Literature Review Examples

Literature Review Examples

Usually, a literature review can be described as an objective, concise, and critical summary of published research literature pertinent to the subject being researched in an article. A literature can be an end in itself (an analysis of what is known about a topic) or a prologue to and rationale for engaging in primary research.

Basic Guidelines

The following are guidelines on how to write a literature review:

  • Organize the literature review around key topics of concepts. Use headings or topic sentences to convey your organizational principle.

  • Tell a story about the research. This will assist you with your organization.

  • Be selective. Incorporate only studies that are pertinent to your subject.

  • Synthesize and evaluate.

  • Use a summary to assist the reader to relate every section to the wider topic and to clarify your argument's movement. Where have we just been and where are we heading to?

Organizing Tips

When writing your literature review, place background information, for example, explanations of a theoretical model or clinical situation, at sections where it will be most helpful for your readers. For instance, if various researchers have utilized a similar theoretical approach, define that framework before reviewing those studies.

Split your literature review into segments with appropriate descriptions, following the guidelines of the documentation system you're using. Your outline provides the basis for this division since it has already clustered studies together under headings and subheadings.

Conclude each section in your review with a summary section or paragraph. The summary's length ought to reflect the length of the section. Conclude the whole review with a summary that recaps the most important aspects and findings. This final summary is also the section where you'll make major comparisons, convey your opinion or critique the adequacy of research methods and approaches, and identify inconsistencies. Your critique enables you to end your literature review by posing unanswered questions, proposing approaches upcoming research. If your literature review is an introduction to your study, your critique ought to support the rationale for carrying out the research. You'll then state your research question(s) and hypothesis.

Example of a Literature Review Conclusion

Here is an example of a literature review conclusion:

"The objective of this review was to view the trends in composition studies within the past fifty years and see how commentary on student writing has transformed and is still transforming. It's clear from the research reviewed that evaluative commentary is widely practiced all through composition programs in universities today. Together with this, it's also evident that the field of composition studies in regards to the kinds of commentary that students get on their writing is varied and continues to be examined and analyzed to benefit both composition students and the society at large. Moreover, corrective vs. evaluative commentary is still being discussed, and continues to be problematic in the discourse community of college composition and also high school writing as viewed in Bardine et al.'s research." Assisting students to become better writers is important in our current society with reducing school budgets."

Outlining Your Review

Assuming that you want to compose a literature review concerning the efficiency of short-term group therapy in lowering depression amongst residents of a nursing home. You've now done research and compiled a list of the areas covered by your research:

  • Pharmacological treatment of depression

  • The elderly in nursing homes

  • Measurement tools for depression

  • Utilization of psychotherapy among the elderly

  • Depression - causes, behavioral manifestations, and effects

  • Societal attitudes towards aging

  • Impacts of group therapy

  • Side effects of drugs utilized to treat depression

  • Psychological issues in the elderly

A possible outline for the literature review can be:

  • Depression in general

    • Causation theories

    • Behavioral manifestation

    • Impacts

  • Depression in the elderly, especially in nursing homes (problem and its scope)

  • Impacts of therapy on depression

    • Long-term - disadvantages

    • Short-term

    • Group

The outline moves from general to specific. As you proceed down the outline, you'll deal with the material in rising depth, just as the significance of the information to your project rises.

Concerns about Sentence Level

Look at how the following literature review example apa impacts readability: sentence strength, focus, placement of citation, active vs. passive voice, and transition.


"The relationship that exists between motivation and the decision to attain literacy has been examined by Smith (1975), Jones (1983), and Brown (1988). Motivation entails various expectations (Snappe, 1986; Krkel, 1988). A large study done by Amundson (1981) examined the beliefs people entering literacy programs, particularly outcome expectations and self-efficacy regardless of obstacles. Paape (1979), and in a follow-up project Johnson (1985), examined resistance to motivational efforts or the tendency to overlook information about an issue that's difficult to acknowledge. A literacy promotion program needs to overcome the inclination to minimize the problem and to assist people to believe."


"Research suggests that various factors influence an adult' decision to obtain literacy. Individuals need to be motivated to make such a decision (Smith, 1975; Jones, 1983; Brown, 1988). Motivation involves at least two types of expectations (Snappe, 1986: Krakel, 1988). One must believe that literacy will positively affect one's life (outcome expectations) and also one can succeed in the effort to learn new skills regardless of obstacles (Amunon, 1981). Other research reveals that when the problem isn't easy to acknowledge, people tend to overlook information about, that is, to resist motivational efforts 9Paape, 1979; Johnson, 1985). All these findings suggest that a literacy promotion program needs to overcome the tendency to minimize the problem and to assist people to believe."

Comparing the above literature review example paragraphs ought to demonstrate how some rhetorical choices impact readability and clarity.

Some guidelines;

  • Use headings and topic sentences to inform readers what the subject is and what point the material is contributing to the discussion.

  • Do not just point to the existence of literature on the topic; compose about methods or results in the studies you discuss.

  • Test sentences for relevance to the main point.

  • Put citations where they don't distract from the line of thought you are presenting.

  • Utilize active verbs that are strong and rich in content.

  • Make use of transition words.

Style Tips

  • Your tone should be objective as you summarize the research. Don't allow your objectivity to turn your literature review to an annotated bibliography. Instead, point out as you proceed how studies relate to one another (for example, Smith (1988) and Jones (1990) utilized various samples to study the same phenomenon).

  • Try to be analytical. Composing a review is an exercise in comparative thinking. Your critique should be in your final discussion, where they will be more efficient and significant to the reader.

  • Connect paragraphs to one another, and link studies within paragraphs. Try to make your literature review attractive by coming up with the topic sentence of each paragraph in a way that it achieves two things: it hooks in a way to the previous paragraph and also reveals what this new paragraph will be about, for instance; "In contrast to these studies, which have tried to measure the amount of stress a person is subjected to, various researchers are now concentrating on a person's perception of demanding life events."

These connections may need to be made within a paragraph and also among a group of paragraphs, for instance, "Jones (1989) and Smith (1991) were amongst the first persons to investigate the impacts of abuse towards children... Like Jones, Smith also utilized the State-Trait Inventory but incorporated males in his sample" or "Lee's studies of learned vulnerability support this study's view of modification of behavior as situation-specific."

  • Select verbs that precisely describe what the research did; hypothesized, questioned, developed, executed, measured, tested, and modified have divergent meanings.

  • Use direct quotes sparingly. They take up more space than sentences constructed to recap the original. Quotations my comprise concept and vocabulary not familiar to the reader.

  • Utilize verb tenses appropriately. Use the past tense to recap studies and procedures, for instance, "At least a third of those sampled in one study said that they would both reject socially and dread violence from someone exhibiting behaviors associated with various mental illnesses." Use the present perfect tense to suggest that something has happened more than once in the past and may be continuing; for instance, "In the last twenty years, researchers have often concentrated on the effects of posttraumatic stress disorder." Moreover, use the present tense to define theory and instruments, (for instance,"Developmental undertakings are key to Piaget's theory"), to discuss and critique (for instance,"The utilization of self-report has two main drawbacks"), and to generalize (for example"These findings imply that adult learners prefer self-evaluation"). In addition, use the active and passive voice correctly. The active voice ("Jennifer repeated the test with three samples") is not as wordy as the passive voice ("This test was repeated with three samples by Jennifer"). Nevertheless, it's good to use the passive voice when the object is more important than the subject (for instance,"The players from the senior team were shown the video"); when the subject is unknown ("This phenomenon was first defined in line with 18th century standards"); when it wouldn't be a good idea to identify the subject ("The first set of data wasn't correctly coded"); and when putting the object before the subject more lucidly connects to a previous sentence or paragraph ("...screen techniques that increase job satisfaction. These techniques were also assessed..."). Overuse of the passive voice implies that research is happening by itself and the reader will be confused about who's doing what.

Don'ts of Writing a Literature Review

  • Citing supportive sources only - It is crucial that you also mention those studies that contradict your stance. In other words, mention some dissenting studies and explain why they deviate from your thinking.

  • Using non-scholarly articles.

  • Depending on direct quotations - Even though it's okay to include direct quotations, don't depend on them too much.

  • Composing a narrowly-focused literature review.


If you want to know more about how to write a literature review, the information above will greatly assist you. Remember, a literature review can be termed as discursive prose, not a list summarizing several pieces of literature. Organize your review into segments that present themes or pinpoint trends, including pertinent theory. Your task isn't to list all published material; it's to synthesize and examine it in line with the guiding concept of your research question or thesis.

To see how these tips are brought to life, go through an example of literature review. Contact us today for some literature review samples.