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Tips and Techniques for Writing Effective Literature Reviews

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Literature review is the process of acquiring and reviewing relevant background knowledge for your research work. A major part of the literature review process is the documentation of the sources of the information and details of what you found.

Writing a literature review would give an insight into how other authors have written and reported their findings and how/why you should write yours.

Here are some tips for writing an effective literature review

1. Get Relevant Source Materials and Summarize

There are several sources for academic research journals and materials. Classgist research portal, Google scholar, Jstor, Elsevier are some of the online websites where you can get reference materials for your research.

Your school library and departmental archives are offline sources you can also get materials that would help you. Summarize the materials and make a list of the sources of information.

Tips for Summarizing:

a. Start the beginning of some of the paragraphs with In-Text citations (i.e the last name of the author and year of publication in parenthesis). The author’s last name should be outside of the parenthesis.

For example,
Pandey (2008), states that common organizational goals include maximizing profits and achieving a satisfactory level of ….

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b. Some of the sentences in each paragraph should refer back to the author’s name which was used to begin the paragraph. This will let the reader know that the information is from a source and not your ideas.

For example,
Pandey (2008), states that common organizational goals include maximizing profits and achieving a satisfactory level of performance and performing a social service by providing goods and services desired by others. The author presents …. . Mr Pandey highlights the importance of ….. .

2. Create a List of the Summaries and References

After summarizing each article/source, you would have a long list of detailed summaries for each source and another long list of the sources’ citations.

The paragraphs of the summaries of each source of information will be the body of your literature review while the list of sources citations will be the references.

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3. Combine the Paragraph Summaries

Here you decide which summary should standalone as a paragraph or which summaries should be combined into a paragraph. To combine paragraphs:
1. Check to make sure they are closely related.
2. Limit each paragraph to 20 – 30 lines.

4. Add introduction and Conclusion/Summary

Here you add an introduction and conclusion to the literature review. In writing your introduction, the thesis statement should combine the major points discussed in the articles/sources and should reflect the outline/structure pattern of your body of literature. Sample formats can be gotten from the website Classgist.


When you approach literature review as reviewing answers/published findings of experts, you would realize that what you are expected to do is just find these answers and use them as a guide for answering your own questions, structuring your work and for writing your report.

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Paschal Okafor is NaijaTechGuide Team Lead. The article Tips and Techniques for Writing Effective Literature Reviews was written by NaijaTechGuide Team. The article was last modified: October 17th, 2020
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NaijaTechGuide Team
NaijaTechGuide Team
NaijaTechGuide Team is made up of Experienced Tech Enthusiasts and Professionals led my Paschal Okafor, a graduate of Electrical and Electronics Engineering with over 17 years of Experience writing about Technology. Some of us were writing about Mobile Phones before the first Android Phones and iPhones were launched.

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