Research Guide

Literature Review – Writing Guide, Examples

Literature Review

Literature Review

What is a Literature Review?

A Literature Review is a comprehensive overview of all the knowledge available on a specific topic up to the present day. This includes journal articles, books, dissertations, conference proceedings, and more. It is used to create a research question or hypothesis and to help identify gaps in the existing research. A literature review can be either systematic or narrative in nature.

A literature review is not a simple summary of the existing literature. It must be critically evaluated and synthesized in order to identify gaps in the current knowledge and to make recommendations for future research.

Types of Literature Review

A literature review can take many different forms. The type of literature review you undertake will depend on your aims, the type of research question you are asking, and the field in which you are conducting your research.

Following are Types of Literature Review:

  • Argumentative Review
  • Integrative Review
  • Historical Review 
  • Methodological Review 
  • Systematic Review 
  • Theoretical Review 

Argumentative Review

An argumentative review is a type of review that looks at a piece of work and makes an argument about it. This could be done for a number of reasons, such as to point out the flaws in the work, to show how it could be improved, or to simply give your opinion on it.

When writing an argumentative review, you will need to take a stance on the work and make your case for why you think what you do. This will require looking at both the positive and negative aspects of the work and using evidence to support your claims. You will also need to be aware of counterarguments and be prepared to refute them.

Argumentative reviews can be useful in a number of ways. They can help improve work by pointing out their weaknesses and suggesting ways to fix them.

Integrative Review

An integrative review is a type of literature review that uses a comprehensive, systematic, and critical approach to evaluate the research on a given topic. It is used to find the most relevant and up-to-date research in order to answer a specific research question. An integrative review goes beyond simply summarizing the research; it also critically evaluates the strengths and weaknesses of the existing research and identifies gaps in knowledge.

An integrative review is an important tool for researchers who want to stay up-to-date on the latest research in their field. It can also be used to inform decision-making in clinical practice or policymaking. When done correctly, an integrative review can provide a thorough, unbiased overview of the current state of knowledge on a given topic.

Historical Review 

A historical review is an examination of a particular event, issue, person, or other phenomena in its past. It is typically done as part of an academic Research Project and involves consulting sources such as books, letters, diaries, and other primary materials in order to gain a better understanding of what happened and why.

Historical reviews can be positive or negative in their assessment of the thing being examined. They may also offer new interpretations of events that challenge existing ones. Regardless of their angle, all historical reviews share the common goal of providing a thorough and accurate account of the past.

Methodological Review 

A methodological review is a study that looks at how research on a certain topic has been conducted in the past. It looks at the methods used and evaluates their strengths and weaknesses. This type of review is useful for researchers who are planning to conduct a study on a similar topic.

Methodological reviews are an important part of the scientific process. They help to ensure that new research is built on a solid foundation and that methods are constantly being improved. By identifying flaws in past studies, methodological reviews help to make future research more reliable and rigorous.

Systematic Review 

A systematic review is a type of research that asks a defined research question and uses explicit methods to identify, select and critically appraise all relevant studies, before synthesizing the findings. It is considered the best way to answer certain types of clinical questions.

Systematic reviews are usually undertaken by teams of researchers with specialist skills. The process begins with a detailed protocol that outlines the research question, inclusion/exclusion criteria for studies, and methods for data extraction and quality assessment. This helps to ensure that the review is comprehensive and reproducible.

The first step in a systematic review is to identify all existing evidence on the topic under investigation. To do this, the team will search multiple databases using predefined search terms. Once all potential studies have been identified, they will be screened for inclusion/exclusion criteria.

Theoretical Review 

A theoretical review is a type of research paper that looks at a topic from a purely theoretical perspective. It generally does not include any empirical research or data, but instead relies on existing literature to make its argument. Theoretical reviews can be useful for identifying gaps in current research or for exploring the implications of different theoretical frameworks.

How to write a Literature Review

There are five steps in writing a Literature Review:

  • Search for relevant literature
  • Evaluate sources
  • Identify themes, debates, and gaps
  • Outline the structure
  • Write your literature review
Search for relevant literature

When writing a literature review, it is important to search for relevant literature. The first step is to identify the keywords that will be used to search for relevant literature. This can be done using databases such as PubMed, Google Scholar, or Web of Science, Books, Journals, Research papers.

Evaluate sources

When conducting a literature review, it is important to carefully evaluate the sources you are using. This will help to ensure that your review is as accurate and comprehensive as possible. There are a few key things to look for when evaluating sources:

  • Make sure the source is reputable. Check to see if it comes from a reputable journal or publisher. If you are unsure, you can always look up reviews of the source online.
  • Make sure the information in the source is relevant to your topic. There is no point in including a source in your literature review if it does not contain any information that is relevant to your research question or topic.
  • Make sure the information in the source is accurate and up-to-date. This is especially important if you are using scientific or medical sources.
Identify themes, debates, and gaps

When writing a literature review, you will want to identify themes, debates, and gaps in the existing literature. Themes are overarching ideas that are repeated in many studies on your topic. Debates are disagreements between scholars about certain aspects of your topic. Gaps are areas where there is little or no research on your topic.

By identifying themes, debates, and gaps in the existing literature, you will be able to situate your own research within the larger conversation about your topic.

Outline the structure

There are different approaches to organizing the body of the Literature review. Some of the are follows:

  • Chronological
  • Thematic
  • Methodological
  • Theoretical

A chronological approach in literature review is one that is organized by time. This means that the researcher will look at all of the existing literature on their topic, and then organize it by when it was published. This method is often used when the research topic is relatively new, and there isn’t a lot of existing literature to review.


A thematic approach in literature review is one that is organized around themes or topics. This means that the researcher will look at all of the existing literature on their topic, and then identify common themes or topics. This method can be used for both new and well-established research topics.


A methodological approach in literature review is one that is organized around methodology. This means that the researcher will look at all of the existing literature on their topic, and then organize it by how it was conducted.


In a literature review, a theoretical approach is when the author uses existing theory to interpret and draw conclusions from data. This can be done either by analyzing how the data fits into existing theories or by developing a new theory based on the data.

Write your literature review

When you are writing a literature review, there are a few things that you will want to keep in mind.

  • You will want to make sure that you write your literature review in a way that is easy to read and understand.
  • You will want to make sure that you focus on the key points that you want to make in your literature review.
  • You will want to make sure that you include all of the sources that you used in your literature review.

Parts of Literature Review

A Literature Review is mainly divided into three parts.


In the introduction, you will need to provide an overview of the literature you have reviewed. This includes a brief description of the research you have conducted and how it relates to your topic.


The body of the literature review will consist of your critical analysis of the literature. You will need to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of each piece of research and determine how it fits into your overall argument.


Finally, in the conclusion, you will need to sum up your findings and provide recommendations for future research.

Importance of Literature Review

A literature review is important because it:

Gives an overview of the field of research on a given topic

This is especially important if you are new to a particular topic area. By reading the literature, you will get a sense of what has been studied, what gaps exist in the research, and what direction future research might take.

Helps to contextualize your own research

A literature review provides a critical perspective on your own work. It can help you situate your research within the larger field and see how it contributes to existing knowledge.

Identifies potential sources of bias

When reading the literature, it is important to be aware of different perspectives and biases that may influence the findings of studies. A literature review can help you identify these biases and understand their impact on the results of research.

Purpose of Literature Review

A literature review has several purposes.

  • It situates your research within the existing body of knowledge on your topic. By doing this, you position your own research in relation to other studies and can show how your study differs or builds upon other research.
  • A literature review is to provide a critical assessment of the current state of knowledge on your topic. In other words, you will be critically evaluating what has been researched on your topic and identifying gaps in current knowledge that your study aims to address.
  • It is to synthesize the existing body of knowledge on your topic into a coherent and integrated whole.

Also see Research Problem

Literature Review Example

  • An example of a literature review could focus on the health effects of drinking milk. The researcher would search for peer-reviewed articles that discuss the health benefits and risks of milk consumption. After reading and evaluating these studies, the researcher could summarize the current state of knowledge on this topic.
  • Another example might focus on the relationship between sleep and academic performance in college students. In this case, the researcher would look for studies that have been conducted on this topic. After reviewing the existing literature, the researcher could draw conclusions about whether or not sleep deprivation has a negative impact on grades.

About the author

Muhammad Hassan

I am Muhammad Hassan, a Researcher, Academic Writer, Web Developer, and Android App Developer. I have worked in various industries and have gained a wealth of knowledge and experience. In my spare time, I enjoy writing blog posts and articles on a variety of Academic topics. I also like to stay up-to-date with the latest trends in the IT industry to share my knowledge with others through my writing.