The Puzzles of Literature Review Writing

April 10th, 2009

Whether it is your thesis, dissertation, or research proposal, literature review writing is an imperative part of your paper. This is not the single reason why you should widen your knowledge about the literature review. The more valid reason is students’ misunderstanding regarding this writing part of their papers.

• In fact, it is the name which is illusive; and students mostly associate it with the works of great authors and poets such as Wordsworth, Milton, Keats, Shakespeare, etc. Obviously, the term “literature” does refer to these poems, dramas, stories, epics, etc.; but it is its one specific meaning only. Broadly speaking, this term means a piece of writing on just anything—not necessarily any poem or story. Getting rid of your confusion in this regard is necessary.

• Interestingly, it also does not mean that the literature review writing never have to involve the literary books containing poems and novels. Undeniably, when your paper itself is having a topic on one literary work or a collection of works, your literature review will discuss that particular literature.

• Remember that this review must be completely relevant to your topic; there is no meaning in discussing something otherwise. This means that if your paper deals with Shakespearean tragedies, you literature review must focus on this subject; and if your paper is all about diabetes, your review must discuss this particular issue of diabetes.

• Another important thing to know is that this review does not require your own ideas or thoughts on a particular topic. You are not supposed to express your personal opinion regarding what you have read. Students mostly believe that they have to read a book, following which are their reviews about what they have read. This is where they blunder. Again, the students’ minds are puzzled by the term “review.” Unlike the methodology chapter, in the literature review, you are expected to discuss what your chosen literature—your source of information—is aiming at or expressing. Your methodology chapter involves your writing with your individual opinion that supports your argument or proves your viewpoints. In contrast, the literature review writing is your chance to put forward your claims with discussing how one or more sources are backing up your arguments.

Additionally, one more point with similar significance is about the content of your literature review. Firstly, whatever you are reviewing must be a “published” material about general or specific information pertaining to a particular time. There is no use of reviewing non-published literature; the committee will never accept it. Secondly, the source you are reviewing must be “relevant” (100%) to your topic. What you are reviewing must make a sense to your paper. Thus, a superb review of Dickens’ novel will be worthless if your paper topic is the innovative joint replacement surgeries. Thirdly, your literature review writing can also present “synopsis” or “summary” of your sources, provided that there is some interlink between the sources. You can also reorganize the material for new meanings with help of the old interpretations.