Guidelines for review of literature

By Ankita Agarwal on June 21, 2014

Review of published literature relating to the subject of current research is essential for any study. Review of literature involves a critical analysis of the works of different scholars and researchers who have already worked on a topic relating to the subject of the current research. A common misconception is that the conclusion of the research paper is based upon primary data analysis, therefore, review of literature is usually the overlooked area. However, review of literature is one of the most important elements to complete a research. The following guidelines will help you plan a proper and effective review of literature for your study:

Understand the research problem

Before reviewing the literature for your study, you must understand the research problem which is the basis of any research. Usually, the problem statement clarifies the purpose of the research, as well as the shortcomings, is to be conducted.

Understand the aims and objectives of the research

Once the areas of research are identified by you with the help of the research problem then you should understand the aims and objectives of the research. Aims and objectives of the research will help you to understand the connections between your study and the studies conducted by other authors in the same field. It also helps to present your study in a proper flow.

Review of literature is based on secondary data

Review of literature for research is based on the secondary data (data already published). Sources of secondary data may include websites, books and e-books, journals, magazines, newspapers etc. However, it is important to note here that blogs are not a reliable source of data in academic assignments. Therefore refrain from referring to blogs.

Include statistics

Usually, students believe that review of literature means writing about theories and models that may not even relate the objectives of the study. But an important part of this part is to update the readers with the latest facts and figures on the research subject. Include a lot of relevant statistics to give a practical outlook to the research. While including statistics, one must take care of the data sources.

Don’t forget to critically evaluate your literature

Most of the students fail because they do not include any critical review in their paper. A critical review is probably the most important aspect while reviewing the literature. There must be enough reasoning of the literature that you include. Also, you must keep questioning the relevance of the theory and models that you include.

Keep revising your literature while writing

Review of literature is usually not less than 40% of the total words of an entire research paper. Many times you may get overloaded with data and lose your content flow. One can avoid this by intermediate and periodic revisions.