#editing in Ghana · Charismata Editorial Services, Ghana · English language and editing · Uncategorized


Steps to a good literature review                                                                                                   

Here we go people with our second lesson back-to-back. Its a continuation of our last lesson on literature review in thesis writing. I think you should check that out first https://charismataediting.wordpress.com/2017/03/30/lesson-65-how-to-do-an-effective-literature-review-for-your-thesis/ before reading this lesson. You are warmly welcome.

The focus of this lesson is to give you some steps to penning down (or typing down) that literature review that your supervisor cannot resist and will keep him/her referring all your colleagues to you.  Here are some of the major steps:

  1. Set boundaries

It can take forever to do a literature review if you do not set boundaries to guide you in the process. You can also find yourself reading unnecessary and irrelevant materials that are not related to your research. You can set boundaries for the literature review by your search in relation to the variables in your research topic. For example, if your topic is ‘Employee turnover and organizational performance’, you first search for literature related to the whole topic and after look for literature related to ‘turnover’ and ‘performance’ separately.

2. Initial reading, downloading, and organizing materials

The next step is a combination of three things. Building on the point above, the researcher must also assess the literature before downloading it. Every literature, especially research articles, has abstracts that give a summary of what the whole paper entails. The researcher should assess that before downloading anything. In this age of technology, most of the literature you will need (from articles, books, magazines, report etc) can be accessed from the internet. Many schools subscribe to various research platforms (e.g. Emerald, Google Scholar, Ebscohost, JSTOR, etc) that give students the opportunity to download necessary literature for free. Furthermore, you, the researcher should immediately organize the download literature into various folders. This helps to make writing on a particular theme easy for you.

3. Summarize articles

A good foundation for writing your literature review is to make a summary of all the relevant literature you have downloaded and organized. The summary of each article should be sub-headed as the Name of Author and date of publication, objectives of the research, context, research gaps, methodology adopted, findings, recommendations of the research and any key information identified. Remember, it’s a summary: it must just capture the important aspect under the sub-heading.


4. Do an in-depth reading and writing

After your summary, you are now ready to begin the writing out your literature review. This will require that you do some in-depth reading of the articles you think will need more attention. You can now put the pieces of your summary together under the various themes they fall under in your literature review. Generally, the literature is divided into the theoretical review, empirical review and the conceptual framework (where applicable). Remember not to just copy and paste your summary but to compare and contrast the various issues in the literature to draw a conclusion.

Watch out for the following

  • Out-dated literature

In research, the time relevance of your literature is also important. As much as possible you must avoid or use minimal old literature in your review. Old is relative. The general notion is not to go beyond ten (10) years. However, there might be some distinguished scholars in your field will might have published some old articles but cannot be ignored in your literature review.

  •  Plagiarism

We have run numerous plagiarism tests on a number of thesis works we receive for proofreading and editing and it not surprising to find that the highest percentage of plagiarism in a thesis is mostly found in the literature review. Copying and pasting another’s work as yours is tantamount to plagiarism which is an offence punishable in research. The key to avoid this is

  • Keep references

One important thing one needs to do whiles writing the literature review is to immediately create a reference list. Some people have not been able to retrieve some references when they needed to compile the reference list. Avoid this by creating your reference list as soon as you start writing.

  •  Backing up your articles and write-up

The most tragic thing that can happen to a researcher is to lose his/her writings and articles due to a computer fault or theft. There many ways nowadays to back up your work. Using ‘Dropbox’ is one that we adopt. Do your work and save your articles in ‘Dropbox’ or any other ‘cloud’ option available to you.

Finally, it is important to note that the cost of a good literature review is time and discipline. The time you invest in your thesis will definitely show in the output. You will need to invest time in your literature and work in general by going to the library and visiting various internet sites. You will need discipline to ‘sit down’ with your downloaded literature to read and write. Discipline will require that you set out specific times in the day when you plan to sit to work on your literature.

We hope once again that this piece helps you. Share your thoughts with us and share this with others.

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