Writing a Literature Review: All You Need to Know to Write a Good Lit Review

If you are reading that article, you probably are one of those students who struggle with a movie review essay or maybe a literature review. Any student may have problems with it while it may seem very complicated at first glance. And if you have no idea where to start from, you can simply use the help of a smart writing service. But if you want to remain a diligent student, you can try and come up with a review of the literature of your own. The importance of literature review is obvious – it may affect even your final grade.

So, if you want to improve your writing skills and learn how to write a lit review properly, this guide by Smart Essay writers is exactly for you!

Literature Review Definition

A literature review is a type of academic writing the goal of which is to show how familiar you are with different publications and works on a certain area on a subject, sometimes even within a particular timeframe. Writing a good literature review means to show your skills to read and analyze different sources connected with the main idea of the publications. Last but not least, a lit review is a combination of a synthesis and a summary of the used documents.

What is the Purpose of the Literature Review?

Literature reviews are aimed to summarize and synthesize the ideas of different authors who worked on the topic previously. They do not require you to implement your personal viewpoint or extra information.

But the aim of an academic literature review is not only to summarize the sources but also to identify a core principle of all the publications. If now you think that a literature review is similar to a research paper, you are absolutely right while they both have a thesis or the main organizing principle.

So a literary review requires determining the main organizing principle and demonstrates the ways of its existence in all the documents under research.

Every such review includes the following components:

  • The purpose of literature review;
  • the review of the analyzed subject;
  • statement of the sources used for the research;
  • consecutive estimation of all sources and literature.

The Main Types of Literary Review

When working on your literature review, it is crucial to define different types of them. The authors may use different approaches to their studies, and based on it, you will know what kind of a literature review you should write.


That type of a literature review is aimed to examine literature randomly to prove or disprove the argument, assumption, or philosophical issue being already established in the literature.


This is a type of a literature review that researches literature in an integrated or complex way. It is aimed to create new perspectives and frameworks on the given topic. It includes all studies with the same hypotheses or issues. This type is the most common for social sciences.


This literature review examines certain research within particular timeframes. Quite often, this period starts with the first time that theory or issue appeared in the literature. When working on that type, you will trace the evolution of the subject.


Can you imagine that not all literature reviews are aimed to examine something being said or written? This type aims to find out how the author came about saying or writing something he did. This is a method of analysis.

When writing such papers, you will need to show your understanding at different levels. When you conduct your own study, you should underline and consider ethical issues.


Such literature review requires studying the combination of theories accumulated with respect to a concept, phenomena, issue, theory, etc. With the help of this paper type, you will determine what theories already exist and what relationships there are between them. You will also need to establish to what extent they have been researched already and submit new hypotheses to check.

Such an essay can be helpful in determining a lack of needed theories or showing that the existing theories are not adequate.


That type of literature review will be useful to summarize all the existing researches on a particular topic in literature. As a rule, you need to focus on a very specific cause-and-effect question. Such papers are very common for clinical medicine or allied health fields. Social sciences also start using this method more and more often.


What Should Be Included in a Literature Review?

First of all, let’s find out what you should include in your overview of the literature. Writing a literature review means being aware of all the do’s and don’ts that may be included in it.

Thus, a literature review is not:

  • A list of works conducted before yours;
  • a copy-paste of works of other people;
  • a proper literature review includes;
  • a well-structured synopsis of viewpoints of different authors taken from the works of your choice;
  • a comparison of the viewpoints of the selected authors if you wish.

What Should You Do Before Writing Literature Reviews?

Before starting to write an overview of the literature, you should fulfill the following steps:


In case you didn’t get specific instructions, ask your mentor to clarify to you the following things:

  • The number of sources to include;
  • types of sources/literature (books, articles, etc.);
  • when discussing an issue, what actions you should do, i.e. summarizing, critiquing, or synthesizing the sources, etc.;
  • Is there a need to estimate the sources of literature?
  • What background information (if any) you should provide?

Use Samples

If you are not sure about how to create a good literature review, you should find some models, i.e. other literature reviews in the same field. They will surely help you understand how to write it properly and come up with ideas of your own.

Make Your Topic as Narrow as Possible

It is crucial to narrow the topic down; otherwise, you will fail to focus on the main idea and won’t be able to limit the number of necessary sources of literature.

Don’t hesitate to ask your teacher about his knowledge, preferences, and opinion in the chosen field. It will help you determine the most essential points in the area.

Make Sure to Use Credible Sources

Needless to say that when working on such papers, you should make sure your sources are as up-to-date and relevant as possible. That’s why; your research should be thorough. Even if you use the data that is two years old, you may fail. But of course, it depends on the field you are writing in and the type of your literature review.

How to Write a Literature Review?

If you don’t know and ask yourself “How do you write a literature review?”, you will find the answer to that question right now. Before you start, please note that a literature review of 10 pages should contain at least 30 sources to analyze.

Make sure your literature review structure to include:

  • Introduction;
  • Body paragraphs;
  • Conclusion.

Before you start writing, create a good literature review outline. Try not to neglect this important step while it will help you write your work much faster and easier. Now, let’s consider each part in detail.


The introduction is a hook for your reader that, first of all, will provide a thesis statement and let your reader know what you are going to talk about in your writing. And secondly, it will let your reader know whether he/she will want to go to the next stage of it. So make sure it to be interesting and eye-catching.

If you are not sure about your thesis statement or hook at once, leave it and get back to it after the rest of your work is written. Remember it should be outstanding and attention-grabbing. In the end, you should present your main organizing principle and link it to all the sources.

Main body

As a rule, each paragraph of the main body should be devoted to a specific source stated in the introduction. But each of them should be structured in a very logical manner and be related and linked to each other as one entity. Do not confuse your reader with a random flow of your thoughts.

You can use a chronological, thematic, or methodological approach, i.e. break your sources down according to the date of publishing, the core idea of all the sources, or the methods used for presenting the main concept. This part of your work will be the longest, so make sure to devote enough time to it.


Your conclusion should contain three final objectives. It should not present any new information or issues. Here you should only summarize what you have found and learned. Do not forget to determine why the issue or data discussed is so important. You can provide the relation of the issue under discussion to a modern world and problems. Try to leave your reader thinking about the information provided.

Common Mistakes in Writing Review of the Literature

The advantages of literature review are obvious – they allow you implying and showing not only your writing skills but also your analyzing and critical thinking abilities. They are crucial for your future career no matter what field or profession you choose.

However, students often make some common mistakes when working on such assignments. Find out what they are and avoid them in the future by all means:

  • Using the sources that aren’t related to the issue under research;
  • procrastinate and do not devote enough time to research;
  • choosing a topic that is too wide so you cannot focus on a specific subject;
  • use only researches that evaluate assumptions and do not consider alternative findings;
  • enlist findings and researches instead of analyzing, comparing them, etc.

SmartEssay.org recommends you thinking about writing this assignment properly beforehand and devoting enough time to conducting your research on the topic. If you follow our tips provided in that guide, you will definitely succeed in such a complicated assignment. But if you really struggle with it or have no time because of having a job or more important subjects to complete, you can use the help of a literature review writing service that will write the piece of writing of any academic level and within any deadline from scratch and get the best grade for you!


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