How To Write a Literature Review

A literature review is an essential component of academic research, particularly in the realm of social sciences, humanities, and scientific disciplines. It serves as a comprehensive examination of existing scholarly works and publications related to a particular research topic. The literature review helps researchers identify gaps in current knowledge, analyze key concepts, and build a solid foundation for their own study. In this article, we will guide you through the step-by-step process of how to write a literature review effectively, ensuring that you address all the essential aspects of this critical academic task.

Before diving into the writing process, it is crucial to comprehend the purpose of a literature review. It goes beyond merely summarizing existing research; rather, it provides a critical analysis of various works, evaluating their methodologies, findings, and relevance to your research questions.

How to Start a Literature Review?

Begin by selecting a focused and well-defined research topic. Your literature review should be centered around this topic to maintain coherence and relevance. Once you have your research topic, follow these steps:

1. Have a long and good discussion with your Professor/ Supervisor

Before you start writing your literature review, take some time to consider your specific area of study. Think about topics that genuinely interest you and those that have caught the attention of other researchers in your field. If you’re unsure, it’s always a good idea to discuss your ideas with your professor or academic advisor. Brainstorming can also be helpful; jot down any research questions or themes that come to mind.

To get a sense of the latest developments in your field, read through your lecture notes and browse recent issues of academic journals or periodicals related to your area of study. This will give you insights into the current trends, debates, and gaps in the existing research.

2. Identify Relevant Keywords

Brainstorm and collect keywords related to your research topic. These keywords will help you efficiently search for relevant literature in academic databases and libraries.

3. How to make RRL in Research

Use academic databases, online journals, libraries, and reputable sources to find scholarly articles, books, and other publications related to your topic. Be diligent in your search to ensure you capture all relevant work.

Evaluate and Choose Your Sources

Not all sources are created equal. Before including a publication in your literature evaluation, consider its credibility, applicability, and dependability. Prioritize current research and peer-reviewed sources.

How to write introduction for a Literature Review

A strong opening should draw the reader in, give context, and make it obvious what the literature review is intended to accomplish.

1. Begin with an Eye-Catching Hook

Use a strong hook at the beginning of your introduction to draw the reader in. This could be a provocative question, an eye-opening fact, a pertinent quotation, or an engaging anecdote associated with your study subject.

2. Provide Historical context

After drawing the reader in, give them some background on the subject of your study. Briefly describe the topic, its importance in the field of study, and its connection to the larger context.

3. Concentrate Your Topic

Reduce the scope of your literature review as you go along in your introduction. Indicate in detail the precise research objective or topic that your review aims to answer.

4. Describe the Inclusion and Scope Criteria

Explain the parameters of your literature review in a few words. Mention the many kinds of sources you have looked at, such as academic journals, books, conference papers, or other pertinent publications. Include any inclusion or exclusion criteria you used.

In the introduction, describe the structure of your literature review. Mention the primary topics or parts you’ll be discussing, as well as your intended structure for the review.

6. Highlight the Importance

In your introduction’s conclusion, be sure to emphasize the importance of your literature study. Describe why it is crucial for developing knowledge in the field to understand the body of literature that already exists on this subject.

7. Be Brief and Straightforward

Keep in mind to write a brief and focused introduction. A description of the full literature review or delving into too much detail should be avoided in the beginning.

How to make an RRL is essential for readability and coherence. Organize your literature review using the following sections:


Introduce your literature review in the introduction. The study issue should be briefly introduced in this area, along with the aim of your review.


Sort the works you came across during your search into categories for the body of your literature review. Compartmentalize related disciplines and talk about them thematically or historically. To keep your section headings in line with your research emphasis, use the keywords from your title.

Video: How to write a proper literature review

How to do Literature Review for a Research Paper

Discuss the studies relevant to your specific research paper. Highlight their significance and how they relate to your research objectives.

How to do Literature Review for a Dissertation/ Literature Review for a Thesis

Examine the scholarly works that contribute to your thesis or dissertation topic. Analyze their methodologies and findings to support your research.

Video: How to do a literature review using google scholar

How to do Literature Review in a Research Proposal

Similarly, discuss the key studies that inform your research proposal. Explain how they justify the need for your proposed study.

Literature Review Comparison

Literature Review Comparison

Aspect Research Article Thesis/Dissertation
Scope and Length Limited scope and length Extensive and comprehensive
Research Focus Specific research question Broader research focus
Depth of Analysis Concise summary and analysis In-depth analysis of studies
Audience Specialized audience Broader audience
Original Contribution Mainly demonstrated in research findings and discussion Can be considered an original contribution in its own right

How to Write a Literature Review Example

Let’s think about a process example to demonstrate the procedure of how to make review of related literature. Consider the following example: “The Impact of Social Media on Mental Health.” Your literature review could be organized as follows:


Describe the study’s subject and how it relates to the digital era of today. Draw attention to the growing worries about mental health problems connected to social media use.


Section 1: How social media use and mental health are related.

Furthermore, talk about research examining the relationship between excessive social media use and mental health issues like anxiety and depression.

Section 2: Body Image and Social Media

Examine studies that look into how social media affects eating problems and poor body image.

Section 3: Cyberbullying and Social Media

Talk about research that looks at the link between cyberbullying on social media sites and its detrimental consequences on mental health.

Analysis and Synthesis

Examine the recurring themes and trends that appear in the studies under evaluation. Discuss the methodological restrictions and suggest potential areas for further study.


Summarize the results of your literature review, focusing on the need for more research into how social media affects mental health.

Video: How to write a Literature Review

How to write a Literature Review APA style

Writing a literature review in APA (American Psychological Association) style involves following specific formatting and citation guidelines. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to write a literature review in APA style:

1. Format Your Document

Ensure that your document follows the APA guidelines for general formatting. Use 1-inch margins on all sides, a clear and legible font (e.g., Times New Roman, 12-point), and double-spacing throughout the text.

2. Title Page

Create a title page that includes the title of your literature review, your name, your academic affiliation, and the date. Center all the information horizontally and vertically on the page.

3. Introduction

Start your literature review with an introduction. Include a brief overview of the research topic, its relevance, and the purpose of your literature review.

4. Organize Your Review

Organize your literature review into sections and subsections based on themes, topics, or chronological order, depending on your research objectives.

5. Use Headings and Subheadings

Use APA-style headings and subheadings to structure your literature review. APA has specific formatting guidelines for these headings:

  • Level 1 Heading: Centered, boldface, title case (capitalize the first letter of each major word), and no period at the end.
  • Level 2 Heading: Flush left, boldface, as well as title case, and no period at the end.
  • Level 3 Heading: Indented, boldface, title case, and end with a period.

Ensure consistent formatting and use the parallel structure for your headings and also subheadings.

6. In-text Citations

Whenever you refer to a source or cite an author’s work, use in-text citations following the APA style. Include the author’s last name and the publication year within parentheses. For example: (Smith, 2023).

Reference List

At the end of your literature review, include a comprehensive reference list of all the sources you cited in the text. Arrange the references alphabetically by the author’s last name.

Here’s the basic format for different types of sources:

  • Books: Author’s Last Name, Initials. (Year). Title of the Book. Publisher.
  • Journal Articles: Author’s Last Name, Initials. (Year). Title of the article. Title of the Journal, Volume(Issue), Page range. DOI or URL (if available).
  • Websites or Online Sources: Author’s Last Name, Initials. (Year). Title of the webpage or document. Website Name. URL.

Make sure to use hanging indents for the reference list, where the first line of each entry is flush left, and subsequent lines are indented.

Video: How to do literature review apa style

8. APA Style Citation Generator

Finally, to help with APA style citations, consider using an APA citation generator or citation management software, which can automatically format your references according to APA guidelines.

By following these steps, you can effectively write a literature review in APA style, ensuring that your citations and formatting adhere to the APA guidelines. Moreover, remember to consult the official APA Publication Manual or the APA website for more detailed guidelines on citation and formatting.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

1. How many references should I give in a Research Paper/article?

Ans: Normally the literature review for research should not be lengthy. It can be a review of 8 to 10 past articles, a thesis, or dissertations.

2. How many references should I give in my Thesis or Dissertation?

Ans: The students who are undergraduates can include 5 to 20 previous research in their literature review. But, for graduates, the number should be higher than 30. The number of previous studies actually strengthens your writing.

3. How can I avoid plagiarism in writing a Literature Review?

Ans: Explain the references in your own words. Another shortcut is to use any paraphrasing tool to avoid plagiarism.

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