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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.

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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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38 Comments

Phindile Mpetshwa

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Yinka

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I wish I come across GradCoach earlier enough.

But all the same I’ll make use of this opportunity to the fullest.

Thank you for this good job.

Keep it up!

Derek Jansen

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

Renee Buerger

Thank you for a very useful literature review session. Although I am doing most of the steps…it being my first masters an Mphil is a self study and one not sure you are on the right track. I have an amazing supervisor but one also knows they are super busy. So not wanting to bother on the minutae. Thank you.

You’re most welcome, Renee. Good luck with your literature review 🙂

Sheemal Prasad

This has been really helpful. Will make full use of it. 🙂

Thank you Gradcoach.

Tahir

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Faturoti Toyin

thank you for this beautiful well explained recap.

Tara

Thank you so much for your guide of video and other instructions for the dissertation writing.

It is instrumental. It encouraged me to write a dissertation now.

Lorraine Hall

Thank you the video was great – from someone that knows nothing thankyou

araz agha

an amazing and very constructive way of presetting a topic, very useful, thanks for the effort,

Suilabayuh Ngah

It is timely

It is very good video of guidance for writing a research proposal and a dissertation. Since I have been watching and reading instructions, I have started my research proposal to write. I appreciate to Mr Jansen hugely.

Nancy Geregl

I learn a lot from your videos. Very comprehensive and detailed.

Thank you for sharing your knowledge. As a research student, you learn better with your learning tips in research

Uzma

I was really stuck in reading and gathering information but after watching these things are cleared thanks, it is so helpful.

Xaysukith thorxaitou

Really helpful, Thank you for the effort in showing such information

Sheila Jerome

This is super helpful thank you very much.

Mary

Thank you for this whole literature writing review.You have simplified the process.

Maithe

I’m so glad I found GradCoach. Excellent information, Clear explanation, and Easy to follow, Many thanks Derek!

You’re welcome, Maithe. Good luck writing your literature review 🙂

Anthony

Thank you Coach, you have greatly enriched and improved my knowledge

Eunice

Great piece, so enriching and it is going to help me a great lot in my project and thesis, thanks so much

Stephanie Louw

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Thanks, Stephanie 🙂

oghenekaro Silas

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tarandeep singh

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uku igeny

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Abdul Ahmad Zazay

Thanks, it was useful

Maserialong Dlamini

Thank you very much. the video and the information were very helpful.

Suleiman Abubakar

Good morning scholar. I’m delighted coming to know you even before the commencement of my dissertation which hopefully is expected in not more than six months from now. I would love to engage my study under your guidance from the beginning to the end. I love to know how to do good job

Mthuthuzeli Vongo

Thank you so much Derek for such useful information on writing up a good literature review. I am at a stage where I need to start writing my one. My proposal was accepted late last year but I honestly did not know where to start

SEID YIMAM MOHAMMED (Technic)

Like the name of your YouTube implies you are GRAD (great,resource person, about dissertation). In short you are smart enough in coaching research work.

Richie Buffalo

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Adekoya Opeyemi Jonathan

Very timely.

I appreciate.

Norasyidah Mohd Yusoff

Very comprehensive and eye opener for me as beginner in postgraduate study. Well explained and easy to understand. Appreciate and good reference in guiding me in my research journey. Thank you

Maryellen Elizabeth Hart

Thank you. I requested to download the free literature review template, however, your website wouldn’t allow me to complete the request or complete a download. May I request that you email me the free template? Thank you.

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Writing a Literature Review

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A literature review is a document or section of a document that collects key sources on a topic and discusses those sources in conversation with each other (also called synthesis ). The lit review is an important genre in many disciplines, not just literature (i.e., the study of works of literature such as novels and plays). When we say “literature review” or refer to “the literature,” we are talking about the research ( scholarship ) in a given field. You will often see the terms “the research,” “the scholarship,” and “the literature” used mostly interchangeably.

Where, when, and why would I write a lit review?

There are a number of different situations where you might write a literature review, each with slightly different expectations; different disciplines, too, have field-specific expectations for what a literature review is and does. For instance, in the humanities, authors might include more overt argumentation and interpretation of source material in their literature reviews, whereas in the sciences, authors are more likely to report study designs and results in their literature reviews; these differences reflect these disciplines’ purposes and conventions in scholarship. You should always look at examples from your own discipline and talk to professors or mentors in your field to be sure you understand your discipline’s conventions, for literature reviews as well as for any other genre.

A literature review can be a part of a research paper or scholarly article, usually falling after the introduction and before the research methods sections. In these cases, the lit review just needs to cover scholarship that is important to the issue you are writing about; sometimes it will also cover key sources that informed your research methodology.

Lit reviews can also be standalone pieces, either as assignments in a class or as publications. In a class, a lit review may be assigned to help students familiarize themselves with a topic and with scholarship in their field, get an idea of the other researchers working on the topic they’re interested in, find gaps in existing research in order to propose new projects, and/or develop a theoretical framework and methodology for later research. As a publication, a lit review usually is meant to help make other scholars’ lives easier by collecting and summarizing, synthesizing, and analyzing existing research on a topic. This can be especially helpful for students or scholars getting into a new research area, or for directing an entire community of scholars toward questions that have not yet been answered.

What are the parts of a lit review?

Most lit reviews use a basic introduction-body-conclusion structure; if your lit review is part of a larger paper, the introduction and conclusion pieces may be just a few sentences while you focus most of your attention on the body. If your lit review is a standalone piece, the introduction and conclusion take up more space and give you a place to discuss your goals, research methods, and conclusions separately from where you discuss the literature itself.

Introduction:

  • An introductory paragraph that explains what your working topic and thesis is
  • A forecast of key topics or texts that will appear in the review
  • Potentially, a description of how you found sources and how you analyzed them for inclusion and discussion in the review (more often found in published, standalone literature reviews than in lit review sections in an article or research paper)
  • 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 sentence to draw connections, comparisons, and contrasts.

Conclusion:

  • Summarize the key findings you have taken from the literature and emphasize their significance
  • Connect it back to your primary research question

How should I organize my lit review?

Lit reviews can take many different organizational patterns depending on what you are trying to accomplish with the review. Here are some examples:

  • Chronological : The simplest approach is to trace the development of the topic over time, which helps familiarize the audience with the topic (for instance if you are introducing something that is not commonly known in your field). If you choose this strategy, be careful to avoid simply listing and summarizing sources in order. Try to analyze the patterns, turning points, and key debates that have shaped the direction of the field. Give your interpretation of how and why certain developments occurred (as mentioned previously, this may not be appropriate in your discipline — check with a teacher or mentor if you’re unsure).
  • Thematic : If you have found some recurring central themes that you will continue working with throughout your piece, you can organize your literature review into subsections that address different aspects of the topic. For example, if you are reviewing literature about women and religion, key themes can include the role of women in churches and the religious attitude towards women.
  • Qualitative versus quantitative research
  • Empirical versus theoretical scholarship
  • Divide the research by sociological, historical, or cultural sources
  • Theoretical : In many humanities articles, the literature review is the foundation for the theoretical framework. You can use it to discuss various theories, models, and definitions of key concepts. You can argue for the relevance of a specific theoretical approach or combine various theorical concepts to create a framework for your research.

What are some strategies or tips I can use while writing my lit review?

Any lit review is only as good as the research it discusses; make sure your sources are well-chosen and your research is thorough. Don’t be afraid to do more research if you discover a new thread as you’re writing. More info on the research process is available in our "Conducting Research" resources .

As you’re doing your research, create an annotated bibliography ( see our page on the this type of document ). Much of the information used in an annotated bibliography can be used also in a literature review, so you’ll be not only partially drafting your lit review as you research, but also developing your sense of the larger conversation going on among scholars, professionals, and any other stakeholders in your topic.

Usually you will need to synthesize research rather than just summarizing it. This means drawing connections between sources to create a picture of the scholarly conversation on a topic over time. Many student writers struggle to synthesize because they feel they don’t have anything to add to the scholars they are citing; here are some strategies to help you:

  • It often helps to remember that the point of these kinds of syntheses is to show your readers how you understand your research, to help them read the rest of your paper.
  • Writing teachers often say synthesis is like hosting a dinner party: imagine all your sources are together in a room, discussing your topic. What are they saying to each other?
  • Look at the in-text citations in each paragraph. Are you citing just one source for each paragraph? This usually indicates summary only. When you have multiple sources cited in a paragraph, you are more likely to be synthesizing them (not always, but often
  • Read more about synthesis here.

The most interesting literature reviews are often written as arguments (again, as mentioned at the beginning of the page, this is discipline-specific and doesn’t work for all situations). Often, the literature review is where you can establish your research as filling a particular gap or as relevant in a particular way. You have some chance to do this in your introduction in an article, but the literature review section gives a more extended opportunity to establish the conversation in the way you would like your readers to see it. You can choose the intellectual lineage you would like to be part of and whose definitions matter most to your thinking (mostly humanities-specific, but this goes for sciences as well). In addressing these points, you argue for your place in the conversation, which tends to make the lit review more compelling than a simple reporting of other sources.

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Getting started

How to write a literature review.

Date published February 22, 2019 by  Shona McCombes.  Date updated: April 6, 2020

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.

Conducting a literature review involves collecting, evaluating and analyzing publications (such as books and journal articles) that relate to your  research question . There are five main steps in the process of 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.

Understanding your topic

The aim of this guide is to help Marketing  students find information in the library and on the internet. It is not intended to be comprehensive, but rather a starting point for your literature search.

Before you begin searching for information, you should thoroughly understand the topic you are researching. Dictionaries and encyclopaedias are a good place to begin. Dictionaries provide definitions of unfamiliar terms, whilst encyclopaedias give more detailed explanations and overviews of topics. Some useful titles can be found under the Reference Books    tab.

Now that you understand the basics of the topic think about the Key Concepts and any alternative terms to broaden or narrow your search.

Key concepts

You should choose 3 or 4 main points (Key Concepts) when searching for information covering your topic.

Try to go from general to specific, eg. Marketing  AND  branding  AND  South Africa

Suggested books on writing a literature review

writing a literature review marketing review

Always evaluate the information you read. Be particularly careful when consulting Wikipedia and similar internet sites as the authority and reliability of the content cannot be guaranteed. Remember to work   SMART:

S ource  - is the source well known, reliable, up to date?

M otivation  - why does this site exist? Are they selling a product? Supporting a particular lobby?

A uthority  - is the author's name on the page? Is the author well known in the field?

R eview  - has the information been reviewed/checked by others working in the field?

T wo sources  - is the information supported by other reliable sources?

The databases we subscribe to generally index articles that have been peer reviewed by experts in the field before being accepted for publication.

Literature Review by Alex D'Angelo

The Literature Review Survival Guide by Alex D'Angelo

  A literature review is:

1)   A list of books and journal articles,

 2)   on a specific topic,

3)   grouped by theme,

4)   and evaluated with regard to your research. This evaluation would identify connections, contradictions and gaps in the literature you have found.

The purpose of a literature review, therefore, is:

 1)   To get a feel for the agreed academic opinion on the subject (the connections).

2)   To discover the disagreements on the subject (the contradictions).

3)   To find opportunities, (the gaps), for developing and expressing your own opinions.

 The classic pattern of academic arguments is

  THESIS, ANTITHESIS, SYNTHESIS

  An Idea (Thesis) is proposed, an opposing Idea (Antithesis) is proposed, and a revised Idea incorporating (Synthesis) the opposing Idea is arrived at.  This revised idea sometimes sparks another opposing idea, another synthesis, and so on…

If you can show this pattern at work in your literature review, and, above all, if you can suggest a new synthesis of two opposing views, or demolish one of the opposing views, then you are almost certainly on the right track.  

Steps in compiling a literature review are:   

  • Select a specific topic (the more focussed, the better, or you’ll go on for ever).
  • Collect the most relevant (usually “peer reviewed”) books and articles. 
  • Read/skim them, using the abstract (a short summary attached to the article).
  • Group the articles into the sub-themes of your topic.
  •  Identify within each sub-theme those points on which the articles agree, those points on which they disagree, and those points which they don’t cover at all.  

  1)     Choosing your topic

Seek advice from a lecturer or tutor on this, if a topic is not already assigned. It is very common for students to bite off more than they can chew, simply because they have not realised the full breadth and complexity of an apparently simple topic. It is better to cover a tiny topic perfectly, than a huge topic superficially.

Look for a topic on which there is polarised opinion. It often helps to pick one in which a question is being asked, for example: Is a particular taxation policy beneficial or disadvantageous to a developing country?

When authors disagree, this provides an opportunity for you to enter the debate and argue for one side or another in your essay. Taking a hatchet to someone’s opinions (a) gives you something to write about, (b) is fun, (c) is the foundation of much modern scholarly writing.  

  2)       Collect the most relevant (usually “peer reviewed”) articles and books

 The two tools for finding these books and articles are (a) the library catalogue and (b) the library databases of electronic journal articles.

Before you search them, spend a minute thinking about the best terms to use. Make a list of alternative words that describe your subject, and also think about general terms and more specific terms. This is important because the journal databases are good for finding very specific terms in articles, but the library catalogue tends to use more general terms.

To access the library catalogue go to  www.lib.uct.ac.za  and click on “Catalogue”.

 If you find a good book reference, scroll down to the bottom of the reference and you will find the subject terms the library cataloguers have assigned to it. Click on that term to call up more books just like the one you have found.

A quick way to check the relevance of any books you find is to glance at the table of contents, the introduction and any descriptive blurbs on the back cover. The index at the back of the book not only helps you dive to very narrow topics in the book, but also gives you an indication of how much attention (i.e. how many pages) the book spends on that specific topic.

 If you are satisfied with the book, look at the bibliography in the back – this can help identify other relevant sources. Following a chain of references in a bibliography like this, whether in a book or a journal article, is one of the most basic techniques of scholarship – find something that is relevant and look at the sources it used.  

 The library’s  journal databases  are particularly helpful for literature reviews. Journal articles are short and cover very specific topics, so they are more digestible than books and more likely to deal exactly with your topic. They are also quicker to publish than books and so are more likely to be up to date.

 To find journal articles by subject go to the library home page at  www.lib.uct.ac.za  and select “Databases.”

Many of these databases allow you to restrict your search to “Peer Reviewed” journals only – these are the most scholarly journals, for which each article has to be vetted by other academics before it is accepted.

 M any of our databases are Full Text – so you can usually get the whole article on your desktop for downloading, e-mailing or printing – you don’t have to find it in print on the shelves.

 While you can search the Research Portal, or individual journal databases, as simply as you search Google, you can also type in very precise searches by using  And, Or, Not  operators,  Wildcards  and  Logical Brackets .

An example of such a search would be:

Information Technology  AND  Brain Drain  AND   ( Employ *   OR  Jobs  OR  Labo ? r ) NOT  United States

 The  AND  operator  narrows  a search –  all  listed elements must be mentioned in each article: in this example we want articles that cover both Information Technology AND the Brain Drain.

  • The  OR  operator  expands  a search –  any  of the listed elements must be mentioned in each article: in this example we wanted Information Technology Brain Drain articles that discussed either Employment or Jobs or Labour. The OR operator is useful for dealing with alternative terms which different authors might use when writing on a similar topic.
  • The  Brackets  tie the options to the required material. In this example they make sure that any articles we get on labour or employment are concerned with Information Technology and the Brain Drain.  If we didn’t have brackets here the search would just bring up every reference to labour in the database, whether relevant to Information Technology or not.
  • The  Wildcards ,  *  and  ? ,   expand a search: The  *  deals with related words. In this example Employ* means that we get all words starting with “Employ…” – such as Employment, Employee, Employees, Employers…
  • The  ?  fills in a missing letter, and is used for covering alternative spellings in British and American English, both Labour and Labor in this example.
  • NOT  weeds out anything you’ve got too much of. Many of our databases are American products, for example, and you can often be flooded with reports on the American situation unless you weed it out.

  3)      Read/Skim the articles, using their abstracts

Most of the articles will have an  abstract . This is a short paragraph at the head of the article that lists the main facts and arguments in each article. By reading these you will quickly get the gist of what each article is about and where it fits into the pattern you are building up in your literature survey.

How many books and articles should you have? It’s wise to check this with your lecturer or tutor. In general, though, your aim is not to cover every single book or article, but every major opinion or theme on the topic.  Many of the books or articles will add very little that is new.

 Therefore a short list of really scholarly, relevant, comprehensive articles is often more effective than a list of hundreds of superficial or tangential articles.

What you are ideally looking for are the “ seminal ” articles (seed articles) on which most of the other authors are basing their work.

  4 )      Group the Articles into the themes and sub-themes of your topic

 Obviously, it helps to have a structure in mind already, but the articles you find will often help to suggest a structure or cause you to redesign your existing one.

  Herewith a hard-learned tip:

 There are tides and seasons in academic publishing – a topic is often hot for a few months, then dies, then is revived to be attacked from a different angle, then dies, then is revived again to be discussed from a third angle… remember, Thesis, Antithesis and Synthesis?

This has two implications for studying the results on a database search:

 Just because there is nothing much in the recent articles does not mean that it was not hot a few months or years ago, so scroll back in time down the list, or jump right to the earliest reference and scroll up through time to look for a hot spot.

  • The  tides of article titles often tell a story  that can help you shape your literature review.

 For example, in a list of journal articles on Information Technology and Employment you might find that:

 The earliest articles are all about how hard it is to find skilled IT workers.

  • Later you get articles about UK and US firms desperately recruiting school-leavers and training them in IT skills on the job.
  • A year later you get articles about how countries like India and South Africa are doing the same thing.
  • And not long after that you get articles about India and South Africa having a huge, skilled IT workforce, working far more cheaply than the US and UK workforce, and lots of UK and US projects being outsourced to them.
  • Then you get complaints about unemployment in the IT sector in the UK and USA.
  • Then you get stories about how employers in the UK and USA have become very choosy about whom they employ, insisting on really good academic training, loads of experience and very-specialised skills.
  • Then you get the latest stories which are all about how new IT entrants, without that experience, start packing their bags to gain experience elsewhere…

 See? Story!

Many database lists of academic articles tell this sort of story when they are looked at in date order. Either they reflect swings in world events or they are reflecting swings in academic debate and opinion.  Seeing such a story in the literature is a great help in structuring any literature review.

 In particular, look out for the major triggers of such changes: When did the first swing to a new track happen, and what event or article provoked it?

When you find an article that has provoked a major swing, or started a whole new debate, then you are looking at the “Seminal” (Seed) article that I mentioned earlier. This sort of article is often the best sort of article to identify in a literature review – many of the other articles will just build on, comment on, or attack its basic arguments. 

5)      Using a Citation Database

If you find a seed article, or any other really good article, we have a magic database, called the ISI Citation Database, which can find all the other articles which have cited that article, either because they support it or because they disagree with it.

 The ISI Citation Database is on our database list under ISI WEB OF SCIENCE. There are three versions of it, covering the Sciences, Social Sciences, and Arts and Humanities. You can search all three at once.

 Go to “Cited Ref Search” and type in the author’s last name, the journal in which his article appeared and the year it appeared in the appropriate boxes.  This will bring up the authors and articles that have followed or disagreed with that author.  

 Unfortunately this database is not full text, but you can often get the full text of the articles off one or other of our alternative databases.  

6)      Identify within each sub-theme those points on which the articles agree, those points on which they disagree, and those points which they don’t cover at all.   

 The abstracts can help with this, of course.  The main trick is coming up with, or spotting, the sub themes and that is simply a matter of brain work.  But if it is done well, and you have taken the trouble to find good sources, then you will find, quite magically, that you have constructed the skeleton and a good bit of the flesh and blood of your essay or research project.

In fact, a good literature review can result in an essay that virtually writes itself. 

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Literature review

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How to write a literature review in 6 steps

How do you write a good literature review? This step-by-step guide on how to write an excellent literature review covers all aspects of planning and writing literature reviews for academic papers and theses.

Systematic literature review

How to write a systematic literature review [9 steps]

How do you write a systematic literature review? What types of systematic literature reviews exist and where do you use them? Learn everything you need to know about a systematic literature review in this guide

Literature review explained

What is a literature review? [with examples]

Not sure what a literature review is? This guide covers the definition, purpose, and format of a literature review.

Writing the Literature Review: Common Mistakes and Best Practices

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The literature review is an essential component of academic research writing, providing a comprehensive overview of existing research and informing the development of new studies. However, writing an effective literature review can be a challenging task for many authors, particularly those new to academic writing. This chapter aims to guide authors through the process of writing a literature review by highlighting common mistakes and best practices. The chapter begins with three short narratives that describe difficulties both novice and prolific authors encounter when writing the literature review. A chapter activity follows with steps that guide authors through the process of developing a research question to frame the literature review. Authors are then prompted to complete a self-assessment activity which includes a series of questions designed to build their skills as academic research writers. The body of the chapter recommends strategies and techniques to help authors locate and evaluate sources that will serve as the building blocks for a literature review that is thorough, current, and well-written. The chapter concludes with a discussion of the threats and benefits of artificial intelligence-based text production in relationship to academic research writing. Overall, this chapter provides practical guidance for authors looking to improve their literature review writing skills and enhance the quality of their research output.

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Issue: AI-Based Text Production in Academic Research Writing

 Artificial Intelligence (AI) is a relatively new technological development that can be used to support academic research writing, particularly reviews of research. Although it holds promise as a research tool, there are also concerns that AI-based scholarly writing could threaten not only the integrity but also the creativity of academic research writing. ChatGPT, an advanced chatbot developed by OpenAI (a nonprofit research company founded by Elon Musk and Sam Altman in 2015) has been at the center of much controversy as of late because of its ability to produce academic papers using artificial intelligence-based text production that have fooled academics and academic journal publishers (Hern, 2022 ; Lucey & Dowling, 2023 ; TechTarget, 2023 ). To demonstrate ChatGPT’s capabilities, consider its response to the question, “What is artificial intelligence-based text production?”.

Artificial Intelligence-Based Text Production is a process where machine learning algorithms are used to generate written content such as articles, product descriptions, social media posts, and more. It involves training machine learning models with vast amounts of data to learn how to generate human-like text automatically. The process can involve different techniques such as Natural Language Processing (NLP), deep learning, and neural networks to analyze and understand language patterns, grammar, context, and semantics. The resulting AI-generated text can be used for a wide range of applications, including content marketing, chatbots, language translation, and more. One of the main benefits of AI-based text production is that it can help businesses and organizations automate their content creation process, saving time and resources while producing high-quality content. However, it is important to note that AI-generated text may not always be perfect and may require human editing and review to ensure accuracy and coherence.

This response was produced by ChatGPT in about ten seconds. According to Anson ( 2022 ), “cutting and pasting all or part of this auto-generated text into a new text box can continue to prompt further content. The material is not plagiarized from existing sources but freshly composed. For this reason, it usually evades plagiarism-detection programs like Turnitin” (p. 40).

How Might AI-Based Text Production Threaten Academic Research Writing?

Obviously, computer-generated text that evades plagiarism-detection programs threatens the integrity of academic research writing. Some academic publishers have already banned or limited the use of AI-generated text in papers submitted to their journals (Lucey & Dowling, 2023 ). However, that is easier said than done. OpenAI recently developed a tool that attempts to distinguish between human-written and AI-generated text to prevent chatbots like ChatGPT from being abused, but it is only 26% effective (Wiggers, 2023 ).

Lucey and Dowling ( 2023 ) tested the credibility of ChatGPT by having expert reviewers examine papers produced by the chatbot. First, they asked ChatGPT to generate four parts of a research study: (1) research idea, (2) literature review, (3) dataset, and (4) suggestions for testing and examination. They chose a broad subject and instructed the chatbot to create a paper that could be published in “a good finance journal” (para. 6). Second, they pasted 200 relevant abstracts into the ChatGPT search box and asked the chatbot to consider the abstracts when generating the four-part research study. Finally, they asked academic researchers to read both versions of the AI-generated text and make suggestions for improvement. A panel of thirty-two reviewers read all versions of the four-part research study and rated them. In all cases, the papers were considered acceptable by the reviewers, although the chatbot-created papers that also included input from academic researchers were rated higher. However, “a chatbot was deemed capable of generating quality academic research ideas. This raises fundamental questions around the meaning of creativity and ownership of creative ideas—questions to which nobody yet has solid answers” (Lucey & Dowling, 2023 , para. 10).

How Might AI-Based Text Production Benefit Academic Research Writing?

Despite several publishers deciding to ban the inclusion of AI-based text production in submissions, some researchers have already listed ChatGPT as a co-author on their papers (Lucey & Dowling, 2023 ). There are many who believe there is no difference between the way ChatGPT produces text and the way authors synthesize studies in their literature reviews. In fact, the chatbot’s review is much more exhaustive because it can analyze “billions of existing, human-produced texts and, through a process akin to the creation of neural networks, generate new text based on highly complex predictive machine analysis” (Anson, 2022 , p. 39).

There are other advantages to using AI-based text production. It has the potential to aid groups of researchers who lack funding to hire human research assistants such as emerging economy researchers, graduate students, and early career researchers. According to Lucey and Dowling ( 2023 ), AI-based text production “could help democratize the research process” (para. 18). Anson ( 2022 ) also sees the potential in AI-based text production to “spark some new human-generated ideas” (p. 42), extract keywords, and create abstracts. The development of AI-based text production might also force instructors to change the way they teach academic writing. Instead of trying to detect or prevent the use of chatbots like ChatGPT, “a more sensible approach could involve embracing the technology, showing students what it can and can’t do, and asking them to experiment with it” (Anson, 2022 , p. 44). In other words, students could be asked to write about writing which leads to a deeper understanding of the writing process and the ability to transfer that understanding to any writing project (Wardle & Downs, 2019 ).

The Responsible Use of AI-Based Text Production in Academic Research Writing

The responsible use of AI-based text production in academic research writing involves understanding the technology's capabilities and limitations, as well as considering its potential impact on the research process. Researchers must carefully evaluate the intended purpose and context of using AI-generated text and make certain they are not compromising the authenticity and integrity of their research work. To ensure responsible use, it is essential to balance the benefits of increased efficiency and new insights with the need for originality and critical thinking in academic research writing. Researchers must also be transparent in disclosing the use of AI-generated text when submitting their work for publication. By adopting a responsible and thoughtful approach to the use of AI-based text production, researchers can maximize the benefits of the technology while maintaining the quality and authenticity of their research.

Applications of Technology

How to Write a Paper in a Weekend : https://youtu.be/UY7sVKJPTMA

Note : University of Minnesota Chemistry Professor, Peter Carr is not advocating for procrastination. This video outlines a strategy for generating a first draft after you have all your reading and notes assembled.

Research Gap 101: What Is a Research Gap & How to Find One : https://youtu.be/Kabj0u8YQ4Y

Using Google Scholar for Academic Research : https://youtu.be/t8_CW6FV8Ac .

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Heider, K. (2023). Writing the Literature Review: Common Mistakes and Best Practices. In: Renck Jalongo, M., Saracho, O.N. (eds) Scholarly Writing. Springer Texts in Education. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-031-39516-1_3

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Definition: A literature review is a systematic examination and synthesis of existing scholarly research on a specific topic or subject.

Purpose: It serves to provide a comprehensive overview of the current state of knowledge within a particular field.

Analysis: Involves critically evaluating and summarizing key findings, methodologies, and debates found in academic literature.

Identifying Gaps: Aims to pinpoint areas where there is a lack of research or unresolved questions, highlighting opportunities for further investigation.

Contextualization: Enables researchers to understand how their work fits into the broader academic conversation and contributes to the existing body of knowledge.

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tl;dr  A literature review critically examines and synthesizes existing scholarly research and publications on a specific topic to provide a comprehensive understanding of the current state of knowledge in the field.

What is a literature review NOT?

❌ An annotated bibliography

❌ Original research

❌ A summary

❌ Something to be conducted at the end of your research

❌ An opinion piece

❌ A chronological compilation of studies

The reason for conducting a literature review is to:

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Literature Reviews: An Overview for Graduate Students

While this 9-minute video from NCSU is geared toward graduate students, it is useful for anyone conducting a literature review.

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Writing the literature review: A practical guide

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Writing literature reviews: A guide for students of the social and behavioral sciences

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So, you have to write a literature review: A guided workbook for engineers

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Telling a research story: Writing a literature review

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The literature review: Six steps to success

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Systematic approaches to a successful literature review

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Undertaking a literature review in marketing

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T1 - Undertaking a literature review in marketing

AU - Gabbott, Mark

N2 - Writing a literature review is often considered to be one of the most difficult tasks a student will undertake and is often the most significant part of the academic contribution of essays and theses. Academia is a broad and inclusive community and all research takes place within the context of others work. It is therefore imperative that we review current knowledge before we can advance. This article provides guidelines for the construction of a literature review in marketing and focuses upon three key tasks. The first is the identification and sourcing of literature. The second is the interpretation and critical understanding of what has been collected and the third is the preparation and writing of the final document. Within these three tasks a number of suggestions and examples are given to aid anyone starting to prepare a marketing literature review.

AB - Writing a literature review is often considered to be one of the most difficult tasks a student will undertake and is often the most significant part of the academic contribution of essays and theses. Academia is a broad and inclusive community and all research takes place within the context of others work. It is therefore imperative that we review current knowledge before we can advance. This article provides guidelines for the construction of a literature review in marketing and focuses upon three key tasks. The first is the identification and sourcing of literature. The second is the interpretation and critical understanding of what has been collected and the third is the preparation and writing of the final document. Within these three tasks a number of suggestions and examples are given to aid anyone starting to prepare a marketing literature review.

KW - literature

KW - retrieval

KW - critical review

KW - writing-up

M3 - Article

SN - 1469-347X

JO - The Marketing review

JF - The Marketing review

writing a literature review marketing review

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  • Writing a Literature Review

MKTG 340: Marketing Research: Writing a Literature Review

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Tips for Writing a Literature Review

  • Writing a Literature Review (Purdue OWL)
  • Literature Review: What it is and how to get started (Tulane University)
  • Writing a Literature Review (Concordia University St. Paul)

How to Read a Journal Article

  • How to Read a Journal Article Explains the typical layout of a scholarly journal article and what kinds of information you can find in each section; advice on how to read. From ICPSR.

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Searching Google, PubMed, or some other website? LibKey Nomad is a browser add-on that facilitates access to articles available from St. Thomas Library subscriptions without needing to go to the library website.  It's like a shortcut to our GET IT service. And because it is a browser tool, you will know if an article is available before you have to log in to your University of St. Thomas library account. LibKey Nomad is available for Chrome, Firefox, Edge, Safari, Vivaldi, and Brave internet browsers. Get started downloading LibKey Nomad here .

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Literature Review: Conducting & Writing

  • Sample Literature Reviews
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A roadmap for writing a literature review in a master’s thesis: Examples and guidelines

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  • December 27, 2023

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writing a literature review is an essential part of any master’s thesis. IT involves critically evaluating and synthesizing existing research to provide a comprehensive overview of the current state of knowledge in a particular field. A well-written literature review demonstrates your understanding of the scholarly conversation surrounding your research topic and helps to contextualize your own work within the broader academic landscape.

1. Understand the purpose of a literature review

Before you begin writing your literature review, IT ‘s important to understand its purpose. A literature review serves several key functions, including:

  • Providing a comprehensive overview of existing research in your field.
  • Critically evaluating the strengths and weaknesses of previous studies.
  • Identifying gaps in the literature and highlighting areas for future research.
  • Contextualizing your own research within the broader academic discourse.

By clearly understanding the purpose of your literature review, you can ensure that your writing is focused and relevant to your thesis.

2. Conduct a comprehensive literature search

Once you have a clear understanding of the purpose of your literature review, the next step is to conduct a comprehensive search for relevant academic sources. This involves searching for peer-reviewed journal articles, books, conference proceedings, and other scholarly publications related to your research topic.

IT ‘s important to use a variety of search strategies, including keyword searches, citation tracking, and database searches, to ensure that you are capturing all relevant literature. Additionally, consider using citation management software to organize and manage your references.

For example, if your master’s thesis is about the impact of social media on mental health, you would want to search for literature that examines the relationship between social media use and psychological well-being. This might include studies on social media usage patterns, the prevalence of mental health issues among social media users, and the potential benefits and drawbacks of social media use.

3. Analyze and synthesize the literature

Once you have gathered a comprehensive collection of literature related to your research topic, the next step is to analyze and synthesize the information. This involves critically evaluating the strengths and weaknesses of each study, identifying key themes and patterns across the literature, and synthesizing the findings into a coherent narrative.

When analyzing and synthesizing the literature, consider the following questions:

  • What are the main findings and arguments of each source?
  • What are the strengths and weaknesses of each study?
  • What key themes and patterns emerge across the literature?

Using the example of the impact of social media on mental health, you might identify several key themes that emerge across the literature, such as the relationship between social media use and depression, the role of cyberbullying in affecting mental well-being, and the potential benefits of online peer support networks.

4. Write the literature review

With a clear understanding of the purpose of your literature review, a comprehensive collection of relevant literature, and a synthesized analysis of the existing research, you are now ready to write your literature review. When writing your literature review, consider the following guidelines:

  • Provide a clear and comprehensive overview of the existing literature in your field.
  • Critically evaluate and synthesize the key findings and arguments of each source.
  • Organize the literature thematically or chronologically to highlight key patterns and developments in the research.
  • Keep the focus on how each source relates to your research topic and thesis.

Continuing with the example of the impact of social media on mental health, your literature review might be organized into sections that correspond to the key themes you identified during your analysis. Each section could summarize and evaluate the existing literature on a specific aspect of the relationship between social media use and mental well-being, providing a clear overview of the current state of knowledge in the field.

5. Conclusion

Overall, writing a literature review for your master’s thesis involves understanding the purpose of the literature review, conducting a comprehensive literature search, analyzing and synthesizing the literature, and writing a well-organized and critical review of the existing research. By following these guidelines and examples, you can ensure that your literature review effectively contextualizes your own research within the broader academic discourse.

Q: How long should a literature review be?

A: The length of a literature review can vary depending on the requirements of your master’s thesis and the depth and breadth of the existing literature. In general, a literature review for a master’s thesis is typically around 3000-5000 words, but this can vary based on the specific expectations of your program or advisor.

Q: How many sources should I include in my literature review?

A: The number of sources you include in your literature review will depend on the scope of your research topic and the expectations of your program or advisor. In general, a literature review for a master’s thesis should include a comprehensive collection of relevant sources, typically ranging from 20-50 academic articles, books, and other scholarly publications.

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Taylor Swift Renews Her Vows With Heartbreak in Audacious, Transfixing ‘Tortured Poets Department’: Album Review

By Chris Willman

Chris Willman

Senior Music Writer and Chief Music Critic

  • Which New Taylor Swift Songs Are About Matty Healy, Joe Alwyn or Travis Kelce? Breaking Down ‘Tortured Poets Department’ Lyric Clues 18 hours ago
  • Taylor Swift’s Best ‘Tortured Poets Department’ Lyrics: ‘So Long, London,’ ‘The Smallest Man Who Ever Lived,’ ‘LOML,’ ‘The Black Dog’ and More 1 day ago
  • Stevie Nicks and Taylor Swift Both Wrote Revealing Poems for ‘Tortured Poets Department’ Album Package 1 day ago

Taylor Swift 'Tortured Poets Department" variant album cover vinyl LP review

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For where it sits in her catalog musically, it feels like the synth-pop of “Midnights,” with most of the feel-good buzz stripped out; or like the less acoustic based moments of “Folklore” and “Evermore,” with her penchant for pure autobiography stripped back in. It feels bracing, and wounded, and cocky, and — not to be undervalued in this age — handmade, however many times she stacks her own vocals for an ironic or real choral effect. Occasionally the music gets stripped down all the way to a piano, but it has the effect of feeling naked even when she goes for a bop that feels big enough to join the setlist in her stadium tour resumption, like “I Can Do It With a Broken Heart.”

The first time you listen to the album, you may be stricken by the “Wait, did she really just say that?” moments. (And no, we’re not referring to the already famous Charlie Puth shout-out, though that probably counts, too.) Whatever feeling you might have had hearing “Dear John” for the first time, if you’re old enough to go back that far with her, that may be the feeling you have here listening to the eviscerating “The Smallest Man Who Ever Lived,” or a few other tracks that don’t take much in the way of prisoners. Going back to it, on second, fifth and tenth listens, it’s easier to keep track of the fact that the entire album is not that emotionally intense, and that there are romantic, fun and even silly numbers strewn throughout it, if those aren’t necessarily the most striking ones on first blush. Yes, it’s a pop album as much as a vein-opening album, although it may not produce the biggest number of Top 10 hits of anything in her catalog. It doesn’t seem designed not to produce those, either; returning co-producers Jack Antonoff and Aaron Dessner aren’t exactly looking to keep her off the radio. But it’s easily among her most lyrics-forward efforts, rife with a language lover’s wordplay, tumults of sequential similes and — her best weapon — moments of sheer bluntness.

Who is the worst man that she delights in writing about through the majority of the album? Perhaps not the one you were guessing, weeks ago. There are archetypal good guy and bad boy figures who have been part of her life, whom everyone will transpose onto this material. Coming into “Tortured Poets,” the joke was that someone should keep Joe Alwyn, publicly identified as her steady for six-plus years, under mental health watch when the album comes out. As it turns out, he will probably be able to sleep just fine. The other bloke, the one everyone assumed might be too inconsequential to trouble her or write about — let’s put another name to that archetype: Matty Healy of the 1975 — might lose a little sleep instead, if the fans decide that the cutting “The Smallest Man Who Ever Lived” and other lacerating songs are about him, instead. He might also have cause to feel flattered, because there are plenty of songs extolling him as an object of abject passion and the love of her life — in, literally, the song title “LOML” — before the figure who animated all this gets sliced down to size.

The older love, he gets all of one song, as far as can be ascertained: the not so subtly titled “So Long, London,” a dour sequel to 2019’s effusive “London Boy.” Well, he gets a bit more than that: The amusingly titled “Fresh Out the Slammer” devotes some verses to a man she paints as her longtime jailer (“Handcuffed to the spell I was under / For just one hour of sunshine / Years of labor, locks and ceilings / In the shade of how he was feeling.” But ultimately it’s really devoted to the “pretty baby” who’s her first phone call once she’s been sprung from the relationship she considered her prison.

It’s complicated, as they say. For most of the album, Swift seesaws between songs about being in thrall to never-before-experienced passion and personal compatibility with a guy from the wrong side of the tracks. She feels “Guilty as Sin?” for imagining a consummation that at first seems un-actionable, if far from unthinkable; she swears “But Daddy I Love Him” in the face of family disapproval; she thinks “I Can Fix Him (No Really I Can),” before an epiphany slips out in the song’s hilariously anticlimactic final line: “Woah, maybe I can’t.” Then the most devastating songs about being ghosted pop up in the album’s later going.

Now, that, friends, is a righteous tirade. And it’s one of the most thrilling single moments in Swift’s recorded career. “But Daddy I Love Him” has a joke for a title (it’s a line borrowed from “The Little Mermaid”), but the song is an ecstatic companion piece to “That’s the Way I Loved You,” from her second album, now with Swift running off with the bad choice instead of just mourning him. It’s the rare song from her Antonoff/Dessner period that sounds like it could be out of the more “organic”-sounding, band-focused Nathan Chapman era, but with a much more matured writing now than then… even if the song is about embracing the immature.

The album gets off to a deceptively benign start with “Fortnight,” the collaboration with Post Malone that is its first single. Both he and the record’s other featured artist, Florence of Florence + the Machine , wrote the lyrics for their own sections, but Posty hangs back more, as opposed to the true duet with Florence; he echoes Swift’s leads before finally settling in with his own lines right at the end. Seemingly unconnected to the subject matter of the rest of the record, “Fortnight” seems a little like “Midnights” Lite. It rues a past quickie romance that the singer can’t quite move on from, even as she and her ex spend time with each other’s families. It’s breezy, and a good choice for pop radio, but not much of an indication of the more visceral, obsessive stuff to come.

The title track follows next and stays in the summer-breeze mode. It’s jangly-guitar-pop in the mode of “Mirrorball,” from “Folklore”… and it actually feels completely un-tortured, despite the ironic title. After the lovers bond over Charlie Puth being underrated (let’s watch those “One Call Away” streams soar), and over how “you’re not Dylan Thomas, I’m not Patti Smith,” an inter-artist romance seems firmly in place. “Who’s gonna hold you like me?” she asks aloud. (She later changes it to “troll you.”) She answers herself: “Nofuckinbody.” Sweet, and If you came to this album for any kind of idyll, enjoy this one while it lasts, which isn’t for long.

From here, the album is kind of all over the map, when it comes to whether she’s in the throes of passion or the throes of despair… with that epic poem in the album booklet to let you know how the pieces all fit together. (The album also includes a separate poem from Stevie Nicks, addressing the same love affair that is the main subject of the album, in a protective way.)

There are detours that don’t have to do with the romantic narrative, but not many. The collaboration with Florence + the Machine, “Florida!!!,” is the album’s funniest track, if maybe its least emotionally inconsequential. It’s literally about escape, and it provides some escapism right in the middle of the record, along with some BAM-BAM-BAM power-chord dynamics in an album that often otherwise trends soft. If you don’t laugh out loud the first time that Taylor’s and Florence’s voices come together in harmony to sing the line “Fuck me up, Florida,” this may not be the album for you.

When the album’s track list was first revealed, it almost seemed like one of those clever fakes that people delight in trolling the web with. Except, who would really believe that, instead of song titles like “Maroon,” Swift would suddenly be coming up with “My Boy Only Breaks His Favorite Toys,” “Fresh Out the Slammer,” “Who’s Afraid of Little Old Me?” and “The Smallest Man Who Ever Lived”? This sounded like a Morrissey track list, not one of Swift’s. But she’s loosened up, in some tonal sense, even as she’s as serious as a heart attack on a lot of these songs. There is blood on the tracks, but also a wit in the way she’s employing language and being willing to make declarations that sound a little outlandish before they make you laugh.

Toward the end of the album, she presents three songs that aren’t “about” anybody else… just about, plainly, Taylor Swift. That’s true of “Who’s Afraid of Little Old Me?,” a song that almost sounds like an outtake from the “Reputation” album, or else a close cousin to “Folklore’s” “Mad Woman,” with Swift embracing the role of vengeful witch, in response to being treated as a circus freak — exact contemporary impetus unknown.

Whatever criticisms anyone will make of “The Tortured Poets Department,” though — not enough bangers? too personal? — “edge”-lessness shouldn’t be one of them. In this album’s most bracing songs, it’s like she brought a knife to a fistfight. There’s blood on the tracks, good blood.

Sure to be one of the most talked-about and replayed tracks, “I Can Do It With a Broken Heart” has a touch of a Robyn-style dancing-through-tears ethos to it. But it’s clearly about the parts of the Eras Tour when she was at her lowest, and faking her way through it. “I’m so depressed I act like it’s my birthday — every day,” she sings, in the album’s peppiest number — one that recalls a more dance-oriented version of the previous album’s “Mastermind.” It’s not hard to imagine that when she resumes the tour in Paris next month, and has a new era to tag onto the end of the show, “I Can Do It With a Broken Heart” might be the new climax, in place of “Karma.” “You know you’re good when you can do it with a broken heart,” she humble-brags, “and I’m good, ‘cause I’m miserable / And nobody even knows! / Try and come for my job.”

Not many superstars would devote an entire song to confessing that they’ve only pretended to be the super-happy figure fans thought they were seeing pass through their towns, and that they were seeing a illusion. (Presumably she doesn’t have to fake it in the present day, but that’s the story of the next album, maybe.) But that speaks to the dichotomy that has always been Taylor Swift: on record, as good and honest a confessional a singer-songwriter as any who ever passed through the ports of rock credibility; in concert, a great, fulsome entertainer like Cher squared. Fortunately, in Swift, we’ve never had to settle for just one or the other. No one else is coming for either job — our best heartbreak chronicler or our most uplifting popular entertainer. It’s like that woman in the movie theater says: Heartache feels good in a place like that. And it sure feels grand presented in its most distilled, least razzly-dazzly essence in “The Tortured Poets Department.”

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  1. What is Literature Review?

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  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 A Literature Review

    Structure planning to write a good literature review; 1. Outline and identify the purpose of a literature review. As a first step on how to write a literature review, you must know what the research question or topic is and what shape you want your literature review to take. Ensure you understand the research topic inside out, or else seek ...

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

    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.

  4. Writing a literature review

    A formal literature review is an evidence-based, in-depth analysis of a subject. There are many reasons for writing one and these will influence the length and style of your review, but in essence a literature review is a critical appraisal of the current collective knowledge on a subject. Rather than just being an exhaustive list of all that ...

  5. Writing a Literature Review

    The lit review is an important genre in many disciplines, not just literature (i.e., the study of works of literature such as novels and plays). When we say "literature review" or refer to "the literature," we are talking about the research (scholarship) in a given field. You will often see the terms "the research," "the ...

  6. The art of writing literature review: What do we know and what do we

    5. Conclusion. The main purpose of a review article is to critically analyse the extant literature in a given research area, theme or discipline, identifying relevant theories, key constructs, empirical methods, contexts, and remaining research gaps in order to set a future research agenda based on those gaps.

  7. Writing a Literature Review

    The purpose of a literature review, therefore, is: 1) To get a feel for the agreed academic opinion on the subject (the connections). 2) To discover the disagreements on the subject (the contradictions). 3) To find opportunities, (the gaps), for developing and expressing your own opinions. The classic pattern of academic arguments is.

  8. Writing a literature review

    How to write a literature review in 6 steps. How do you write a good literature review? This step-by-step guide on how to write an excellent literature review covers all aspects of planning and writing literature reviews for academic papers and theses.

  9. Writing a literature review

    When writing a literature review it is important to start with a brief introduction, followed by the text broken up into subsections and conclude with a summary to bring everything together. A summary table including title, author, publication date and key findings is a useful feature to present in your review (see Table 1 for an example).

  10. Writing the Literature Review: Common Mistakes and Best Practices

    Phair ( 2021) asserts that there are seven mistakes authors commonly make when writing a literature review: using low-quality sources. omitting landmark/seminal literature. incorporating dated literature. describing, instead of integrating and synthesizing, relevant studies. including irrelevant or unfocused content.

  11. Getting started

    Definition: A literature review is a systematic examination and synthesis of existing scholarly research on a specific topic or subject. Purpose: It serves to provide a comprehensive overview of the current state of knowledge within a particular field. Analysis: Involves critically evaluating and summarizing key findings, methodologies, and ...

  12. A Comprehensive Literature Review on Marketing Strategies ...

    Marketing is the process of promoting and selling products and services, including market research and advertising. ... Copy URL. Copy DOI. A Comprehensive Literature Review on Marketing Strategies Adopting by Various Industries. 9 Pages Posted: 30 Dec 2022. See all articles by Rashini Hansika Rashini Hansika. Uva Wellassa University, Faculty ...

  13. Undertaking a literature review in marketing

    TY - JOUR. T1 - Undertaking a literature review in marketing. AU - Gabbott, Mark. PY - 2004. Y1 - 2004. N2 - Writing a literature review is often considered to be one of the most difficult tasks a student will undertake and is often the most significant part of the academic contribution of essays and theses.

  14. MKTG 340: Marketing Research: Writing a Literature Review

    Writing a Literature Review (Concordia University St. Paul) How to Read a Journal Article Explains the typical layout of a scholarly journal article and what kinds of information you can find in each section; advice on how to read.

  15. Content marketing research: A review and research agenda

    The purpose of this study is to perform a comprehensive review of the existing literature on content marketing and an equally comprehensive research analysis in the field. Accordingly, the study synthesizes 112 items of content marketing literature, using bibliometric analysis and the TCCM framework, to examine the evolution of content ...

  16. PDF Strategies for Writing a literature review

    Persuasive. Tell/convey information. Make observations and identify them. Explain and discuss quotes/quoted material. Paraphrase. Build your argument in a way that you think is more convincing. Arrange and present your scholarship so as to be convincing. Use persuasive language ("suggest," "recommend," "argue")

  17. Writing Narrative Literature Reviews

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