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Summarize individual studies or articles with as much or as little detail as each merits according to its comparative importance in the literature, remembering that space (length) denotes significance.
To learn more about literature reviews, take a look at our workshop on Writing Literature Reviews of Published Research.
An important strategy for learning how to compose literature reviews in your field or within a specific genre is to locate and analyze representative examples.
In the introduction, you should: Define or identify the general topic, issue, or area of concern, thus providing an appropriate context for reviewing the literature.
Point out overall trends in what has been published about the topic; or conflicts in theory, methodology, evidence, and conclusions; or gaps in research and scholarship; or a single problem or new perspective of immediate interest.
It is shorter than a stand-alone review because it must limit its scope to very specific studies and theories that are directly relevant to this study.
Its purpose is to set research precedence and provide support for the study’s theory, methods, results, and/or conclusions.
You don’t need to cut each piece by yourself from scratch.
Rather, you can take the pieces that other researchers have “cut” and put them together to build a framework on which to hang your own “books”—that is, your own study methods, results, and conclusions.
The format of a review of literature may vary from discipline to discipline and from assignment to assignment.
A review may be a self-contained unit — an end in itself — or a preface to and rationale for engaging in primary research.