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120 Fresh and Thought-Provoking Topics for Literature Reviews in Different Disciplines

A literature review is an account of the scholarly works published on a topic. It is different from an annotated bibliography – and far more interesting at that. Instead of being just a list of summaries, a literature review synthesizes the information from all available sources in an overall relationship to your guiding concept. This may be the problem you are discussing, a statement you are arguing, a theory you are verifying, etc.

The goals of a literature review may vary:

  • giving a historical overview of the research in the field
  • summarizing the existing state of the topic
  • finding a problem or a gap in the research field
  • developing a new theory, etc.

That is why good literature review topics are often formulated as research questions. This type of paper is not an easy writing. You will need to parse immense volumes of information, synthesize and summarize coherently. You also need to devote plenty of time to reading.

This post contains a list of literature review topics suggested for various subjects. However, when choosing the most fitting one to dig into, ask yourself, what are the passions that you can apply to this research? This assignment will take a while, so you will need more than just a good study discipline to soldier on. A bit of enthusiasm and intrinsic motivation will get you much farther.

Literature Review Topics Examples on English and World Literature

Some of the suggestions in this post are linked to literature review examples in our free database. By clicking on a title, you get to a corresponding sample page, where you can read the entire text. If the topic you like isn't linked, but you would like to read an example, you can order it. We will arrange the most qualified paper writer to prepare it for you exclusively.

Ready? Let's start with topics for literature review papers on English and World Literature.

  • Phoenix as a symbol for endurance in a worn path
  • The novel Intuition by Allegra Goodman
  • Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Birthmark through Girard's Lens
  • Ender's Game by an Orson Scott Card
  • Depiction of freedom and happiness in Brave New World
  • Feminism and Post-Colonialism in Margaret Atwood's Oryx and Crake and Suzanne Collins's The Hunger Games
  • Rationality, logic, and mathematics in the novel The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time
  • Victims of their time as a character type in the World literature
  • The last days of Judas Iscariot : a play by Stephen Adly Guirgis
  • The use of symbolism in Kafka's prose
  • Naturalism in American literature
  • Grotesque and Sublime in the prose of Edgar Allan Poe

Lit Review Topic Ideas on Science and Technology

Next are some literature review topic ideas on science and technology.

  • Electronic library and effects of its implementation
  • Benjamin Franklin: scientist and inventor
  • Virtual Reality, science fiction, and society today
  • Science, Technology, and Society as a field of knowledge
  • Frederick Winslow Taylor and the principles of scientific management
  • What is the future of work
  • Concepts of science and technology
  • The Abolition of Man by C.S. Lewis and influence of technological advancement on man and nature
  • Types of machine learning
  • Internet of Things and biometrics: implications, benefits, threats
  • Emotional intelligence and natural language processing
  • SmartCity projects that have already been implemented and their lessons

As the field is vast, we can barely scratch the surface with these suggestions. To help you with brainstorming, here are a few tips on how to choose good topics for a literature review yourself:

  • Make sure the topic ties nicely with class requirements as well as your interests
  • Do some preliminary research to see if there is enough literature on your topic
  • Scale up if the information is scarce or down if there are too many sources to handle
  • Use sources recommended for reading in the class materials
  • Supplement the list with only trustworthy scholarly sources

Follow these guidelines, and you are on a path to some great ideas!

Psychology Literature Review Topics

When brainstorming topics on psychology, don't forget about the subdisciplines: biopsychology, social, educational, organizational, etc. If the suggestions below won't be enough, try looking for inspiration in Biology, Sociology, Education, or Business. The most exciting topics are often at the intersection of different areas of knowledge!

  • Tricyclic antidepressants vs. Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) in treatment of depression
  • Stress, its causes, effects, and coping strategies
  • The family system and psychology
  • Tibetan compassion practices: working with terror, trauma, and transcendence
  • Behaviorism psychology
  • Culture and psychopathology
  • Correlation between diet and cognitive functions in primary school students
  • The evolutionary role of phobias and intrusive thoughts
  • Popular psychology and its implications
  • PTSD in mass disasters survivors: immediate relief and long-term assistance
  • Cults and vulnerable populations
  • False memories and gaslighting

Nursing Literature Review Topics

Nursing lit review topics are probably the most diverse in scale, as you can see from the examples below. They can describe a larger issue or a concrete solution applied to a narrowly defined problem. Following this principle, you can modify our lit review topics suggestions zooming out or in on the subject material.

  • Legalization of medical marijuana and its effects on the youth
  • Health effects of fiber: research findings
  • Achieving higher levels of education and training for nurses
  • Organic foods and cardiovascular disease
  • The importance of Central Venous Line (CVL) and Central Venous Access Devices (CVAD)
  • What effects do different types of music have on humans and their mental health?
  • The use of laboratory-grown organs for transplantation
  • The role of xylitol in alleviating dry mouth
  • The detection of tar and nicotine content of cigarette smoke extract using HPLC
  • Rheumatoid arthritis: etiology, diagnosis, vulnerable populations
  • Mobility aids for the elderly and quality of life
  • The role of play in the recuperation of hospitalized children

Education Literature Review Topics

To get more ideas from these literature review topic examples, try isolating an issue and put it in another educational context. For instance, student motivation in primary school vs. middle school or sleep deprivation in high school vs. college. This should give you plenty of material for brainstorming.

  • Simulation education for crisis prevention program
  • A critical consideration of the new pedagogy in its relation to modern science
  • Lack of students interest in studying science
  • Discovery-based learning and student-centered learning with a focus on mathematics at a high school level
  • The adverse effects of sleep deprivation on academic performance: a college student's struggle
  • Gender bias in special education programs
  • Higher education for senior citizens: challenges and best practices
  • Significant challenges of the teaching profession in the US
  • Factors contributing to international student mobility
  • Student motivation in private vs. state colleges
  • Benefits and challenges of homeschooling for students and families
  • Correlation between workload, stress levels, and self-esteem in middle-school students

Sociology Literature Review Topics

The best advice on finding current sociology topics is to look at the challenges your community faces. Become the first one to notice and address these issues!

  • Are video games affecting our current and future students ?
  • Ways to prevent social media bullying
  • Spanking of children in the USA
  • The relation of poverty and exposure to crime in adolescent men
  • Transgender discrimination
  • The link between science and Utopia in Utopia and the New Atlantis
  • Effectiveness of group therapy in social work
  • Peer pressure, depression, and causes of suicide in the adolescents
  • Religious separatism social issues connected with it
  • Causes and effects of domestic abuse
  • Physical appearance and social status
  • Race, nationality, ethnicity, and identity

Political Science Literature Review Topics

Political science is one of the more formal disciplines on this list. Being heavy with abstract concepts, it doesn't lend itself easily to casual brainstorming. Well, at least start with these:

  • Electoral College, its functions, and role in public life
  • Why American and the British IPE are so different
  • Contingency planning
  • Effects of political gerrymandering
  • American political parties
  • The present urban regimes in Canada
  • International policies and domestic regulations: precedence and clashes
  • Tolerance as a political virtue
  • Grassroots activism and its impact on state and federal law
  • National security and constitutional freedoms
  • Historical analysis of anarchism
  • The effect of social media on civic engagement

Criminal Justice Literature Review Topics

Criminal justice is a complex field. It's ripe with variance and challenges – which is good for topic ideas at least. And you have state, federal, and international levels to add more variables.

  • Juvenile justice and the Missouri model
  • Car-related crime in the USA
  • An analysis of the impact of sexual harassment/sexual assault in the military
  • The process of the arbitration without the involvement of national courts
  • Serial killers and profiling
  • Policing and criminal justice systems
  • Psychological effects of cyberbullying on adolescents
  • Sexual human trafficking from the Central America region
  • Human sex-trafficking: the Canadian perspective
  • Gender and racial bias in criminal investigations
  • Possible ethical and legal dilemmas of using sniffer dogs
  • Sting operations vs. entrapment: ethics and regulations

Chemistry and Biology Literature Review Topics

Biology is fascinating. It has something for everyone: from biochemistry and genetics to ecosystems and nature preservation. Here are some suggestions to guide your choice:

  • Brain size correlation
  • Haruko Obokata, ethics of stem cells research, and scientific misconduct
  • Genomic and molecular genetics major and its perspectives for students
  • DNA use in mass disasters
  • DNA detection from dried blood spots
  • Captive breeding of marine mammals: pros and cons
  • The Dynamics of ER and mitochondria
  • Biomarkers in gastric cancer treatment
  • The chemistry behind gene splicing
  • Carcinogens and hyper-processed foods
  • Primates and monkeys as potential sources of novel zoonotic infections
  • Natural gases, ecosystems, and the global warming

Business and Marketing Literature Review Topics

Finally, here are some business and marketing topics as well. These disciplines might be relatively new, but they are among the most dynamic and information-rich – which means great fun to explore.

  • Effectiveness of neuromarketing in comparison to traditional marketing methods
  • Green supply chain management
  • Effectiveness of e-marketing to non-profit making organizations
  • The value of information
  • Shareholder engagement/activism and corporate performance
  • The relationship between ethics, stress, and productivity in the workplace
  • The role of integrity in business
  • Client confidentiality and its role in a prosperous business
  • Businesses, their impact on the community, and social responsibility
  • Startup fundraising stages
  • Innovative marketing in the age of instant feedback: risks and possibilities
  • Strategies for staff motivation

Jana Rooheart

Jana Rooheart

Jana Rooheart came to WOWESSAYS™ with a mission to put together and then slice and dice our vast practical experience in crafting all kinds of academic papers. Jana is an aspired blogger with rich expertise in psychology, digital learning tools, and creative writing. In this blog, she willingly shares tricks of pencraft and mind-altering ideas about academic writing any student will find utterly beneficial.

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105 Literature Review Topics + How-to Guide [2024]

105 Literature Review Topics + How-to Guide [2024]

A literature review is a variant of curtsy in scientific circles. It presents your acknowledgment that you are not the first to tackle the issue. Your predecessors have made progress in answering your research question, and you plan to start from the point they finished.

The picture contains a definition of a literature review.

This article features examples of literature review topics on multiple knowledge areas. Additionally, you will find exhaustive disambiguation of all the types of a literature review, as well as its purposes, definition, outline, and formatting.

  • 🔝 Top 15 Topics
  • ✍️ Writing Tips
  • Political Science
  • Criminal Justice

🔗 References

🔝 top 15 literature review topics.

  • What does the science say about extraterrestrial life?
  • Redesigning organisms in synthetic biology: Where are we at now?
  • Equality of human rights at the international level.
  • Why do genes happen to be active or inactive?
  • Legalizing physician-assisted suicide.
  • Can an adult person change their native language?
  • The most efficient study programs.
  • The ethics of using surveillance cameras.
  • The effect of reading fiction on your brain.
  • British imperialism in India.
  • What is kindness: A philosophical approach.
  • Modern technologies can sift out fake news.
  • Multiculturalism: A romantic myth or today’s reality?
  • The demographics of liberal worldview in the US.
  • Chronic fatigue: Literature review and hypotheses.

✍️ Literature Review Writing Tips

Speaking of a literature review , the definition is too broad to be used as writing guidance. It is an overview of credible materials on a particular research question. A literature review usually becomes chapter 1 in dissertations and theses , allowing to explore the current knowledge on the topic. It evaluates academic and professional articles, journal publications, books, and web-based resources.

A literature review is an indispensable part of a research paper. It serves many purposes, some of which are not evident.

What Is the Purpose of a Literature Review?

  • To draw the background context;
  • To compare your results with previous research;
  • To justify your research methods;
  • To frame research gaps and show the scientific novelty of your project;
  • To explain the social value of your work;
  • To demonstrate your knowledge of the referenced literature;
  • To train your analytical thinking.

Types of Literature Review

Below you’ll find the 6 types of literature reviews.

The picture lists the 6 types of literature review.

Systematic Review

A systematic literature review is a most comprehensive and data-oriented type. It defines the timeframe of the selected literature and is subdivided into two categories:

  • Meta-analysis ( deductive research through standardized statistical procedures)
  • Meta-synthesis (inductive study by non-statistical qualitative methods)

Narrative Review

It is also called a traditional or critical literature review. The purpose is to summarize the available material, critique it, and identify the gaps and inconsistencies. This type works well for almost any research question, provided it is sufficiently focused and limited in time or subject matter.

Scoping Review

As the name implies, it estimates the scope of available literature on a literature review topic. Unlike a systematic literature review, which aims to find the most specific research question, this type looks for the most general one. It answers the question of what else can be researched in the field.

Theoretical Review

A theoretical literature review explores the pool of theories that have so far accumulated on a concept. It lists the existing ideas, their relationships, and gaps. The purpose is to develop hypotheses to be tested in the experimental section.

Argumentative Review

This type provides the most selective literature review to prove or refute an argument already established in the research literature. However, this is also the most biased review among all types.

Integrative Review

This literature review integrates, synthesizes, and critiques the available secondary data to develop new research frameworks and perspectives.

Systematic Review vs. Literature Review vs. Annotated Bibliography

Literature Review Outline

How long should a literature review be? It depends on the assignment requirements and your outline.

A literature review is often used as a part of a more general research paper. In such a case, you can limit yourself to the standard introduction –main body – conclusion formula.

In all the other situations, use the following literature review outline.

The picture lists the 5 components of literature review.

  • Introduction Trace the scope and highlight the importance of your review. Why did you choose the given topic or research question? How does it contribute to the previous study?
  • Methodology We have listed the types of literature review above. Depending on your purposes, select one and explain why your choice is the best. You can also specify which logic you used while choosing the sources for your review.
  • Discussion It is the central part of the text which compares, contrasts, and explains the relationships between various ideas you found in the bibliography items.
  • Conclusion Are you satisfied with the result of your work? How will it help further research? Which gaps have you spotted, and which hypothesis could you generate?
  • List of references As in any research paper, this is an indispensable part of your literature review. Be sure to follow the format requirements as provided below.

Literature Review Format

All citation styles require you to indicate the author’s name, book title, publication year, number of pages, and volume or issue number. This data is available in any printed edition, as publishers use it to identify their products.

It may sound simple until you discover that each citation style has a multi-page list of nuanced details specific to this format and inapplicable to any other.

Browse the guides for each of the most popular types below.

APA style is a format for scholarly documents. It is particularly popular in the fields of social and behavioral sciences. APA is well-known for its simplicity in source references. Thus, a vast majority of American universities and colleges prefer this format.

MLA style manual is an abridged version of the MLA Handbook published by the Modern Language Association. It was created for students to assist in their research aspirations. Its 8 th edition is addressed to secondary-school and undergraduate university and college teachers and students. The style is popular in humanities (modern languages, literature, cultural studies, and related disciplines).

Chicago style (also called CMS or CMOS) is a style guide for American English. The University of Chicago Press first published it in 1906. Since then, it has had 17 editions and has become one of the most popular citation styles in the US. The guide instructs on editorial practice, grammar, document preparation, formatting, and even the use of the singular “they.”

💡 Literature Review Topics

Literature review topics in education.

  • How can we make classrooms more inclusive ?
  • Flipped classroom approach.
  • Waldorf schools and their concept.
  • How do ADHD symptoms affect a student’s learning abilities?
  • Educational leadership.
  • Methods of tracking the performance of schoolchildren.
  • How can token economy diminish off-task behavior in students with autism?
  • Resegregation in US schools.
  • Is bilingual education realizable in contemporary schools?
  • Growing violence incidents in educational institutions.

Political Science Literature Review Topics

  • Gender cosmopolitanism in Sweden .
  • Security policy is based on political ideology .
  • The emotional effect of populism .
  • The theory and classification of political speeches.
  • Global measures in COVID-19 response.
  • The international politics of the Arab world.
  • How do we select our leaders ?
  • Officials in politics: Emotional labor .
  • Relational peace between countries.
  • The invisible force holding countries together.

Criminal Justice Literature Review Topics

  • The problematic issues of prosecution and legal enforcement in Eastern Europe.
  • Track the evolution of international criminal justice practices.
  • Crime prevention methods.
  • The evolution of criminology as a social science.
  • The cycle of domestic violence : Theory and statistics.
  • The patterns in child abuse perpetrators.
  • Randomized experimental designs in criminology .
  • Current measures to stop human trafficking in the US.
  • How should we punish environmental crimes?
  • Terrorism : Approaches to its definitions.

Sociology Literature Review Topics

  • Does coded language help us fight racial inequality ?
  • Workplace bullying.
  • International conflicts in terms of social representation theory.
  • Gender and sexual activity.
  • Is our society liberal or conservative ?
  • Single African American parents.
  • Racial salary gap in the US.
  • Substance abuse and health care costs for employers.
  • Does federal aid succeed at fighting urban poverty?
  • How does hate speech spur desensitization?

Nursing Literature Review Topics

  • Practice in the field of healthcare.
  • Evidence-based nursing practice.
  • Traumatic brain injury.
  • Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Pressure ulcers study.
  • Post-operative readmission rates.
  • Nursing ratios and nosocomial infections.
  • Patient fall prevention study.
  • Emergency room wait time.
  • Electronic health records.

Psychology Literature Review Topics

  • Parents’ experiences of caring for a child with ASD
  • The long-term consequences of child abuse
  • The neurology of depression .
  • Explore the psychological effects of loud noise.
  • Why is it so hard to accept what contradicts our beliefs?
  • The psychological mechanisms of compulsive eating.
  • Why are some people more prone to discrimination and prejudice?
  • Self-protection against grief .
  • Non-verbal communication rates in different cultures.
  • Love : Chemistry or feeling?

Biology Literature Review Topics

  • Camouflage in plants.
  • Color differences in male and female bird species.
  • Acceptability of genetic engineering.
  • Natural reforestation: Too long to wait.
  • Why are domestic plants weaker than wild ones?
  • Hepcidin: importance, production, regulation.
  • How can we edit DNA sequences ?
  • Which anti- COVID vaccines are the most effective and why?
  • Cancer : An umbrella term for many diseases.
  • Species that are important to our ecology.

Easy Literature Review Topics

  • Sustainable agriculture : Our future reality.
  • Vegetarianism.
  • The scientific background behind music therapy .
  • Stono revolt.
  • The latest findings in stopping brain aging.
  • Articles on cyber security of young children.
  • Data-driven personalization : Prospects and achievements.
  • Importance of the literature review in research.
  • Critical literature review of digital signature.
  • Reviewing quantitative academic literature and data.

❓ Literature Review Topics FAQ

❓ what is discussed in literature review.

A literature review discusses the texts that are the most relevant to your research question. It summarizes, compares, evaluates, and critiques the available literature to find the points of intersection and blind spots. As a result, you will develop a specific topic for further research or pose a hypothesis.

❓ What are the 3 parts of literature review?

The three parts of this academic genre are the same as those of any other research paper. The introduction explores the background and importance of the topic. The main body analyzes the selected texts. It may also contain a methodology section that explains why you chose such or another literary review type. The conclusion outlines the perspectives of your research.

❓ What are the four stages of literature review?

  • Formulating the problem (which topic is under study and what are its constituent parts?);
  • Searching the literature (making up the preliminary bibliography list to be described in the literature review);
  • Evaluating the data (which sources are the most significant in our understanding of the topic?);
  • Analyzing and interpreting the essential findings.
  • Literature Reviews – UNC Writing Center
  • Learn how to write a review of literature
  • Writing a Literature Review // Purdue Writing Lab
  • Types of Literature Reviews – Systematic Reviews
  • How to Conduct a Literature Review
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Worthy Literature Review Topics for Presenting a Cogent Work

What topics for literature review to consider to outshine.

Studying at college or university, planning to build up a final research paper, preparing for classes, creating a graduate project, or working on a capstone project always involves dealing with plentiful literature and analyzing reports on many topics. A literature review is an academic writing that unites a student’s knowledge of a defined topic, and it’s up to them to pick winning literature review topics to prove their expertise in the chosen field, as well as show the ability to analyze and compare several sources.

As usual, a literature review presents a consistent overview of the used material, the main points of the research, the author’s critical assessment of the topic, covers the existing theories, fills the informational gaps, and expresses a personal point of view. It can be a standalone piece of academic writing based on the literature on a specific topic or be an integral part or separate section of a paper or research project.

Speaking about the intentions in a political science literature review or another, a source report on the topic is designed. It’s important to remember a student should present a well-reasoned scientific review on the topic or a debate but not enlist all literature they use, so it looks like a library collection. When dealing with a dissertation or a term paper, creating a decent review that will summarize the whole literature is one of the most important tasks after selecting a fitting topic.

So, it’s up to a student to submit a well-reasonable, cogent literature review to evidence their knowledge of the chosen topic. There are several purposes why you should prepare a review of the used literature:

  • Provide a critical analysis of a topic and define a frame of questions that should be resolved.
  • Showing your familiarity with the topic and understanding of the state of research in the field.
  • Determining the gaps compared to the prior investigations you can cover in your research.
  • Know the previous literature regarding the chosen topic, summarize theories, making outcomes to present your groundwork and exploration.

When writing your literature review, it’s necessary to concentrate on your literature review and pick proper sources to cover the topic fully by focusing on the gaps that weren’t presented before by other writers. To gain the needed results of a literature review, a student should highlight scientific controversies and try to solve them by offering their solutions and viewpoints on the topic.

Worthy Literature Review Topics Psychology: Cover Issues Rationally

For a vast majority of students choosing good literature review topics for psychology research can be even more difficult than writing it. Indeed, making the first step in the research process is always daunting and can waste time greatly without gaining particular results from the literature review on a specific topic. Therefore, when thinking about a topic for your literature review in the psychology field you’d like to investigate, you should consider the previous works to avoid repetition and demonstrate your interest in the field.

Since there are diverse branches of psychology, you need to think about what field is more interesting to you than others and then consider literature review topic ideas. Are you interested in a literature review on topics related to health psychology, developmental, or occupational psychology? Can’t determine what topic you want to investigate in your literature review? Then our service offers you a list of topics for a literature review to choose from. Nevertheless, for your literature review, consider those topics that appeal to you most, and you have a good background in:

  • The effect of praise and reward on a person’s motivation and achievements.
  • Addiction to social media: that’s why children become aggressive and rude.
  • Frequent anxiety attacks as the first sign of a psychological disorder.
  • Gender role in modern society: is there any discrimination?
  • How to manage stress and relax in a stressful environment?
  • Sports influence human behavior and psychological state.

So, finally, you choose the literature review topics psychology offers and can move further with your investigation. Now it’s important to arrange a research paper wisely to cover the maximum possible questions by following the correct structure. Like other academic works, a good literature review on psychology should have an introduction, main part, and conclusion.

A literature review should be well-structured, logical, and cover the topic wholly. Its parts should be interconnected by preserving a single and unique idea and outlining a strong thesis statement showing your final attitude to literature review topics in education or other fields.

List of Literature Review Topics Examples That Are Worth Attention

No matter what area you deal with in your literature review: education, economics, medicine, sciences, philology, architecture, or engineering, you should define a topic for your research to create a decent review that will include all aspects that matter and cover these issues.

Numerous topics make sense to people. There are endless questions regarding each of them. So, it’s vital to define what aspects haven’t been explored yet, and you can use this opportunity to fill the gap and conduct a well-grounded investigation. Let’s have a look at some of the current literature review topics examples you can find worthy:

  • Bulimia and anorexia: are these eating disorders a consequence of psychological issues?
  • The relationship between economic prosperity and unemployment rate.
  • Applying 3D technology in modern civil engineering & construction.
  • Blood donation process: what you should know before the donation.
  • Data mining technology in boosting business processes.
  • The benefits of installing solar panels.

All in all, it’s a challenging task to select good topics for literature review, so it’ll depict the critical issues of your research and highlight the most prominent works in the chosen field. When selecting a proper topic, take into account it shouldn’t be too broad or narrow. There should be aspects that haven’t been discussed before in literature reviews.

A perfect review of the literature should interpret the existing research and explicate your own idea, so together, they create a unique cogent text. Another highly important aspect of a literature review is using authoritative sources that can back up your statements. This is an integral part of a high-quality research review because you show what contributions were made before and apply them to your critical analysis.

Literature Review Topic Examples to Build Your Work Easily

A standard review of sources consists of the same parts as an ordinary essay or a term paper: first, you introduce the chosen topic by enlisting points you’ll discuss in your work. Second, you prepare a critical assessment of the key issues, mention ways to resolve and provide your alternative to fix them, and finally, you summarize your statements with a persuasive thesis statement.

It’s necessary to say there’s no defined formula on how to build a literature review correctly. The structure of the literature review on your topic depends on the scientific area a student investigates. It also relates to the scientific aims and arguments a writer displays to support or disprove.

It’s recommended to include the following patterns to organize the literature review:

  • Chronological development of the examined topic.
  • Concepts that were used primarily to cover the gaps.
  • Key definitions that were mentioned in the research.
  • Outline the debates around the raised issue.
  • Provide statements for and against the major problem.
  • Key authors and works that focus on the topic selected.
  • Mention the methodology used to conduct research.

Remember, the most important thing about a literature review on any topic is to present your stance based on the works of reputable researchers and scientists. So, concentrate your attention on the literature that fits your viewpoints and thereby strengthen your review on the topic you’ve chosen.

Consider Good Literature Review Topics to Stand Out From the Rest

If a student hesitates about what theme to choose for their term paper, nowadays, there are lots of literature review topic examples that are worth attention. To determine what topic is more relevant to the studying field and a student’s major, they should do a detailed preliminary literature review of sources and define whether it’s enough to conduct an elaborate and robust work.

Struggling with finding literature review essay topics? Our literature review writing services will gladly help you brainstorm the most appropriate ones to get high grades and prove your competence in the specialization field. To pick a good theme and succeed in writing a literature review, it’s also important to possess specific skills that facilitate the whole writing process. Hence, it’ll be easier for students with a particular skill set to compose a reasonable and measurable review of the used literature on the topic:

  • Ability to think critically.
  • Analyze the information deeply.
  • Outline main tasks, goals, and proofs.
  • Be detail-oriented and pick up the most vital info.
  • Define key points of the research to render the core sense.

Additionally, to find good topics for a literature review, it’s possible to visit some online libraries, guides, and databases with diverse scientific works and publications that will back up your exploratory studies.

To show up against others, it’s better to pay attention to the topics that relate to the advanced technologies that can be applied in numerous areas, i.e., topics for literature review in education, medicine, business, engineering, science, etc. The IT sector is rapidly spreading throughout the entire area and facilitates better and stronger competition rates. Thus, your literature review will have success at least by choosing a highly competitive topic.

Top Literature Review Nursing Topics: Meet Demands Without a Hitch

Being one of the most expanded studying areas, a research paper on nursing requires sufficient time to build up a well-structured & thought-out paper and a consistent report of literature sources accordingly. To impress tutors and scientific supervisors, we offer you to select one of the following literature review topic examples that can relate to the next issues:

  • Cyberbullying and the tendency to commit suicide among teens.
  • Teamwork as a motivator for achieving greater results at work.
  • Parental separation: its harsh effect on a child’s mental health.
  • Meditation as a useful way to fight depression and stress.
  • Depression and its influence on working efficiency.
  • How to handle pressure and stay cool-headed?
  • Abusive relationships between teenagers.
  • Autistic children and their socialization.

It’s a well-known fact that preparing a literature review on psychology means sleepless nights for the majority of students. Choosing fitting literature review nursing topics takes lots of time and effort to arrange a paper correctly without losing the key idea. Although, selecting and writing a review of the used literature on the topic isn’t as complicated as you may think.

The biggest problem with nursing literature review topics selection is to tune in the process and analyze tens of publications and articles on the related topic. Sure, it’s impossible to read all the literature on the topic you’ve picked. You’d rather prepare a list of the most fitting topics and make notes about the major points mentioned there. By reviewing the main concepts and methods and outlining topics and outcomes, you’ll be able to formulate your final results and then compare them with the prior literature.

To conclude, selecting appropriate topics for literature review of the paper, a student should have a solid background in the chosen subfield to know where and what to search to compile a persuasive and facts-based review. The truth is that choosing a good topic is half of success, and the last thing you need to do is to write it considering the requirements for the literature review.

57 Best Literature Review Topic Ideas

Mike russel.

Making a choice on a good literature review topic might be a great challenge for many of us. What should it be like? Interesting for you and your audience, profound, covering a gap in the previous research on a specific theme. This is just an approximate list of primary criteria. The perfect topic should be neither too broad nor too narrow. There always must be some meaningful data on the theme, covering a range of basic scientific issues. Yet, a good literature review topic should contain a gap, which you can investigate, or the space for a wider interpretation. But if you pick a topic having plenty of research done on it, does it really make sense to get further investigations?

The first sign of a good topic is your personal interest in a field. As a rule, the final result of each literature review comes down to the complex research paper. This is an assignment you are submitting to your professor and other students, or even to the commission. So, that is something you should live through during a semester. And you have to feel comfortable while doing research on it.

The most obvious way to select a theme is to look through print publishing. Or you can pick the first idea on the professional web-sites that sounds good enough. Although it could turn to be the waste of time because there is no guarantee it is relevant for your field.  And when you find it out it might be too late. There are always a lot of literature review topic examples. But to come up with a final decision on it, you need to do some preliminary research on the corresponding, authoritative sources. A bit of brainstorming can also be helpful.

But still, sometimes you might turn to be short for good literature review topic ideas. How to choose a proper one and make truly good research out of it? Let’s look into the following options.

What is a literature review? 

Reading for literature review

According to the direct definition of the term, the literature review is an overview of appropriate sources on a particular theme. It points out core fundamentals, specific features, and controversial aspects of the topic. The lit review consists of three main parts – introduction, body, and conclusion. In order to provide a comprehensive paper of this type, you need to summarize the most relevant academic works. Then you should come up with some conclusions, highlighting the gaps, where additional study should be conducted.

Another significant element of the lit review is an evaluation of the contribution made by authoritative experts to the area of study. Also, you need to provide your audience with a critical analysis of the existing theories and methodologies. The literature review may include journal articles, scientific publications, books, investigations, and so on. It is acceptable to present some rethinking of the subject, reshuffling of the basic arguments. New interpretations and major debates can also help to convey the state of knowledge.

The reason for writing a research review is the improvement of some crucial skills as:

– Critical thinking;

– Writing and proper reading;

– Analyzing;

– Summarizing;

– The ability to investigate the topic, and so on.

What is important while presenting a lit review?

– To define a methodology and theoretical framework of your research;

– To demonstrate the way your research contributes to a debate on a theme, and how it helps to cover an existing gap;

– To show your awareness of the context;

– To state your position in relation to the previous research.

How to choose a topic for a literature review

Topics for a literature review. Infografic

Choosing a literature review topic can be a challenging task. Even if you have an idea that seems to be good, you still need to check it for strength. What could be helpful?

– Brainstorming;

– Writing down some ideas you came up with;

– Choosing the most interesting one;

– Searching for some data, publications, and cases on your topic (Are they relevant and sufficient for your work?);

– Refining a selected theme.

Anyway, if you still cannot catch up on a hot topic for a lit review, there are plenty of sources where you can find a proper, up-to-date theme, or inspiration. For example, there are academic journals in your field, annual reviews of publications on a subject, dissertations’ abstracts, and so on. Also, you can apply to specific lists of conference opportunities such as “Call for Papers” or “Call for Proposals”.

The sign of a good literature review topic is a contradictory issue you succeeded to find out in the area you investigate. If you have this it will be quite easy to provide your audience with the arguments why an additional survey is necessary.

Supposing you have an excellent theme to explore, but it is too narrow. What should it mean? There are no sufficient information and a comprehensive pool of publications you can rely on. So you will have to collect this data by yourself, and it takes much time. In the end, there will be a risk to miss the deadline. Thus, before coming up with a final decision on a topic, you should make sure sufficient research has already been done.


Libraries, databases, encyclopedias, and free guides can also provide you with some ideas for a lit review topic. For example, Gale Virtual Reference Library has a great many resources in various fields.

Topics examples for different fields

There are many possible examples of lit review topics you can find out on the net. But how to figure out if they are good or not? What makes a good literature review topic? First of all, it is analytical – you should be able to get to the point and analyze the data on it. Secondly, it contains a gap in existing literature, giving you a chance for further interpretations. Thirdly, there has to be a controversial issue, provoking a debate in the academic community. 

Now let’s look into some precise examples for different fields.

1. Counseling psychology practices for LGBTQ-teenagers

2. The effects of child abuse within the family 

3. Disadvantages of home education and its effects on socialization

4. Methods of counseling psychology for children with the post-traumatic syndrome

5. Memory dysfunctions and their impacts on perception

6. Attention-deficit syndrome and its impact on academic performance of undergraduate students

7. The impacts of cyberbullying on teenagers

8. Preconditions for Compulsive sexual behavior 

9. Treatment methods for patients with postnatal depression

10. Social representation practices of people with dissociative disorders

11. The psychological perspective of self-representation in the digital world

12. Methods to indicate school children behavioral disorders

1. World Intellectual Property Organization: evaluation of the effectiveness

2. The evolution of International Criminal Law Court practices and tools

3. The US Copyright Office and its practices from the digital perspective

4. The analysis of the European Court of Human Rights impact on local governments’ law enforcement

5. The problems of legal enforcement in Eastern Europe

6. Environmental law and its downfalls in Asian countries

7. “The rule of law” and “the rule of reason”: comparative analysis and perspective

8. The comparative case study of Insurance Laws in European countries

9. The Free Movement of Goods and its limitations in the Member States

10. The approaches to harmonize the conflict of laws between the EU and the Member States

11. The misuse of the Law of rape in rightful victims’ protection: the examination of cases and practices


1. Globalization impact on advertising

2. Niche-business and its benefits for local authorities

3. The minimum wage dynamics in developing countries

4. The welfare reform effects on local businesses

5. Economic resources and social needs: the analysis of the fair distribution

6. The redistribution of wealth during a recession and economic crisis

7. The benefits for the government economy from healthcare reforms

8. The socio-economic effects of the large charity

9. The obstacles to overcome poverty in industrial countries

10. The role of proper infrastructure in the elimination of the world food crisis

11. The privatization effects on markets and businesses

12. The regulation of government spending: does it really contribute to economic growth?

Political Science

1. Comparative analysis of European countries foreign policies

2. The role of public opinion in authoritarian states

3. Legislative pressure of the European Union on the Eastern Member States

4. Modern forms of Communism ideology

5. The reasons for political absenteeism in authoritarian states

6. Amnesty International practices for refugees’ rights protection

7. Human Rights in Islamic governments: change prospects

8. The most effective practices for global poverty eradication

9. Non-profit Organizations and their role in human rights improvement in Post-Soviet Space

10. The analysis of cybersecurity policies in European countries

11. Government policies during the transition

12. The importance of political ethics in election campaigns

1. Managerial techniques and evaluation of their effectiveness

2. State regulation of small businesses and its impact on the quality of life in the region

3. Pros and cons of franchising

4. Advantages of outsourcing services for large companies

5. The role of corporate culture in the improvement of business efficiency

6. The influence of charity on the development of brand loyalty

7. The effectiveness of marketing campaigns in IT-startups: evaluation and analysis

8. The development of business culture from an economic perspective

9. The recession impact on small businesses: strategies of survival

10. Digital tools in maximizing marketing campaigns effectiveness

Writing a literature review

Selecting a literature review topic might turn out to be a long process. To write a really good review you need to read and analyze many sources, which can be a bit boring. But the final result you are going to present should be complex and sophisticated. Your review gives you an opportunity to demonstrate the contribution you can make on the subject or the innovative approach which occurred to you. And that is why choosing a topic makes so much sense.

Having great work done takes a long time, and it also can seem frustrating in many ways. The easier way out is to apply to a professional custom writing service, which can provide assistance from experts in your area of study, such as Cheap Paper Writing .

Confidently choose the ideal literature review expert with the help of our insightful essay writer reviews . Don’t miss the chance to collaborate with the best in the business. Browse through our extensive selection of vetted professionals and start your project today!

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  • How to Write a Literature Review | Guide, Examples, & Templates

How to Write a Literature Review | Guide, Examples, & Templates

Published on January 2, 2023 by Shona McCombes . Revised on September 11, 2023.

What is a literature review? A literature review is a survey of scholarly sources on a specific topic. It provides an overview of current knowledge, allowing you to identify relevant theories, methods, and gaps in the existing research that you can later apply to your paper, thesis, or dissertation topic .

There are five key steps to writing a literature review:

  • Search for relevant literature
  • Evaluate sources
  • Identify themes, debates, and gaps
  • Outline the structure
  • Write your literature review

A good literature review doesn’t just summarize sources—it analyzes, synthesizes , and critically evaluates to give a clear picture of the state of knowledge on the subject.

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Table of contents

What is the purpose of a literature review, examples of literature reviews, step 1 – search for relevant literature, step 2 – evaluate and select sources, step 3 – identify themes, debates, and gaps, step 4 – outline your literature review’s structure, step 5 – write your literature review, free lecture slides, other interesting articles, frequently asked questions, introduction.

  • Quick Run-through
  • Step 1 & 2

When you write a thesis , dissertation , or research paper , you will likely have to conduct a literature review to situate your research within existing knowledge. The literature review gives you a chance to:

  • Demonstrate your familiarity with the topic and its scholarly context
  • Develop a theoretical framework and methodology for your research
  • Position your work in relation to other researchers and theorists
  • Show how your research addresses a gap or contributes to a debate
  • Evaluate the current state of research and demonstrate your knowledge of the scholarly debates around your topic.

Writing literature reviews is a particularly important skill if you want to apply for graduate school or pursue a career in research. We’ve written a step-by-step guide that you can follow below.

Literature review guide

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interesting topics for literature review

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Writing literature reviews can be quite challenging! A good starting point could be to look at some examples, depending on what kind of literature review you’d like to write.

  • Example literature review #1: “Why Do People Migrate? A Review of the Theoretical Literature” ( Theoretical literature review about the development of economic migration theory from the 1950s to today.)
  • Example literature review #2: “Literature review as a research methodology: An overview and guidelines” ( Methodological literature review about interdisciplinary knowledge acquisition and production.)
  • Example literature review #3: “The Use of Technology in English Language Learning: A Literature Review” ( Thematic literature review about the effects of technology on language acquisition.)
  • Example literature review #4: “Learners’ Listening Comprehension Difficulties in English Language Learning: A Literature Review” ( Chronological literature review about how the concept of listening skills has changed over time.)

You can also check out our templates with literature review examples and sample outlines at the links below.

Download Word doc Download Google doc

Before you begin searching for literature, you need a clearly defined topic .

If you are writing the literature review section of a dissertation or research paper, you will search for literature related to your research problem and questions .

Make a list of keywords

Start by creating a list of keywords related to your research question. Include each of the key concepts or variables you’re interested in, and list any synonyms and related terms. You can add to this list as you discover new keywords in the process of your literature search.

  • Social media, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, TikTok
  • Body image, self-perception, self-esteem, mental health
  • Generation Z, teenagers, adolescents, youth

Search for relevant sources

Use your keywords to begin searching for sources. Some useful databases to search for journals and articles include:

  • Your university’s library catalogue
  • Google Scholar
  • Project Muse (humanities and social sciences)
  • Medline (life sciences and biomedicine)
  • EconLit (economics)
  • Inspec (physics, engineering and computer science)

You can also use boolean operators to help narrow down your search.

Make sure to read the abstract to find out whether an article is relevant to your question. When you find a useful book or article, you can check the bibliography to find other relevant sources.

You likely won’t be able to read absolutely everything that has been written on your topic, so it will be necessary to evaluate which sources are most relevant to your research question.

For each publication, ask yourself:

  • What question or problem is the author addressing?
  • What are the key concepts and how are they defined?
  • What are the key theories, models, and methods?
  • Does the research use established frameworks or take an innovative approach?
  • What are the results and conclusions of the study?
  • How does the publication relate to other literature in the field? Does it confirm, add to, or challenge established knowledge?
  • What are the strengths and weaknesses of the research?

Make sure the sources you use are credible , and make sure you read any landmark studies and major theories in your field of research.

You can use our template to summarize and evaluate sources you’re thinking about using. Click on either button below to download.

Take notes and cite your sources

As you read, you should also begin the writing process. Take notes that you can later incorporate into the text of your literature review.

It is important to keep track of your sources with citations to avoid plagiarism . It can be helpful to make an annotated bibliography , where you compile full citation information and write a paragraph of summary and analysis for each source. This helps you remember what you read and saves time later in the process.

To begin organizing your literature review’s argument and structure, be sure you understand the connections and relationships between the sources you’ve read. Based on your reading and notes, you can look for:

  • Trends and patterns (in theory, method or results): do certain approaches become more or less popular over time?
  • Themes: what questions or concepts recur across the literature?
  • Debates, conflicts and contradictions: where do sources disagree?
  • Pivotal publications: are there any influential theories or studies that changed the direction of the field?
  • Gaps: what is missing from the literature? Are there weaknesses that need to be addressed?

This step will help you work out the structure of your literature review and (if applicable) show how your own research will contribute to existing knowledge.

  • Most research has focused on young women.
  • There is an increasing interest in the visual aspects of social media.
  • But there is still a lack of robust research on highly visual platforms like Instagram and Snapchat—this is a gap that you could address in your own research.

There are various approaches to organizing the body of a literature review. Depending on the length of your literature review, you can combine several of these strategies (for example, your overall structure might be thematic, but each theme is discussed chronologically).


The simplest approach is to trace the development of the topic over time. However, if you choose this strategy, be careful to avoid simply listing and summarizing sources in order.

Try to analyze patterns, turning points and key debates that have shaped the direction of the field. Give your interpretation of how and why certain developments occurred.

If you have found some recurring central themes, you can organize your literature review into subsections that address different aspects of the topic.

For example, if you are reviewing literature about inequalities in migrant health outcomes, key themes might include healthcare policy, language barriers, cultural attitudes, legal status, and economic access.


If you draw your sources from different disciplines or fields that use a variety of research methods , you might want to compare the results and conclusions that emerge from different approaches. For example:

  • Look at what results have emerged in qualitative versus quantitative research
  • Discuss how the topic has been approached by empirical versus theoretical scholarship
  • Divide the literature into sociological, historical, and cultural sources


A literature review is often the foundation for a theoretical framework . You can use it to discuss various theories, models, and definitions of key concepts.

You might argue for the relevance of a specific theoretical approach, or combine various theoretical concepts to create a framework for your research.

Like any other academic text , your literature review should have an introduction , a main body, and a conclusion . What you include in each depends on the objective of your literature review.

The introduction should clearly establish the focus and purpose of the literature review.

Depending on the length of your literature review, you might want to divide the body into subsections. You can use a subheading for each theme, time period, or methodological approach.

As you write, you can follow these tips:

  • Summarize and synthesize: give an overview of the main points of each source and combine them into a coherent whole
  • Analyze and interpret: don’t just paraphrase other researchers — add your own interpretations where possible, discussing the significance of findings in relation to the literature as a whole
  • Critically evaluate: mention the strengths and weaknesses of your sources
  • Write in well-structured paragraphs: use transition words and topic sentences to draw connections, comparisons and contrasts

In the conclusion, you should summarize the key findings you have taken from the literature and emphasize their significance.

When you’ve finished writing and revising your literature review, don’t forget to proofread thoroughly before submitting. Not a language expert? Check out Scribbr’s professional proofreading services !

This article has been adapted into lecture slides that you can use to teach your students about writing a literature review.

Scribbr slides are free to use, customize, and distribute for educational purposes.

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If you want to know more about the research process , methodology , research bias , or statistics , make sure to check out some of our other articles with explanations and examples.

  • Sampling methods
  • Simple random sampling
  • Stratified sampling
  • Cluster sampling
  • Likert scales
  • Reproducibility


  • Null hypothesis
  • Statistical power
  • Probability distribution
  • Effect size
  • Poisson distribution

Research bias

  • Optimism bias
  • Cognitive bias
  • Implicit bias
  • Hawthorne effect
  • Anchoring bias
  • Explicit bias

A literature review is a survey of scholarly sources (such as books, journal articles, and theses) related to a specific topic or research question .

It is often written as part of a thesis, dissertation , or research paper , in order to situate your work in relation to existing knowledge.

There are several reasons to conduct a literature review at the beginning of a research project:

  • To familiarize yourself with the current state of knowledge on your topic
  • To ensure that you’re not just repeating what others have already done
  • To identify gaps in knowledge and unresolved problems that your research can address
  • To develop your theoretical framework and methodology
  • To provide an overview of the key findings and debates on the topic

Writing the literature review shows your reader how your work relates to existing research and what new insights it will contribute.

The literature review usually comes near the beginning of your thesis or dissertation . After the introduction , it grounds your research in a scholarly field and leads directly to your theoretical framework or methodology .

A literature review is a survey of credible sources on a topic, often used in dissertations , theses, and research papers . Literature reviews give an overview of knowledge on a subject, helping you identify relevant theories and methods, as well as gaps in existing research. Literature reviews are set up similarly to other  academic texts , with an introduction , a main body, and a conclusion .

An  annotated bibliography is a list of  source references that has a short description (called an annotation ) for each of the sources. It is often assigned as part of the research process for a  paper .  

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How To Write A Literature Review - A Complete Guide

Deeptanshu D

Table of Contents

A literature review is much more than just another section in your research paper. It forms the very foundation of your research. It is a formal piece of writing where you analyze the existing theoretical framework, principles, and assumptions and use that as a base to shape your approach to the research question.

Curating and drafting a solid literature review section not only lends more credibility to your research paper but also makes your research tighter and better focused. But, writing literature reviews is a difficult task. It requires extensive reading, plus you have to consider market trends and technological and political changes, which tend to change in the blink of an eye.

Now streamline your literature review process with the help of SciSpace Copilot. With this AI research assistant, you can efficiently synthesize and analyze a vast amount of information, identify key themes and trends, and uncover gaps in the existing research. Get real-time explanations, summaries, and answers to your questions for the paper you're reviewing, making navigating and understanding the complex literature landscape easier.

Perform Literature reviews using SciSpace Copilot

In this comprehensive guide, we will explore everything from the definition of a literature review, its appropriate length, various types of literature reviews, and how to write one.

What is a literature review?

A literature review is a collation of survey, research, critical evaluation, and assessment of the existing literature in a preferred domain.

Eminent researcher and academic Arlene Fink, in her book Conducting Research Literature Reviews , defines it as the following:

“A literature review surveys books, scholarly articles, and any other sources relevant to a particular issue, area of research, or theory, and by so doing, provides a description, summary, and critical evaluation of these works in relation to the research problem being investigated.

Literature reviews are designed to provide an overview of sources you have explored while researching a particular topic, and to demonstrate to your readers how your research fits within a larger field of study.”

Simply put, a literature review can be defined as a critical discussion of relevant pre-existing research around your research question and carving out a definitive place for your study in the existing body of knowledge. Literature reviews can be presented in multiple ways: a section of an article, the whole research paper itself, or a chapter of your thesis.

A literature review paper

A literature review does function as a summary of sources, but it also allows you to analyze further, interpret, and examine the stated theories, methods, viewpoints, and, of course, the gaps in the existing content.

As an author, you can discuss and interpret the research question and its various aspects and debate your adopted methods to support the claim.

What is the purpose of a literature review?

A literature review is meant to help your readers understand the relevance of your research question and where it fits within the existing body of knowledge. As a researcher, you should use it to set the context, build your argument, and establish the need for your study.

What is the importance of a literature review?

The literature review is a critical part of research papers because it helps you:

  • Gain an in-depth understanding of your research question and the surrounding area
  • Convey that you have a thorough understanding of your research area and are up-to-date with the latest changes and advancements
  • Establish how your research is connected or builds on the existing body of knowledge and how it could contribute to further research
  • Elaborate on the validity and suitability of your theoretical framework and research methodology
  • Identify and highlight gaps and shortcomings in the existing body of knowledge and how things need to change
  • Convey to readers how your study is different or how it contributes to the research area

How long should a literature review be?

Ideally, the literature review should take up 15%-40% of the total length of your manuscript. So, if you have a 10,000-word research paper, the minimum word count could be 1500.

Your literature review format depends heavily on the kind of manuscript you are writing — an entire chapter in case of doctoral theses, a part of the introductory section in a research article, to a full-fledged review article that examines the previously published research on a topic.

Another determining factor is the type of research you are doing. The literature review section tends to be longer for secondary research projects than primary research projects.

What are the different types of literature reviews?

All literature reviews are not the same. There are a variety of possible approaches that you can take. It all depends on the type of research you are pursuing.

Here are the different types of literature reviews:

Argumentative review

It is called an argumentative review when you carefully present literature that only supports or counters a specific argument or premise to establish a viewpoint.

Integrative review

It is a type of literature review focused on building a comprehensive understanding of a topic by combining available theoretical frameworks and empirical evidence.

Methodological review

This approach delves into the ''how'' and the ''what" of the research question —  you cannot look at the outcome in isolation; you should also review the methodology used.

Systematic review

This form consists of an overview of existing evidence pertinent to a clearly formulated research question, which uses pre-specified and standardized methods to identify and critically appraise relevant research and collect, report, and analyze data from the studies included in the review.

Meta-analysis review

Meta-analysis uses statistical methods to summarize the results of independent studies. By combining information from all relevant studies, meta-analysis can provide more precise estimates of the effects than those derived from the individual studies included within a review.

Historical review

Historical literature reviews focus on examining research throughout a period, often starting with the first time an issue, concept, theory, or phenomenon emerged in the literature, then tracing its evolution within the scholarship of a discipline. The purpose is to place research in a historical context to show familiarity with state-of-the-art developments and identify future research's likely directions.

Theoretical Review

This form aims to examine the corpus of theory accumulated regarding an issue, concept, theory, and phenomenon. The theoretical literature review helps to establish what theories exist, the relationships between them, the degree the existing approaches have been investigated, and to develop new hypotheses to be tested.

Scoping Review

The Scoping Review is often used at the beginning of an article, dissertation, or research proposal. It is conducted before the research to highlight gaps in the existing body of knowledge and explains why the project should be greenlit.

State-of-the-Art Review

The State-of-the-Art review is conducted periodically, focusing on the most recent research. It describes what is currently known, understood, or agreed upon regarding the research topic and highlights where there are still disagreements.

Can you use the first person in a literature review?

When writing literature reviews, you should avoid the usage of first-person pronouns. It means that instead of "I argue that" or "we argue that," the appropriate expression would be "this research paper argues that."

Do you need an abstract for a literature review?

Ideally, yes. It is always good to have a condensed summary that is self-contained and independent of the rest of your review. As for how to draft one, you can follow the same fundamental idea when preparing an abstract for a literature review. It should also include:

  • The research topic and your motivation behind selecting it
  • A one-sentence thesis statement
  • An explanation of the kinds of literature featured in the review
  • Summary of what you've learned
  • Conclusions you drew from the literature you reviewed
  • Potential implications and future scope for research

Here's an example of the abstract of a literature review


Is a literature review written in the past tense?

Yes, the literature review should ideally be written in the past tense. You should not use the present or future tense when writing one. The exceptions are when you have statements describing events that happened earlier than the literature you are reviewing or events that are currently occurring; then, you can use the past perfect or present perfect tenses.

How many sources for a literature review?

There are multiple approaches to deciding how many sources to include in a literature review section. The first approach would be to look level you are at as a researcher. For instance, a doctoral thesis might need 60+ sources. In contrast, you might only need to refer to 5-15 sources at the undergraduate level.

The second approach is based on the kind of literature review you are doing — whether it is merely a chapter of your paper or if it is a self-contained paper in itself. When it is just a chapter, sources should equal the total number of pages in your article's body. In the second scenario, you need at least three times as many sources as there are pages in your work.

Quick tips on how to write a literature review

To know how to write a literature review, you must clearly understand its impact and role in establishing your work as substantive research material.

You need to follow the below-mentioned steps, to write a literature review:

  • Outline the purpose behind the literature review
  • Search relevant literature
  • Examine and assess the relevant resources
  • Discover connections by drawing deep insights from the resources
  • Structure planning to write a good literature review

1. Outline and identify the purpose of  a literature review

As a first step on how to write a literature review, you must know what the research question or topic is and what shape you want your literature review to take. Ensure you understand the research topic inside out, or else seek clarifications. You must be able to the answer below questions before you start:

  • How many sources do I need to include?
  • What kind of sources should I analyze?
  • How much should I critically evaluate each source?
  • Should I summarize, synthesize or offer a critique of the sources?
  • Do I need to include any background information or definitions?

Additionally, you should know that the narrower your research topic is, the swifter it will be for you to restrict the number of sources to be analyzed.

2. Search relevant literature

Dig deeper into search engines to discover what has already been published around your chosen topic. Make sure you thoroughly go through appropriate reference sources like books, reports, journal articles, government docs, and web-based resources.

You must prepare a list of keywords and their different variations. You can start your search from any library’s catalog, provided you are an active member of that institution. The exact keywords can be extended to widen your research over other databases and academic search engines like:

  • Google Scholar
  • Microsoft Academic
  • Science.gov

Besides, it is not advisable to go through every resource word by word. Alternatively, what you can do is you can start by reading the abstract and then decide whether that source is relevant to your research or not.

Additionally, you must spend surplus time assessing the quality and relevance of resources. It would help if you tried preparing a list of citations to ensure that there lies no repetition of authors, publications, or articles in the literature review.

3. Examine and assess the sources

It is nearly impossible for you to go through every detail in the research article. So rather than trying to fetch every detail, you have to analyze and decide which research sources resemble closest and appear relevant to your chosen domain.

While analyzing the sources, you should look to find out answers to questions like:

  • What question or problem has the author been describing and debating?
  • What is the definition of critical aspects?
  • How well the theories, approach, and methodology have been explained?
  • Whether the research theory used some conventional or new innovative approach?
  • How relevant are the key findings of the work?
  • In what ways does it relate to other sources on the same topic?
  • What challenges does this research paper pose to the existing theory
  • What are the possible contributions or benefits it adds to the subject domain?

Be always mindful that you refer only to credible and authentic resources. It would be best if you always take references from different publications to validate your theory.

Always keep track of important information or data you can present in your literature review right from the beginning. It will help steer your path from any threats of plagiarism and also make it easier to curate an annotated bibliography or reference section.

4. Discover connections

At this stage, you must start deciding on the argument and structure of your literature review. To accomplish this, you must discover and identify the relations and connections between various resources while drafting your abstract.

A few aspects that you should be aware of while writing a literature review include:

  • Rise to prominence: Theories and methods that have gained reputation and supporters over time.
  • Constant scrutiny: Concepts or theories that repeatedly went under examination.
  • Contradictions and conflicts: Theories, both the supporting and the contradictory ones, for the research topic.
  • Knowledge gaps: What exactly does it fail to address, and how to bridge them with further research?
  • Influential resources: Significant research projects available that have been upheld as milestones or perhaps, something that can modify the current trends

Once you join the dots between various past research works, it will be easier for you to draw a conclusion and identify your contribution to the existing knowledge base.

5. Structure planning to write a good literature review

There exist different ways towards planning and executing the structure of a literature review. The format of a literature review varies and depends upon the length of the research.

Like any other research paper, the literature review format must contain three sections: introduction, body, and conclusion. The goals and objectives of the research question determine what goes inside these three sections.

Nevertheless, a good literature review can be structured according to the chronological, thematic, methodological, or theoretical framework approach.

Literature review samples

1. Standalone


2. As a section of a research paper


How SciSpace Discover makes literature review a breeze?

SciSpace Discover is a one-stop solution to do an effective literature search and get barrier-free access to scientific knowledge. It is an excellent repository where you can find millions of only peer-reviewed articles and full-text PDF files. Here’s more on how you can use it:

Find the right information


Find what you want quickly and easily with comprehensive search filters that let you narrow down papers according to PDF availability, year of publishing, document type, and affiliated institution. Moreover, you can sort the results based on the publishing date, citation count, and relevance.

Assess credibility of papers quickly


When doing the literature review, it is critical to establish the quality of your sources. They form the foundation of your research. SciSpace Discover helps you assess the quality of a source by providing an overview of its references, citations, and performance metrics.

Get the complete picture in no time


SciSpace Discover’s personalized suggestion engine helps you stay on course and get the complete picture of the topic from one place. Every time you visit an article page, it provides you links to related papers. Besides that, it helps you understand what’s trending, who are the top authors, and who are the leading publishers on a topic.

Make referring sources super easy


To ensure you don't lose track of your sources, you must start noting down your references when doing the literature review. SciSpace Discover makes this step effortless. Click the 'cite' button on an article page, and you will receive preloaded citation text in multiple styles — all you've to do is copy-paste it into your manuscript.

Final tips on how to write a literature review

A massive chunk of time and effort is required to write a good literature review. But, if you go about it systematically, you'll be able to save a ton of time and build a solid foundation for your research.

We hope this guide has helped you answer several key questions you have about writing literature reviews.

Would you like to explore SciSpace Discover and kick off your literature search right away? You can get started here .

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. how to start a literature review.

• What questions do you want to answer?

• What sources do you need to answer these questions?

• What information do these sources contain?

• How can you use this information to answer your questions?

2. What to include in a literature review?

• A brief background of the problem or issue

• What has previously been done to address the problem or issue

• A description of what you will do in your project

• How this study will contribute to research on the subject

3. Why literature review is important?

The literature review is an important part of any research project because it allows the writer to look at previous studies on a topic and determine existing gaps in the literature, as well as what has already been done. It will also help them to choose the most appropriate method for their own study.

4. How to cite a literature review in APA format?

To cite a literature review in APA style, you need to provide the author's name, the title of the article, and the year of publication. For example: Patel, A. B., & Stokes, G. S. (2012). The relationship between personality and intelligence: A meta-analysis of longitudinal research. Personality and Individual Differences, 53(1), 16-21

5. What are the components of a literature review?

• A brief introduction to the topic, including its background and context. The introduction should also include a rationale for why the study is being conducted and what it will accomplish.

• A description of the methodologies used in the study. This can include information about data collection methods, sample size, and statistical analyses.

• A presentation of the findings in an organized format that helps readers follow along with the author's conclusions.

6. What are common errors in writing literature review?

• Not spending enough time to critically evaluate the relevance of resources, observations and conclusions.

• Totally relying on secondary data while ignoring primary data.

• Letting your personal bias seep into your interpretation of existing literature.

• No detailed explanation of the procedure to discover and identify an appropriate literature review.

7. What are the 5 C's of writing literature review?

• Cite - the sources you utilized and referenced in your research.

• Compare - existing arguments, hypotheses, methodologies, and conclusions found in the knowledge base.

• Contrast - the arguments, topics, methodologies, approaches, and disputes that may be found in the literature.

• Critique - the literature and describe the ideas and opinions you find more convincing and why.

• Connect - the various studies you reviewed in your research.

8. How many sources should a literature review have?

When it is just a chapter, sources should equal the total number of pages in your article's body. if it is a self-contained paper in itself, you need at least three times as many sources as there are pages in your work.

9. Can literature review have diagrams?

• To represent an abstract idea or concept

• To explain the steps of a process or procedure

• To help readers understand the relationships between different concepts

10. How old should sources be in a literature review?

Sources for a literature review should be as current as possible or not older than ten years. The only exception to this rule is if you are reviewing a historical topic and need to use older sources.

11. What are the types of literature review?

• Argumentative review

• Integrative review

• Methodological review

• Systematic review

• Meta-analysis review

• Historical review

• Theoretical review

• Scoping review

• State-of-the-Art review

12. Is a literature review mandatory?

Yes. Literature review is a mandatory part of any research project. It is a critical step in the process that allows you to establish the scope of your research, and provide a background for the rest of your work.

But before you go,

  • Six Online Tools for Easy Literature Review
  • Evaluating literature review: systematic vs. scoping reviews
  • Systematic Approaches to a Successful Literature Review
  • Writing Integrative Literature Reviews: Guidelines and Examples

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