Writing literature review for a research paper quickly

If you need to write a literature review for a research paper really quickly then follow this advice to get great results.

Traditionally Literature reviews can take a considerable amount of time and if you are working to a tight schedule it can cause you even more stress.

Before you do anything else start a project diary. This is where you will keep all of you notes about searches for supporting literature for your research; references from texts; reminders of why you thought the texts from particular books, websites and journals were appropriate and a copy of your original research plan. Having all of the information in one place, saves you time and keeps you focussed.

Additionally you will need to:

  • Keep a track of your bibliographical records as you go along. Adding 20 references to a bibliography can take around 2-3 hours, so add the information to your paper as you find it.
  • You may not have to read the whole document. Rely on the abstract, where you will find the purpose it was written; how it was achieved and what tools were used and finally, a key phrase that will give you the results.

How to produce your review

  • Don’t omit standard references especially if you are targeting a classic piece of literature or research.
  • Don’t get names wrong or facts incorrect about the works that you are referencing or cite inaccurately.
  • Don’t use a concept or refer to a concept just because it sounds good. It may be totally irrelevant to your paper.
  • Do use extracts, illustrations and examples that support the points and issues that you wish to raise.
  • Do make sure that your work is reflective rather than just pointing out the issues that support your research.
  • Do make sure that you critically evaluate the literature rather than just cite it as a side issue.

Your review needs to have a brief description of the history of the topic; reference to the major studies on the subject; identify the major issues that are of concern and how you have dealt with any gaps in finding literature that supports or discredits you hypothesis. This shows that you have tries to give a balanced view and not just look for works that support or illustrate you opinion. Take the time to read though your work to make sure that it follows a logical progression of ideas and guides the reader through the process you followed.

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