Unlocking the Secrets of Effective Literature Reviews

Understanding the Importance of Literature Review Writing

If you are familiar with academic research, then you must have composed a literature review at least once. You could have also noticed that your professors are particularly demanding regarding such an assignment, but do you know why? The simplest reason to regard this task as highly important is that it allows checking students’ knowledge on the topic. Basically, a teacher can determine whether you read the necessary material or not. Thus, besides demonstrating your writing skills, you learn to analyze a scholarly essay, an article, or the entire book in its depth. Therefore, there are numerous types of literature review assignments, which depend on the special features of a literary piece. Although this task seems to be painstaking and monotonous, it brings many benefits. Indeed, it stimulates you to read the entire work. You should also write down the most sophisticated parts to decipher them in the process of writing. No matter how challenging this assignment is, every step of its completion endows you with unique knowledge. It also can get tricky if you have to express your judgment on the literary work. While having a standpoint usually facilitates the overall writing, you must find trustworthy and relevant sources to support your opinion. The main purpose is to establish the balance between the authenticity of your beliefs and expert evaluation of the same problem.

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To write a literature review of a decent quality one has to clearly understand the purpose of this document. Besides, a student has to have excellent writing and analytical thinking skills, as well as a clear understanding of the structure of this document. This writing task is not as plain as it may seem at first glance.

If you strive to be a diligent student with excellent grades, then you must be well-versed in literature review writing. This knowledge can be flexibly applied to academic works of any kind, despite the subject you are going to explore. First off, you have to test your general understanding of the literature review. Secondly, you will have to learn the widely applied types of literature essays within modern academics. The experts of our unique literature review writing service have prepared a comprehensive article on the peculiarities of reviewing various publications. However, for a start, let us evaluate the discerning elements of an annotated bibliography and a classic literature review.

Literature Review and Annotated Bibliography: Similarities and Differences

Do you know what is the difference between a literature review and an annotated bibliography? Before you start composing your review, you should realize that its structure resembles a typical academic essay, especially an expository one. The text of your analysis should reflect the depth of your knowledge regarding the work in question. As it is crucial to make this paper coherent and logical, you need to include the major elements of any academic work: introduction, body paragraphs, and conclusion. The review should revolve around a central idea or a thesis statement.

Aspect Literature Review Annotated Bibliography
Purpose Summarizes and synthesizes existing research on a specific topic or research question. Provides a list of cited sources with brief descriptions or annotations.
Content Includes a comprehensive analysis of the literature, identifies gaps, and offers insights or theories. Lists sources used in a research project, each with a short summary or evaluation.
Length Can be lengthy and substantial, often several pages or even chapters. Relatively concise, typically a paragraph or two per source.
Focus Focuses on the broader context of the research topic and its evolution over time. Primarily focuses on the individual sources and their relevance to the research.
Organization Organized thematically or chronologically, often with subsections. Organized alphabetically by author’s last name or another specified format.
Analysis Involves critical analysis, synthesis, and interpretation of the literature. Primarily descriptive, summarizing the key points of each source.

When you create an annotated bibliography, you should provide a list of all the sources you used for your scholarly investigation. Typically, it should be done in alphabetical order. Each cited source should have brief comments on its main concepts below. Each source should be mentioned in an annotated bibliography only once. In contrast, while crafting an overview of the literature, one is allowed to refer to the same source multiple times if it encompasses a range of fundamental ideas. Another similarity to a regular research paper is that a literature review needs to include in-text citations and references or works cited on the final page.

Hence, when comparing literature review vs annotated bibliography, you should take into consideration that the main similarity between them is in a particular reference to literary material and elucidation of its fundamental elements. When you review literature, you are focused on the explanation of a particular subject. When compiling an annotated bibliography, you succinctly disclose how each separate source contributes to the revelation of the given content.

When Are Students Asked to Craft a Literature Review?

Your professor may ask you to create such a text for two reasons. First, students are often tasked with literature survey writing to check their ability to estimate the current state of research as well as their knowledge of scientific debates around the assigned topic. In this case, the paper is a stand-alone project. Second, students often have to write a review of scientific publications as a separate section of a larger work: a research paper, thesis, or dissertation. In this case, they are supposed to place their study within the larger context of existing knowledge. Thus, this part of your paper allows you to:

  • Reveal your knowledge of the chosen topic as well as the scholarly context
  • Position your research in relation to the rest of the theorists and scholars
  • Coin a methodology and theoretical framework for the upcoming research
  • Demonstrate how this research closes the gap or contributes to the existing body of knowledge.
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Literature Review and Its Prevailing Types

There are eight relevant types of literature reviews, which are applied in contemporary academic research. They mostly vary depending on their approaches, assessment techniques, and goals. They are divided into certain categories, which define their major discerning elements. Some literature reviews are based on narratives, some are focused on critical thinking skills, while others can be related to meta-analysis and meta-synthesis. Let us delve into the types of literature review, which are associated with rigorous scholarly investigations:

Conventional literature review (based on a narrative) is the most commonly used form of literary evaluation, which often serves as an integral part of a larger academic work, such as a dissertation. It explains what similar research has already been done, mentions its thesis statement, and demonstrates its interrelation with a particular field of study.

Conceptual literary review arranges articles in accordance with their conceptual relevance; it can also categorize the predominant themes. It shows the extent of comprehension of the topic in question, ponders on the factors, which helped to achieve that understanding, and foresees more potential accomplishments in the pertinent academic field.

Critical review is interrelated with a profound analysis of an oeuvre in question. It can prepare you for professional literary criticism if you want to dedicate your career to it. It is concentrated on describing the major motives and innovative concepts of the work. It can help you hypothesize further practical implementation of the issues reviewed.

Integrative review is aimed to analyze, critique, and synthesize the essential literature within the required academic discipline by dint of generating new perspectives and frameworks. It merges all the pertinent studies that reflect analogous hypotheses. It should integrate all the quintessential elements of the research in the clearest possible manner.

Systematic review refers to a specific type of expert review, which is typically composed within the sphere of health sciences. According to the definition of the Cochrane Library, “a systematic review is aimed to classify, evaluate and synthesize all the collected empirical evidence that meets special eligibility criteria, which subsequently answer a certain research question.”

Rapid review is deemed to evaluate all the obtained knowledge on the topic by applying a method based on a systematic review. It also helps to determine the best practice to contribute to future findings within the field.

Meta-analysis refers to a kind of survey, which is both systematic and quantitative. It is based on a specific statistical evaluation of multiple research studies. This way, it attempts to disclose patterns and associations, integrating findings from versatile studies within the same sphere.

Meta-synthesis determines a non-statistical review aimed to synthesize and analyze studies based on qualitative research. It facilitates the arrangement of typical themes, elements, and key equivalents to create new theories and concepts.

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Common Format of Literature Reviews

Formatting styles stem from a traditional literature review. Typically, it is enough to adhere to your professor’s instructions. Luckily, you do not have to invent the wheel and stick to some uncommonly used formats. Thus, if you are familiar with the widely used writing styles, such as MLA, APA, Chicago, and Harvard, you can easily apply one of those to your literary review. Yet, each of these formats is many-sided and highly detailed. If you find essay writing within these styles too complicated, you can always address professional assistance via Best-Writing-Service.com. Writers and editors of our company are formatting prodigies, and they can easily switch between writing styles. Whenever you encounter problems with your MLA or APA, it is convenient to rely on literature review assignment help from genuine academic connoisseurs.

Constituent Parts of a Literature Review

A well-composed paper includes the following components:

  • literature review objective;
  • subject overview;
  • categorization of the selected sources to support the chosen position, oppose it, or provide a new argument;
  • analysis of the similar and unique features of every source.

Literature Review Writing: Steps to Take in the Process

It is possible to single out four stages in writing a literature review:

  • Defining the topic and reviewing its scope.
  • Searching for relevant sources in the libraries, databases, catalogs, and various search tools.
  • Evaluating the sources to figure out how suitable they are to gaining an insight into the topic.
  • Interpretation, analysis, and discussion of the conclusions and findings of the chosen sources.

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5 Essential Software Tools for Perfect Literature Reviews

Experienced students know that there are tools for literature review, which greatly facilitate the completion of the most demanding academic tasks. They will help you to accumulate research evidence and arrange all the necessary information for your future articles and reviews.

Our specialists have chosen the most efficient literature review tools to make your academic experience totally transformative.

  • Firefox

Initially, to get access to the most useful tools, you have to install a convenient browser – Firefox. Afterward, you will be able to use its amazing plugins, which are frequently used when reviewing the required literature.

  • Unpaywall

If you encounter difficulties when trying to get access to the published scholarly works for your overview, you deal with copyright restrictions. Yet, many students do not know that there are thousands of free and high-quality sources – you just need to filter out the restricted ones and easily accessible ones. To do this, you have to install a Firefox plugin called Unpaywall. When the program is installed, go to your browser and activate a special green tab, which helps to skip the paywall of peer-reviewed articles.

  • GNU Linux

Linux cannot be underestimated as well. It contains hundreds of distributions, which can be for free on any personal computer. The majority of Linux offers have all-embracing trial versions.

  • LibreOffice

A great alternative to Microsoft Office tools is LibreOffice. More and more students realize how convenient it is for literary reviews and basically any kind of academic project.

  • Zotero

It is one of the most popular Firefox plugins, which can also be a smartphone app and a desktop program. This wonderful tool facilitates collecting, citing, organizing, researching, and reviewing the necessary material. One of its benefits is the ability to extract bibliographic data from PDF files. You can also add notes below every new reference. Moreover, it provides import and export of literary databases in versatile formats.

How Long Should a Literature Review Be? Brief Useful Answers

Is it easy to determine how long is a literature review? In fact, if you appeal merely to its briefness, you will be wrong. The length of such a paper can significantly vary depending on your general academic purpose and target audience. If you work on a scholarly paper as an undergraduate, then a succinct literary overview may be sufficient. Nevertheless, senior or postgraduate students may be required to compose extensive overviews of the used material because their main academic projects are theses and dissertations. Therefore, it is logical that a literary review for a regular essay will be brief while the same addition to your dissertation will be lengthy and elaborate.

There is, however, an integral element of proportion, which can be considered carefully: typically, the length of your literature review covers from 20% to 40% of the entire work. Hence, the more content you generate, the more extended your overview becomes. There is also an established minimal length of the literature review for a thesis, which is optimally 8 or 10 pages. It basically covers the mentioned 20% of the overall length of your academic work.

A dissertation is deemed to be the largest academic oeuvre. In this regard, literature reviews can get impressively prolonged, encompassing about 60 pages. Yet, the ultimate length can be discussed with your professor. Sophisticated scientific fields of study predetermine extended literary overviews.

Best Literature Review Example

One of the most effective strategies of composing great literature reviews is to find and follow first-rate examples and samples. A collection of reviews produced by the Best-Writing-Service.com writers showcases that the experts can complete any task at the highest level of proficiency and you can get closer to perfection, merely analyzing their works. Applying successful examples can be an effective starting point for you to gain an insight into the approaches of other writers who handle this challenging task in the context of your own research.

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