Literature Review: How to Start Writing?

Pencil sharpener on a notebook.

A literature review is a paper presenting the list of the authors, whose works have been used for writing a paper. It is written on a separate page in the form of annotated bibliography.

Sometimes, it is also required as a part of the introduction to a research paper, thesis or an essay. The purpose of writing a literature review is to tell the reader what ideas were established on a topic and what their highs and lows are.

Your literature reviews should:

  • be well organized and related to the research question you are developing;
  • write the results in a from of a summary: what is already known and what is yet unknown;
  • specify the controversial issues in the literature;
  • present the questions that require further research.

If you have to write your literature review, but you do not know what to start with, answer the questions offered:

  • What specific thesis statement your literature review can help to define?
  • What kind of literature review are you conducting?
  • What is the range of your literature review? What kinds of publications are you using (books, popular media, journals)? What area are you working in (philosophy, medicine, sociology)?
  • Was your information search wide enough to be sure your sources are relevant?
  • Have you conducted the literature analysis critically? Did you discuss the strengths and the weaknesses of the sources?
  • Have you cited the theories that are contrary to your own point of view?
  • Do you think the reader will find your literature review useful and relevant?

It will be much welcomed if you divide your literature reviews into several paragraphs, but not just dryly enumerate the list of the sources used. Organize your literature review into the sections carrying certain themes. The main purpose of writing your literature review is to present a deep analysis of the materials used.