A literature review is not an annotated bibliography in which you summarize briefly each article that you have reviewed. While a summary of what you have read is contained within the literature review, it goes well beyond merely summarizing professional literature. It focuses on a specific topic of interest to you and includes a critical analysis of the relationship among different works, and relating this research to your work. The review of the professional literature relevant to your research question will help to contextualize, or frame, your research. It will give readers the necessary background to understand your research.
Guidelines for writing a literature review:
- Provide an overview near the beginning of the review
- Near the beginning of a review, state explicitly what will and will not be covered
- Aim for a clear and cohesive essay that integrates the key details of the literature and communicates your point of view (a literature is not a series of annotated articles).
- Use subheadings
- Use transitions to help trace your argument
- Where appropriate, describe why the information within a paragraph or a section is important relative to your study. Help the reader to connect the information to the research study.
- Write a conclusion for the end of the review: Provide closure so that the path of the argument ends with a conclusion of some kind. The conclusion of a paper in which you will be presenting original research usually leads to the research question or questions that will be addressed.
- Check the flow of your argument for coherence.