Literature reviews which are always encountered in chapter two of a research paper can be cumbersome especially as you are still trying to figure out how to go about your project work and your topic isn't looking helpful.

In this article will be looking at the:

  • meaning of literature review.
  • sources of literature review.
  • types of literature review.
  • elements of literature review.
  • sub divisions of a literature review.
  • examples of literature review.

What is Literature Review?

A literature review which is also known as a narrative review is a type of review in research that presents the current knowledge and findings as well as theoretical and methodological contributions to a particular topic. It is a scholarly paper compiled from various previously published sources.

The purpose of literature review is to understand the existing research made on a topic and debates as well as to fill in the gap of relevant knowledge to the topic or area of study. That knowledge is presented in form of a written report in the research paper. This review helps one build knowledge of a topic.

Sources of Literature Review.

A literature review can be sourced from scholarly sources such as books, journal articles and theses related and/or relevant to the research topic.

Types of Literature Review.

There are four main types of literature reviews. They are;

  1. Traditional or narrative literature review.
  2. Systematic literature review.
  3. Meta-analysis literature review.
  4. Meta-synthesis literature review.

Traditional or Narrative Literature Review:

A narrative or traditional literature review is a comprehensive, critical and objective analysis of the current knowledge on a topic. It is an essential part which helps to establish a theoretical framework. It is the commonly used form, it also critique and summarizes the body of a literature. In narrative review, you can draw conclusions about the topic and identify the gaps of knowledge.

Systematic Literature Review:

Systematic literature review is more rigorous and well-defined approach compared to other types of literature review. It is comprehensive and details the timeframe within which the literature was selected. Systematic literature review can be divided into two categories:

  1. meta-analysis
  2. meta-synthesis.

Meta- Analysis Literature Review:

In meta-analysis literature review, findings from several studies on the same subject are analyzed using standardized statistical procedures. The patterns and relationships are detected and conclusions are drawn. Meta-analysis is associated with deductive research approach.

Meta-Synthesis  Literature Review:

Meta-synthesis is based on non-statistical techniques. This technique integrates, evaluates and interprets findings of multiple qualitative research studies. Meta-synthesis literature review is conducted usually when following inductive research approach.

The commonly used form is the narrative type of literature review.

Elements of Literature Review.

A literature review contains three basic elements:

  1. An introduction or background information section.
  2. The body of the review containing the discussion of sources.
  3. The conclusion and/or recommendations section to end the paper.

Conducting a literature review should enable you to find out what research has already been done and identify what is unknown within your field. It aims at;

  1. Determining what already exists in the scholarly literature.
  2. Identifying possible gap(s) of knowledge in the scholarly literature for further research.
  3. Informing the general public on the research topic, theory and methodology.
  4. Comparing and contrasting against findings resulting from the current study.
  5. Establishing familiarity with the previous studies to the current research.

Sub-division of Literature Review.

In literature review, there are sub divisions of reviews and they include:

  • Conceptual Review: This is used in a research paper to explain the key concepts or variables and the relationships between them that need to be studied.
  • Theoretical Review: This is the explanation of previous proven theories and how they may apply to your new study.
  • Empirical Review: This part is where the various researches done by other researchers concerning your topic or similar to your research work is stated, reviewed and related.

Examples of Literature Review.

Usually, a literature review is often at least 20 pages, to this effect, links to examples of literature review will be used. Using the examples, you can create a commendable literature review for your project work. To see examples of literature review, visit

How to Write a Good Literature Review

  1. After completing your first chapter, narrow your topic.
  2. Source for past literatures.
  3. Read the selected articles thoroughly and evaluate them.
  4. Organize the selected papers by looking for patterns and by developing subtopics.
  5. Develop a thesis/ purpose statement.
  6. Review your research paper.