People often treat writing the literature review in an academic paper as a formality. Usually, this means simply listing various studies vaguely related to their work and leaving it at that. But this overlooks how important the literature review is to a well-written experimental report or research paper. Common in the social and physical sciences, but also sometimes required in the humanities, a literature review is a summary of past research in your subject area. Sometimes this is a standalone investigation of how an idea or field of inquiry has developed over time. In a college paper, you can use a literature review to demonstrate your understanding of the subject matter.
In essence, a literature review identifies, evaluates and synthesises the relevant literature within a particular field of research. It illuminates how knowledge has evolved within the field, highlighting what has already been done, what is generally accepted, what is emerging and what is the current state of thinking on the topic. In addition, within research-based texts such as a Doctoral thesis, a literature review identifies a research gap i. However, your literature review does not need to be inclusive of every article and book that has been written on your topic because that will be too broad. Rather, it should include the key sources related to the main debates, trends and gaps in your research area. A review of literature presents much more than a summary of relevant sources.
Nearly every scholarly piece of writing we do involves a review of literature. And nearly every one can be a sticking point in getting a manuscript from idea to done. I think the first scary thing about reviews of literature is that, most of the time, the actual literature is so vast it feels impossible to summarize in a manageable page limit.
A literature review summarizes and synthesizes the existing scholarly research on a particular topic. Literature reviews are a form of academic writing commonly used in the sciences, social sciences, and humanities. However, unlike research papers, which establish new arguments and make original contributions, literature reviews organize and present existing research.