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Writing a Literature Review: Write the Review

Help guide to literature review writing

Writing the Review

"In writing the literature review, the purpose is to convey to the reader what knowledge and ideas have been established on a topic, and what their strengths and weaknesses are. The literature review must be defined by a guiding concept (eg. 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."

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Format of your Literature Review

A literature review can be a stand alone piece of work, for example a journal article, or sit within the discussion section of a thesis, or encompass an entire chapter in a larger body of work. However, at the bare minimum they should all contain an introduction, a discussion and a conclusion. When drafting your discussion look back at your matrix to help you determine the best way to order your discussion e.g. Chronological, thematic, conceptual, methodological


This section provides you an opportunity to explain the rationale for your literature review. You should outline the scope of your research, summarize the literature and how your research relates to the literature.


The discussion of your research and its importance to the literature should be presented in a logical structure.

  • Chronological: Structure your discussion by the literature’s publication date moving from the oldest to the newest research. Discuss how your research relates to the literature and highlight any breakthroughs and any gaps in the research.
  • Historical: Similar to the chronological structure, the historical structure allows for a discussion of concepts or themes and how they have evolved over time.
  • Thematic: Identify and discuss the different themes present within the research. Make sure that you relate the themes to each other and to your research.
  • Methodological: This type of structure is used to discuss not so much what is found but how. For example, an methodological approach could provide an analysis of research approaches, data collection or and analysis techniques.


In the conclusion, provide a concise summary of your review and provide suggestions for future research.



Writing a Literature Review Tutorial