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Writing a Literature Review

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A literature review is a document or section of a document that collects key sources on a topic and discusses those sources in conversation with each other (also called synthesis ). The lit review is an important genre in many disciplines, not just literature (i.e., the study of works of literature such as novels and plays). When we say “literature review” or refer to “the literature,” we are talking about the research ( scholarship ) in a given field. You will often see the terms “the research,” “the scholarship,” and “the literature” used mostly interchangeably.

Where, when, and why would I write a lit review?

There are a number of different situations where you might write a literature review, each with slightly different expectations; different disciplines, too, have field-specific expectations for what a literature review is and does. For instance, in the humanities, authors might include more overt argumentation and interpretation of source material in their literature reviews, whereas in the sciences, authors are more likely to report study designs and results in their literature reviews; these differences reflect these disciplines’ purposes and conventions in scholarship. You should always look at examples from your own discipline and talk to professors or mentors in your field to be sure you understand your discipline’s conventions, for literature reviews as well as for any other genre.

A literature review can be a part of a research paper or scholarly article, usually falling after the introduction and before the research methods sections. In these cases, the lit review just needs to cover scholarship that is important to the issue you are writing about; sometimes it will also cover key sources that informed your research methodology.

Lit reviews can also be standalone pieces, either as assignments in a class or as publications. In a class, a lit review may be assigned to help students familiarize themselves with a topic and with scholarship in their field, get an idea of the other researchers working on the topic they’re interested in, find gaps in existing research in order to propose new projects, and/or develop a theoretical framework and methodology for later research. As a publication, a lit review usually is meant to help make other scholars’ lives easier by collecting and summarizing, synthesizing, and analyzing existing research on a topic. This can be especially helpful for students or scholars getting into a new research area, or for directing an entire community of scholars toward questions that have not yet been answered.

What are the parts of a lit review?

Most lit reviews use a basic introduction-body-conclusion structure; if your lit review is part of a larger paper, the introduction and conclusion pieces may be just a few sentences while you focus most of your attention on the body. If your lit review is a standalone piece, the introduction and conclusion take up more space and give you a place to discuss your goals, research methods, and conclusions separately from where you discuss the literature itself.



How should I organize my lit review?

Lit reviews can take many different organizational patterns depending on what you are trying to accomplish with the review. Here are some examples:

What are some strategies or tips I can use while writing my lit review?

Any lit review is only as good as the research it discusses; make sure your sources are well-chosen and your research is thorough. Don’t be afraid to do more research if you discover a new thread as you’re writing. More info on the research process is available in our "Conducting Research" resources .

As you’re doing your research, create an annotated bibliography ( see our page on the this type of document ). Much of the information used in an annotated bibliography can be used also in a literature review, so you’ll be not only partially drafting your lit review as you research, but also developing your sense of the larger conversation going on among scholars, professionals, and any other stakeholders in your topic.

Usually you will need to synthesize research rather than just summarizing it. This means drawing connections between sources to create a picture of the scholarly conversation on a topic over time. Many student writers struggle to synthesize because they feel they don’t have anything to add to the scholars they are citing; here are some strategies to help you:

The most interesting literature reviews are often written as arguments (again, as mentioned at the beginning of the page, this is discipline-specific and doesn’t work for all situations). Often, the literature review is where you can establish your research as filling a particular gap or as relevant in a particular way. You have some chance to do this in your introduction in an article, but the literature review section gives a more extended opportunity to establish the conversation in the way you would like your readers to see it. You can choose the intellectual lineage you would like to be part of and whose definitions matter most to your thinking (mostly humanities-specific, but this goes for sciences as well). In addressing these points, you argue for your place in the conversation, which tends to make the lit review more compelling than a simple reporting of other sources.

This example shows how a literature review from a PhD thesis can be analysed for its structure, purpose and content.

Three sections of the thesis are analysed to show the:

Access the thesis

Co-witnesses and the effects of discussion on eyewitness memory by Helen M Paterson

Overview of thesis (introduction)

This introductory section is less than two pages long.

The first paragraph:

The other paragraphs describe the content and purpose of each section of the thesis.

Literature review

The literature review is made of up of two chapters.

Chapter 1: Literature review of relevant research

The overall goals of this chapter are to firstly establish the significance of the general field of study, and then identify a place where a new contribution could be made.

The bulk of the chapter critically evaluates the methodologies used in this field to identify the appropriate approach for investigating the research questions.

Chapter 2: Theoretical explanations of memory conformity

Chapter 5, study 3: co-witness contamination.

This chapter has the following structure:

The introduction introduces the particular study to be reported on, and includes a three-and-a-half page literature review.

The literature review in this chapter:

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What is a lit review?

A literature review is a process of analyzing and organizing scholarly literature on a topic. In a literature review you are not establishing your own argument, you are gathering what has already been written on your topic; sythensizing the arguments, perspectives, or themes; and summarizing the sources and how they apply to your research question. 

How do you write a lit review?

Generally, a literature review contains the following sections:

1) An introduction to your research question and/or your topic 2) A discussion of the major themes within your topic and the supporting literature (in essay form) 3) A conclusion 4) A reference list

There are many guides out there to help you organize your lit review. Here are some suggestions:

Literature reviews are critical evaluations of materials that have already been published. They include meta-analyses, in which previously published data from different sources are combined and analyzed.  

When writing a literature review:

Literature review elements can be arranged in various ways by grouping research by:

Writing Resources

The Writing Center has examples of formatting in APA. Below are links to an example paper in APA and citing in APA. They have many other helpful resources! Check out their website .

APA Paper Template

For those of you who like working from a template, here is an APA template for MS Word.


Business Research Methods

What is a literature review

“A literature review is a description of the literature relevant to a particular field or topic. It gives an overview of what has been said, who the key writers are, what are the prevailing theories and hypotheses, what questions are being asked, and what methods and methodologies are appropriate and useful" (Emerald Insight).

A literature review is not just a summary of everything you have read on the topic.  It is a critical analysis of the existing research relevant to your topic, and you should show how the literature relates to your topic and identify any gaps in the area of research.

How is it different?

It's on a much larger scale from your research for previous modules.

You may need to devise new ways of searching and managing your results.

Think about:

How to carry out a review

1. devise a search strategy.

Think about the sort of research that would help your project.

1. What subject areas does you topic fall into?

2. What possible sources could you use? Think broadly, for example:

3. What don't you want?  What are the limits? For example, geographical restrictions or time periods.

2. Search systematically

3. Read critically - i.e. deconstruct your results

Read critically, argument: .

4. Put it all back together – reconstruct

- See Phrasebank for suggestions of how to phrase your sentences.

[email protected] Workshops: Writing a Literature Review

The following workshop will help you to develop your skills in writing a literature review :

Writing a literature review

Literature Review: Conducting & Writing

Sample Lit Reviews from Communication Arts

Have an exemplary literature review.

Have you written a stellar literature review you care to share for teaching purposes?

Are you an instructor who has received an exemplary literature review and have permission from the student to post?

Please contact Britt McGowan at [email protected] for inclusion in this guide. All disciplines welcome and encouraged.

Literature Review Challenge

A Bit More on Literature Reviews, Plus Examples

You may do any or all of the following as you prepare literature reviews for projects, publications, conference papers, and presentations.

A.  You will likely conduct an initial literature review to:

You may have an initial thesis or hypothesis that, once you become more informed on your topic, you revise (sometimes multiple times).

B.  As you further refine your research question(s) or interests, a more focused literature review will help you zero in on the concepts that are important to your particular area of inquiry.

C.  As you conduct your experiment, ethnography, analysis, or field experience, other questions may arise, and further literature searching may become important. 

D.  Once you've completed your experiment, ethnography, analysis, or field experience, you will want to situate your findings in the literature. This may be come, in part, from literature you already have on hand. However, you may also encounter issues or themes during the course of your study that you want to further understand or expand upon through additional literature searching.

As you think about ways to weave literature into your work (and depending on the expectations in your field), consider these three examples of how literature reviews show up in different types of publications. You will find descriptions and links to three types of literature-rich papers below, and snapshots of the papers themselves in the carousel at the bottom of the page. 1.   Understanding Information Spreading in Social Media during Hurricane Sandy   The type of literature review we're most likely familiar with is the one that serves as a section of a piece of writing, usually near the beginning (e.g., in a paper, article, or book chapter). Although often called "Literature Review," this section is sometimes called "Introduction" or "Background." This type of literature review sets the stage for the research, critique, or analysis to come, and gives the reader a sense of the most important scholarship on a particular topic (and with context!). 

2.   Providing Health Consumers with Emergency Information A literature review can also comprise an entire paper. For example, a review article can help define or describe the scope of a particular issue or phenomenon to date. In this article, the authors examine a range of research focused on the effectiveness of social media use during public crises. These types of articles can be rich resources, not only to get a general understanding of where things stand with a particular issue, but also for identifying additional relevant literature on one's topic(s).

3.   Does Compassion Go Viral? While not called a ‘literature review’ per se, we often see cited literature return to a paper/article/book chapter in the Discussion section (scroll to the Discussion section of this article as an example). Authors will often situate their findings within other, relevant scholarship by suggesting how their own research builds on, adds to, or echoes existing literature. You may also see authors address ways in which their findings diverge from or disagree with previous scholarship - this has the potential to spur  new lines of thinking (and research questions!) around a topic, as well as  novel approaches to addressing that topic.

Literature Review Examples

literature review business research example

Does Compassion Go Viral?

While not called a ‘literature review’ per se, we often see cited literature return to a paper/article/book chapter in the Discussion section (scroll to the Discussion section of this article as an example). Authors will often situate their findings within other, relevant scholarship by suggesting how their own research builds on, adds to, or echoes existing literature. You may also see authors address ways in which their findings diverge from or disagree with previous scholarship - this has the potential to spur new lines of thinking (and research questions!) around a topic, as well as novel approaches to addressing that topic.

literature review business research example

Providing Health Consumers with Emergency Information

A literature review can also comprise an entire paper. For example, a review article can help define or describe the scope of a particular issue or phenomenon to date. In this article, the authors examine a range of research focused on the effectiveness of social media use during public crises. These types of articles can be rich resources, not only to get a general understanding of where things stand with a particular issue, but also for identifying additional relevant literature on one's topic(s).

literature review business research example

Understanding Information Spreading in Social Media during Hurricane Sandy

The type of literature review we're most likely familiar with is the one that serves as a section of a piece of writing, usually near the beginning (e.g., in a paper, article, or book chapter). Although often called "Literature Review," this section is sometimes called "Introduction" or "Background." This type of literature review sets the stage for the research, critique, or analysis to come, and gives the reader a sense of the most important scholarship on a particular topic (and with context!). 

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14+ Literature Review Examples

A literature review reveals the in-depth knowledge of your subject. But hold on! Don’t quickly jump to the conclusion of a Book review. The title of the article discusses umpteen things. It (Literature Review), in fact, sample survey and survives on scholarly articles and other sources such as dissertations and conference proceedings. In other words, it is the process of searching and evaluating the available literature on your chosen topic. There are many literature review sample outline examples available online, and many of them have to do with whatever subject you’re handling. You can find both long and short APA simple report content on health, science, history, and so much more. You can even incorporate complementary materials like an itinerary printable chart or data table for your literature review.

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Project Management Literature Review Example

project management literature review example

Traditional or Narrative Literature Review Example

traditional or narrative literature review example

Systematic Student Literature Review Example

systematic literature review example

Theoretical Literature Review with Introduction

theoretical literature review example

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methodological literature review example

Historical Literature Review Report Example

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Health Integrative Literature Review Example

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Argumentative Literature To D0 Review Example

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Sample APA Literature Review

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Why do a Literature Review?

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Six tips for your (systematic) literature review in business and management research

Management Review Quarterly volume  68 ,  pages 103–106 ( 2018 ) Cite this article

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With the start of our editorial term, we decided to extend Management Review Quarterly’s (MRQ’s) scope beyond (systematic) literature reviews Footnote 1 to include also bibliographic studies, meta-analyses, and replication studies. Nevertheless, literature reviews have been and will continue to be a core element of MRQ. Literature reviews have given the journal a unique identity and are crucial in the pursuit of the journal’s aim, which is to summarize, categorize, and challenge existing knowledge in business and management research. In this editorial, we outline six tips that help (MRQ) authors to improve their literature review.

A literature review is an essential component of almost any research project. It serves as the foundation for advancing knowledge, facilitates theory development, closes mature research areas, and uncovers novel research areas (Webster and Watson 2002 ). Frank and Hatak ( 2014 ) refer to a literature review as a “knowledge map”, which analyzes and synthesizes prior literature. Because literature reviews are so prevalent, there exist already several comprehensive resources that guide authors through the steps necessary to conduct a literature review (e.g., Aguinis et al. 2018 ; Booth et al. 2016 ; Frank and Hatak 2014 ; Tranfield et al. 2003 ; Webster and Watson 2002 ).

Surprisingly, there is a still considerable variance in the understanding of what a literature review is and, consequently, in the quality of systematic literature reviews. Often, researchers seem unfamiliar with the process, structure, and presentation of systematic literature reviews and produce merely descriptive, annotated bibliographies of loosely connected research, which makes it unnecessary complex and difficult for the readers to follow the literature review. The literature review therefore does not achieve its main goal of summarizing and categorizing knowledge.

There is also the misconception that literature reviews are less rigorous or easier to write than empirical articles. However, conducting a literature review of high quality requires an in-depth understanding of the necessary processes and skills and is by no means a trivial endeavor. It also requires some experience in the respective field, as the interpretation of the results of the studies included in the literature review is subjective and by no means trivial.

Here, we outline six suggestions that we think are crucial for every literature review:

Motivate the topic and state the research question The abstract and introduction are crucial elements of any research article. Usually, the reader decides after looking at the abstract and/or introduction whether he will read the entire article or not. Additionally, a literature review needs a crisp and concise motivation. It is important to not only motivate why a topic warrants investigation but also why the authors choose to approach the topic in the form of a (systematic) literature review. Perhaps the most important element of an introduction is the research question that guides the remainder of the literature review. Therefore, we encourage authors to carefully develop and clearly state their research question(s) in the introductory section.

Identify the relevant literature in a systematic way A distinguishing feature of a systematic literature review is that the review process should be transparent and reproducible. The authors need to clearly outline their search strategy for identifying relevant literature in a systematic way to establish as much transparency as possible. This involves a description of the databases where the literature search was conducted, a definition of the search terms and keywords used to identify literature, and a careful description of the practical (e.g., language, availability) and methodological (e.g., time frame, article type) screening and exclusion criteria used. Notice that the application of screening criteria (e.g., only focusing on highly ranked journals) should be well-justified, as screening criteria can have crucial implications for the results and their generalizability.

Choose the right balance between breadth and depth When conducting a systematic literature review, authors often face the dilemma of choosing between breadth and depth when identifying and describing prior studies. In general, a good systematic literature review is characterized by the right balance between breadth and depth by including all relevant studies but only describing important studies in more detail in a structured way. This dilemma is often difficult to solve, as a literature review should be coherent and cover a research field as a whole, but it should not be an endless, overly descriptive summary of all studies that the authors identified. To solve this dilemma to some extent, authors should make use of tables and figures to convey the most important concepts and information in an efficient fashion. For example, figures can be used to illustrate the development of the number of studies over time and can also illustrate which topics have attracted the most research. Of course, tables and figures should be used in a sensible fashion and should never present the main focus of the literature review. The breadth and depth of a literature review also depend on the maturity of the research field. A literature review on a mature topic requires that the authors analyze and synthesize a large body of literature, in comparison to a review on a more novel field where only few studies exist. The authors of this editorial were once challenged to summarize the literature on the intersection of entrepreneurship and innovation. At first, this seemed to be an impossible task. However, after having developed a more concise research question (see suggestion 1), developing clear inclusion and exclusion criteria (see suggestion 2), focusing on breadth instead of depth (see suggestion 3) and on concepts rather than studies (see suggestion 4), the task became doable. The whole process took many iterations and was very work-intensive, but we managed to deliver a literature review at the intersection of innovation and entrepreneurship or vice versa (see Block et al. 2017 ).

Focus on concepts, not studies Authors need to decide how to summarize and categorize the literature identified. While it is possible to summarize literature in a chronological or even alphabetical order, we believe that literature reviews should be concept-centric. This involves a careful identification and evaluation of the underlying concepts used in the review, which then guide the analysis conducted. Focusing on concepts instead of studies helps authors to identify the research debates they aim to contribute to and helps to ensure a better structure throughout the manuscript. Hence, a systematic literature review needs to be based on sound logical and conceptual reasoning. This can (but need not) lead to a new conceptual framework with propositions. In this sense, writing a systematic literature review very much resembles the writing of a conceptual theory paper.

Derive meaningful conclusions Closely connected to the previous point, we want to reiterate that a systematic literature review must go beyond a mere descriptive summary of prior literature. While it is important to provide a descriptive overview on the topics and studies included, it is essential to go one step further and to synthesize and interpret this knowledge. The literature review should derive meaningful conclusions and needs to answer the question: What do we learn from this summary? This includes carefully evaluating and deriving implications, pointing out gaps in the literature, and outlining avenues for future research.

Follow a coherent article structure A coherent structure is a crucial element of any research article. The structure of a systematic literature review resembles the structure of an empirical article. The introduction motivates the topic and describes the contributions of the literature review. The next section describes the systematic review process and the key concepts used. After that, the crucial part is the synthesis and interpretation of the literature review’s findings. This section can but need not lead to the derivation of propositions or a conceptual model (see suggestion 4 above). The final section of a literature review provides a conclusion and discussion with the boundaries of the review and the future research areas. The order of the sections is not static and can vary depending on the review’s topic. For example, one can also put suggestions for future research directly into the body of the article where the main findings from the literature review are described and/or discussed. However, a coherent structure is an absolute necessity for a systematic literature review.

In addition to incorporating these six suggestions, we encourage authors interested in submitting a systematic literature review to MRQ to carefully read the references provided in this article.

Note that the term “systematic literature review” is not clearly defined. In MRQ’s understanding, it refers to all literature reviews that follow a systematic, transparent, and reproducible process for identifying academic literature about a clearly defined topic or research question.

Aguinis H, Ramani RS, Alabduljader N (2018) What you see is what you get? Enhancing methodological transparency in management research. Acad Manag Ann 12(1):83–110

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Tranfield D, Denyer D, Smart P (2003) Towards a methodology for developing evidence-informed management knowledge by means of systematic review. Br J Manag 14(3):207–222

Webster J, Watson RT (2002) Analyzing the past to prepare for the future: writing a literature review. MIS Q 26(2):xiii–xxiii

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We thank Andreas Kuckertz (University of Hohenheim) and Alexandra Moritz (Trier University) for their valuable comments that greatly improved the manuscript.

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Fisch, C., Block, J. Six tips for your (systematic) literature review in business and management research. Manag Rev Q 68 , 103–106 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11301-018-0142-x

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Journal of Business Research

Literature review as a research methodology: an overview and guidelines.

Knowledge production within the field of business research is accelerating at a tremendous speed while at the same time remaining fragmented and interdisciplinary. This makes it hard to keep up with state-of-the-art and to be at the forefront of research, as well as to assess the collective evidence in a particular area of business research. This is why the literature review as a research method is more relevant than ever. Traditional literature reviews often lack thoroughness and rigor and are conducted ad hoc, rather than following a specific methodology. Therefore, questions can be raised about the quality and trustworthiness of these types of reviews. This paper discusses literature review as a methodology for conducting research and offers an overview of different types of reviews, as well as some guidelines to how to both conduct and evaluate a literature review paper. It also discusses common pitfalls and how to get literature reviews published.

Cited by (0)

Hannah Snyder is an assistant professor at the department of marketing, BI - Norwegian School of Business, Oslo, Norway. Her research interest relates to service innovation, customer creativity, deviant customer behavior, and value co-creation as well as a special interest in literature review methodology. She has published in the Journal of Business Research , European Journal of Marketing , Journal of Service Management and International Journal of Nursing Studies .

Writing Research Papers

When writing a research paper on a specific topic, you will often need to include an overview of any prior research that has been conducted on that topic.  For example, if your research paper is describing an experiment on fear conditioning, then you will probably need to provide an overview of prior research on fear conditioning.  That overview is typically known as a literature review.  

Please note that a full-length literature review article may be suitable for fulfilling the requirements for the Psychology B.S. Degree Research Paper .  For further details, please check with your faculty advisor.

Different Types of Literature Reviews

Literature reviews come in many forms.  They can be part of a research paper, for example as part of the Introduction section.  They can be one chapter of a doctoral dissertation.  Literature reviews can also “stand alone” as separate articles by themselves.  For instance, some journals such as Annual Review of Psychology , Psychological Bulletin , and others typically publish full-length review articles.  Similarly, in courses at UCSD, you may be asked to write a research paper that is itself a literature review (such as, with an instructor’s permission, in fulfillment of the B.S. Degree Research Paper requirement). Alternatively, you may be expected to include a literature review as part of a larger research paper (such as part of an Honors Thesis). 

Literature reviews can be written using a variety of different styles.  These may differ in the way prior research is reviewed as well as the way in which the literature review is organized.  Examples of stylistic variations in literature reviews include: 

Overall, all literature reviews, whether they are written as a part of a larger work or as separate articles unto themselves, have a common feature: they do not present new research; rather, they provide an overview of prior research on a specific topic . 

How to Write a Literature Review

When writing a literature review, it can be helpful to rely on the following steps.  Please note that these procedures are not necessarily only for writing a literature review that becomes part of a larger article; they can also be used for writing a full-length article that is itself a literature review (although such reviews are typically more detailed and exhaustive; for more information please refer to the Further Resources section of this page).

Steps for Writing a Literature Review

1. Identify and define the topic that you will be reviewing.

The topic, which is commonly a research question (or problem) of some kind, needs to be identified and defined as clearly as possible.  You need to have an idea of what you will be reviewing in order to effectively search for references and to write a coherent summary of the research on it.  At this stage it can be helpful to write down a description of the research question, area, or topic that you will be reviewing, as well as to identify any keywords that you will be using to search for relevant research.

2. Conduct a literature search.

Use a range of keywords to search databases such as PsycINFO and any others that may contain relevant articles.  You should focus on peer-reviewed, scholarly articles.  Published books may also be helpful, but keep in mind that peer-reviewed articles are widely considered to be the “gold standard” of scientific research.  Read through titles and abstracts, select and obtain articles (that is, download, copy, or print them out), and save your searches as needed.  For more information about this step, please see the Using Databases and Finding Scholarly References section of this website.

3. Read through the research that you have found and take notes.

Absorb as much information as you can.  Read through the articles and books that you have found, and as you do, take notes.  The notes should include anything that will be helpful in advancing your own thinking about the topic and in helping you write the literature review (such as key points, ideas, or even page numbers that index key information).  Some references may turn out to be more helpful than others; you may notice patterns or striking contrasts between different sources ; and some sources may refer to yet other sources of potential interest.  This is often the most time-consuming part of the review process.  However, it is also where you get to learn about the topic in great detail.  For more details about taking notes, please see the “Reading Sources and Taking Notes” section of the Finding Scholarly References page of this website.

4. Organize your notes and thoughts; create an outline.

At this stage, you are close to writing the review itself.  However, it is often helpful to first reflect on all the reading that you have done.  What patterns stand out?  Do the different sources converge on a consensus?  Or not?  What unresolved questions still remain?  You should look over your notes (it may also be helpful to reorganize them), and as you do, to think about how you will present this research in your literature review.  Are you going to summarize or critically evaluate?  Are you going to use a chronological or other type of organizational structure?  It can also be helpful to create an outline of how your literature review will be structured.

5. Write the literature review itself and edit and revise as needed.

The final stage involves writing.  When writing, keep in mind that literature reviews are generally characterized by a summary style in which prior research is described sufficiently to explain critical findings but does not include a high level of detail (if readers want to learn about all the specific details of a study, then they can look up the references that you cite and read the original articles themselves).  However, the degree of emphasis that is given to individual studies may vary (more or less detail may be warranted depending on how critical or unique a given study was).   After you have written a first draft, you should read it carefully and then edit and revise as needed.  You may need to repeat this process more than once.  It may be helpful to have another person read through your draft(s) and provide feedback.

6. Incorporate the literature review into your research paper draft.

After the literature review is complete, you should incorporate it into your research paper (if you are writing the review as one component of a larger paper).  Depending on the stage at which your paper is at, this may involve merging your literature review into a partially complete Introduction section, writing the rest of the paper around the literature review, or other processes.

Further Tips for Writing a Literature Review

Full-length literature reviews

Literature reviews as part of a larger paper

Benefits of Literature Reviews

By summarizing prior research on a topic, literature reviews have multiple benefits.  These include:

Downloadable Resources

Further Resources

How-To Videos     

External Resources

1 Ashton, W. Writing a short literature review . [PDF]     

2 carver, l. (2014).  writing the research paper [workshop]. , prepared by s. c. pan for ucsd psychology.

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Literature Review Samples And Examples

A literature review is a part of your academic writing and discusses the existing published content in that particular area. It can be hard for some students to work on the literature review. A smooth way to tackle this issue is to check the already available free samples of literature reviews available online to take inspiration from or to understand the structure and format of a literature review completely. We have curated some professional literature review samples to help students with this.

Literature Review Sample

Discipline: Education

Quality: 1st / 74%

Discipline: Health Care

Quality: 2:2 / 59%

Discipline: Business

Quality: 2:2 / 58%


Quality: 1st / 71%

Discipline: Couselling

Quality: 1st / 70%

Discipline: Energy

Quality: 2:1 / 69%

Discipline: Nursing

Quality: 2:1 / 67%

Quality: 2:1 / 66%

Discipline: Geology

The Global Warming

Literature Review

Environ. Sci

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Frequently Ask Questions?

How can our literature review samples help you.

A  literature review  is an integrated analysis of scholarly sources. You evaluate the existing literature on a similar topic as yours to understand the problem you are trying to solve.

Your literature review should include all concepts, models, and frameworks associated with the topic under investigation. All the critical theories about the topic should also be a part of your literature review.

To write a captivating literature review, you should pay attention to two points: the recency and relevancy of the sources.

To assess the relevancy of the scholarly source, you will have to evaluate its research aims and question, the methods of research employed the author employed, and the results’ reliability.

Once you know your chosen source’s relevancy, make sure it is not older than a few years. We recommend not to base your research on studies that were completed more than ten years ago. Following this recommendation will help you eliminate obsolete models and frameworks and draft a literature review based on the latest theories and concepts.

To help you write a winning literature review, we have published several undergraduate and postgraduate level  literature review examples  on our website. You will notice that each of our literature review samples introduces the topic by providing background information before analyzing the sources.

Pay attention to your writing style. Along with descriptive writing, you should be critical. You should be able to demonstrate your understanding by comparing and analysing one study with another. Do not forget to cite your sources while discussing them accurately.

Your final step should be to identify critical gaps and then find research questions that stem from these sources. These should be logical, and the research questions should not seem out of place.

If you are unsure how this should be structured, follow our  literature review sample . Focus on how the writing is descriptive first, then critical, and in the end, gaps are identified.

Also, look at how the chapter is divided and the sub-headings that are used. This should be according to the topic of your study. It will help develop your literature review straight out of the dissertation outline so that it flows smoothly and is consistent.

Seek help from our  literature review writing examples  to comprehend these essential aspects and draft a literature review according to dissertation requirements.

We are here to guide you further!  Talk to us , and we can help you prepare a literature review that is in line with your study requirements. Our expert writers take on the responsibility of including all essential elements of a literature review and helping you put together an outstanding dissertation.

What usually is the length of a Literature Review?

Literature reviews of undergraduate and Masters’ dissertations are generally 3000-6000 words in length depending on the module specifications. PhD-level dissertation literature reviews are much longer. The length of a PhD dissertation can vary anywhere between 10,000 to 20,000 words.

What does your literature review writing service include?

The Research Prospect literature review writing service covers literature review coursework assignments, also literature reviews for Ph.D., master’s, and undergraduate proposals and dissertations.

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Theoretical Framework Example for a Thesis or Dissertation

Published on October 14, 2015 by Sarah Vinz . Revised on November 11, 2022 by Tegan George.

Your theoretical framework defines the key concepts in your research, suggests relationships between them, and discusses relevant theories based on your literature review .

A strong theoretical framework gives your research direction. It allows you to convincingly interpret, explain, and generalize from your findings and show the relevance of your thesis or dissertation topic in your field.

Table of contents

Sample problem statement and research questions, sample theoretical framework, your theoretical framework.

Your theoretical framework is based on:

A new boutique downtown is struggling with the fact that many of their online customers do not return to make subsequent purchases. This is a big issue for the otherwise fast-growing store.Management wants to increase customer loyalty. They believe that improved customer satisfaction will play a major role in achieving their goal of increased return customers.

To investigate this problem, you have zeroed in on the following problem statement, objective, and research questions:

The concepts of “customer loyalty” and “customer satisfaction” are clearly central to this study, along with their relationship to the likelihood that a customer will return. Your theoretical framework should define these concepts and discuss theories about the relationship between these variables.

Some sub-questions could include:

As the concepts of “loyalty” and “customer satisfaction” play a major role in the investigation and will later be measured, they are essential concepts to define within your theoretical framework .

Below is a simplified example showing how you can describe and compare theories in your thesis or dissertation . In this example, we focus on the concept of customer satisfaction introduced above.

Customer satisfaction

Thomassen (2003, p. 69) defines customer satisfaction as “the perception of the customer as a result of consciously or unconsciously comparing their experiences with their expectations.” Kotler & Keller (2008, p. 80) build on this definition, stating that customer satisfaction is determined by “the degree to which someone is happy or disappointed with the observed performance of a product in relation to his or her expectations.”

Performance that is below expectations leads to a dissatisfied customer, while performance that satisfies expectations produces satisfied customers (Kotler & Keller, 2003, p. 80).

The definition of Zeithaml and Bitner (2003, p. 86) is slightly different from that of Thomassen. They posit that “satisfaction is the consumer fulfillment response. It is a judgement that a product or service feature, or the product of service itself, provides a pleasurable level of consumption-related fulfillment.” Zeithaml and Bitner’s emphasis is thus on obtaining a certain satisfaction in relation to purchasing.

Thomassen’s definition is the most relevant to the aims of this study, given the emphasis it places on unconscious perception. Although Zeithaml and Bitner, like Thomassen, say that customer satisfaction is a reaction to the experience gained, there is no distinction between conscious and unconscious comparisons in their definition.

The boutique claims in its mission statement that it wants to sell not only a product, but also a feeling. As a result, unconscious comparison will play an important role in the satisfaction of its customers. Thomassen’s definition is therefore more relevant.

Thomassen’s Customer Satisfaction Model

According to Thomassen, both the so-called “value proposition” and other influences have an impact on final customer satisfaction. In his satisfaction model (Fig. 1), Thomassen shows that word-of-mouth, personal needs, past experiences, and marketing and public relations determine customers’ needs and expectations.

These factors are compared to their experiences, with the interplay between expectations and experiences determining a customer’s satisfaction level. Thomassen’s model is important for this study as it allows us to determine both the extent to which the boutique’s customers are satisfied, as well as where improvements can be made.

Figure 1 Customer satisfaction creation 

Framework Thomassen

Of course, you could analyze the concepts more thoroughly and compare additional definitions to each other. You could also discuss the theories and ideas of key authors in greater detail and provide several models to illustrate different concepts.

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How to Write a Literature Review in Research (RRL Example)

literature review business research example

What is a literature review in research?

A literature review (or “relevant review of the literature”) is an objective, concise, critical summary of published research literature relevant to a topic being researched in an article.

A good review of the literature does NOT:

A literature review does not simply reference and list all of the material you have cited in your paper.

A good review of the literature DOES:

How long is a literature review for a research paper?

The length of a review of the literature depends on its purpose and target readership and can vary significantly in scope and depth. In a dissertation, thesis, or standalone review of literature, it is usually a full chapter of the text (at least 20 pages). Whereas, a standard research article or school assignment literature review section could only be a few paragraphs in the Introduction section .

Building Your Literature Review Bookshelf

One way to conceive of a literature review is to think about writing it as you would build a bookshelf. You don’t need to cut each piece by yourself from scratch. Rather, you can take the pieces that other researchers have cut out and put them together to build a framework on which to hang your own “books”—that is, your own study methods, results, and conclusions.

literature review business research example

What Makes a Good Literature Review?

The contents of a literature review are determined by many factors, including its precise purpose in the article, the degree of consensus with a given theory or tension between competing theories, the length of the article, the number of previous studies existing in the given field, etc. The following are some of the most important elements that a literature review provides.

Historical background for your research

Analyze what has been written about your field of research to highlight what is new and significant in your study—or how the analysis itself contributes to the understanding of this field, even in a small way. Providing a historical background also demonstrates to other researchers and journal editors your competency in discussing theoretical concepts. You should also make sure to understand how to paraphrase scientific literature to avoid plagiarism in your work.

The current context of your research

Discuss central (or peripheral) questions, issues, and debates in the field. Because a field is constantly being updated by new work, you can show where your research fits into this context and explain developments and trends in research.

A discussion of relevant theories and concepts

Theories and concepts should provide the foundation for your research. For example, if you are researching the relationship between ecological environments and human populations, provide models and theories that focus on specific aspects of this connection to contextualize your study. If your study asks a question concerning sustainability, mention a theory or model that underpins this concept. If it concerns invasive species, choose material that is focused in this direction.

Definitions of relevant terminology

In the natural sciences, the meaning of terms is relatively straightforward and consistent. But if you present a term that is obscure or context-specific, you should define the meaning of the term in the Introduction section (if you are introducing a study) or in the summary of the literature being reviewed.

Description of related relevant research

Include a description of related research that shows how your work expands or challenges earlier studies or fills in gaps in previous work. You can use your literature review as evidence of what works, what doesn’t, and what is missing in the field.

Supporting evidence for a practical problem or issue your research is addressing that demonstrates its importance: Referencing related research establishes your area of research as reputable and shows you are building upon previous work that other researchers have deemed significant.

Types of Literature Reviews

Literature reviews can differ in structure, length, amount, and breadth of content included. They can range from selective (a very narrow area of research or only a single work) to comprehensive (a larger amount or range of works). They can also be part of a larger work or stand on their own.

literature review business research example

Literature Reviews Found in Academic Journals

The two types of literature reviews commonly found in journals are those introducing research articles (studies and surveys) and stand-alone literature analyses. They can differ in their scope, length, and specific purpose.

Literature reviews introducing research articles

The literature review found at the beginning of a journal article is used to introduce research related to the specific study and is found in the Introduction section, usually near the end. It is shorter than a stand-alone review because it must be limited to very specific studies and theories that are directly relevant to the current study. Its purpose is to set research precedence and provide support for the study’s theory, methods, results, and/or conclusions. Not all research articles contain an explicit review of the literature, but most do, whether it is a discrete section or indistinguishable from the rest of the Introduction.

How to structure a literature review for an article

When writing a literature review as part of an introduction to a study, simply follow the structure of the Introduction and move from the general to the specific—presenting the broadest background information about a topic first and then moving to specific studies that support your rationale , finally leading to your hypothesis statement. Such a literature review is often indistinguishable from the Introduction itself—the literature is INTRODUCING the background and defining the gaps your study aims to fill.

The stand-alone literature review

The literature review published as a stand-alone article presents and analyzes as many of the important publications in an area of study as possible to provide background information and context for a current area of research or a study. Stand-alone reviews are an excellent resource for researchers when they are first searching for the most relevant information on an area of study.

Such literature reviews are generally a bit broader in scope and can extend further back in time. This means that sometimes a scientific literature review can be highly theoretical, in addition to focusing on specific methods and outcomes of previous studies. In addition, all sections of such a “review article” refer to existing literature rather than describing the results of the authors’ own study.

In addition, this type of literature review is usually much longer than the literature review introducing a study. At the end of the review follows a conclusion that once again explicitly ties all of the cited works together to show how this analysis is itself a contribution to the literature. While not absolutely necessary, such articles often include the terms “Literature Review” or “Review of the Literature” in the title. Whether or not that is necessary or appropriate can also depend on the specific author instructions of the target journal. Have a look at this article for more input on how to compile a stand-alone review article that is insightful and helpful for other researchers in your field.

literature review business research example

How to Write a Literature Review in 6 Steps

So how do authors turn a network of articles into a coherent review of relevant literature?

Writing a literature review is not usually a linear process—authors often go back and check the literature while reformulating their ideas or making adjustments to their study. Sometimes new findings are published before a study is completed and need to be incorporated into the current work. This also means you will not be writing the literature review at any one time, but constantly working on it before, during, and after your study is complete.

Here are some steps that will help you begin and follow through on your literature review.

Step 1: Choose a topic to write about—focus on and explore this topic.

Choose a topic that you are familiar with and highly interested in analyzing; a topic your intended readers and researchers will find interesting and useful; and a topic that is current, well-established in the field, and about which there has been sufficient research conducted for a review. This will help you find the “sweet spot” for what to focus on.

Step 2: Research and collect all the scholarly information on the topic that might be pertinent to your study.

This includes scholarly articles, books, conventions, conferences, dissertations, and theses—these and any other academic work related to your area of study is called “the literature.”

Step 3: Analyze the network of information that extends or responds to the major works in your area; select the material that is most useful.

Use thought maps and charts to identify intersections in the research and to outline important categories; select the material that will be most useful to your review.

Step 4: Describe and summarize each article—provide the essential information of the article that pertains to your study.

Determine 2-3 important concepts (depending on the length of your article) that are discussed in the literature; take notes about all of the important aspects of this study relevant to the topic being reviewed.

For example, in a given study, perhaps some of the main concepts are X, Y, and Z. Note these concepts and then write a brief summary about how the article incorporates them. In reviews that introduce a study, these can be relatively short. In stand-alone reviews, there may be significantly more texts and more concepts.

Step 5: Demonstrate how these concepts in the literature relate to what you discovered in your study or how the literature connects the concepts or topics being discussed.

In a literature review intro for an article, this information might include a summary of the results or methods of previous studies that correspond to and/or confirm those sections in your own study. For a stand-alone literature review, this may mean highlighting the concepts in each article and showing how they strengthen a hypothesis or show a pattern.

Discuss unaddressed issues in previous studies. These studies that are missing something you address are important to include in your literature review. In addition, those works whose theories and conclusions directly support your findings will be valuable to review here.

Step 6: Identify relationships in the literature and develop and connect your own ideas to them.

This is essentially the same as step 5 but focused on the connections between the literature and the current study or guiding concepts or arguments of the paper, not only on the connections between the works themselves.

Your hypothesis, argument, or guiding concept is the “golden thread” that will ultimately tie the works together and provide readers with specific insights they didn’t have before reading your literature review. Make sure you know where to put the research question , hypothesis, or statement of the problem in your research paper so that you guide your readers logically and naturally from your introduction of earlier work and evidence to the conclusions you want them to draw from the bigger picture.

Your literature review will not only cover publications on your topics but will include your own ideas and contributions. By following these steps you will be telling the specific story that sets the background and shows the significance of your research and you can turn a network of related works into a focused review of the literature.

Literature Review Examples

Because creating sample literature reviews would take too long and not properly capture the nuances and detailed information needed for a good review, we have included some links to different types of literature reviews below. You can find links to more literature reviews in these categories by visiting the TUS Library’s website . Sample literature reviews as part of an article, dissertation, or thesis:

Sample stand-alone literature reviews

Additional Literature Review Format Guidelines

In addition to the content guidelines above, authors also need to check which style guidelines to use ( APA , Chicago, MLA, etc.) and what specific rules the target journal might have for how to structure such articles or how many studies to include—such information can usually be found on the journals’ “Guide for Authors” pages. Additionally, use one of the four Wordvice citation generators below, choosing the citation style needed for your paper:

Wordvice Writing and Editing Resources

Finally, after you have finished drafting your literature review, be sure to receive professional proofreading services , including paper editing for your academic work. A competent proofreader who understands academic writing conventions and the specific style guides used by academic journals will ensure that your paper is ready for publication in your target journal.

See our academic resources for further advice on references in your paper , how to write an abstract , how to write a research paper title, how to impress the editor of your target journal with a perfect cover letter , and dozens of other research writing and publication topics.


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  22. Theoretical Framework Example for a Thesis or Dissertation

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