My tips for writing literature review

Writing literature review is one of the most challenging things in thesis writing for me. You should be able to give background information about your research topic, support problem statement and explore main ideas of your study. All of this needs to be done in a clear, coherent and logical way so that your reader won’t be distracted from your thoughts. And this in turn, requires thorough planning and hard thinking from the writer.

Usually I start with planning my literature review where I divide this part into several chapters according to the main ideas. In order to find relevant articles I distinguish the key words and terminology first. Then I start searching articles by means of search engines as Google Scholar, or databases like EBSCO, Jstor, ERIC etc. It is important to note that key words are really helpful when using different databases.

In my opinion, there are two main challenges with finding resources. First, it is remarkable that many students struggle with finding relevant and reliable sources. There is a lack of scientific articles in some areas of study that may hinder research process. In this case, I try to use synonyms of key terminology when searching or refer to the reference list of the articles I found earlier. Secondly, you may face abundance of literature on your topic that makes difficult to chose few of them. I would recommend to refer to the most cited ones or to choose the articles that are very close to yours. Unfortunately, I often experience scarcity of materials in Kazakhstani context.

After finding appropriate resources, I start reading them and highlight the information that I may use in my thesis. Here, I use the trick with colours. I identify specific colours for each of my main themes and when reading the article I highlight the paragraphs or quotations with these colours. At the same time, I put authors’ names next to the piece of information I use so that I’ll be able not to forget and cite them properly.

The next step is combining all the information into one section by paraphrasing, deleting unnecessary parts and spice it all up by adding linking words and phrases. In this stage I pay attention to the coherence of my ideas and logical flow. Of course, my initial outline of literature review may change several times while reading more and more articles. But this is what makes your literature review delicious and easy to read.

Picture credit:×424-Where-Can-I-Donate-Used-Books-in-New-York-City.JPG

3 thoughts on “My tips for writing literature review

  1. Yes, there is indeed a scarcity of articles on certain topics focused on Kazakhstan. When you find one, then you have to be pretty sure it has been published in a reliable reputable journal. So many articles written by Kaz scholars have been published in fraudulent journals. According to recent research done, over 50% is the startling figure. These are online journals set up by scam artists just trying to make money, and they are not interested in serious scholarship. They accept anything that is submitted. Even if the home page of their journal says they are peer reviewed and indexed in Scopus or Web of Science, they often are now. You have to do the checking yourself. That adds to your work load. You have to watch out for Google Scholar because many of the fraudulent journals with articles that have not been peer reviewed are in it.

    I like your color idea!

    This is a very good and helpful post.

    5 out of 5


  2. Yeraly,
    I also agree on the scarcity of reliable, and even unreliable sources in Kazakhstani context. Most of the present sources are statistical raw data. However, I came across some ‘good’ sources published by the graduates of our university.
    I also find the instructors comment on the use of Google Scholar very useful, because it was my primary search engine.
    Thank you for your post. I really enjoy your posts.


    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s