Whether you’re enrolled in a humanities or sciences course, chances are you’ll be asked to write a literature review. If you’re at a loss for words on how to start writing your lit review, these tips will help you get started.

Do Your Research

Your understanding of your research is the foundation for your assignment so be sure you understand what you’re talking about. Additionally, make sure to actually read the studies youinclude in your review. No skimming!

Know Where to Find Your Sources

Using the right database can open you up to a multitude of fantastic sources. The discipline you are writing on will dictate which database you use, so make sure to find out which databases are most relevant to your subject.
A few popular databases can be found below:

  • Project Muse (Humanities)
  • Medline (Life Sciences)
  • Econlit (Economics)
  • Inspect (Engineering, Physics, and Computer Science)

Don’t Believe Everything You Read

Always examine your sources and take into account the sample size, research design, and who funded the research before deciding whether to include the findings in your review. If you need information on what makes a credible study, your university’s library staff or your instructor should be able to point you in the right direction.

Express Yourself

Your review isn’t meant to be a collection of random bits of information.It’s your job to tell the audience why the research you have chosen is importantand how it relates to your question.

Broaden Your Horizons

If your research is very specific, you may find it hard to find enough articles to fill your review. Using broader keywords in your search is a great way to gain access to articles you might not have otherwise found.

Take Notes

Mark down important bits of information as you go through studies for your review. This will eliminate confusion when you start writing you review and save you hours of re-reading studies.

Limit your Quotes

While it can be tempting to pad your review with quotes, opt to elaborate on the studies in your review. Only include quotes when you need to emphasise a point or when information cannot be accurately put into your own words.

Planning Makes Perfect

Once you’ve written your notes and evaluated your sources, it’s time to start planning. Literature reviews typically occupy a chronological, thematic, methodological, or theoretical essay structure. The information you are including in your review and the discipline you are writing on will dictate which structure is most appropriate for your review.

Paraphrase with Caution

When paraphrasing literature, be sure your review retains the meaning included in the original study. On the other hand, don’t confuse plagiarism with paraphrasing. Simply changing sentence structure or swapping out a few words doesn’t cut it. Paraphrasing requires a total rework of what is being said while keeping the integrity of the information.

Revise Your Draft

Once you’ve finished your first draft, it’s time to revise. Get rid of unnecessary words and sections that add “fluff” to your essay to make room for passages with impact. Don’t be afraid to get rid of sections of writing that you love in favour or more powerful pieces of information. While intimidating, this tip will make your conveyance of research stronger.