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How to Write a Literature Review as an Undergraduate

A literature review is an important component of a research paper, thesis, or dissertation. It is a critical analysis of existing research on a specific topic. As an undergraduate student, writing a literature review can be a challenging task, especially if it’s your first time. This article aims to provide you with a comprehensive guide on how to write a literature review as an undergraduate.

  1. Understand the Purpose of a Literature Review

Before you start writing your literature review, it’s essential to understand its purpose. A literature review aims to:

  • Identify the gaps in existing research on a topic.
  • Provide an overview of the existing literature on a specific topic.
  • Analyze and evaluate the existing research on a topic.
  • Identify the strengths and weaknesses of existing research on a topic.
  • Provide a foundation for future research on a topic.
  1. Choose a Topic

The first step in writing a literature review is to choose a topic. Your topic should be specific, focused, and relevant to your research question. It’s essential to choose a topic that interests you and has enough existing research on it.

  1. Conduct a Comprehensive Literature Search

Once you have chosen a topic, it’s time to conduct a comprehensive literature search. You should use different databases, such as Google Scholar, JSTOR, and PubMed, to find relevant articles, books, and other sources of information. You can also use reference lists of articles and books to find additional sources of information.

  1. Read and Evaluate the Sources

After you have gathered the sources, it’s time to read and evaluate them. You should critically analyze each source and take notes on its strengths, weaknesses, and relevance to your research question. You can use different methods to organize your sources, such as mind maps, tables, and spreadsheets.

  1. Develop a Thesis Statement
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Once you have read and evaluated the sources, it’s time to develop a thesis statement. Your thesis statement should summarize the main themes and findings of the literature you have reviewed. It should also identify the gaps in existing research and the contribution of your research to fill these gaps.

  1. Organize Your Literature Review

Organizing your literature review is an essential step in writing a high-quality review. You should use a logical structure that highlights the main themes and findings of the literature you have reviewed. You can organize your literature review using different methods, such as chronologically, thematically, or methodologically.

  1. Write Your Literature Review

After you have organized your literature review, it’s time to start writing. Your literature review should be well-structured, concise, and clear. It should include an introduction, body, and conclusion. In the introduction, you should provide an overview of the topic and the purpose of the literature review. In the body, you should summarize and analyze the main themes and findings of the literature you have reviewed. In the conclusion, you should summarize the main findings of your literature review and identify the gaps in existing research that your research will address.

  1. Edit and Revise Your Literature Review

Once you have written your literature review, it’s time to edit and revise it. You should read your literature review several times and look for grammatical errors, typos, and inconsistencies. You should also ensure that your literature review is well-structured, concise, and clear. You can ask a friend or a tutor to review your literature review and provide feedback.

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In conclusion, writing a literature review as an undergraduate can be a challenging task. However, by following these steps, you can write a high-quality literature review that summarizes the existing research on a specific topic, identifies the gaps in existing research, and provides a foundation for future research. Remember, a literature review is not just a summary of existing research but a critical analysis and evaluation of it.

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