Dissertation Writing Help

What Is a Literature Review

Students may encounter occasions in which they must write a literature review, but they may struggle with knowing exactly what is a literature review. Whereas a literature report synopsizes the content of the chosen text, a literature review briefly synopsizes the text's content and then evaluates it. This evaluation is the key element of the literature review and should take up a fair two-thirds of its length.

Students who wonder what are literature reviews may find it useful to read a few reviews of books with which they are already familiar. They may find these reviews in the Sunday newspaper, online, or through the research databases to which their university department subscribes. Reading reviews of familiar books will help the student realize what is a literature review by showing how the review writer analyzed the book. If the work is nonfiction, the review writer may critique the author's research or manipulation of the data; if the work is fiction, the review writer may evaluate the author's dependence on a certain influence or the contribution the book makes to a certain type of literature.

Once the student has read a few example reviews, he or she may develop an understanding of what are literature reviews through attempting to write one. If the student intends to write a review that is two pages long, the student should write a half-page summary of the book or work of literature. Limiting the length of the summary in this way is very important; the novice literature review writer often makes the mistake of writing too long of a summary and too short of an evaluation. Then, the student may evaluate the book through asking and answering questions regarding the logical flow of the book, its correct use of research and/or distortion of information, its level of comprehensibility, and the author's gaps in information or argumentation. Review writers usually aim their reviews at the prospective audience of the book; therefore, the student should feel comfortable writing the review for an audience that has knowledge of the subject the book discusses.