How to... write a literature review
How to organize a literature review
There are a number of ways of organizing a literature review. Here is one suggestion:
- Introduction: define the topic, together with your reason for selecting the topic. You could also point out overal trends, gaps, particular themes that emerge, etc., as in the previous Cooper (1988) quote.
- Body: this is where you discuss your sources. Here are some ways in which you could organize your discussion:
- chronologically: for example, if writers' views have tended to change over time. There is little point in doing the review by order of publication unless this shows a clear trend;
- thematically: take particular themes in the literature, for example in the literature review of poverty and disability cited in the next section, the author takes the themes of the prevalence and structure of disability, education, employment, income and poverty, causes of disability, the path from poverty to disability and vice versa, and finally, policies for disabled people;
- methodologically: here, the focus is on the methods of the researcher, for example, qualitative versus quantitative approaches.
- Conclusion: summarize the major contributions, evaluating the current position, and pointing out flaws in methodology, gaps in the research, contradictions, and areas for further study.
The following websites provide some useful ideas about organization and structure: