Writing a literature review

Most students may find writing a literature review to be a tasking endeavor. When writing a literature review, you will need to have a mastery of various skills. In writing a literature review, you can follow various steps to help you come up with an excellent paper. You should resist from giving just a summary of research papers. A well-written literature review is preceded by  steps such as:

  • Formulation of a research question
  • Search of studies that address the research question
  • Evaluate the studies by creating a gathering grid
  • Create an annotated bibliography that identifies how you will use each paper in your literature review
  • Write your literature review by comparing and contrasting the findings you have noted from the research papers that you have identified
  • Highlight the gap that your literature review establishes as you conclude your review

Formulating your research question as a first step for your literature review is important in ensuring that you will end up with a well-written review. A research question guides your search for studies to review. Various disciplines will approach the research question differently. For example, in medical disciplines (nursing, healthcare, medicine, pharmacy), your question will be in the PICO format. the PICO format identifies the population of interest (P), intervention to be assessed (I), comparison/ control (C), and outcome (O). Usually, a fifth element, timeframe (T) is provided in the question. After formulating such a question, you will then be able to search for relevant studies that deal with your chosen intervention in the applicable population.

Searching the studies for use in your literature review is the second stage in writing a literature review. Access to online libraries or use of Google scholar can help you in this stage of your literature review. You can read more about effective search strategies here.


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