated, and to develop new hypotheses to be tested. Often this form is used to help establish a lack of appropriate theories or reveal that current theories are inadequate for explaining new or emerging research problems. The unit of analysis can focus on a theoretical concept or a whole theory or framework.

NOTE : Most often the literature review will incorporate some combination of types. For example, a review that examines literature supporting or refuting an argument, assumption, or philosophical problem related to the research problem will also need to include writing supported by sources that establish the history of these arguments in the literature.

Baumeister, Roy F. and Mark R. Leary. "Writing Narrative Literature Reviews."  Review of General Psychology 1 (September 1997): 311-320; Mark R. Fink, Arlene. Conducting Research Literature Reviews: From the Internet to Paper . 2nd ed. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, 2005; Hart, Chris. Doing a Literature Review: Releasing the Social Science Research Imagination . Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, 1998; Kennedy, Mary M. "Defining a Literature." Educational Researcher 36 (April 2007): 139-147; Petticrew, Mark and Helen Roberts. Systematic Reviews in the Social Sciences: A Practical Guide . Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishers, 2006; Torracro, Richard. "Writing Integrative Literature Reviews: Guidelines and Examples." Human Resource Development Review 4 (September 2005): 356-367; Rocco, Tonette S. and Maria S. Plakhotnik. "Literature Reviews, Conceptual Frameworks, and Theoretical Frameworks: Terms, Functions, and Distinctions." Human Ressource Development Review 8 (March 2008): 120-130; Sutton, Anthea. Systematic Approaches to a Successful Literature Review . Los Angeles, CA: Sage Publications, 2016.

Structure and Writing Style

I.  Thinking About Your Literature Review

The structure of a literature review should include the following in support of understanding the research problem :

  • An overview of the subject, issue, or theory under consideration, along with the objectives of the literature review,
  • Division of works under review into themes or categories [e.g. works that support a particular position, those against, and those offering alternative approaches entirely],
  • An explanation of how each work is similar to and how it varies from the others,
  • Conclusions as to which pieces are best considered in their argument, are most convincing of their opinions, and make the greatest contribution to the understanding and development of their area of research.

The critical evaluation of each work should consider :

  • Provenance -- what are the author's credentials? Are the author's arguments supported by evidence [e.g. primary historical material, case studies, narratives, statistics, recent scientific findings]?
  • Methodology -- were the techniques used to identify, gather, and analyze the data appropriate to addressing the research problem? Was the sample size appropriate? Were the results effectively interpreted and reported?
  • Objectivity -- is the author's perspective even-handed or prejudicial? Is contrary data considered or is certain pertinent information ignored to prove the author's point?
  • Persuasiveness -- which of the author's theses are most convincing or least convincing?
  • Validity -- are the author's arguments and conclusions convincing? Does the work ultimately contribute in any significant way to an understanding of the subject?

II.  Development of the Literature Review

Four Basic Stages of Writing 1.  Problem formulation -- which topic or field is being examined and what are its component issues? 2.  Literature search -- finding materials relevant to the subject being explored. 3.  Data evaluation -- determining which literature makes a significant contribution to the understanding of the topic. 4.  Analysis and interpretation -- discussing the findings and conclusions of pertinent literature.

Consider the following issues before writing the literature review: Clarify If your assignment is not specific about what form your literature review should take, seek clarification from your professor by asking these questions: 1.  Roughly how many sources would be appropriate to include? 2.  What types of sources should I review (books, journal articles, websites; scholarly versus popular sources)? 3.  Should I summarize, synthesize, or critique sources by discussing a common theme or issue? 4.  Should I evaluate the sources in any way beyond evaluating how they relate to understanding the research problem? 5.  Should I provide subheadings and other background information, such as definitions and/or a history? Find Models Use the exercise of reviewing the literature to examine how authors in your discipline or area of interest have composed their literature review sections. Read them to get a sense of the types of themes you might want to look for in your own research or to identify ways to organize your final review. The bibliography or reference section of sources you've already read, such as required readings in the course syllabus, are also excellent entry points into your own research. Narrow the Topic The narrower your topic, the easier it will be to limit the number of sources you need to read in order to obtain a good survey of relevant resources. Your professor will probably not expect you to read everything that's available about the topic, but you'll make the act of reviewing easier if you first limit scope of the research problem. A good strategy is to begin by searching the USC Libraries Catalog for recent books about the topic and review the table of contents for chapters that focuses on specific issues. You can also review the indexes of books to find references to specific issues that can serve as the focus of your research. For example, a book surveying the history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict may include a chapter on the role Egypt has played in mediating the conflict, or look in the index for the pages where Egypt is mentioned in the text. Consider Whether Your Sources are Current Some disciplines require that you use information that is as current as possible. This is particularly true in disciplines in medicine and the sciences where research conducted becomes obsolete very quickly as new discoveries are made. However, when writing a review in the social sciences, a survey of the history of the literature may be required. In other words, a complete understanding the research problem requires you to deliberately examine how knowledge and perspectives have changed over time. Sort through other current bibliographies or literature reviews in the field to get a sense of what your discipline expects. You can also use this method to explore what is considered by scholars to be a "hot topic" and what is not.

III.  Ways to Organize Your Literature Review

Chronology of Events If your review follows the chronological method, you could write about the materials according to when they were published. This approach should only be followed if a clear path of research building on previous research can be identified and that these trends follow a clear chronological order of development. For example, a literature review that focuses on continuing research about the emergence of German economic power after the fall of the Soviet Union. By Publication Order your sources by publication chronology, then, only if the order demonstrates a more important trend. For instance, you could order a review of literature on environmental studies of brown fields if the progression revealed, for example, a change in the soil collection practices of the researchers who wrote and/or conducted the studies. Thematic [“conceptual categories”] A thematic literature review is the most common approach to summarizing prior research in the social and behavioral sciences. Thematic reviews are organized around a topic or issue, rather than the progression of time, although the progression of time may still be incorporated into a thematic review. For example, a review of the Internet’s impact on American presidential politics could focus on the development of online political satire. While the study focuses on one topic, the Internet’s impact on American presidential politics, it would still be organized chronologically reflecting technological developments in media. The difference in this example between a "chronological" and a "thematic" approach is what is emphasized the most: themes related to the role of the Internet in presidential politics. Note that more authentic thematic reviews tend to break away from chronological order. A review organized in this manner would shift between time periods within each section according to the point being made. Methodological A methodological approach focuses on the methods utilized by the researcher. For the Internet in American presidential politics project, one methodological approach would be to look at cultural differences between the portrayal of American presidents on American, British, and French websites. Or the review might focus on the fundraising impact of the Internet on a particular political party. A methodological scope will influence either the types of documents in the review or the way in which these documents are discussed.

Other Sections of Your Literature Review Once you've decided on the organizational method for your literature review, the sections you need to include in the paper should be easy to figure out because they arise from your organizational strategy. In other words, a chronological review would have subsections for each vital time period; a thematic review would have subtopics based upon factors that relate to the theme or issue. However, sometimes you may need to add additional sections that are necessary for your study, but do not fit in the organizational strategy of the body. What other sections you include in the body is up to you. However, only include what is necessary for the reader to locate your study within the larger scholarship about the research problem.

Here are examples of other sections, usually in the form of a single paragraph, you may need to include depending on the type of review you write:

  • Current Situation : Information necessary to understand the current topic or focus of the literature review.
  • Sources Used : Describes the methods and resources [e.g., databases] you used to identify the literature you reviewed.
  • History : The chronological progression of the field, the research literature, or an idea that is necessary to understand the literature review, if the body of the literature review is not already a chronology.
  • Selection Methods : Criteria you used to select (and perhaps exclude) sources in your literature review. For instance, you might explain that your review includes only peer-reviewed [i.e., scholarly] sources.
  • Standards : Description of the way in which you present your information.
  • Questions for Further Research : What questions about the field has the review sparked? How will you further your research as a result of the review?

IV.  Writing Your Literature Review

Once you've settled on how to organize your literature review, you're ready to write each section. When writing your review, keep in mind these issues.

Use Evidence A literature review section is, in this sense, just like any other academic research paper. Your interpretation of the available sources must be backed up with evidence [citations] that demonstrates that what you are saying is valid. Be Selective Select only the most important points in each source to highlight in the review. The type of information you choose to mention should relate directly to the research problem, whether it is thematic, methodological, or chronological. Related items that provide additional information, but that are not key to understanding the research problem, can be included in a list of further readings . Use Quotes Sparingly Some short quotes are appropriate if you want to emphasize a point, or if what an author stated cannot be easily paraphrased. Sometimes you may need to quote certain terminology that was coined by the author, is not common knowledge, or taken directly from the study. Do not use extensive quotes as a substitute for using your own words in reviewing the literature. Summarize and Synthesize Remember to summarize and synthesize your sources within each thematic paragraph as well as throughout the review. Recapitulate important features of a research study, but then synthesize it by rephrasing the study's significance and relating it to your own work and the work of others. Keep Your Own Voice While the literature review presents others' ideas, your voice [the writer's] should remain front and center. For example, weave references to other sources into what you are writing but maintain your own voice by starting and ending the paragraph with your own ideas and wording. Use Caution When Paraphrasing When paraphrasing a source that is not your own, be sure to represent the author's information or opinions accurately and in your own words. Even when paraphrasing an author’s work, you still must provide a citation to that work.

V.  Common Mistakes to Avoid

These are the most common mistakes made in reviewing social science research literature.

  • Sources in your literature review do not clearly relate to the research problem;
  • You do not take sufficient time to define and identify the most relevant sources to use in the literature review related to the research problem;
  • Relies exclusively on secondary analytical sources rather than including relevant primary research studies or data;
  • Uncritically accepts another researcher's findings and interpretations as valid, rather than examining critically all aspects of the research design and analysis;
  • Does not describe the search procedures that were used in identifying the literature to review;
  • Reports isolated statistical results rather than synthesizing them in chi-squared or meta-analytic methods; and,
  • Only includes research that validates assumptions and does not consider contrary findings and alternative interpretations found in the literature.

Cook, Kathleen E. and Elise Murowchick. “Do Literature Review Skills Transfer from One Course to Another?” Psychology Learning and Teaching 13 (March 2014): 3-11; Fink, Arlene. Conducting Research Literature Reviews: From the Internet to Paper . 2nd ed. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, 2005; Hart, Chris. Doing a Literature Review: Releasing the Social Science Research Imagination . Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, 1998; Jesson, Jill. Doing Your Literature Review: Traditional and Systematic Techniques . London: SAGE, 2011; Literature Review Handout. Online Writing Center. Liberty University; Literature Reviews. The Writing Center. University of North Carolina; Onwuegbuzie, Anthony J. and Rebecca Frels. Seven Steps to a Comprehensive Literature Review: A Multimodal and Cultural Approach . Los Angeles, CA: SAGE, 2016; Ridley, Diana. The Literature Review: A Step-by-Step Guide for Students . 2nd ed. Los Angeles, CA: SAGE, 2012; Randolph, Justus J. “A Guide to Writing the Dissertation Literature Review." Practical Assessment, Research, and Evaluation. vol. 14, June 2009; Sutton, Anthea. Systematic Approaches to a Successful Literature Review . Los Angeles, CA: Sage Publications, 2016; Taylor, Dena. The Literature Review: A Few Tips On Conducting It. University College Writing Centre. University of Toronto; Writing a Literature Review. Academic Skills Centre. University of Canberra.

Writing Tip

Break Out of Your Disciplinary Box!

Thinking interdisciplinarily about a research problem can be a rewarding exercise in applying new ideas, theories, or concepts to an old problem. For example, what might cultural anthropologists say about the continuing conflict in the Middle East? In what ways might geographers view the need for better distribution of social service agencies in large cities than how social workers might study the issue? You don’t want to substitute a thorough review of core research literature in your discipline for studies conducted in other fields of study. However, particularly in the social sciences, thinking about research problems from multiple vectors is a key strategy for finding new solutions to a problem or gaining a new perspective. Consult with a librarian about identifying research databases in other disciplines; almost every field of study has at least one comprehensive database devoted to indexing its research literature.

Frodeman, Robert. The Oxford Handbook of Interdisciplinarity . New York: Oxford University Press, 2010.

Another Writing Tip

Don't Just Review for Content!

While conducting a review of the literature, maximize the time you devote to writing this part of your paper by thinking broadly about what you should be looking for and evaluating. Review not just what scholars are saying, but how are they saying it. Some questions to ask:

  • How are they organizing their ideas?
  • What methods have they used to study the problem?
  • What theories have been used to explain, predict, or understand their research problem?
  • What sources have they cited to support their conclusions?
  • How have they used non-textual elements [e.g., charts, graphs, figures, etc.] to illustrate key points?

When you begin to write your literature review section, you'll be glad you dug deeper into how the research was designed and constructed because it establishes a means for developing more substantial analysis and interpretation of the research problem.

Hart, Chris. Doing a Literature Review: Releasing the Social Science Research Imagination . Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, 1 998.

Yet Another Writing Tip

When Do I Know I Can Stop Looking and Move On?

Here are several strategies you can utilize to assess whether you've thoroughly reviewed the literature:

  • Look for repeating patterns in the research findings . If the same thing is being said, just by different people, then this likely demonstrates that the research problem has hit a conceptual dead end. At this point consider: Does your study extend current research?  Does it forge a new path? Or, does is merely add more of the same thing being said?
  • Look at sources the authors cite to in their work . If you begin to see the same researchers cited again and again, then this is often an indication that no new ideas have been generated to address the research problem.
  • Search Google Scholar to identify who has subsequently cited leading scholars already identified in your literature review [see next sub-tab]. This is called citation tracking and there are a number of sources that can help you identify who has cited whom, particularly scholars from outside of your discipline. Here again, if the same authors are being cited again and again, this may indicate no new literature has been written on the topic.

Onwuegbuzie, Anthony J. and Rebecca Frels. Seven Steps to a Comprehensive Literature Review: A Multimodal and Cultural Approach . Los Angeles, CA: Sage, 2016; Sutton, Anthea. Systematic Approaches to a Successful Literature Review . Los Angeles, CA: Sage Publications, 2016.

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  • Last Updated: Apr 16, 2024 10:20 AM
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Grad Coach

How To Write An A-Grade Literature Review

3 straightforward steps (with examples) + free template.

By: Derek Jansen (MBA) | Expert Reviewed By: Dr. Eunice Rautenbach | October 2019

Quality research is about building onto the existing work of others , “standing on the shoulders of giants”, as Newton put it. The literature review chapter of your dissertation, thesis or research project is where you synthesise this prior work and lay the theoretical foundation for your own research.

Long story short, this chapter is a pretty big deal, which is why you want to make sure you get it right . In this post, I’ll show you exactly how to write a literature review in three straightforward steps, so you can conquer this vital chapter (the smart way).

Overview: The Literature Review Process

  • Understanding the “ why “
  • Finding the relevant literature
  • Cataloguing and synthesising the information
  • Outlining & writing up your literature review
  • Example of a literature review

But first, the “why”…

Before we unpack how to write the literature review chapter, we’ve got to look at the why . To put it bluntly, if you don’t understand the function and purpose of the literature review process, there’s no way you can pull it off well. So, what exactly is the purpose of the literature review?

Well, there are (at least) four core functions:

  • For you to gain an understanding (and demonstrate this understanding) of where the research is at currently, what the key arguments and disagreements are.
  • For you to identify the gap(s) in the literature and then use this as justification for your own research topic.
  • To help you build a conceptual framework for empirical testing (if applicable to your research topic).
  • To inform your methodological choices and help you source tried and tested questionnaires (for interviews ) and measurement instruments (for surveys ).

Most students understand the first point but don’t give any thought to the rest. To get the most from the literature review process, you must keep all four points front of mind as you review the literature (more on this shortly), or you’ll land up with a wonky foundation.

Okay – with the why out the way, let’s move on to the how . As mentioned above, writing your literature review is a process, which I’ll break down into three steps:

  • Finding the most suitable literature
  • Understanding , distilling and organising the literature
  • Planning and writing up your literature review chapter

Importantly, you must complete steps one and two before you start writing up your chapter. I know it’s very tempting, but don’t try to kill two birds with one stone and write as you read. You’ll invariably end up wasting huge amounts of time re-writing and re-shaping, or you’ll just land up with a disjointed, hard-to-digest mess . Instead, you need to read first and distil the information, then plan and execute the writing.

Free Webinar: Literature Review 101

Step 1: Find the relevant literature

Naturally, the first step in the literature review journey is to hunt down the existing research that’s relevant to your topic. While you probably already have a decent base of this from your research proposal , you need to expand on this substantially in the dissertation or thesis itself.

Essentially, you need to be looking for any existing literature that potentially helps you answer your research question (or develop it, if that’s not yet pinned down). There are numerous ways to find relevant literature, but I’ll cover my top four tactics here. I’d suggest combining all four methods to ensure that nothing slips past you:

Method 1 – Google Scholar Scrubbing

Google’s academic search engine, Google Scholar , is a great starting point as it provides a good high-level view of the relevant journal articles for whatever keyword you throw at it. Most valuably, it tells you how many times each article has been cited, which gives you an idea of how credible (or at least, popular) it is. Some articles will be free to access, while others will require an account, which brings us to the next method.

Method 2 – University Database Scrounging

Generally, universities provide students with access to an online library, which provides access to many (but not all) of the major journals.

So, if you find an article using Google Scholar that requires paid access (which is quite likely), search for that article in your university’s database – if it’s listed there, you’ll have access. Note that, generally, the search engine capabilities of these databases are poor, so make sure you search for the exact article name, or you might not find it.

Method 3 – Journal Article Snowballing

At the end of every academic journal article, you’ll find a list of references. As with any academic writing, these references are the building blocks of the article, so if the article is relevant to your topic, there’s a good chance a portion of the referenced works will be too. Do a quick scan of the titles and see what seems relevant, then search for the relevant ones in your university’s database.

Method 4 – Dissertation Scavenging

Similar to Method 3 above, you can leverage other students’ dissertations. All you have to do is skim through literature review chapters of existing dissertations related to your topic and you’ll find a gold mine of potential literature. Usually, your university will provide you with access to previous students’ dissertations, but you can also find a much larger selection in the following databases:

  • Open Access Theses & Dissertations
  • Stanford SearchWorks

Keep in mind that dissertations and theses are not as academically sound as published, peer-reviewed journal articles (because they’re written by students, not professionals), so be sure to check the credibility of any sources you find using this method. You can do this by assessing the citation count of any given article in Google Scholar. If you need help with assessing the credibility of any article, or with finding relevant research in general, you can chat with one of our Research Specialists .

Alright – with a good base of literature firmly under your belt, it’s time to move onto the next step.

Need a helping hand?

how to make a review of related studies in research

Step 2: Log, catalogue and synthesise

Once you’ve built a little treasure trove of articles, it’s time to get reading and start digesting the information – what does it all mean?

While I present steps one and two (hunting and digesting) as sequential, in reality, it’s more of a back-and-forth tango – you’ll read a little , then have an idea, spot a new citation, or a new potential variable, and then go back to searching for articles. This is perfectly natural – through the reading process, your thoughts will develop , new avenues might crop up, and directional adjustments might arise. This is, after all, one of the main purposes of the literature review process (i.e. to familiarise yourself with the current state of research in your field).

As you’re working through your treasure chest, it’s essential that you simultaneously start organising the information. There are three aspects to this:

  • Logging reference information
  • Building an organised catalogue
  • Distilling and synthesising the information

I’ll discuss each of these below:

2.1 – Log the reference information

As you read each article, you should add it to your reference management software. I usually recommend Mendeley for this purpose (see the Mendeley 101 video below), but you can use whichever software you’re comfortable with. Most importantly, make sure you load EVERY article you read into your reference manager, even if it doesn’t seem very relevant at the time.

2.2 – Build an organised catalogue

In the beginning, you might feel confident that you can remember who said what, where, and what their main arguments were. Trust me, you won’t. If you do a thorough review of the relevant literature (as you must!), you’re going to read many, many articles, and it’s simply impossible to remember who said what, when, and in what context . Also, without the bird’s eye view that a catalogue provides, you’ll miss connections between various articles, and have no view of how the research developed over time. Simply put, it’s essential to build your own catalogue of the literature.

I would suggest using Excel to build your catalogue, as it allows you to run filters, colour code and sort – all very useful when your list grows large (which it will). How you lay your spreadsheet out is up to you, but I’d suggest you have the following columns (at minimum):

  • Author, date, title – Start with three columns containing this core information. This will make it easy for you to search for titles with certain words, order research by date, or group by author.
  • Categories or keywords – You can either create multiple columns, one for each category/theme and then tick the relevant categories, or you can have one column with keywords.
  • Key arguments/points – Use this column to succinctly convey the essence of the article, the key arguments and implications thereof for your research.
  • Context – Note the socioeconomic context in which the research was undertaken. For example, US-based, respondents aged 25-35, lower- income, etc. This will be useful for making an argument about gaps in the research.
  • Methodology – Note which methodology was used and why. Also, note any issues you feel arise due to the methodology. Again, you can use this to make an argument about gaps in the research.
  • Quotations – Note down any quoteworthy lines you feel might be useful later.
  • Notes – Make notes about anything not already covered. For example, linkages to or disagreements with other theories, questions raised but unanswered, shortcomings or limitations, and so forth.

If you’d like, you can try out our free catalog template here (see screenshot below).

Excel literature review template

2.3 – Digest and synthesise

Most importantly, as you work through the literature and build your catalogue, you need to synthesise all the information in your own mind – how does it all fit together? Look for links between the various articles and try to develop a bigger picture view of the state of the research. Some important questions to ask yourself are:

  • What answers does the existing research provide to my own research questions ?
  • Which points do the researchers agree (and disagree) on?
  • How has the research developed over time?
  • Where do the gaps in the current research lie?

To help you develop a big-picture view and synthesise all the information, you might find mind mapping software such as Freemind useful. Alternatively, if you’re a fan of physical note-taking, investing in a large whiteboard might work for you.

Mind mapping is a useful way to plan your literature review.

Step 3: Outline and write it up!

Once you’re satisfied that you have digested and distilled all the relevant literature in your mind, it’s time to put pen to paper (or rather, fingers to keyboard). There are two steps here – outlining and writing:

3.1 – Draw up your outline

Having spent so much time reading, it might be tempting to just start writing up without a clear structure in mind. However, it’s critically important to decide on your structure and develop a detailed outline before you write anything. Your literature review chapter needs to present a clear, logical and an easy to follow narrative – and that requires some planning. Don’t try to wing it!

Naturally, you won’t always follow the plan to the letter, but without a detailed outline, you’re more than likely going to end up with a disjointed pile of waffle , and then you’re going to spend a far greater amount of time re-writing, hacking and patching. The adage, “measure twice, cut once” is very suitable here.

In terms of structure, the first decision you’ll have to make is whether you’ll lay out your review thematically (into themes) or chronologically (by date/period). The right choice depends on your topic, research objectives and research questions, which we discuss in this article .

Once that’s decided, you need to draw up an outline of your entire chapter in bullet point format. Try to get as detailed as possible, so that you know exactly what you’ll cover where, how each section will connect to the next, and how your entire argument will develop throughout the chapter. Also, at this stage, it’s a good idea to allocate rough word count limits for each section, so that you can identify word count problems before you’ve spent weeks or months writing!

PS – check out our free literature review chapter template…

3.2 – Get writing

With a detailed outline at your side, it’s time to start writing up (finally!). At this stage, it’s common to feel a bit of writer’s block and find yourself procrastinating under the pressure of finally having to put something on paper. To help with this, remember that the objective of the first draft is not perfection – it’s simply to get your thoughts out of your head and onto paper, after which you can refine them. The structure might change a little, the word count allocations might shift and shuffle, and you might add or remove a section – that’s all okay. Don’t worry about all this on your first draft – just get your thoughts down on paper.

start writing

Once you’ve got a full first draft (however rough it may be), step away from it for a day or two (longer if you can) and then come back at it with fresh eyes. Pay particular attention to the flow and narrative – does it fall fit together and flow from one section to another smoothly? Now’s the time to try to improve the linkage from each section to the next, tighten up the writing to be more concise, trim down word count and sand it down into a more digestible read.

Once you’ve done that, give your writing to a friend or colleague who is not a subject matter expert and ask them if they understand the overall discussion. The best way to assess this is to ask them to explain the chapter back to you. This technique will give you a strong indication of which points were clearly communicated and which weren’t. If you’re working with Grad Coach, this is a good time to have your Research Specialist review your chapter.

Finally, tighten it up and send it off to your supervisor for comment. Some might argue that you should be sending your work to your supervisor sooner than this (indeed your university might formally require this), but in my experience, supervisors are extremely short on time (and often patience), so, the more refined your chapter is, the less time they’ll waste on addressing basic issues (which you know about already) and the more time they’ll spend on valuable feedback that will increase your mark-earning potential.

Literature Review Example

In the video below, we unpack an actual literature review so that you can see how all the core components come together in reality.

Let’s Recap

In this post, we’ve covered how to research and write up a high-quality literature review chapter. Let’s do a quick recap of the key takeaways:

  • It is essential to understand the WHY of the literature review before you read or write anything. Make sure you understand the 4 core functions of the process.
  • The first step is to hunt down the relevant literature . You can do this using Google Scholar, your university database, the snowballing technique and by reviewing other dissertations and theses.
  • Next, you need to log all the articles in your reference manager , build your own catalogue of literature and synthesise all the research.
  • Following that, you need to develop a detailed outline of your entire chapter – the more detail the better. Don’t start writing without a clear outline (on paper, not in your head!)
  • Write up your first draft in rough form – don’t aim for perfection. Remember, done beats perfect.
  • Refine your second draft and get a layman’s perspective on it . Then tighten it up and submit it to your supervisor.

Literature Review Course

Psst… there’s more!

This post is an extract from our bestselling short course, Literature Review Bootcamp . If you want to work smart, you don't want to miss this .

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You’re welcome, Yinka. Thank you for the kind words. All the best writing your literature review.

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  • Steps in Conducting a Literature Review

What is a literature review?

A literature review is an integrated analysis -- not just a summary-- of scholarly writings and other relevant evidence related directly to your research question.  That is, it represents a synthesis of the evidence that provides background information on your topic and shows a association between the evidence and your research question.

A literature review may be a stand alone work or the introduction to a larger research paper, depending on the assignment.  Rely heavily on the guidelines your instructor has given you.

Why is it important?

A literature review is important because it:

  • Explains the background of research on a topic.
  • Demonstrates why a topic is significant to a subject area.
  • Discovers relationships between research studies/ideas.
  • Identifies major themes, concepts, and researchers on a topic.
  • Identifies critical gaps and points of disagreement.
  • Discusses further research questions that logically come out of the previous studies.

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1. Choose a topic. Define your research question.

Your literature review should be guided by your central research question.  The literature represents background and research developments related to a specific research question, interpreted and analyzed by you in a synthesized way.

  • Make sure your research question is not too broad or too narrow.  Is it manageable?
  • Begin writing down terms that are related to your question. These will be useful for searches later.
  • If you have the opportunity, discuss your topic with your professor and your class mates.

2. Decide on the scope of your review

How many studies do you need to look at? How comprehensive should it be? How many years should it cover? 

  • This may depend on your assignment.  How many sources does the assignment require?

3. Select the databases you will use to conduct your searches.

Make a list of the databases you will search. 

Where to find databases:

  • use the tabs on this guide
  • Find other databases in the Nursing Information Resources web page
  • More on the Medical Library web page
  • ... and more on the Yale University Library web page

4. Conduct your searches to find the evidence. Keep track of your searches.

  • Use the key words in your question, as well as synonyms for those words, as terms in your search. Use the database tutorials for help.
  • Save the searches in the databases. This saves time when you want to redo, or modify, the searches. It is also helpful to use as a guide is the searches are not finding any useful results.
  • Review the abstracts of research studies carefully. This will save you time.
  • Use the bibliographies and references of research studies you find to locate others.
  • Check with your professor, or a subject expert in the field, if you are missing any key works in the field.
  • Ask your librarian for help at any time.
  • Use a citation manager, such as EndNote as the repository for your citations. See the EndNote tutorials for help.

Review the literature

Some questions to help you analyze the research:

  • What was the research question of the study you are reviewing? What were the authors trying to discover?
  • Was the research funded by a source that could influence the findings?
  • What were the research methodologies? Analyze its literature review, the samples and variables used, the results, and the conclusions.
  • Does the research seem to be complete? Could it have been conducted more soundly? What further questions does it raise?
  • If there are conflicting studies, why do you think that is?
  • How are the authors viewed in the field? Has this study been cited? If so, how has it been analyzed?


  • Review the abstracts carefully.  
  • Keep careful notes so that you may track your thought processes during the research process.
  • Create a matrix of the studies for easy analysis, and synthesis, across all of the studies.
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Research Process :: Step by Step

  • Introduction
  • Select Topic
  • Identify Keywords
  • Background Information
  • Develop Research Questions
  • Refine Topic
  • Search Strategy
  • Popular Databases
  • Evaluate Sources
  • Types of Periodicals
  • Reading Scholarly Articles
  • Primary & Secondary Sources
  • Organize / Take Notes
  • Writing & Grammar Resources
  • Annotated Bibliography
  • Literature Review
  • Citation Styles
  • Paraphrasing
  • Privacy / Confidentiality
  • Research Process
  • Selecting Your Topic
  • Identifying Keywords
  • Gathering Background Info
  • Evaluating Sources

how to make a review of related studies in research

Organize the literature review into sections that present themes or identify trends, including relevant theory. You are not trying to list all the material published, but to synthesize and evaluate it according to the guiding concept of your thesis or research question.  

What is a literature review?

A literature review is an account of what has been published on a topic by accredited scholars and researchers. Occasionally you will be asked to write one as a separate assignment, but more often it is part of the introduction to an essay, research report, or thesis. In writing the literature review, your purpose is to convey to your reader what knowledge and ideas have been established on a topic, and what their strengths and weaknesses are. As a piece of writing, the literature review must be defined by a guiding concept (e.g., your research objective, the problem or issue you are discussing, or your argumentative thesis). It is not just a descriptive list of the material available, or a set of summaries

A literature review must do these things:

  • be organized around and related directly to the thesis or research question you are developing
  • synthesize results into a summary of what is and is not known
  • identify areas of controversy in the literature
  • formulate questions that need further research

Ask yourself questions like these:

  • What is the specific thesis, problem, or research question that my literature review helps to define?
  • What type of literature review am I conducting? Am I looking at issues of theory? methodology? policy? quantitative research (e.g. on the effectiveness of a new procedure)? qualitative research (e.g., studies of loneliness among migrant workers)?
  • What is the scope of my literature review? What types of publications am I using (e.g., journals, books, government documents, popular media)? What discipline am I working in (e.g., nursing psychology, sociology, medicine)?
  • How good was my information seeking? Has my search been wide enough to ensure I've found all the relevant material? Has it been narrow enough to exclude irrelevant material? Is the number of sources I've used appropriate for the length of my paper?
  • Have I critically analyzed the literature I use? Do I follow through a set of concepts and questions, comparing items to each other in the ways they deal with them? Instead of just listing and summarizing items, do I assess them, discussing strengths and weaknesses?
  • Have I cited and discussed studies contrary to my perspective?
  • Will the reader find my literature review relevant, appropriate, and useful?

Ask yourself questions like these about each book or article you include:

  • Has the author formulated a problem/issue?
  • Is it clearly defined? Is its significance (scope, severity, relevance) clearly established?
  • Could the problem have been approached more effectively from another perspective?
  • What is the author's research orientation (e.g., interpretive, critical science, combination)?
  • What is the author's theoretical framework (e.g., psychological, developmental, feminist)?
  • What is the relationship between the theoretical and research perspectives?
  • Has the author evaluated the literature relevant to the problem/issue? Does the author include literature taking positions she or he does not agree with?
  • In a research study, how good are the basic components of the study design (e.g., population, intervention, outcome)? How accurate and valid are the measurements? Is the analysis of the data accurate and relevant to the research question? Are the conclusions validly based upon the data and analysis?
  • In material written for a popular readership, does the author use appeals to emotion, one-sided examples, or rhetorically-charged language and tone? Is there an objective basis to the reasoning, or is the author merely "proving" what he or she already believes?
  • How does the author structure the argument? Can you "deconstruct" the flow of the argument to see whether or where it breaks down logically (e.g., in establishing cause-effect relationships)?
  • In what ways does this book or article contribute to our understanding of the problem under study, and in what ways is it useful for practice? What are the strengths and limitations?
  • How does this book or article relate to the specific thesis or question I am developing?

Text written by Dena Taylor, Health Sciences Writing Centre, University of Toronto


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Review of Related Literature: Format, Example, & How to Make RRL

A review of related literature is a separate paper or a part of an article that collects and synthesizes discussion on a topic. Its purpose is to show the current state of research on the issue and highlight gaps in existing knowledge. A literature review can be included in a research paper or scholarly article, typically following the introduction and before the research methods section.

The picture provides introductory definition of a review of related literature.

This article will clarify the definition, significance, and structure of a review of related literature. You’ll also learn how to organize your literature review and discover ideas for an RRL in different subjects.

🔤 What Is RRL?

  • ❗ Significance of Literature Review
  • 🔎 How to Search for Literature
  • 🧩 Literature Review Structure
  • 📋 Format of RRL — APA, MLA, & Others
  • ✍️ How to Write an RRL
  • 📚 Examples of RRL

🔗 References

A review of related literature (RRL) is a part of the research report that examines significant studies, theories, and concepts published in scholarly sources on a particular topic. An RRL includes 3 main components:

  • A short overview and critique of the previous research.
  • Similarities and differences between past studies and the current one.
  • An explanation of the theoretical frameworks underpinning the research.

❗ Significance of Review of Related Literature

Although the goal of a review of related literature differs depending on the discipline and its intended use, its significance cannot be overstated. Here are some examples of how a review might be beneficial:

  • It helps determine knowledge gaps .
  • It saves from duplicating research that has already been conducted.
  • It provides an overview of various research areas within the discipline.
  • It demonstrates the researcher’s familiarity with the topic.

🔎 How to Perform a Literature Search

Including a description of your search strategy in the literature review section can significantly increase your grade. You can search sources with the following steps:

🧩 Literature Review Structure Example

The majority of literature reviews follow a standard introduction-body-conclusion structure. Let’s look at the RRL structure in detail.

This image shows the literature review structure.

Introduction of Review of Related Literature: Sample

An introduction should clarify the study topic and the depth of the information to be delivered. It should also explain the types of sources used. If your lit. review is part of a larger research proposal or project, you can combine its introductory paragraph with the introduction of your paper.

Here is a sample introduction to an RRL about cyberbullying:

Bullying has troubled people since the beginning of time. However, with modern technological advancements, especially social media, bullying has evolved into cyberbullying. As a result, nowadays, teenagers and adults cannot flee their bullies, which makes them feel lonely and helpless. This literature review will examine recent studies on cyberbullying.

Sample Review of Related Literature Thesis

A thesis statement should include the central idea of your literature review and the primary supporting elements you discovered in the literature. Thesis statements are typically put at the end of the introductory paragraph.

Look at a sample thesis of a review of related literature:

This literature review shows that scholars have recently covered the issues of bullies’ motivation, the impact of bullying on victims and aggressors, common cyberbullying techniques, and victims’ coping strategies. However, there is still no agreement on the best practices to address cyberbullying.

Literature Review Body Paragraph Example

The main body of a literature review should provide an overview of the existing research on the issue. Body paragraphs should not just summarize each source but analyze them. You can organize your paragraphs with these 3 elements:

  • Claim . Start with a topic sentence linked to your literature review purpose.
  • Evidence . Cite relevant information from your chosen sources.
  • Discussion . Explain how the cited data supports your claim.

Here’s a literature review body paragraph example:

Scholars have examined the link between the aggressor and the victim. Beran et al. (2007) state that students bullied online often become cyberbullies themselves. Faucher et al. (2014) confirm this with their findings: they discovered that male and female students began engaging in cyberbullying after being subject to bullying. Hence, one can conclude that being a victim of bullying increases one’s likelihood of becoming a cyberbully.

Review of Related Literature: Conclusion

A conclusion presents a general consensus on the topic. Depending on your literature review purpose, it might include the following:

  • Introduction to further research . If you write a literature review as part of a larger research project, you can present your research question in your conclusion .
  • Overview of theories . You can summarize critical theories and concepts to help your reader understand the topic better.
  • Discussion of the gap . If you identified a research gap in the reviewed literature, your conclusion could explain why that gap is significant.

Check out a conclusion example that discusses a research gap:

There is extensive research into bullies’ motivation, the consequences of bullying for victims and aggressors, strategies for bullying, and coping with it. Yet, scholars still have not reached a consensus on what to consider the best practices to combat cyberbullying. This question is of great importance because of the significant adverse effects of cyberbullying on victims and bullies.

📋 Format of RRL — APA, MLA, & Others

In this section, we will discuss how to format an RRL according to the most common citation styles: APA, Chicago, MLA, and Harvard.

Writing a literature review using the APA7 style requires the following text formatting:

  • When using APA in-text citations , include the author’s last name and the year of publication in parentheses.
  • For direct quotations , you must also add the page number. If you use sources without page numbers, such as websites or e-books, include a paragraph number instead.
  • When referring to the author’s name in a sentence , you do not need to repeat it at the end of the sentence. Instead, include the year of publication inside the parentheses after their name.
  • The reference list should be included at the end of your literature review. It is always alphabetized by the last name of the author (from A to Z), and the lines are indented one-half inch from the left margin of your paper. Do not forget to invert authors’ names (the last name should come first) and include the full titles of journals instead of their abbreviations. If you use an online source, add its URL.

The RRL format in the Chicago style is as follows:

  • Author-date . You place your citations in brackets within the text, indicating the name of the author and the year of publication.
  • Notes and bibliography . You place your citations in numbered footnotes or endnotes to connect the citation back to the source in the bibliography.
  • The reference list, or bibliography , in Chicago style, is at the end of a literature review. The sources are arranged alphabetically and single-spaced. Each bibliography entry begins with the author’s name and the source’s title, followed by publication information, such as the city of publication, the publisher, and the year of publication.

Writing a literature review using the MLA style requires the following text formatting:

  • In the MLA format, you can cite a source in the text by indicating the author’s last name and the page number in parentheses at the end of the citation. If the cited information takes several pages, you need to include all the page numbers.
  • The reference list in MLA style is titled “ Works Cited .” In this section, all sources used in the paper should be listed in alphabetical order. Each entry should contain the author, title of the source, title of the journal or a larger volume, other contributors, version, number, publisher, and publication date.

The Harvard style requires you to use the following text formatting for your RRL:

  • In-text citations in the Harvard style include the author’s last name and the year of publication. If you are using a direct quote in your literature review, you need to add the page number as well.
  • Arrange your list of references alphabetically. Each entry should contain the author’s last name, their initials, the year of publication, the title of the source, and other publication information, like the journal title and issue number or the publisher.

✍️ How to Write Review of Related Literature – Sample

Literature reviews can be organized in many ways depending on what you want to achieve with them. In this section, we will look at 3 examples of how you can write your RRL.

This image shows the organizational patterns of a literature review.

Thematic Literature Review

A thematic literature review is arranged around central themes or issues discussed in the sources. If you have identified some recurring themes in the literature, you can divide your RRL into sections that address various aspects of the topic. For example, if you examine studies on e-learning, you can distinguish such themes as the cost-effectiveness of online learning, the technologies used, and its effectiveness compared to traditional education.

Chronological Literature Review

A chronological literature review is a way to track the development of the topic over time. If you use this method, avoid merely listing and summarizing sources in chronological order. Instead, try to analyze the trends, turning moments, and critical debates that have shaped the field’s path. Also, you can give your interpretation of how and why specific advances occurred.

Methodological Literature Review

A methodological literature review differs from the preceding ones in that it usually doesn’t focus on the sources’ content. Instead, it is concerned with the research methods . So, if your references come from several disciplines or fields employing various research techniques, you can compare the findings and conclusions of different methodologies, for instance:

  • empirical vs. theoretical studies;
  • qualitative vs. quantitative research.

📚 Examples of Review of Related Literature and Studies

We have prepared a short example of RRL on climate change for you to see how everything works in practice!

Climate change is one of the most important issues nowadays. Based on a variety of facts, it is now clearer than ever that humans are altering the Earth's climate. The atmosphere and oceans have warmed, causing sea level rise, a significant loss of Arctic ice, and other climate-related changes. This literature review provides a thorough summary of research on climate change, focusing on climate change fingerprints and evidence of human influence on the Earth's climate system.

Physical Mechanisms and Evidence of Human Influence

Scientists are convinced that climate change is directly influenced by the emission of greenhouse gases. They have carefully analyzed various climate data and evidence, concluding that the majority of the observed global warming over the past 50 years cannot be explained by natural factors alone. Instead, there is compelling evidence pointing to a significant contribution of human activities, primarily the emission of greenhouse gases (Walker, 2014). For example, based on simple physics calculations, doubled carbon dioxide concentration in the atmosphere can lead to a global temperature increase of approximately 1 degree Celsius. (Elderfield, 2022). In order to determine the human influence on climate, scientists still have to analyze a lot of natural changes that affect temperature, precipitation, and other components of climate on timeframes ranging from days to decades and beyond.

Fingerprinting Climate Change

Fingerprinting climate change is a useful tool to identify the causes of global warming because different factors leave unique marks on climate records. This is evident when scientists look beyond overall temperature changes and examine how warming is distributed geographically and over time (Watson, 2022). By investigating these climate patterns, scientists can obtain a more complex understanding of the connections between natural climate variability and climate variability caused by human activity.

Modeling Climate Change and Feedback

To accurately predict the consequences of feedback mechanisms, the rate of warming, and regional climate change, scientists can employ sophisticated mathematical models of the atmosphere, ocean, land, and ice (the cryosphere). These models are grounded in well-established physical laws and incorporate the latest scientific understanding of climate-related processes (Shuckburgh, 2013). Although different climate models produce slightly varying projections for future warming, they all will agree that feedback mechanisms play a significant role in amplifying the initial warming caused by greenhouse gas emissions. (Meehl, 2019).

In conclusion, the literature on global warming indicates that there are well-understood physical processes that link variations in greenhouse gas concentrations to climate change. In addition, it covers the scientific proof that the rates of these gases in the atmosphere have increased and continue to rise fast. According to the sources, the majority of this recent change is almost definitely caused by greenhouse gas emissions produced by human activities. Citizens and governments can alter their energy production methods and consumption patterns to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and, thus, the magnitude of climate change. By acting now, society can prevent the worst consequences of climate change and build a more resilient and sustainable future for generations to come.

Have you ever struggled with finding the topic for an RRL in different subjects? Read the following paragraphs to get some ideas!

Nursing Literature Review Example

Many topics in the nursing field require research. For example, you can write a review of literature related to dengue fever . Give a general overview of dengue virus infections, including its clinical symptoms, diagnosis, prevention, and therapy.

Another good idea is to review related literature and studies about teenage pregnancy . This review can describe the effectiveness of specific programs for adolescent mothers and their children and summarize recommendations for preventing early pregnancy.

📝 Check out some more valuable examples below:

  • Hospital Readmissions: Literature Review .
  • Literature Review: Lower Sepsis Mortality Rates .
  • Breast Cancer: Literature Review .
  • Sexually Transmitted Diseases: Literature Review .
  • PICO for Pressure Ulcers: Literature Review .
  • COVID-19 Spread Prevention: Literature Review .
  • Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease: Literature Review .
  • Hypertension Treatment Adherence: Literature Review .
  • Neonatal Sepsis Prevention: Literature Review .
  • Healthcare-Associated Infections: Literature Review .
  • Understaffing in Nursing: Literature Review .

Psychology Literature Review Example

If you look for an RRL topic in psychology , you can write a review of related literature about stress . Summarize scientific evidence about stress stages, side effects, types, or reduction strategies. Or you can write a review of related literature about computer game addiction . In this case, you may concentrate on the neural mechanisms underlying the internet gaming disorder, compare it to other addictions, or evaluate treatment strategies.

A review of related literature about cyberbullying is another interesting option. You can highlight the impact of cyberbullying on undergraduate students’ academic, social, and emotional development.

📝 Look at the examples that we have prepared for you to come up with some more ideas:

  • Mindfulness in Counseling: A Literature Review .
  • Team-Building Across Cultures: Literature Review .
  • Anxiety and Decision Making: Literature Review .
  • Literature Review on Depression .
  • Literature Review on Narcissism .
  • Effects of Depression Among Adolescents .
  • Causes and Effects of Anxiety in Children .

Literature Review — Sociology Example

Sociological research poses critical questions about social structures and phenomena. For example, you can write a review of related literature about child labor , exploring cultural beliefs and social norms that normalize the exploitation of children. Or you can create a review of related literature about social media . It can investigate the impact of social media on relationships between adolescents or the role of social networks on immigrants’ acculturation .

📝 You can find some more ideas below!

  • Single Mothers’ Experiences of Relationships with Their Adolescent Sons .
  • Teachers and Students’ Gender-Based Interactions .
  • Gender Identity: Biological Perspective and Social Cognitive Theory .
  • Gender: Culturally-Prescribed Role or Biological Sex .
  • The Influence of Opioid Misuse on Academic Achievement of Veteran Students .
  • The Importance of Ethics in Research .
  • The Role of Family and Social Network Support in Mental Health .

Education Literature Review Example

For your education studies , you can write a review of related literature about academic performance to determine factors that affect student achievement and highlight research gaps. One more idea is to create a review of related literature on study habits , considering their role in the student’s life and academic outcomes.

You can also evaluate a computerized grading system in a review of related literature to single out its advantages and barriers to implementation. Or you can complete a review of related literature on instructional materials to identify their most common types and effects on student achievement.

📝 Find some inspiration in the examples below:

  • Literature Review on Online Learning Challenges From COVID-19 .
  • Education, Leadership, and Management: Literature Review .
  • Literature Review: Standardized Testing Bias .
  • Bullying of Disabled Children in School .
  • Interventions and Letter & Sound Recognition: A Literature Review .
  • Social-Emotional Skills Program for Preschoolers .
  • Effectiveness of Educational Leadership Management Skills .

Business Research Literature Review

If you’re a business student, you can focus on customer satisfaction in your review of related literature. Discuss specific customer satisfaction features and how it is affected by service quality and prices. You can also create a theoretical literature review about consumer buying behavior to evaluate theories that have significantly contributed to understanding how consumers make purchasing decisions.

📝 Look at the examples to get more exciting ideas:

  • Leadership and Communication: Literature Review .
  • Human Resource Development: Literature Review .
  • Project Management. Literature Review .
  • Strategic HRM: A Literature Review .
  • Customer Relationship Management: Literature Review .
  • Literature Review on International Financial Reporting Standards .
  • Cultures of Management: Literature Review .

To conclude, a review of related literature is a significant genre of scholarly works that can be applied in various disciplines and for multiple goals. The sources examined in an RRL provide theoretical frameworks for future studies and help create original research questions and hypotheses.

When you finish your outstanding literature review, don’t forget to check whether it sounds logical and coherent. Our text-to-speech tool can help you with that!

  • Literature Reviews | University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
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  • Methods for Literature Reviews | National Library of Medicine
  • Literature Reviews: 5. Write the Review | Georgia State University

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7 Writing a Literature Review

Hundreds of original investigation research articles on health science topics are published each year. It is becoming harder and harder to keep on top of all new findings in a topic area and – more importantly – to work out how they all fit together to determine our current understanding of a topic. This is where literature reviews come in.

In this chapter, we explain what a literature review is and outline the stages involved in writing one. We also provide practical tips on how to communicate the results of a review of current literature on a topic in the format of a literature review.

7.1 What is a literature review?

Screenshot of journal article

Literature reviews provide a synthesis and evaluation  of the existing literature on a particular topic with the aim of gaining a new, deeper understanding of the topic.

Published literature reviews are typically written by scientists who are experts in that particular area of science. Usually, they will be widely published as authors of their own original work, making them highly qualified to author a literature review.

However, literature reviews are still subject to peer review before being published. Literature reviews provide an important bridge between the expert scientific community and many other communities, such as science journalists, teachers, and medical and allied health professionals. When the most up-to-date knowledge reaches such audiences, it is more likely that this information will find its way to the general public. When this happens, – the ultimate good of science can be realised.

A literature review is structured differently from an original research article. It is developed based on themes, rather than stages of the scientific method.

In the article Ten simple rules for writing a literature review , Marco Pautasso explains the importance of literature reviews:

Literature reviews are in great demand in most scientific fields. Their need stems from the ever-increasing output of scientific publications. For example, compared to 1991, in 2008 three, eight, and forty times more papers were indexed in Web of Science on malaria, obesity, and biodiversity, respectively. Given such mountains of papers, scientists cannot be expected to examine in detail every single new paper relevant to their interests. Thus, it is both advantageous and necessary to rely on regular summaries of the recent literature. Although recognition for scientists mainly comes from primary research, timely literature reviews can lead to new synthetic insights and are often widely read. For such summaries to be useful, however, they need to be compiled in a professional way (Pautasso, 2013, para. 1).

An example of a literature review is shown in Figure 7.1.

Video 7.1: What is a literature review? [2 mins, 11 secs]

Watch this video created by Steely Library at Northern Kentucky Library called ‘ What is a literature review? Note: Closed captions are available by clicking on the CC button below.

Examples of published literature reviews

  • Strength training alone, exercise therapy alone, and exercise therapy with passive manual mobilisation each reduce pain and disability in people with knee osteoarthritis: a systematic review
  • Traveler’s diarrhea: a clinical review
  • Cultural concepts of distress and psychiatric disorders: literature review and research recommendations for global mental health epidemiology

7.2 Steps of writing a literature review

Writing a literature review is a very challenging task. Figure 7.2 summarises the steps of writing a literature review. Depending on why you are writing your literature review, you may be given a topic area, or may choose a topic that particularly interests you or is related to a research project that you wish to undertake.

Chapter 6 provides instructions on finding scientific literature that would form the basis for your literature review.

Once you have your topic and have accessed the literature, the next stages (analysis, synthesis and evaluation) are challenging. Next, we look at these important cognitive skills student scientists will need to develop and employ to successfully write a literature review, and provide some guidance for navigating these stages.

Steps of writing a ltierature review which include: research, synthesise, read abstracts, read papers, evaualte findings and write

Analysis, synthesis and evaluation

Analysis, synthesis and evaluation are three essential skills required by scientists  and you will need to develop these skills if you are to write a good literature review ( Figure 7.3 ). These important cognitive skills are discussed in more detail in Chapter 9.

Diagram with the words analysis, synthesis and evaluation. Under analysis it says taking a process or thing and breaking it down. Under synthesis it says combining elements of separate material and under evaluation it says critiquing a product or process

The first step in writing a literature review is to analyse the original investigation research papers that you have gathered related to your topic.

Analysis requires examining the papers methodically and in detail, so you can understand and interpret aspects of the study described in each research article.

An analysis grid is a simple tool you can use to help with the careful examination and breakdown of each paper. This tool will allow you to create a concise summary of each research paper; see Table 7.1 for an example of  an analysis grid. When filling in the grid, the aim is to draw out key aspects of each research paper. Use a different row for each paper, and a different column for each aspect of the paper ( Tables 7.2 and 7.3 show how completed analysis grid may look).

Before completing your own grid, look at these examples and note the types of information that have been included, as well as the level of detail. Completing an analysis grid with a sufficient level of detail will help you to complete the synthesis and evaluation stages effectively. This grid will allow you to more easily observe similarities and differences across the findings of the research papers and to identify possible explanations (e.g., differences in methodologies employed) for observed differences between the findings of different research papers.

Table 7.1: Example of an analysis grid

A tab;e split into columns with annotated comments

Table 7.3: Sample filled-in analysis grid for research article by Ping and colleagues

Source: Ping, WC, Keong, CC & Bandyopadhyay, A 2010, ‘Effects of acute supplementation of caffeine on cardiorespiratory responses during endurance running in a hot and humid climate’, Indian Journal of Medical Research, vol. 132, pp. 36–41. Used under a CC-BY-NC-SA licence.

Step two of writing a literature review is synthesis.

Synthesis describes combining separate components or elements to form a connected whole.

You will use the results of your analysis to find themes to build your literature review around. Each of the themes identified will become a subheading within the body of your literature review.

A good place to start when identifying themes is with the dependent variables (results/findings) that were investigated in the research studies.

Because all of the research articles you are incorporating into your literature review are related to your topic, it is likely that they have similar study designs and have measured similar dependent variables. Review the ‘Results’ column of your analysis grid. You may like to collate the common themes in a synthesis grid (see, for example Table 7.4 ).

Table showing themes of the article including running performance, rating of perceived exertion, heart rate and oxygen uptake

Step three of writing a literature review is evaluation, which can only be done after carefully analysing your research papers and synthesising the common themes (findings).

During the evaluation stage, you are making judgements on the themes presented in the research articles that you have read. This includes providing physiological explanations for the findings. It may be useful to refer to the discussion section of published original investigation research papers, or another literature review, where the authors may mention tested or hypothetical physiological mechanisms that may explain their findings.

When the findings of the investigations related to a particular theme are inconsistent (e.g., one study shows that caffeine effects performance and another study shows that caffeine had no effect on performance) you should attempt to provide explanations of why the results differ, including physiological explanations. A good place to start is by comparing the methodologies to determine if there are any differences that may explain the differences in the findings (see the ‘Experimental design’ column of your analysis grid). An example of evaluation is shown in the examples that follow in this section, under ‘Running performance’ and ‘RPE ratings’.

When the findings of the papers related to a particular theme are consistent (e.g., caffeine had no effect on oxygen uptake in both studies) an evaluation should include an explanation of why the results are similar. Once again, include physiological explanations. It is still a good idea to compare methodologies as a background to the evaluation. An example of evaluation is shown in the following under ‘Oxygen consumption’.

Annotated paragraphs on running performance with annotated notes such as physiological explanation provided; possible explanation for inconsistent results

7.3 Writing your literature review

Once you have completed the analysis, and synthesis grids and written your evaluation of the research papers , you can combine synthesis and evaluation information to create a paragraph for a literature review ( Figure 7.4 ).

Bubble daigram showing connection between synethesis, evaulation and writing a paragraph

The following paragraphs are an example of combining the outcome of the synthesis and evaluation stages to produce a paragraph for a literature review.

Note that this is an example using only two papers – most literature reviews would be presenting information on many more papers than this ( (e.g., 106 papers in the review article by Bain and colleagues discussed later in this chapter). However, the same principle applies regardless of the number of papers reviewed.

Introduction paragraph showing where evaluation occurs

The next part of this chapter looks at the each section of a literature review and explains how to write them by referring to a review article that was published in Frontiers in Physiology and shown in Figure 7.1. Each section from the published article is annotated to highlight important features of the format of the review article, and identifies the synthesis and evaluation information.

In the examination of each review article section we will point out examples of how the authors have presented certain information and where they display application of important cognitive processes; we will use the colour code shown below:

Colour legend

This should be one paragraph that accurately reflects the contents of the review article.

An annotated abstract divided into relevant background information, identification of the problem, summary of recent literature on topic, purpose of the review


The introduction should establish the context and importance of the review

An annotated introduction divided into relevant background information, identification of the issue and overview of points covered

Body of literature review

Annotated body of literature review with following comments annotated on the side: subheadings are included to separate body of review into themes; introductory sentences with general background information; identification of gap in current knowledge; relevant theoretical background information; syntheis of literature relating to the potential importance of cerebral metabolism; an evaluation; identification of gaps in knowledge; synthesis of findings related to human studies; author evaluation

The reference section provides a list of the references that you cited in the body of your review article. The format will depend on the journal of publication as each journal has their own specific referencing format.

It is important to accurately cite references in research papers to acknowledge your sources and ensure credit is appropriately given to authors of work you have referred to. An accurate and comprehensive reference list also shows your readers that you are well-read in your topic area and are aware of the key papers that provide the context to your research.

It is important to keep track of your resources and to reference them consistently in the format required by the publication in which your work will appear. Most scientists will use reference management software to store details of all of the journal articles (and other sources) they use while writing their review article. This software also automates the process of adding in-text references and creating a reference list. In the review article by Bain et al. (2014) used as an example in this chapter, the reference list contains 106 items, so you can imagine how much help referencing software would be. Chapter 5 shows you how to use EndNote, one example of reference management software.

Click the drop down below to review the terms learned from this chapter.

Copyright note:

  • The quotation from Pautasso, M 2013, ‘Ten simple rules for writing a literature review’, PLoS Computational Biology is use under a CC-BY licence. 
  • Content from the annotated article and tables are based on Schubert, MM, Astorino, TA & Azevedo, JJL 2013, ‘The effects of caffeinated ‘energy shots’ on time trial performance’, Nutrients, vol. 5, no. 6, pp. 2062–2075 (used under a CC-BY 3.0 licence ) and P ing, WC, Keong , CC & Bandyopadhyay, A 2010, ‘Effects of acute supplementation of caffeine on cardiorespiratory responses during endurance running in a hot and humid climate’, Indian Journal of Medical Research, vol. 132, pp. 36–41 (used under a CC-BY-NC-SA 4.0 licence ). 

Bain, A.R., Morrison, S.A., & Ainslie, P.N. (2014). Cerebral oxygenation and hyperthermia. Frontiers in Physiology, 5 , 92.

Pautasso, M. (2013). Ten simple rules for writing a literature review. PLoS Computational Biology, 9 (7), e1003149.

How To Do Science Copyright © 2022 by University of Southern Queensland is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License , except where otherwise noted.

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Writing Research Papers

  • Writing a Literature Review

When writing a research paper on a specific topic, you will often need to include an overview of any prior research that has been conducted on that topic.  For example, if your research paper is describing an experiment on fear conditioning, then you will probably need to provide an overview of prior research on fear conditioning.  That overview is typically known as a literature review.  

Please note that a full-length literature review article may be suitable for fulfilling the requirements for the Psychology B.S. Degree Research Paper .  For further details, please check with your faculty advisor.

Different Types of Literature Reviews

Literature reviews come in many forms.  They can be part of a research paper, for example as part of the Introduction section.  They can be one chapter of a doctoral dissertation.  Literature reviews can also “stand alone” as separate articles by themselves.  For instance, some journals such as Annual Review of Psychology , Psychological Bulletin , and others typically publish full-length review articles.  Similarly, in courses at UCSD, you may be asked to write a research paper that is itself a literature review (such as, with an instructor’s permission, in fulfillment of the B.S. Degree Research Paper requirement). Alternatively, you may be expected to include a literature review as part of a larger research paper (such as part of an Honors Thesis). 

Literature reviews can be written using a variety of different styles.  These may differ in the way prior research is reviewed as well as the way in which the literature review is organized.  Examples of stylistic variations in literature reviews include: 

  • Summarization of prior work vs. critical evaluation. In some cases, prior research is simply described and summarized; in other cases, the writer compares, contrasts, and may even critique prior research (for example, discusses their strengths and weaknesses).
  • Chronological vs. categorical and other types of organization. In some cases, the literature review begins with the oldest research and advances until it concludes with the latest research.  In other cases, research is discussed by category (such as in groupings of closely related studies) without regard for chronological order.  In yet other cases, research is discussed in terms of opposing views (such as when different research studies or researchers disagree with one another).

Overall, all literature reviews, whether they are written as a part of a larger work or as separate articles unto themselves, have a common feature: they do not present new research; rather, they provide an overview of prior research on a specific topic . 

How to Write a Literature Review

When writing a literature review, it can be helpful to rely on the following steps.  Please note that these procedures are not necessarily only for writing a literature review that becomes part of a larger article; they can also be used for writing a full-length article that is itself a literature review (although such reviews are typically more detailed and exhaustive; for more information please refer to the Further Resources section of this page).

Steps for Writing a Literature Review

1. Identify and define the topic that you will be reviewing.

The topic, which is commonly a research question (or problem) of some kind, needs to be identified and defined as clearly as possible.  You need to have an idea of what you will be reviewing in order to effectively search for references and to write a coherent summary of the research on it.  At this stage it can be helpful to write down a description of the research question, area, or topic that you will be reviewing, as well as to identify any keywords that you will be using to search for relevant research.

2. Conduct a literature search.

Use a range of keywords to search databases such as PsycINFO and any others that may contain relevant articles.  You should focus on peer-reviewed, scholarly articles.  Published books may also be helpful, but keep in mind that peer-reviewed articles are widely considered to be the “gold standard” of scientific research.  Read through titles and abstracts, select and obtain articles (that is, download, copy, or print them out), and save your searches as needed.  For more information about this step, please see the Using Databases and Finding Scholarly References section of this website.

3. Read through the research that you have found and take notes.

Absorb as much information as you can.  Read through the articles and books that you have found, and as you do, take notes.  The notes should include anything that will be helpful in advancing your own thinking about the topic and in helping you write the literature review (such as key points, ideas, or even page numbers that index key information).  Some references may turn out to be more helpful than others; you may notice patterns or striking contrasts between different sources ; and some sources may refer to yet other sources of potential interest.  This is often the most time-consuming part of the review process.  However, it is also where you get to learn about the topic in great detail.  For more details about taking notes, please see the “Reading Sources and Taking Notes” section of the Finding Scholarly References page of this website.

4. Organize your notes and thoughts; create an outline.

At this stage, you are close to writing the review itself.  However, it is often helpful to first reflect on all the reading that you have done.  What patterns stand out?  Do the different sources converge on a consensus?  Or not?  What unresolved questions still remain?  You should look over your notes (it may also be helpful to reorganize them), and as you do, to think about how you will present this research in your literature review.  Are you going to summarize or critically evaluate?  Are you going to use a chronological or other type of organizational structure?  It can also be helpful to create an outline of how your literature review will be structured.

5. Write the literature review itself and edit and revise as needed.

The final stage involves writing.  When writing, keep in mind that literature reviews are generally characterized by a summary style in which prior research is described sufficiently to explain critical findings but does not include a high level of detail (if readers want to learn about all the specific details of a study, then they can look up the references that you cite and read the original articles themselves).  However, the degree of emphasis that is given to individual studies may vary (more or less detail may be warranted depending on how critical or unique a given study was).   After you have written a first draft, you should read it carefully and then edit and revise as needed.  You may need to repeat this process more than once.  It may be helpful to have another person read through your draft(s) and provide feedback.

6. Incorporate the literature review into your research paper draft.

After the literature review is complete, you should incorporate it into your research paper (if you are writing the review as one component of a larger paper).  Depending on the stage at which your paper is at, this may involve merging your literature review into a partially complete Introduction section, writing the rest of the paper around the literature review, or other processes.

Further Tips for Writing a Literature Review

Full-length literature reviews

  • Many full-length literature review articles use a three-part structure: Introduction (where the topic is identified and any trends or major problems in the literature are introduced), Body (where the studies that comprise the literature on that topic are discussed), and Discussion or Conclusion (where major patterns and points are discussed and the general state of what is known about the topic is summarized)

Literature reviews as part of a larger paper

  • An “express method” of writing a literature review for a research paper is as follows: first, write a one paragraph description of each article that you read. Second, choose how you will order all the paragraphs and combine them in one document.  Third, add transitions between the paragraphs, as well as an introductory and concluding paragraph. 1
  • A literature review that is part of a larger research paper typically does not have to be exhaustive. Rather, it should contain most or all of the significant studies about a research topic but not tangential or loosely related ones. 2   Generally, literature reviews should be sufficient for the reader to understand the major issues and key findings about a research topic.  You may however need to confer with your instructor or editor to determine how comprehensive you need to be.

Benefits of Literature Reviews

By summarizing prior research on a topic, literature reviews have multiple benefits.  These include:

  • Literature reviews help readers understand what is known about a topic without having to find and read through multiple sources.
  • Literature reviews help “set the stage” for later reading about new research on a given topic (such as if they are placed in the Introduction of a larger research paper). In other words, they provide helpful background and context.
  • Literature reviews can also help the writer learn about a given topic while in the process of preparing the review itself. In the act of research and writing the literature review, the writer gains expertise on the topic .

Downloadable Resources

  • How to Write APA Style Research Papers (a comprehensive guide) [ PDF ]
  • Tips for Writing APA Style Research Papers (a brief summary) [ PDF ]
  • Example APA Style Research Paper (for B.S. Degree – literature review) [ PDF ]

Further Resources

How-To Videos     

  • Writing Research Paper Videos
  • UCSD Library Psychology Research Guide: Literature Reviews

External Resources

  • Developing and Writing a Literature Review from N Carolina A&T State University
  • Example of a Short Literature Review from York College CUNY
  • How to Write a Review of Literature from UW-Madison
  • Writing a Literature Review from UC Santa Cruz  
  • Pautasso, M. (2013). Ten Simple Rules for Writing a Literature Review. PLoS Computational Biology, 9 (7), e1003149. doi : 1371/journal.pcbi.1003149

1 Ashton, W. Writing a short literature review . [PDF]     

2 carver, l. (2014).  writing the research paper [workshop]. , prepared by s. c. pan for ucsd psychology.

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  • Research Paper Structure
  • Formatting Research Papers
  • Using Databases and Finding References
  • What Types of References Are Appropriate?
  • Evaluating References and Taking Notes
  • Citing References
  • Writing Process and Revising
  • Improving Scientific Writing
  • Academic Integrity and Avoiding Plagiarism
  • Writing Research Papers Videos

The Sheridan Libraries

  • Write a Literature Review
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how to make a review of related studies in research

Not every source you found should be included in your annotated bibliography or lit review. Only include the most relevant and most important sources.

Get Organized

  • Lit Review Prep Use this template to help you evaluate your sources, create article summaries for an annotated bibliography, and a synthesis matrix for your lit review outline.

Summarize your Sources

Summarize each source: Determine the most important and relevant information from each source, such as the findings, methodology, theories, etc.  Consider using an article summary, or study summary to help you organize and summarize your sources.


  • Use your own words, and do not copy and paste the abstract
  • The library's tutorials about plagiarism are excellent, and will help you with paraphasing correctly

Annotated Bibliographies

     Annotated bibliographies can help you clearly see and understand the research before diving into organizing and writing your literature review.        Although typically part of the "summarize" step of the literature review, annotations should not merely be summaries of each article - instead, they should be critical evaluations of the source, and help determine a source's usefulness for your lit review.  


A list of citations on a particular topic followed by an evaluation of the source’s argument and other relevant material including its intended audience, sources of evidence, and methodology
  • Explore your topic.
  • Appraise issues or factors associated with your professional practice and research topic.
  • Help you get started with the literature review.
  • Think critically about your topic, and the literature.

Steps to Creating an Annotated Bibliography:

  • Find Your Sources
  • Read Your Sources
  • Identify the Most Relevant Sources
  • Cite your Sources
  • Write Annotations

Annotated Bibliography Resources

  • Purdue Owl Guide
  • Cornell Annotated Bibliography Guide
  • << Previous: Evaluate
  • Next: Synthesize >>
  • Last Updated: Sep 26, 2023 10:25 AM
  • URL: https://guides.library.jhu.edu/lit-review

how to make a review of related studies in research

  • University of Oregon Libraries
  • Research Guides

How to Write a Literature Review

  • 6. Synthesize
  • Literature Reviews: A Recap
  • Reading Journal Articles
  • Does it Describe a Literature Review?
  • 1. Identify the Question
  • 2. Review Discipline Styles
  • Searching Article Databases
  • Finding Full-Text of an Article
  • Citation Chaining
  • When to Stop Searching
  • 4. Manage Your References
  • 5. Critically Analyze and Evaluate

Synthesis Visualization

Synthesis matrix example.

  • 7. Write a Literature Review


  • Synthesis Worksheet

About Synthesis

Approaches to synthesis.

You can sort the literature in various ways, for example:

light bulb image

How to Begin?

Read your sources carefully and find the main idea(s) of each source

Look for similarities in your sources – which sources are talking about the same main ideas? (for example, sources that discuss the historical background on your topic)

Use the worksheet (above) or synthesis matrix (below) to get organized

This work can be messy. Don't worry if you have to go through a few iterations of the worksheet or matrix as you work on your lit review!

Four Examples of Student Writing

In the four examples below, only ONE shows a good example of synthesis: the fourth column, or  Student D . For a web accessible version, click the link below the image.

Four Examples of Student Writing; Follow the "long description" infographic link for a web accessible description.

Long description of "Four Examples of Student Writing" for web accessibility

  • Download a copy of the "Four Examples of Student Writing" chart

Red X mark

Click on the example to view the pdf.

Personal Learning Environment chart

From Jennifer Lim

  • << Previous: 5. Critically Analyze and Evaluate
  • Next: 7. Write a Literature Review >>
  • Last Updated: Jan 10, 2024 4:46 PM
  • URL: https://researchguides.uoregon.edu/litreview

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Research Effectively: Tips on How to Review Related Literature

  • Peer Review

Professors across various disciplines require their students to write literature reviews. This article provides pertinent information on how to review related literature effectively.

Updated on December 1, 2021

researcher in an academic library reviewing related literature

Professors across various disciplines require their students to write literature reviews, which are collections of authoritative sources on particular topics. They are an essential part of research, because it provides a handy guide to more information on their subjects.

This article provides pertinent information on how to review related literature effectively. By learning these techniques, you may improve your teaching skills and become more effective at grant writing.

Before you start writing, keep in mind that you may need a good management cloud service to store all your files when reviewing your related literature. And once you're done writing your research paper, you may want to promote it using different SEO strategies .

Tips on How to Review Related Literature Effectively

Evaluate the resources.

Make sure to constantly evaluate the sources that your students have incorporated into their literature review. Also, verify whether the resources contain valuable and pertinent information regarding their chosen topic.

Evaluating the resources is particularly vital when an academic library does not collect the sources your students have retrieved.

Web resources may be easily accessible. However, students and professors alike must be more careful to ensure that the sources gathered are reliable.

Below are five essential criteria to help you evaluate information from any resource:

Evaluation Criteria

1. accuracy.

The information from the sources your students gathered must be error-free to ensure its reliability. Furthermore, the details must be based on proven facts. To help you check whether the information is factual or not, you may need to verify it against other authoritative sources.

2. Authority

Check the authors' backgrounds. Authors of scholarly journals must have the qualifications to write on a specific topic. In addition, they must be affiliated with an established organization or a reputable university in the subject field.

3. Objectivity

Carefully examine the intended purpose of the information. It must be based on facts and not merely opinions. Thus, the details in the study must be impartial.

4. Currency

It's also necessary to check the currency of the sources. Are the pieces of information still current, or are they outdated? A good rule of thumb is to utilize sources published in the past ten years for research papers in the humanities, history, arts, and literature.

For fast-paced fields like the sciences, resources published in the past two to three years are a good benchmark since they are more current. Thus, they reflect the newest discoveries, best practices, theories, and processes.

5. Coverage

Make sure to verify whether you or your students' resources have met your information needs. After reading their output, ask yourself if the material they used gave in-depth coverage or just basic information.

Know the Ideal Types of Periodicals for Literature Reviews

Scholarly journals.

A literature review is composed of various scholarly works. Aside from theses and dissertations, academic journals are essential resources that your students can incorporate in their literature reviews.

The authors of scholarly journals are scholars, researchers, and subject experts. The findings in the academic paper are based on in-depth analysis and stated methodology.

Most of the time, the authors use discipline-specific terminology and jargon that may be difficult to comprehend.

Scholarly journals also have references cited in footnotes or bibliographies. The frequency of their publication may be quarterly, monthly, or annually. Some advertise, but many do not.

Trade Magazines

Trade magazines are authored by paid staff with subject expertise and are members of a particular industry.

Their content is about trends, current news, products, and developments in specific fields. Like scholarly journals, authors of trade magazines also use industry-specific jargon. However, peer reviewers don't assess the quality of trade magazines. In addition, these periodicals also have several advertisements that are usually industry related.

Trade magazines may have valuable information. Still, it's best to use scholarly journals in literature reviews. With academic journals, you can be surer of the quality of the paper since they're peer-reviewed.

Popular Magazines and Newspapers

These are non-authoritative sources. Paid staff, who are often non-experts, write these types of periodicals. They're composed heavily of advertisements and are published daily, weekly, or monthly. These could be useful in literature reviews, but also keep in mind that they may be viewed as less credible, because they're often written by non-experts. [Ed1]

Evaluate Different Websites

The internet is a vast network of unfiltered sources, which means anyone can put anything in it, bypassing any form of editorial or peer review. Therefore, it is of utmost importance that you evaluate the web sources you and your students use before including them in your scholarly publication.

Always look for the authors' information. Check the links that read “About this site” and “Who we are.” In addition, verify whether the webmaster provides contact information so that you can contact them with inquiries.

Lastly, look for hints on authority in the internet address (URL).

  • .com is a commercial site
  • .gov is a government agency or department
  • .net is a network provider
  • .org is a non-profit organization that may either be biased or unbiased
  • .edu is an educational institution

Writing a literature review aims to convey what knowledge has been established on a particular topic, as well as the strengths and weaknesses[Ed2] of the information out there among the resources.

Knowing the essential information on how to review related literature is beneficial to you and your students.

Being aware of these techniques may help you alleviate your students' anxiety about literature reviews and solidify your status as an excellent teacher.

After you've found written your research paper from reliable sources, consider letting our team PhD editors go over your research paper with our Premium English Editing service .

  • Writing an Effective Figure Legend
  • Materials and Methods: Seven Writing Tips
  • Effective Transitions in Research Manuscripts
  • Literature Review - Finding the Resources


  • Types of Periodicals - a comparison:


  • FAQ: How Old Should or Can a Source Be for My Research?


Arnold Rogers, Author, Freelance Writer

Arnold Rogers

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Exploring Factors That Support Pre-service Teachers’ Engagement in Learning Artificial Intelligence

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  • Published: 12 April 2024

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  • Musa Adekunle Ayanwale   ORCID: orcid.org/0000-0001-7640-9898 1 ,
  • Emmanuel Kwabena Frimpong 2 ,
  • Oluwaseyi Aina Gbolade Opesemowo   ORCID: orcid.org/0000-0003-0242-7027 1 &
  • Ismaila Temitayo Sanusi   ORCID: orcid.org/0000-0002-5705-6684 2  

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Artificial intelligence (AI) is becoming increasingly relevant, and students need to understand the concept. To design an effective AI program for schools, we need to find ways to expose students to AI knowledge, provide AI learning opportunities, and create engaging AI experiences. However, there is a lack of trained teachers who can facilitate students’ AI learning, so we need to focus on developing the capacity of pre-service teachers to teach AI. Since engagement is known to enhance learning, it is necessary to explore how pre-service teachers engage in learning AI. This study aimed to investigate pre-service teachers’ engagement with learning AI after a 4-week AI program at a university. Thirty-five participants took part in the study and reported their perception of engagement with learning AI on a 7-factor scale. The factors assessed in the survey included engagement (cognitive—critical thinking and creativity, behavioral, and social), attitude towards AI, anxiety towards AI, AI readiness, self-transcendent goals, and confidence in learning AI. We used a structural equation modeling approach to test the relationships in our hypothesized model using SmartPLS 4.0. The results of our study supported all our hypotheses, with attitude, anxiety, readiness, self-transcendent goals, and confidence being found to influence engagement. We discuss our findings and consider their implications for practice and policy.

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A Holistic Approach to the Design of Artificial Intelligence (AI) Education for K-12 Schools Query ID="Q1" Text=" Please check captured ArticleTitle if correct."

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Artificial intelligence (AI) is becoming increasingly relevant globally, integrated into various aspects of human life and sectors, including education (Long & Magerko, 2020 ). The growing importance of AI has led to a demand for its incorporation into school systems. While researchers, practitioners, and education policymakers have recognized the significance of teaching AI in K-12 systems (Ma et al., 2023, Touretzky et al., 2019), limited initiatives have been taken in the context of teacher education (Sanusi et al., 2022 ). Nevertheless, education stakeholders agree about the importance of AI education, as evidenced by the development of tools, curricula activities, and frameworks for effective implementation of AI as a subject or integrated throughout the curriculum (Casal-Otero et al., 2023 ; Mahipal et al., 2023 ; Sanusi, 2023 ). While these initiatives are crucial for promoting AI education in schools, focusing on teacher education is essential (Sanusi et al., 2023 ). Existing literature highlights a need for further work on teacher education programs for AI. Although there are a few initiatives for teacher education on AI, they are primarily conducted as professional development programs. However, to ensure the integration of AI within the K-12 system, future teachers must be prepared to facilitate AI, as it is now considered an essential skill for the future (Frimpong, 2022 ; Park et al., 2023 ).

As a new subject in schools and teacher education programs, learning AI requires new approaches to engage students with learning materials and activities. Engagement is crucial because studies have found a correlation between engagement and learning (Carroll et al., 2021 ; Fredricks et al., 2004 ; Poondej & Lerdpornkulrat, 2016 ). These studies suggest that more engaged students tend to have better learning outcomes. Bryson and Hand ( 2007 ) stated that engagement is key to student autonomy and improved learning overall. Given the importance of engagement, research has been conducted to understand how to increase students’ engagement in learning. For example, Kim et al. ( 2015 ) explored the use of robotics to promote STEM engagement in pre-service teachers, while Volet et al. ( 2019 ) examined engagement in collaborative science learning among pre-service teacher students. Although research on pre-service teachers and engagement in STEM learning continues to grow, there is currently a limited research on student engagement in AI education. Xia et al. ( 2022 ) discussed student engagement from the perspective of self-determination theory, but no study has investigated the factors that influence pre-service teachers’ engagement with AI. Therefore, this research aims to examine the factors that support students’ engagement with AI in the context of teacher education. The framework used in this research combines the theory of planned behavior (Ajzen, 2020 ) with other constructs, including engagement. By exploring the factors that support pre-service teachers’ engagement in learning AI, this study contributes to the limited literature on developing AI literacy within teacher education programs. The findings of this research will advance our knowledge of how to effectively engage students in learning AI.

To better understand the factors that impact student engagement with learning AI, we conducted an AI intervention for 35 pre-service teachers. We then collected their perspectives using a 7-factor scale, considering engagement (cognitive-critical thinking and creativity, behavioral, and social), intrinsic motivation, attitude towards AI, anxiety towards AI, AI readiness, self-transcendent goals, and confidence in learning AI. To analyze the participants’ data, we utilized SmartPLS 4.0 to perform a variance-based structural equation modeling and evaluate our proposed model. This study is organized as follows: first, we outline the aim of the study; then, we review related research, discuss the theoretical framework, and develop hypotheses in the “Review of Related Work” section. The “ Methodology ” section provides a detailed explanation of the data collection method, participants, and analytical approaches. In the “ Results ” section, we present the findings of the data analysis, followed by a discussion of the implications of the study in the “ Discussion ” section. Finally, we conclude with a discussion of the study’s limitations and suggestions for future research.

Review of Related Work

In this section, we reviewed the related works and developed the study hypothesis. We specifically discussed the research that has explored pre-service teachers’ engagement within the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) education context. We further explained the theoretical framework that inspired our research, highlighted why exploring engagement in learning AI is essential, and proposed a set of hypotheses based on Fig.  1 .

figure 1

Research conceptual framework. Note: AT attitude towards AI, AN anxiety towards AI, AR AI readiness, SG self-transcendent goals, CL confidence in learning AI, ENG student engagement in the AI program, CECT cognitive engagement—critical thinking, CEC cognitive engagement—creativity, BESL behavioral engagement—self-directed learning, SOE social engagement

Engagement in the STEM Teacher Education Program

Engagement in STEM teacher education programs is crucial for improving student outcomes in STEM subjects. Research has shown that active engagement in STEM education leads to higher-order thinking skills, increased motivation, and improved achievement in learning activities (Kamarrudin et al., 2023 ). Engagement in STEM learning has been recognized as beneficial for preparing students to address real-world problems (Dong et al., 2019 ; Kim et al., 2015 ). Challenges in implementing integrated STEM curricula in schools due to the lack of teachers’ experience have also been reported in the literature (e.g., Hamad et al., 2022 ). Several studies (Aydeniz & Bilican, 2018 ; Dong et al., 2019 ) investigated the relationship among different variables and engagement. However, few empirical evidence exists on what predicts pre-service teachers’ engagement in STEM education programs.

Furthermore, there is a paucity of research that focuses on the factors that influence pre-service teachers’ engagement in learning AI. As AI is considered a STEM-related concept, this study aims to fill this gap by investigating the factors influencing pre-service teachers’ engagement in learning AI. Understanding these factors will provide valuable insights into how to effectively prepare pre-service teachers to integrate AI into their teaching practices. This study will also contribute to developing strategies and interventions to enhance pre-service teachers’ learning experiences in AI. In addition, findings from this study will have practical implications for teacher education programs and curriculum development. By identifying the specific factors such as attitude towards AI, anxiety towards AI, AI readiness, self-transcendent goals, and confidence in learning AI that influence pre-service teachers’ engagement in learning AI, pre-service teachers can tailor their pedagogical approach to meet their students’ needs and interests better. Ultimately, the goal is to equip pre-service teachers with the necessary knowledge and skills to integrate AI effectively into their classrooms, ensuring they are prepared adequately for the ever-evolving technological landscape of education.

Extensive research indicates the importance of engagement in learning (Fredricks et al., 2004 ; Tarantino et al., 2013 ). Student engagement has also been referred to as a crucial means of fostering and enhancing student learning (Renninger & Bachrach, 2015 ; Sanusi et al., 2023 ). Engagement is characterized by the behavioral intensity and emotional quality of a person’s active involvement in a task (Sun et al., 2019 ). Without engagement, meaningful learning remains elusive (Kim et al., 2015 ) and cannot accurately determine the extent to which a person has grasped a concept. Within the context of teacher education, particularly in STEM-related programs, we have identified literature that emphasizes the significance of engagement in promoting increased learning (Lange et al., 2022 ; Ryu et al., 2019 ). Previous research (e.g., Grimble, 2019 ; McClure et al., 2017 ) suggests that pre-service teachers’ engagement with learning materials fosters a deep mastery of the subject matter and effective pedagogical practices that can stimulate their students' interest in STEM.

Teacher education programs can equip pre-service teachers with the skills and knowledge necessary to cultivate STEM literacy in the next generation by immersing them in hands-on experiences, encouraging them to explore real-world applications, and supporting collaborative learning (Suryadi et al., 2023 ). In this way, pre-service teachers become more than just conveyors of information; they also foster curiosity, problem-solving, and innovation in their classrooms, cultivating a lifelong interest in STEM disciplines. Moreover, integrating STEM courses into teacher education programs helps pre-service teachers develop a growth mindset and adaptability (Griful-Freixenet et al., 2021 ; Jones et al., 2017 ; Rowston et al., 2020 ), both of which are necessary for navigating the ever-changing landscape of science and technology. Pre-service teachers’ engagement and learning of STEM subjects in teacher education programs are vital for their future performance in the classroom (Berisha & Vula, 2021; Bosica et al., 2021 ). These programs should emphasize acquiring topic knowledge and developing teaching practices that encourage students’ active participation. By implementing active participation in STEM education programs, pre-service teachers better understand STEM concepts and learn how to create dynamic and interactive learning environments (Billington, 2023 ; Yllana-Prieto et al., 2023 ). Exposure to various teaching methods (Bin Abdulrahman et al., 2021 ) and the integration of technology provide students with the necessary capabilities to meet the evolving needs of STEM education. Similarly, encouraging pre-service teachers’ engagement in STEM courses goes beyond the transfer of knowledge (Huang et al., 2022 ; Manasia et al., 2020 ). It instills a passion for these disciplines, inspires them to develop a growth mindset, and cultivates lifelong learners.

Berisha and Vula (2021) stated that the engagement and learning of pre-service teachers in STEM subjects are crucial for their professional development and the success of their future students. Teacher education programs strive to equip pre-service teachers with the knowledge and skills to effectively teach STEM subjects to their future students (Yang & Ball, 2022). It is important to foster their curiosity and enhance their problem-solving abilities. By actively engaging in STEM learning during these programs, educators become well-prepared to inspire the future of innovation and scientific discovery, ensuring a brighter future for STEM education. Encouraging pre-service teachers’ interest in and learning of STEM courses helps build their confidence and competence in making these subjects accessible and enjoyable for their future students. As pre-service teachers become more adept in using STEM teaching methods, they are better equipped to address the challenges and misconceptions that often discourage students from pursuing STEM careers (Akaygun & Aslan-Tutak, 2020; Çinar et al., 2016; Delello, 2014). Ultimately, the success of STEM teacher education programs hinges on their ability to instill a genuine passion for these subjects in pre-service teachers, while providing them with the knowledge and skills to inspire the next generation of problem-solvers, critical thinkers, and innovators.

Theoretical Background

This study is based on the theory of planned behavior (Ajzen, 2020 ) and incorporates other relevant constructs. In the field of AI education, this theory has primarily been used to examine the intentions of various stakeholders in terms of learning (Chai et al., 2020a , 2020b ; Sing et al., 2022 ) or teaching AI (Ayanwale & Sanusi, 2023; Ayanwale et al., 2022 ). These constructs have previously been used as predictors of behavioral intention. However, we have not found any studies that specifically utilize these constructs as predictors of engagement in the context of AI education, particularly in teacher education programs. Nonetheless, we briefly mention some instances where the variables examined in this study are related to engagement in similar fields.

Attitude Towards AI

In STEM programs, attitudes towards AI education play a crucial role in determining pre-service teachers’ readiness for the evolving educational landscape. A positive attitude towards AI encourages acceptance of its value as a tool to enhance STEM instruction (Papadakis et al., 2021 ), while negative attitudes can lead to resistance and limited adoption (Balakrishnan et al., 2021 ). Pre-service teachers must develop an open-minded attitude towards AI, enabling them to leverage its potential for personalized learning and innovative teaching. This will also ensure that AI becomes a valuable tool in their future STEM classrooms. The engagement of pre-service teachers in AI education is grounded in educational theories and pedagogical principles (Celik, 2023 ). Constructivist theories emphasize the significance of active engagement, collaboration, and hands-on experiences in learning (Kaufman, 1996 ). AI education for pre-service teachers aligns with these theories, advocating for immersive and experiential learning opportunities. Furthermore, the literature (Celik, 2023 ; Shelman, 1987; Yau et al., 2023 ) draws upon the principles of technological pedagogical content knowledge (TPACK), suggesting that effective AI education involves the integration of technological knowledge, pedagogical skills, and subject matter expertise. Theoretical perspectives often emphasize the importance of pre-service teachers developing a positive attitude (Opesemowo et al., 2022 ) and a deep understanding of AI concepts and their applications in educational settings. However, studies (Al Darayseh, 2023 ; Kelly et al., 2023 ; Zhang et al., 2023 ) have demonstrated that attitude is a critical factor that influences teachers’ acceptance or rejection of the use of AI. Some individuals hold a positive attitude towards AI technologies and recognize their potential, even if they do not fully comprehend the essence of these technologies (Yadrovskaia et al., 2023 ). Kaya et al. ( 2024 ) observed that personality traits, AI anxiety, and demographics significantly shape attitudes towards AI. The use of AI in the STEM context is an ongoing topic of public discourse, and there is a need for reliable measures to assess pre-service teachers' attitudes towards AI in STEM programs.

Anxiety Towards AI

Anxiety towards AI refers to the fear of using computers or technophobia, which is a term used to describe fear or aversion towards technology in general (Li & Huang, 2020 ; Wang & Wang, 2022 ). Various perspectives on anxiety towards AI and pre-service teachers’ education in STEM programs have been proposed. Some argue that anxiety towards AI stems from a lack of understanding and fear of the unknown (Hopcan et al., 2023 ; Zhan et al., 2023 ). They suggest that pre-service teachers can better understand and overcome their anxiety by receiving comprehensive education in AI technologies. Others believe that anxiety towards AI among pre-service teachers is justified because they feel threatened by AI advancements’ potential job market implications. Anxiety towards AI education in STEM programs can hinder pre-service teachers’ acceptance of technology-driven teaching techniques. This apprehension may stem from concerns about their technological skills or anxieties that AI may replace traditional instructional responsibilities. Pre-service instructors can build confidence in AI tools by addressing these concerns through training and assistance (Jones et al., 2017 ). It is crucial to foster an environment that encourages experimentation while highlighting the complementary role of AI in improving STEM education, reducing anxiety, and promoting its beneficial integration. Kaya et al. ( 2024 ) noted that anxiety about learning AI significantly predicted positive and negative attitudes towards AI. According to Terzi ( 2020 ) and Wang and Wang ( 2022 ), anxiety about learning AI is the fear of being unable to acquire specific knowledge and skills about AI. Several studies have been conducted on anxiety towards AI, but few or none has explored the engagement of pre-service teachers, as used in this study. The relationship between anxiety towards AI and pre-service teachers’ engagement with AI in STEM education is a crucial aspect that requires exploration. Pre-service teachers who experience anxiety towards AI may be less likely to embrace AI tools in their teaching practices (Chocarro et al., 2023 ; Wang et al., 2021). Therefore, we propose that anxiety towards AI can inversely affect student engagement in the AI program.

AI Readiness

AI readiness refers to the preparedness of pre-service teachers, individuals, organizations, and countries to adopt and utilize AI technologies effectively. It can be seen as the eagerness to use AI technological innovations (Garg & Kumar, 2017 ). The AI readiness of pre-service teachers in STEM programs demonstrates their willingness to use AI as an instructional resource. AI readiness entails technical proficiency and a proactive attitude towards incorporating AI technologies into instruction. It necessitates knowledge of AI-driven systems and a dedication to remaining current on AI breakthroughs. Educators who are well-prepared for the AI-infused future can exploit AI’s potential (Hsu et al., 2019 ) to improve STEM instruction, adapt to changing educational demands, and give students creative and individualized learning experiences. Several studies have explored AI readiness in different contexts. Xuan et al. ( 2023 ) conducted a survey to evaluate medical AI readiness among undergraduate medical students and found that most participants had moderate readiness. Palade and Carutasu ( 2021 ) emphasized the need for organizations to adopt AI technologies to keep up with innovation. They suggested that AI readiness adoption can be normalized under an existing model for digitization. Baguma et al. ( 2023 ) proposed an AI readiness index specifically tailored to the needs of African countries, highlighting dimensions such as vision, governance and ethics, digital capacity, and research and development. Taskiran ( 2023 ) reported that an AI course in the nursing curriculum positively affected students’ readiness for medical AI. These studies highlight the importance of assessing and enhancing AI readiness in various domains and contexts. Still, a drought of studies focused on the AI readiness of pre-service teachers to engage with STEM programs.

Self-transcendent Goals

Self-transcendent goals involve looking beyond oneself and adopting a larger perspective, including concern for others (Ge & Yang, 2023 ). Self-transcendence is a multifaceted psychological phenomenon that includes acts of kindness, philanthropy, and community service as individuals strive to go beyond their individual needs and desires to make a positive impact on the lives of others. It has been shown that self-transcendence is linked to mental health and nursing (Haugan et al., 2013 ; Nygren et al., 2005 ), spirituality (Bovero et al., 2023 ; Suliman et al., 2022 ), and performance in learning and motivation (Reeves et al., 2021 ; Yeager et al., 2014 ), social activism (Barton & Hart, 2023 ) among other fields. The self-transcendent aspirations of pre-service teachers in STEM programs encompass their desire to go beyond personal accomplishments (Naftzger, 2018 ) and contribute more significantly to the welfare of society through STEM education. These objectives frequently include instilling a love of STEM in their pupils, promoting diversity and inclusivity, and addressing real-world issues through STEM education (Okundaye et al., 2022 ). Embracing self-transcendent aspirations inspires pre-service teachers to consistently enhance their STEM topic knowledge, pedagogical abilities, and empathy, driving them to become inspirational educators who inspire future generations to engage profoundly with STEM and promote positive social change. With self-transcendence, pre-service teachers are motivated to continuously adapt and evolve their teaching practices, seeking innovative ways to integrate AI tools and resources into their lessons. By embracing the new trend of teaching and learning AI, pre-service teachers are preparing their students for the future and actively shaping the future of education. To the best of our knowledge, few studies (Ge & Yang, 2023 ; Sanusi et al., 2024a , 2024b ; Yeager et al., 2014 ) have been conducted to examine whether pre-service teachers with a self-transcendent goal for engaging AI are more motivated to learn AI.

Confidence in Learning AI

Pre-service teachers’ confidence in learning AI is a significant component of their readiness to integrate AI into STEM education (Roy et al., 2022 ). Confidence here refers to their belief in their ability to effectively learn AI-related knowledge and skills (Lin et al., 2023 ). When pre-service teachers feel confident in their ability to master AI, they are more likely to participate in AI-related professional development, investigate AI applications in their teaching practices, and adapt to the changing educational landscape. Building this confidence through professional development training is critical for equipping pre-service teachers to use AI as a beneficial resource for improving STEM instruction and preparing students for an AI-driven future. This study attempts to validate existing research (Sanusi et al., 2024a , 2024b ) by investigating whether confidence in learning AI influences student engagement in an AI program.

Engagement in AI Learning

Engagement sparks curiosity and motivates individuals to actively participate in and absorb new information. When learners are engaged, they are more likely to ask questions, seek additional resources, and apply the material to their own experiences. According to Martin ( 2012 ), motivation is the basis of engagement, so AI can be used as a tool to engage pre-service teachers in integrated STEM learning and teaching (Kim et al., 2015 ). Exploring engagement in AI learning is essential, as it establishes a relationship between engagement and learning. Since there are indications that students engaged in learning activities benefit from increased learning, it is imperative to explore this relationship. This investigation is crucial because AI learning is a new initiative, and strategies must be examined to effectively communicate the concepts to students and teachers. Based on the description by Fredricks et al. ( 2004 ), engagement is a multidimensional construct that encompasses behavior, emotion, and cognition. We will briefly describe each engagement type (in relation to AI learning) highlighted below.

Cognitive Engagement—Critical Thinking: Cognitive (Looking at the Focused Effort Students Give to What Is Being Taught)

Learning and mastering artificial intelligence (AI) require critical thinking (Benvenuti et al., 2023 ), particularly in cognitive engagement. The CE details how students process information (Schnitzler et al., 2021 ). AI requires deep cognitive engagement from learners because of its complex algorithms (Jaiswal & Arun, 2021 ), diverse applications, and ethical implications. Critical thinking in this context involves analyzing data sources for potential biases, evaluating the ethical implications of AI decisions, and challenging the assumptions that underpin AI decisions. Additionally, it requires learners to explore and evaluate different approaches and methods to solve real-world problems using AI techniques. Developing critical thinking skills with cognitive engagement helps individuals understand AI concepts and provides them with the tools to innovate effectively and navigate the rapidly changing AI landscape. In addition, cognitive engagement through critical thinking catalyzes innovation in the fast-expanding field of AI. Cognitive engagement and critical thinking are important aspects of pre-service teachers’ engagement in STEM education. Research has shown that active engagement in STEM education leads to higher-order thinking skills, increased motivation, and improved learning outcomes (Kamarrudin et al., 2023 ). In STEM education, pre-service teachers employ cognitive engagement via critical thinking skills to successfully teach STEM and achieve meaningful learning experiences for their students (HacioĞLu, 2021 ). Recently, Yıldız-Feyzioğlu and Kıran ( 2022 ) showed that collaborative group investigation (CGI) learning and self-efficacy have also been found to positively impact the critical thinking skills of pre-service science teachers. Therefore, cognitive engagement and critical thinking play a crucial role in pre-service teachers’ engagement in STEM education, leading to improved learning outcomes and the development of effective instructional strategies.

Cognitive Engagement—Creativity

Cognitive engagement via creativity is a dynamic and necessary part of learning AI. While AI is founded on mathematical and computational concepts, encouraging creativity in AI education is crucial for several reasons (Lin et al., 2023 ). Creativity enables students to conceive unique AI applications, leading to novel healthcare, economics, and entertainment solutions. Cognitive engagement for pre-service teachers in STEM education involves their continuous intellectual involvement, the design of stimulating instructional strategies, effective use of technology, and the promotion of a growth mindset (Kim et al., 2015 ). These cognitive aspects contribute to a dynamic and enriching STEM learning experience, preparing students to think critically, adapt to new challenges, and thrive in a knowledge-based society. Patar ( 2023 ) reveals that active engagement activities, such as exploration, sharing knowledge, and assessment, can enhance pre-service teachers’ cognitive engagement. Pre-service teachers should champion the integration of digital tools and resources to enhance the learning experience, providing students with opportunities to explore, experiment, and apply their cognitive skills in a technology-driven world. This integration also supports the development of digital literacy skills, which is essential for successful STEM disciplines. Whether cognitive engagement through creative thinking will significantly affect pre-service teachers in STEM education remains to be investigated.

Behavioral Engagement—Self-directed Learning: Behavioral (Measuring Attendance and Participation)

Behavior engagement refers to measuring academic performance and participation in educational activities (Bowden et al., 2021 ). It is critical to understand the discipline of AI, particularly in the context of self-directed learning (Nazari et al., 2021 ). Pre-service teachers must consider behavioral engagement as an important aspect of STEM education. When pre-service teachers actively engage students in hands-on activities, discussions, and problem-solving tasks, students are more likely to understand STEM concepts better. However, taking the initiative indicates a high level of behavioral engagement (Kim et al., 2015 ). STEM education differs from conventional teaching, which treats students as passive listeners. To implement STEM innovations in the classroom, teachers must design inquiry activities and learning contexts to engage students in authentic problem-solving (Dong et al., 2019 ). Kim et al. ( 2015 ) found that using technology (robotics) significantly impacted students’ behavioral engagement. Thus, this study supports behavioral engagement in STEM education for pre-service teachers.

Social Engagement

Social interaction can be referred to as social interaction, which is an essential component of learning (Okita, 2012 ). It entails working with peers, experts, and AI communities to exchange ideas, share knowledge, and get diverse viewpoints, ultimately improving the learning experience and driving creativity. Social engagement for pre-service teachers in STEM education involves building positive relationships within the school community, integrating collaborative learning experiences, actively participating in professional networks, and instilling a sense of social responsibility in students. These social aspects contribute to a holistic STEM education experience, fostering a collaborative and purpose-driven approach that prepares students for success in both academic and real-world STEM contexts. Ishmuradova et al. ( 2023 ) reported that pre-service science teachers have shown high awareness of social responsibility in human welfare, safety, and a sustainable environment. However, their awareness related to practice and participation is relatively low. To our knowledge, there is apparently no study on social engagement among pre-service teachers in STEM education.

Research Hypotheses

H1: Attitude towards AI will significantly positively influence student engagement in the AI program.

H2: Anxiety towards AI will significantly negatively influence student engagement in the AI program.

H3: AI readiness will significantly positively influence student engagement in the AI program.

H4: Self-transcendent goals will significantly positively influence student engagement in the AI program.

H5: Confidence in learning AI will significantly positively influence student engagement in the AI program.


Research context and participants.

This study was conducted at a public university of education in Ghana, specifically focusing on the students enrolled in the Information Communication and Technology (ICT) Education program. It is important to note that the student teachers had not completed any courses in AI. As shown in Table  1 , 35 pre-service teachers participated in our research, with a majority being male and aged between 19 and 25 years. Most of the participants (57.1%) were in their second year of the teacher training program. For this research, we utilized a simple random sampling approach. We extended an invitation to all the students in the ICT department to participate in our study, and their involvement was based on informed consent. We also assured the participants of their anonymity and the ability to withdraw from the project at any time.

Data Collection Procedure

The data utilized for this study was gathered through an online survey shortly after a 4-week AI short course program organized between September and October 2022. The course was designed to expose pre-service teachers to AI knowledge and its ethical implications. The program is designed as an intervention of 2 h 30 min weekly, including assignments, and comprises four different learning sessions and five different topics. The topics include Introduction to AI and Ethical Dilemmas, Image Recognition, Algorithms and Bias, Convolution Neural Networks, k-Nearest Neighbor, and Decision Trees. We used different plugged and unplugged activities to demystify the topics to the study participants (Ma et al., 2023 ). We used AI tools like Google Teachable Machine (plugged activities) during the learning session, including a series of paper-based activities (unplugged) that support collaborative learning (Frimpong, Sanusi, Ayanwale, et al., n.d) After the sessions, the pre-service teachers filled out a survey to gather their perspectives about their learning.


Our research instrument was adapted from different sources in the research literature (see “Appendix”). We modified some terms slightly to fit our research context. We adapted the items for engagement from the studies of Bowden et al. ( 2021 ), Reeve and Tseng ( 2011 ), and Sun et al. ( 2019 ). Confidence in learning AI scale was adapted from Xia et al. ( 2022 ). Finally, the scales for attitude towards AI, anxiety towards AI, AI readiness, and self-transcendent goals were derived from the study of Sanusi et al. ( 2023 ). A 6-point Likert scale ranging from “strongly disagree” to “strongly agree” was used to retrieve all the items’ responses. We decided to use a 6-point Likert scale since it provides opportunities for more choice and may measure the participants’ evaluation more accurately (Taherdoost, 2019 ).

Analytical Approach

In this study, we employed a variance-based structural equation modeling (VB-SEM) approach to assess our proposed model. This methodology allowed us to estimate both the measurement and structural models simultaneously. We chose VB-SEM over covariance-based structural equation modeling (CB-SEM) due to its suitability for our study’s specific characteristics. These include dealing with small sample sizes, not having strict distribution requirements for the data, explaining variance, and managing a complex hierarchical component model. This complexity is evident in our study, which focuses on student engagement in the AI program (Benitez et al., 2020 ; Hair et al., 2014 ). To conduct our data analysis, we utilized SmartPLS software version (Ringle et al., 2022 ). More so, various parameters were considered when estimating our model in partial least squares (PLS), including the use of the path weighting scheme as the estimation method, raw data for data metric, and default settings of the initial weight PLS-SEM algorithm (Hair et al., 2017 ). To validate our model, we employed the two-stage disjoint approach for higher-order constructs (Sarstedt et al., 2019 ) since the variable “engagement” is indeed a higher-order construct consisting of four lower-order constructs: cognitive engagement—critical thinking (CECT), cognitive engagement—creativity (CEC), behavioral engagement—self-directed learning (BESL), and social engagement (SOE).

In addition, our analysis process involved assessing the goodness of model fit for the measurement model, which was based on the saturated model, and for the structural model, which was based on the estimated model. We evaluated these models using various parameters, including the standardized residual mean square root (SRMR) and other fit indices like normed fit index (NFI), the distance of unweighted least squares (d ULS ), and the geodesic distance (d G ) to ensure adequate model fit (Benitez et al., 2020 ; Hair et al., 2017 ). In the evaluation of the measurement model, both first- and second-order constructs were examined for reliability and validity, looking at factors such as item factor loadings (FL ≥ 0.60), construct reliability (i.e., Cronbach alpha and composite reliability indices—CA ≥ 0.70; CR ≥ 0.70), convergent validity (average variance extracted—AVE ≥ 0.5), and discriminant validity (i.e., heterotrait-monotrait correlation—HTMT < 0.85 or HTMT < 0.90) (Ayanwale & Ndlovu, 2024 ; Hair et al., 2017, 2019, 2022; Henseler et al., 2015 ; Ringle et al., 2023 ; Sarstedt et al., 2019 ). Items with factor loadings below 0.60 and constructs with average variance extracted (AVE) below 0.50 were removed, and the models were subsequently refined. To test the hypotheses proposed in our study, we analyzed the relationships between constructs in the structural model using bootstrapping with 10,000 subsamples in PLS. We assessed the magnitude and statistical significance of direct effects to understand the relative importance of constructs in explaining others in the structural model (Amusa & Ayanwale, 2021 ; Hair et al., 2018 ; Hock et al., 2010 ; Ringle & Sarstedt, 2016 ). We also estimated the predictive power within the sample using the coefficient of determination ( R 2 ), which should exceed 0.1 ( R 2  > 0.1), and the predictive power outside the sample through the PLSpredict ( Q 2 predict ) obtained by comparing the RMSE (root mean square error) or MAE (mean absolute error) values of all the indicators in the PLS-SEM analysis to those of the LM (linear model) benchmark. When most of these indicators yield lower RMSE or MAE values than the LM benchmark, it demonstrates a moderate level of predictive power. On the other hand, if only a minority of the indicators exhibit lower prediction errors compared to the LM benchmark, the model’s predictive capability is low. If none of the indicators shows lower prediction errors than the LM benchmark, the model lacks predictive power (Sanusi et al., 2023 ; Shmueli & Koppius, 2011 ; Shmueli et al., 2019 ).

This section presents the results of the analysis. Thus, Table  2 evaluates the overall model fit for the measurement and structural models. This analysis indicates that the SRMR value falls below the recommended threshold (SRMR < 0.08), and the SRMR, NFI, d ULS , and d G values are all below the 95% quantile (HI95) of their reference distribution. These findings collectively suggest that the measurement model demonstrates an acceptable fit, and there is empirical evidence supporting the validity of the estimated model (Molefi & Ayanwale, 2023 ; Quintana & Maxwell, 1999 ).

In the measurement model, we conducted an evaluation of reliability and validity for both the lower-order constructs (LOC) and higher-order constructs (HOC). The results, as depicted in Table  3 , indicate that the factor loadings for LOC range from 0.648 to 0.975, composite reliability (CR) values for LOC range from 0.826 to 0.980, Cronbach’s alpha (α) values for LOC range from 0.783 to 0.962, and average variance extracted (AVE) values for LOC range from 0.541 to 0.923. Furthermore, the factor loadings for HOC range from 0.784 to 0.846, with a CR value for HOC of 0.888, a Cronbach’s α value for HOC of 0.834, and an AVE value for HOC of 0.664.

Significantly, all these values surpass the recommended thresholds, signifying that the lower-order and higher-order constructs exhibit strong validity, reliability, and internal consistency. Additionally, we confirmed discriminant validity, as indicated in Table  4 , demonstrating that each reflective construct shows more robust associations with its indicators than any other construct within the PLS path model. In other words, the constructs are distinguishable from one another, with correlation values well below the suggested threshold. This underscores the effectiveness of the measurement model in establishing good discriminant validity (Ayanwale & Oladele, 2021 ; Hair et al., 2022 ).

The findings from the structural model are illustrated in Table  4 and Fig.  2 . Following the results, attitude towards AI has a significant positive effect on student engagement in the AI program ( β  = 0.262, t  = 3.814, p  < 0.05), supporting H1. Anxiety towards AI is found to exert a negative influence on student engagement in the AI program ( β  =  − 0.257, t  =  − 3.438, p  < 0.05), validating H2. AI readiness positively influences student engagement in the AI program ( β  = 0.265, t  = 4.420, p  < 0.05), so H3 is supported. Self-transcendent goals positively impact student engagement in the AI program (β = 0.232, t = 4.171, p < 0.05), thus supporting H4. At the same time, confidence in learning AI is positively associated with student engagement in the AI program ( β  = 0.386, t  = 6.037, p  < 0.05), supporting H5. Attitude towards AI, anxiety towards AI, AI readiness, self-transcendent goals, and confidence in learning AI jointly explain 63.1% of the variance in student engagement in the AI program. Hence, the model’s ability to explain variance within the sample is deemed adequate, as the coefficient of determination ( R 2 ) values surpass the threshold of 0.10 (Ayanwale & Molefi, 2024 ; Falk & Miller, 1992 ; Molefi & Ayanwale, 2023 ).

figure 2

Structural model result

In addition, the effect size ( f 2 ) was calculated to assess how much removing each exogenous variable from the model influences the model’s ability to explain variance. The f 2 values were interpreted according to Cohen ( 1988 )’s guidelines, which classify effect sizes as small ( f 2  >  = 0.02), medium ( f 2  ≥ 0.15), or large ( f 2  ≥ 0.35). The effect sizes for the different exogenous variables, as shown in Table  5 , revealed that AT ( f 2  = 0.292) had a substantial effect size. This means that removing variable AT from the model would significantly reduce the model’s ability to explain variance. Therefore, variable AT plays a crucial role in explaining variance in the model, and its inclusion is essential for an accurate model. Variable CL ( f 2  = 0.214) also had a notable effect size, indicating its substantial contribution to the model’s explanatory power. Its removal would significantly diminish the model’s capacity to explain variance. Also, AR ( f 2  = 0.179) had a moderate effect size. Removing variable AR would moderately decrease the model’s ability to explain the variance, underlining its importance in the model, and AN ( f 2  = 0.042) and SG ( f 2  = 0.031) had relatively smaller effect sizes. While these variables contribute to the model’s ability to explain the variance, their removal would have a minor impact on its overall performance. Prioritizing and retaining variables AT and CL are crucial to maintaining the model’s accuracy and explanatory power. Although not as influential as AT and CL, variable AR still plays a moderate role in explaining variance and should be retained in the analysis.

Furthermore, when examining the results of Q 2 predict (see Table  6 ), we noticed that all the metrics associated with the endogenous construct (student engagement in the AI program) exhibited lower values for RMSE (root mean square error) and MAE (mean absolute error) in comparison to a simple linear model benchmark that was based on the means of the indicators from the training sample. These metrics yielded Q 2 predict values that exceeded 0. This suggests that the indicators used in our PLS-SEM analysis produced fewer prediction errors when compared to the linear model benchmark, thereby indicating a strong predictive capability for our model.

While previous research has explored constructs such as AT, CL, AR, AN, and SG and their links to behavioral intention in the context of AI and education (Ayanwale et al., 2022 ; Chai et al., 2021, 2020a, 2020b), this study contributes to the existing literature by investigating how these constructs affect pre-service teacher engagement with AI. The novelty of this research lies in its examination of the relationship between these constructs and the engagement of pre-service teachers, addressing a gap in literature. This paper adopts a holistic approach to measuring pre-service teacher engagement in AI programs, which includes four dimensions: cognitive engagement (critical thinking and creativity), behavioral engagement (self-directed learning), and social engagement. Additionally, composite-based structural equation modeling is employed to unravel the intricate interrelationships among student engagement with AI learning, attitude towards AI, anxiety towards AI, self-transcendent goals, AI readiness, and confidence in learning AI.

The findings affirm the validity of all proposed hypotheses (H1–H5) as antecedents to pre-service teachers’ engagement with AI content. Collectively, these constructs account for 63.1% of the observed variance in teachers’ engagement with AI. Among the predictor variables, confidence in learning AI emerges as the most influential predictor of pre-service teachers’ engagement, followed by AI readiness, attitude towards AI, and self-transcendent goals. These findings resonate with the previous research (e.g., Ayanwale, 2023 ; Lin et al., 2023 ; Papadakis et al., 2021 ; Roy et al., 2022 ). Confidence in one’s ability to learn AI and use technology has been a recurring theme in technology adoption literature. Bandura’s theory (1977) underscores the significance of self-efficacy in adopting and effectively using new technologies. Thus, confidence in learning AI plays a pivotal role in driving engagement with AI activities. These findings align with Chen et al. ( 2018 ), which found that undergraduate students’ confidence in their ability to grasp AI significantly predicted their intention to learn AI. Consistent with our findings, Sun et al. ( 2019 ) asserted that confidence, as one of the intrinsic motivation components, significantly predicts students’ engagement in MOOC courses. When students perceive learning in MOOCs as enjoyable and are confident in their abilities, they are more motivated and engaged in their studies. Therefore, it is imperative to prioritize building confidence in pre-service teachers concerning their capacity to learn AI and to create supportive learning environments and practical training to enhance their engagement in AI programs.

As the second most influential variable, AI readiness has been identified as critical in enhancing student engagement in learning AI (Tang & Chen, 2018 ). While existing studies have primarily explored the relationship between AI readiness and intention (Ayanwale et al., 2022 ; Chai et al., 2020a , 2020b ), this study delves into how individuals’ preparedness and willingness to engage with and adapt to AI influence engagement with AI learning materials. It examines whether their comfort level with AI technology contributes to their active involvement in AI-related educational programs, including attendance, coursework engagement, and participation in AI-related projects (Dai et al., 2020 ; Hsu et al., 2019 ; Sun et al., 2019 ). The positive coefficient uncovered in our findings indicates that higher AI readiness positively correlates with increased engagement in learning AI. This suggests that pre-service teachers are more likely to engage in AI-related activities when they feel prepared and willing to embrace AI. Therefore, it emphasizes the importance of adequately preparing pre-service teachers to work with AI. AI readiness is critical in teacher training to enhance engagement and effectiveness in AI education.

In addition, previous research (Ayanwale et al., 2022 ; Kumar & Mantri, 2021 ; Weng et al., 2018 ) has consistently highlighted the significance of one’s attitude in predicting the intention to learn AI. Our study also observes a substantial positive relationship between a positive attitude towards AI and pre-service teacher engagement with AI. This finding aligns with the work of Papadakis et al. ( 2021 ), emphasizing that a positive attitude towards AI promotes its acceptance as a valuable tool for enhancing STEM instruction and increasing engagement. It further corroborates the findings of Kim and Park ( 2019 ), who reported that individuals with more positive attitudes towards AI were more likely to plan the use of AI-based technologies. Ayanwale ( 2023 ) and Ng and Chu ( 2021 ) also underscore the importance of a positive attitude, as students with such an attitude were more inclined to learn AI. Our results indicate that pre-service teachers are more likely to actively participate in AI-related educational activities when they view AI more favorably. This underscores the critical role of instilling positive attitudes and perceptions about AI in teacher training programs, urging educators and institutions to prioritize this aspect to enhance engagement with AI-related content.

We also examine the impact of self-transcendent goals, encompassing objectives beyond personal well-being. Our results reveal a significant positive coefficient, indicating that having self-transcendent goals positively correlates with pre-service teacher engagement in learning AI. This outcome aligns with the findings of Naftzger ( 2018 ) and Okundaye et al. ( 2022 ), who found that pre-service teachers in STEM programs often harbor aspirations to make a broader societal impact, transcending personal accomplishments. In practical terms, their engagement increases when teachers are motivated by goals benefiting their students, including the society. Therefore, emphasizing self-transcendent goals in pre-service teachers may enhance their commitment to AI-related education and its potential impact on students.

In addition to previous studies that explore the relationship between anxiety and intention (Ayanwale et al., 2022 ; Chai et al., 2020a , b ), our study delves into how self-perceived fear and discomfort concerning AI tools affect engagement in AI programs. The results support our hypothesis, showing a negative coefficient, indicating that anxiety towards AI is negatively associated with pre-service teacher engagement in learning AI. This finding resonates with the work of Katsarou (2021) and Kin (2020), which also found a significant negative relationship between anxiety and intention regarding AI. Jones et al. ( 2017 ) also note that apprehension might arise from concerns about technological skills or fears that AI might replace traditional instructional roles. To address this anxiety, pre-service instructors can build confidence in AI tools through training and support. Creating an environment that encourages experimentation and emphasizes AI’s complementary role in improving STEM education is crucial. Reducing anxiety and promoting AI’s beneficial integration is essential for encouraging engagement. While some scholars find anxiety less predictive of behavioral intention, our study suggests that anxiety towards AI significantly impacts pre-service teacher engagement with learning AI. This insight underscores the importance of recognizing and addressing AI-related anxiety among pre-service teachers. It highlights the need for strategies to reduce anxiety and enhance comfort with AI to promote engagement in AI education programs. Notably, while our study specifically targets pre-service teachers, we recognize the importance of exploring how these findings could be replicated across various academic disciplines. By discussing the relevance of our results to broader educational contexts, we provide insights into potential variations that might arise in different settings. This discussion facilitates a more comprehensive understanding of the generalizability and applicability of our findings.

Implication for Practice and Policy

Understanding the factors influencing pre-service teachers’ engagement with AI has significant implications for both educational practices and policy development. Based on this study’s findings, we recommend that educational institutions and policymakers prioritize integrating AI-related content within pre-service teacher education programs. This integration will facilitate the development of essential AI literacy and skills, equipping teachers to incorporate AI technologies into their teaching methods effectively. To ensure a well-rounded and practical approach, schools should offer opportunities for teachers to engage in ongoing professional development focused on AI. Additionally, we emphasize the importance of exposing pre-service teachers to various AI-powered teaching tools and methodologies. This exposure will empower them to create more engaging and personalized learning experiences for their students. Consequently, policies should encourage the adoption of AI tools that can cater to the unique needs of each student, fostering more inclusive and accommodating learning environments.

Furthermore, pre-service teachers must comprehend the ethical implications associated with AI technologies. They should be well-prepared to guide their students in the responsible utilization of AI. Policymakers can contribute by allocating school resources to acquire AI technologies and providing teachers with the necessary tools and training. This includes investments in AI software, hardware, and technical support to ensure teachers can effectively integrate AI into their classrooms. Robust policies should be established to safeguard student data when employing AI tools. Pre-service teachers should be well-versed in data privacy and security measures and adhere to regulations when incorporating AI technologies into their teaching practices.

Promoting cross-disciplinary learning that incorporates AI concepts is also crucial. Pre-service teachers should be primed to teach AI not only as a standalone subject but also as a complementary tool in various disciplines. Policies can foster collaboration among pre-service teachers, experienced educators, and AI experts. Such interactions can yield valuable insights and drive innovation in AI education. Encouraging pre-service teachers to engage in action research to assess the impact of AI on student learning and their teaching practices can be pivotal. This research can inform best practices and contribute to a growing knowledge of AI in education. On the policy front, both policymakers and educators should strive to ensure that AI resources and training are accessible to all, regardless of a student’s socioeconomic background or geographical location. This may entail initiatives aimed at bridging the digital divide and promoting equitable access to AI education. The policy framework should also account for ongoing support and professional development for teachers as AI technologies evolve. Teachers must possess the skills to adapt to changes and stay current with developments in AI in education. Also, our study offers practical recommendations for practitioners. Emphasizing the critical role of building confidence in pre-service teachers, enhancing AI readiness in teacher training, fostering positive attitudes towards AI, and incorporating self-transcendent goals, we provide actionable steps for educators and institutions. These recommendations offer a roadmap for creating supportive learning environments and practical training to enhance pre-service teacher engagement in AI programs.

Limitation and Future Work

Some limitations should be noted despite the valuable results this study generates. First, the selection of study participants is restricted to the ICT education department at a university in Ghana. Hence, it is necessary to consider subjects across different disciplines within the teacher education program as well as other regions to understand students’ engagement from a broader perspective. Second, our sample size may limit the generalizability of our results. Future research should consider a relatively large sample size across different contexts. Third, using only a quantitative approach limits the insight we may generate from students’ explanations during the learning process. To this end, a qualitative or mixed-method approach should be considered for triangulation purposes. Lastly, the AI program in this study spans over a few weeks. Future research should investigate student engagement across an academic session and a longitudinal study of the candidates.

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I prefer to use the most advanced AI technologies.

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Self-Transcendent Goals

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Ayanwale, M.A., Frimpong, E.K., Opesemowo, O.A.G. et al. Exploring Factors That Support Pre-service Teachers’ Engagement in Learning Artificial Intelligence. Journal for STEM Educ Res (2024). https://doi.org/10.1007/s41979-024-00121-4

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6 Common Leadership Styles — and How to Decide Which to Use When

  • Rebecca Knight

how to make a review of related studies in research

Being a great leader means recognizing that different circumstances call for different approaches.

Research suggests that the most effective leaders adapt their style to different circumstances — be it a change in setting, a shift in organizational dynamics, or a turn in the business cycle. But what if you feel like you’re not equipped to take on a new and different leadership style — let alone more than one? In this article, the author outlines the six leadership styles Daniel Goleman first introduced in his 2000 HBR article, “Leadership That Gets Results,” and explains when to use each one. The good news is that personality is not destiny. Even if you’re naturally introverted or you tend to be driven by data and analysis rather than emotion, you can still learn how to adapt different leadership styles to organize, motivate, and direct your team.

Much has been written about common leadership styles and how to identify the right style for you, whether it’s transactional or transformational, bureaucratic or laissez-faire. But according to Daniel Goleman, a psychologist best known for his work on emotional intelligence, “Being a great leader means recognizing that different circumstances may call for different approaches.”

how to make a review of related studies in research

  • RK Rebecca Knight is a journalist who writes about all things related to the changing nature of careers and the workplace. Her essays and reported stories have been featured in The Boston Globe, Business Insider, The New York Times, BBC, and The Christian Science Monitor. She was shortlisted as a Reuters Institute Fellow at Oxford University in 2023. Earlier in her career, she spent a decade as an editor and reporter at the Financial Times in New York, London, and Boston.

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  1. how to make a review of related studies

    how to make a review of related studies in research


    how to make a review of related studies in research

  3. Review of Related Literature and Studies

    how to make a review of related studies in research

  4. guidelines in making review of related literature

    how to make a review of related studies in research


    how to make a review of related studies in research

  6. Chapter 2 Review OF Related Literature A

    how to make a review of related studies in research


  1. Ph.D. Chapter two Literature Review for a Thesis| HOW TO WRITE CHAPTE TWO for Ph.D

  2. How to Do a Good Literature Review for Research Paper and Thesis



  5. Review of Related Literature

  6. How to Make Figures for Review Paper


  1. How to Write a Literature Review

    Examples of literature reviews. Step 1 - Search for relevant literature. Step 2 - Evaluate and select sources. Step 3 - Identify themes, debates, and gaps. Step 4 - Outline your literature review's structure. Step 5 - Write your literature review.

  2. How to Write Review of Related Literature (RRL) in Research

    Tips on how to write a review of related literature in research. Given that you will probably need to produce a number of these at some point, here are a few general tips on how to write an effective review of related literature 2. Define your topic, audience, and purpose: You will be spending a lot of time with this review, so choose a topic ...

  3. A quick guide to conducting an effective review of related ...

    1. Identify relevant literature: The first and foremost step to conduct an RRL is to identify relevant literature. You can do this through various sources, online and offline. When going through the resources, make notes and identify key concepts of each resource to describe in the review.

  4. Ten Simple Rules for Writing a Literature Review

    The topic must at least be: interesting to you (ideally, you should have come across a series of recent papers related to your line of work that call for a critical summary), an important aspect of the field (so that many readers will be interested in the review and there will be enough material to write it), and.

  5. 5. The Literature Review

    Integrative Review Considered a form of research that reviews, critiques, and synthesizes representative literature on a topic in an integrated way such that new frameworks and perspectives on the topic are generated. The body of literature includes all studies that address related or identical hypotheses or research problems.

  6. How to write review of related literature in research?

    Answer: A literature review is a critical analysis of existing literature in a research field. It evaluates the contribution made by other researchers in that field and highlights gaps in knowledge that need to be addressed. To begin with, you can read a lot of articles, books, and other published works on the topics of your interest.

  7. PDF How to Write a Literature Review

    classification, and comparison of prior research studies, reviews of literature, and theoretical articles • To emphasize the credibility of the writer in their field • To provide a solid background for a research paper's investigation A GOOD LITERATURE REVIEW SHOULD… • Be organized around a thesis statement or research question(s)

  8. How To Write A Literature Review (+ Free Template)

    Okay - with the why out the way, let's move on to the how. As mentioned above, writing your literature review is a process, which I'll break down into three steps: Finding the most suitable literature. Understanding, distilling and organising the literature. Planning and writing up your literature review chapter.

  9. Steps in Conducting a Literature Review

    A literature review is an integrated analysis-- not just a summary-- of scholarly writings and other relevant evidence related directly to your research question.That is, it represents a synthesis of the evidence that provides background information on your topic and shows a association between the evidence and your research question.

  10. Literature Review

    Occasionally you will be asked to write one as a separate assignment, but more often it is part of the introduction to an essay, research report, or thesis. In writing the literature review, your purpose is to convey to your reader what knowledge and ideas have been established on a topic, and what their strengths and weaknesses are.

  11. Review of Related Literature: Format, Example, & How to Make RRL

    A review of related literature (RRL) is a part of the research report that examines significant studies, theories, and concepts published in scholarly sources on a particular topic. An RRL includes 3 main components: A short overview and critique of the previous research.

  12. Writing a literature review

    Writing a literature review requires a range of skills to gather, sort, evaluate and summarise peer-reviewed published data into a relevant and informative unbiased narrative. Digital access to research papers, academic texts, review articles, reference databases and public data sets are all sources of information that are available to enrich ...

  13. Writing a Literature Review

    Analysis. The first step in writing a literature review is to analyse the original investigation research papers that you have gathered related to your topic. Analysis requires examining the papers methodically and in detail, so you can understand and interpret aspects of the study described in each research article.

  14. Writing a Literature Review

    Identify and define the topic that you will be reviewing. 2. Conduct a literature search. 3. Read through the research that you have found and take notes. 4. Organize your notes and thoughts; create an outline. 5. Write the literature review itself and edit and revise as needed.

  15. Q: How do I do a review of related literature (RRL)?

    A review of related literature (RRL) is a detailed review of existing literature related to the topic of a thesis or dissertation. In an RRL, you talk about knowledge and findings from existing literature relevant to your topic. If you find gaps or conflicts in existing literature, you can also discuss these in your review, and if applicable ...

  16. Summarize

    Annotated Bibliographies. Annotated bibliographies can help you clearly see and understand the research before diving into organizing and writing your literature review. Although typically part of the "summarize" step of the literature review, annotations should not merely be summaries of each article - instead, they should be critical ...

  17. Research Guides: How to Write a Literature Review: 6. Synthesize

    Student A uses quotes from only ONE source and fails to use her own voice to make any arguments. Student B cherry picks quotes from THREE sources and uses block quotes instead of making his own point. Student C quotes from THREE sources but does not show how the sources interact or converse with one another and does not provide sources for their arguments in the final paragraph

  18. How to Write Review of Related Literature and Studies

    #RRLS #relatedstudies #relatedliterature #researchRelated Topics for Quarter 2 in Research II, click the link below: Topic: Effective Online Resources for RR...

  19. Research Effectively: Tips on How to Review Related Literature

    Thus, they reflect the newest discoveries, best practices, theories, and processes. 5. Coverage. Make sure to verify whether you or your students' resources have met your information needs. After reading their output, ask yourself if the material they used gave in-depth coverage or just basic information.

  20. (PDF) Review of related literature

    In fact, review of related literature is required in every chapter of the thesis. It helps in defining your problem, identifying variables, framing objectives and hypotheses, linking it with ...

  21. A guide to create a proper related studies or literature for your paper

    Functions of RLS: Serves as a guide for better research. Clarifies vague points. Ensures no duplication. Guides the researcher. Characteristics of RLS: recent as possible. (2000 and above) objective and unbiased. based upon genuinely original and true facts or data to make them valid and reliable.


    This book begins by looking at the status of women in Filipino society and their place in the general socio-economic situation. It continues with sections on education and training in the Philippines and work and training. The next section reviews the constraints to women's participation in training. In the summary the author gives a general ...

  23. Across the Great Divide: A Systematic Literature Review to Address the

    Given that there is a large body of knowledge about the gap, this study follows a systematic literature review method to identify, compile, and analyze research published about the gap in multiple fields (Petticrew & Roberts, 2008). This review method is particularly relevant to the objective of this study to build a theoretical framework for ...

  24. Exploring Factors That Support Pre-service Teachers ...

    This study is organized as follows: first, we outline the aim of the study; then, we review related research, discuss the theoretical framework, and develop hypotheses in the "Review of Related Work" section. The "Methodology" section provides a detailed explanation of the data collection method, participants, and analytical approaches.

  25. Nutrition in Medicine

    Health effects of dietary risks in 195 countries, 1990-2017: a systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2017. Lancet 2019;393:1958-1972. Crossref

  26. Ten simple rules for leading a successful undergraduate-intensive

    Introduction. Undergraduate research (UR) is a high-impact practice that has been demonstrated to benefit student learning, persistence, and career preparation [1,2].Undergraduate research serves as a robust intervention for students from underrepresented groups who are at risk of dropping out of college [3,4].By engaging students during their early years of study, they develop a sense of ...

  27. Mediaman (Chicago, IL)'s review of How Not to Age: The Scientific

    1/5: Proof of how biased and politically-motivated mishandled "science" can be by distorting research to make studies say whatever the experts want them to say. This propagandist, known as a doctor, summarizes hundreds of research studies in 600 pages through his distorted eyes. The problem is that he packs the book with so many varied subjects that there are only a few studies for each topic ...

  28. and How to Decide Which to Use When

    Summary. Research suggests that the most effective leaders adapt their style to different circumstances — be it a change in setting, a shift in organizational dynamics, or a turn in the business ...

  29. Influencing factors of depressive symptoms among undergraduates: A

    Objective: This systematic review aims to examine the influencing factors of undergraduates' depressive symptoms by summarizing the categories and intensity of the factors, to lay a foundation for subsequent research. Methods: Two authors independently searched in Medline (Ovid), Embase (Ovid), Scopu, PsycINFO, PsycARTICLES, the Chinese Scientific Journal Database (VIP Database), China ...

  30. Do research articles have to be so one-sided?

    In my experience this is strongly enforced by editors and peer review. If you point out the flaws in your paper or alternative explanations, reviewers attach themselves to those flaws and use them to propose rejecting the paper; editors use it to label the work as low-impact and not suitable for their journal.