Posted by: kpmn | July 21, 2008

Want advice on literature review writing?

TIPS on Writing Literature Review  (Clark, 2007:103-124)


When planning your review, ask yourself the following questions:

  1. what is my central question or issue that the literature can help define?
  2. what is already known about the topic?
  3. is the scope of the literature being reviewed wide or narrow enough?
  4. is there a conflict or debate in the literature?
  5. what connections can be made between the texts being reviewed?
  6. what sort of literature should be reviewed? Historical? Theoretical? Methodological? Quantitative? Qualitative?
  7. what criteria should be used to evaluate the literature being reviewed?
  8. how will reviewing the literature justify the topic I plan to investigate?


LR must be able to serve its function i.e. to justify the approach to the topic and develop a rationale for exploring it.

Several key terms that u might reflect as u write:

  • Compare & Contrast – different authors view
  • Criticize – method or perspectives in previous work, thereby showing the importance f your own.
  • Highlight – gaps in existing research
  • Show – your study relates to previous lit. and is superior in some way.
  • Identify – a problem, conflict, debate, or gap in the lit.
  • Define – a research area in a new way.
  • Question – the results of previous work.


It is not intended that u summarize every text that relates to your topic – only those that are considered most relevant and significant to the direction you are pursuing. So, how to do it?

1) preview the text briefly – look for statements of purpose of the article.  Write a predictive summary of what the main point or perspective of this source might be. (Imp so that you don’t waste time).

2)  Interact with the text – by engaging in a critical dialogue with it.  Determine how much of it to accept, determine its value, decide whether you plan to include it in your LR. This involves: (Read more carefully, but not every sentence)

  • evaluating the credibility of author
  • examine theoretical or methodological premise
  • probe for unstated underlying assumptions
  • assess type of evidence/ support used
  • do u agree with method or approach?
  • does the author seem biased?
  • can the source be linked to others?


Then, take actual notes, if possible on the computer then print them.

Place them in folders, organized either by author’s last name or by subject.

In LR, don’t try to include every work u have read.  Only include those that pertain directly to your topic and justify the approach you plan to develop in your thesis.


posted by Ratna


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