Literature reviews[edit | edit source]

Today, there is a great demand for scientific literature reviews, as they are especially valued by academics or researchers when designing their research proposals. While finding information is less of a problem for them, discerning which article or publication is of sufficient quality has become one of the biggest problems.

Literature reviews narrow down current information in a given field and examine the strengths and weaknesses of the latest publications. In this way, they are invaluable tools for those who are beginning their research and all those interested in recent publications. To be valid, literature reviews must be written professionally with a clear structure. In addition, the amount of work required to write a scientific literature review should be considered before beginning, as the tasks required can overwhelm many if the working method is not the best.

Design and write a scientific literature review[edit | edit source]

Writing a scientific review involves both researching relevant academic content and writing; however, writing without a clear objective is a very common mistake. On the other hand, sometimes studying the situation and defining the work system is just as important and takes as long as writing the final result. Therefore, we suggest that you divide your path into three steps.

Define objectives and a structure[edit | edit source]

Think about your goal and narrow down your topic. If you don't choose a well-defined topic, you may find yourself with a broad topic and many posts about it. Remember that researchers generally deal with particular fields of study.

Investigate[edit | edit source]

It's time to be critical and locate only the relevant posts. As you research the content, consider posts that were written no more than three years ago. Write notes and summarize the content of each document, as that will help you in the next step.

Time to write[edit | edit source]

Review some literature review examples to decide how to start writing a good lit. review. Then, when your objectives and structure are defined, start writing it.

As you combine the information presented in each row, you will begin to see how each section of your literature review takes shape. Remember, some of the sources may not cover all of the main ideas listed to the left, but that can be helpful too.

The gaps in your table could provide clues to the gaps in the current state of knowledge on your topic. Therefore, it's probably best to start your chart by labeling the columns both horizontally and vertically.

Working with a synthesis matrix[edit | edit source]

Once you've collected the material for a literature review, you will write a document about your review, which could be an article, etc. At this point, you might be wondering: "How will I know what to write and what sections and subsections should I consider?

The following are the main sections and subsections of a Literature Review:


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Related works

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Planning the review

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  • Identify the topic to be investigated
  • Specify research questions
  • Construct and develop of the protocol
  • Protocol evaluation
Conducting the review

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  • Search for primary studies
  • Select primary studies
  • Assess the quality of the studies
  • Data extraction
  • Data synthesis
Report the review

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  • Sort the data
  • Evaluate the results

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The following sample diagram illustrates how to do this.

Source #1 Source #2 Source #3 Source #4
Main idea A
Main idea B

Example[edit | edit source]

Topic: Women in WWII
Cornelsen Stewart Bruley Scott
Alteration of women’s roles because of WWII - Women accredited the WASP program for opening new doors, challenging stereotypes, and proving that women were as capable as men (p. 113)

- Women could compete with men as equals in the sky because of their exemplary performance (p. 116)

- WASP created opportunities for women that had never previously existed (p. 112)

- Women’s success at flying aircrafts “marked a pivotal step towards breaking the existing gender barrier” (p. 112)

- WAAC (Women’s Army Auxiliary Corp) was 1st chance for women to serve in army, given full army status in 1943 as WAC (p. 28)

- Needs of the war were so great that women’s traditional social roles were ignored (p. 30)

- Military women paid well for the time period and given benefits if they became pregnant (p. 32) - The 1940’s brought more opportunities to women than ever before (p. 26)

-Women given equal opportunities (p. 223) - Women joined workforce as a break from the ordinary to help the war (p. 220)

- Unconscious decision to cross into male-dominated roles (p. 221) - Seized these new opportunities to bring about change (p. 230)

- Women born in the 1920’s found new doors open to them where they once would have encountered brick walls (p. 526)

-Even women not directly involved in the war were changing mentally by being challenged to expand their horizons because of the changing world around them (p. 562)

- War also brought intellectual expansion to many people (p. 557)

Hardships and oppositions women faced - “From the outset male pilots resented women’s presence in a traditionally male military setting” (p. 1113-4)

- “The WASP were routinely assigned inferior planes that were later found to have been improperly maintained” (p. 114)

- discrimination against WASP at every level of military service, women were only paid 2/3 of what men were for doing identical tasks (p. 114)

- “In the belief that women were emotionally and physically fragile, the military questioned women’s capabilities to fly an aircraft” (p. 114-5), regardless of their training or aptitude

- WASP’s not granted veteran status until 1979 (p. 115)

- Women in the military given extensive physical and mental tests, but still discriminated against, ridiculed, and considered inferior to men (p. 29) - Women given unskilled labor positions by government because only seen as temporary workers, therefore no reason to train them (p. 221-2)

- Women given less significant work and viewed as less intelligent and physically able (p. 224)

-“The Church-Bliss diary reveals how dilution arrangements…ensured that women working in male preserves were prevented from achieving any sort of equality” (p. 230)

- more traditionally male jobs resisted the integration of women workers, while other industries were less resistant… but in most all cases women were considered temporary workers (p. 221)

- Equal pay rarely given to women, even though women did the same work (p. 221) - Women occasionally found their way to positions of importance, but were always treated as inferior (p. 226-8)

- After the war, women were the first to be let go because of their temporary status (p. 230) - Women in the workforce also faced discrimination from labor unions (p. 226)

Opposition: WWII did NOT affect women - Women put in untraditional roles during/because of the war, but back to previous subservient roles after the war (p. 35) - Women were not affected because they still remained in subordinate positions after the war (p. 217)

Source: Ingram L., Hussey J., Tigani M. & Hemmelgarn M. (2006). North Carolina State University Writing and Speaking Tutorial Service.

This excerpt synthesizes information without summarizing.

"While the articles used in this research agree that women made many advances during the Word War II period, it is crucial to realize that not all these changes were welcomed. In most cases women faced discrimination from just about everyone around them. Women in the workplace were often placed in positions of inferiority or treated as being less physically able to do the same work the men did. Many women were often not trained because they were viewed as temporary employees who were only there for the duration of the war (Bruley, 2003, pp.221-222). Women were very rarely given equal pay as men, even though some of them did the same work. Women in the military faced not only mental abuse but also physical harm from their male counterparts. According to Cornelsen (2005), there were many instances where female aviators were injured or killed due to being made to fly ill-maintained aircrafts or aircrafts that had been sabotaged. (p.114)"[1]

When writing your opinion, you can work horizontally in the row corresponding to each point discussed. Then, as you combine the information presented in each row, you'll begin to see how each section of your literature review takes shape. Remember, some of the sources may not cover all of the main ideas listed to the left, but that can be helpful too.

The gaps in your table could provide clues to the gaps in the current state of knowledge on your topic.

Who can write literature reviews?[edit | edit source]

Academics and researchers are often the best candidates to write reviews of scientific publications because they are experts in a specific field and know the demands and needs that researchers have when writing research proposals or searching for information from thousands of academic works. Therefore, considering your experience as a researcher can help you understand how to write a scientific literature review. But, ultimately, everyone can write a literature review as long as you take the considerations mentioned above.

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Literature Review

Video demonstration[edit | edit source]


This tutorial is about how to create a literature review

Language: English (EN)

Tutorial sobre cómo hacer una revisión de la literatura (lit. review) en Appropedia

Language: Español (ES)
  1. Writing A Literature Review and Using a Synthesis Matrix [1]
FA info icon.svg Angle down icon.svg Page data
Authors Kathy Nativi, Emilio Velis
License CC-BY-SA-4.0
Language English (en)
Related 0 subpages, 33 pages link here
Aliases How to do a literature review using Appropedia, Help:Literature review
Impact 3,054 page views
Created January 14, 2021 by Emilio Velis
Modified January 22, 2024 by Felipe Schenone
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