A literature review is like a trailer of what the research is going to be about. It helps fellow researchers gain summarized information about the current or past research of that particular topic. Writing a good literature review is an important skill to learn if you want to pursue a career in STEM.
Making connections between different sources in your literature review can be tricky, especially when it’s your first time. Here are a few simple steps that you can follow to ensure that you have synthesized a good literature review:
Finding sources that are relevant to your research topic can feel like playing a treasure hunt game because you have to go through a handful of articles and journals to find which are best suited for your research topic. To make it easier, here is a list of a few sites that offer journals and articles that can help you in your search:
The internet offers a wide range of sites that can help you in finding what you need; don't be afraid to use it to your advantage.
After gathering your sources, make sure to evaluate their credibility and their contribution to your research paper by asking yourself the following questions;
Make an outline so that your flow while writing the literature review won’t get disturbed and it’ll be easier to connect information from different sources without getting confused. In the outline, mention which topic and subtopics you would like to include and what information to address in the introduction, body, conclusion, and summary.
Your introduction should attract the reader’s mind and make them want to read further about the research work. It should include the purpose of your paper, why it is important to explore the topic, and the methodology used to conduct your research. Your introduction acts as an overview of your paper, hence the importance of attracting the reader's mind and making them want to read further about your research work. Take note that the introduction shouldn’t be more than a page.
Citing your sources is an important part of your literature review. You have to be cautious in this step to avoid plagiarism. The consequences of such are course failure, a fine, or in severe cases, expulsion from your school or university. In this situation, you can imagine plagiarism like a bullet that you have to dodge. You can use free citation generators like Citation Machine, APA citation, and MLA citation. To check if you have any plagiarism in your review, you can use sites like check-plagiarism and Scribbr’s to check plagiarism for students.
It’s always best to take opinions and/or criticisms of what others think about your literature review. This can improve your work and can also boost your confidence.
A final piece of advice:
Be clear and avoid paraphrasing. Don’t add your own opinion or irrelevant content. Always be critical about your research and display the pros and cons of the research work.
May the force be with you!