A literature review is a survey of previously published work in a particular area of study on a specific subject. It is different from a summary of different articles or books. It is a systematic and critical discussion of different research articles and scholarly books or other relevant sources of information.
Research scholars often mistake a literature review for a summary. They end up writing summaries of different sources. Indeed, a literature review is an evaluation of different sources. It helps the researcher to develop a theoretical and conceptual framework. To write a good literature review, we need to understand the purpose and structure of a literature review. Why do researchers need to write a literature review? What does its purpose?
Purpose of a Literature Review
The main purpose of a literature review is to provide a rationale for your thesis informed by prior debates and discussions in your area of research. It helps you to situate your research problem and objective into prior research. It also shows that the researcher knows the development of his research area and her research also aims to contribute to it further.
Structure of a Literature Review
A literature review should be written in the form of a research article. It must contain a clear introduction, body, and conclusion. It also has an objective and scope. In the introduction, the scope and objective should be stated clearly. Also, you have to make clear from which perspective you are looking at the sources. It should be able to show how you have arrived at a particular research problem. What are the debates and controversies in your research area related to your research objective?
The body discusses each source critically in such an organized way that it can point to the research gap or research problem. It analyzes and evaluates existing research critically.
At last, the conclusion states the findings of the literature review and how these finds lead to the research gap. It also shows how it facilitates your present study.
Generally, the main problem the researchers face while writing a literature review is how to organize different sources. The best way to do it in qualitative research is by putting them in chronological order. However, it can also be organized by theme or methodology. One can also organize according to the type of sources. For instance, reviewing books in one section, journals in another, and other online sources in the next section.
In Short, a good literature review clarifies the research problem and makes it authentic. It contextual the research within the existing stock of knowledge in the particular area. it should be organized in such a manner that it would be able to tell the story of how you find the research gap and get the research problem.