Difference between essay literature review

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  1. The stand-alone literature review - Research & Learning Online
  2. Organizing Your Social Sciences Research Paper: 5. The Literature Review
  3. 21 responses
  4. How to write a literature review

You need to check what is required within your own discipline. If you are required to record and present your search strategy, you may be able to include the technical details of the search strategy as an appendix to your thesis. Plagiarism is regarded as a serious offence by all Universities, and you need to make sure that you do not, even accidentally, commit plagiarism.

It can happen accidentally, for example, if you are careless in your note-taking.

This can mean that you get mixed up over what is an exact quote, and what you have written in your own words; or over what was an idea of your own that you jotted down, or an idea from some text. This has the advantage that, when you come to use that example in your writing up, you can choose:. Help is available regarding how to avoid plagiarism and it is worth checking it out. Your department will have its own guidance. It is important to keep control of the reading process, and to keep your research focus in mind.

It is also important to see the writing stage as part of the research process, not something that happens after you have finished reading the literature. Once you are part way through your reading you can have a go at writing the literature review, in anticipation of revising it later on.

It is often not until you start explaining something in writing that you find where your argument is weak, and you need to collect more evidence. A skill that helps in curtailing the reading is: knowing where to set boundaries. Decisions need to be made about where to focus your reading, and where you can refer briefly to an area but explain why you will not be going into it in more detail.

The task of shaping a logical and effective report of a literature review is undeniably challenging. Some useful guidance on how to approach the writing up is given by Wellington et al :. In most disciplines, the aim is for the reader to reach the end of the literature review with a clear appreciation of what you are doing; why you are doing it; and how it fits in with other research in your field.

The stand-alone literature review - Research & Learning Online

Often, the literature review will end with a statement of the research question s. Having a lot of literature to report on can feel overwhelming. It is important to keep the focus on your study, rather than on the literature Wellington To help you do this, you will need to establish a structure to work to.

A good, well-explained structure is also a huge help to the reader.


  1. What is a literature review?!
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  5. Annotated Bibliography vs. Literature Review.
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  7. Guidelines for writing a literature review?

As with any piece of extended writing, structure is crucial. There may be specific guidance on structure within your department, or you may need to devise your own. Once you have established your structure you need to outline it for your reader. Although you clearly need to write in an academic style, it can be helpful to imagine that you are telling a story.

Organizing Your Social Sciences Research Paper: 5. The Literature Review

The thread running through the story is the explanation of why you decided to do the study that you are doing. The story needs to be logical, informative, persuasive, comprehensive and, ideally, interesting. It needs to reach the logical conclusion that your research is a good idea. If there is a key article or book that is of major importance to the development of your own research ideas, it is important to give extra space to describing and critiquing that piece of literature in more depth.

The Abstract

Similarly, if there are some studies that you will be referring to more than to others, it would be useful to give them a full report and critique at this stage. As well as using tables to display numerical data, tables can be useful within a literature review when you are comparing other kinds of material. For example, you could use a table to display the key differences between two or more:. The table format can make the comparisons easier to understand than if they were listed within the text.

It can also be a check for yourself that you have identified enough relevant differences. An omission will be more obvious within a table, where it would appear as a blank cell, than it would be within text. Almost all academic writing will need a reference list. This is a comprehensive list of the full references of sources that you have referred to in your writing.


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  • The reader needs to be able to follow up any source you have referred to. A bibliography is not usually necessary or relevant, unless you have been asked to produce one. This experience is common in PhD study, but it can happen at any level, and can feel as if you have wasted a lot of effort. Looking at this positively, however, you have probably read more widely than you might otherwise have done. That probably confirms that it was a good question to ask!

    21 responses

    Although this can feel very disappointing at first, it can often be transformed into a benefit. It is important that your research fits logically within the existing research in your area, and you may have found an ideal study to link with and to extend in some way. Remember that:. Firstly, this is unlikely. Perhaps if you modify your search strategy you will find something. Check out whether there is an important reason why the research has not been done, which would make it sensible for you to choose a different focus. If you do decide to go ahead, then take extra care designing your research, in the absence of guidance from previous studies.

    Ploughing a little-known furrow as a novice researcher is going to be very difficult, and you may find it difficult to get much support or help. An important aspect of your thesis and your viva, is that you can show how your research fits with other research. This will be just as important when there is limited existing research in your area, as when there is an abundance. Once you have a first draft of your literature review it is possible for you to assess how well you have achieved your aims.

    One way of doing this is to examine each paragraph in turn, and to write in the margin a very brief summary of the content, and the type of content e. These summaries then provide the outline of the story you are telling, and the way that you are telling it. Both of these are important and need to be critically reviewed.

    Beware of becoming too attached to your writing. You need to be ready to cross out whole paragraphs or even whole sections if they do not pass the above tests. It may be mainly a case of cutting and pasting material into a different order, with some additional explanation and linking. If this produces a more relevant and streamlined argument it is well worth the effort. Blaxter L. Buckingham: Open University.

    How to write a literature review

    Merriam S. Taylor D. Wellington J. Email: studyhelp if you are a University of Leicester student please use your University email address Keep in touch via:. Personal tools Web Editor Log in. Search Site only in current section. Advanced Search…. Search Site. For a printer-friendly PDF version of this guide, click here. Share this page:. Sign up via email.

    View Comments. This content belongs to the Manuscript Writing Stage. Confirm that you would also like to sign up for free personalized email coaching for this stage. The secret to using tenses in scientific writing The secret to using tenses in scientific writing. Infographic: 6 Differences between study background and literature review. May 03, 3. Related reading: How to write the background of your study 8 Dos and 8 don'ts of writing an engaging study background A young researcher's guide to writing a literature review How to write a literature review.

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    How to Write a Literature Review in 30 Minutes or Less