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Literature Review: The What, Why and How-to Guide: Writing Literature Review

Literature Review Writing Tips

Synthesize your findings. Your findings are your evaluation of the literature reviewed: what you consider the strengths and weakness of the studies reviewed; the comparison you did between studies; research trends and gaps in the research that you found while researching your topic, etc...

Across the articles that you read, pay attention to what are the:

  • Common/contested findings
  • Important trends
  • Influential theories
Identifying these elements as you are reading and writing notes about your sources will help you later when you start writing


Keep this in mind when writing your literature review:
  • Do not over-quote: If you only quote from every single author you found, then you are not showing any original thinking or analysis. Use quotes judiciously. Use quotes to highlight a particular passage or thought that exemplifies the research, theory or topic you are researching.
  • Instead, use paraphrasing: Restate the main ideas of a paragraph or section to highlight, in your own words, the important points made by the author.
  • Summarize findings, important sections, a whole article or book: This is different from paraphrasing since you are not re-stating the author's words but summarizing the main point of what you are reading in a concise matter for your readers.
Note: In all cases, do not forget to give credit to these sources since they are not your original ideas but someone else. Check the specific citation style you are using for the appropriate in-text citation format). Visit the Citation Styles Guide to learn more about how to cite your bibliography using your research field's citation style!

Literature Reviews: Useful Sites

The majority of these sites focus on literature reviews in the social sciences unless otherwise noted. For systematic literature reviews, we recommend you to contact directly your subject librarian for help.

Writing Tutorials & other Resources

A selection of sites that offer tutorials and handouts to learn how to write literature reviews and how to use specific writing skills such as paraphrasing and synthesize