Literature Review Template

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A literary review

A literature review may sound like something associated exclusively with literature, but this is not true. It is a detailed discussion on basically any topic under the sun, and includes all the work published on that particular topic over a period of time. It is similar to a summary that it highlights all the important articles, books and papers on that particular topic, briefly describes each work, and also mentions as to which works are the most important.

The purpose

The purpose behind writing one is to present before the reader an overall view of the topic in question, which includes the type of research that has been carried out on the topic till date, the areas that need further research and any suggestions on future research on the subject, if any.

How to Write a Literature Review

While writing a literature review, you can either use a chronological approach or a thematic approach. Using a chronological approach means that you enlist the works on the topic on the basis of the date on which each work was compiled. On the other hand, if you arrange them based on the theme of work i.e. the idea on which each work is based, then this approach is termed as a thematic approach.

Here’s a format that shows how to structure a literature review.

Literature Review Template


This is where you mention the title of the literature review.


The introduction again consists of two parts; background and objectives.


Here you should mention the reason you chose this topic.


In this section, you mention the objectives for writing the literature review, say, for highlighting certain areas that need further research.

Search Strategy

This is where you should mention the methods you have used to search for the data collected for your work. Remember to mention every source of reference used, such as books, journals, research papers, etc. If you have taken the help of any organization for collection of relevant data, make sure that you mention the names. Also add the names of search engines used to obtain the data.

Criteria for Selection

You need to mention somewhere the criterion/criteria used for selecting material for your work. A literature review is all about highlighting the most important works, but who decides which ones deserve to be included and which don’t? Of course, it is you who does it and on the basis of certain criteria, isn’t it? Well, then just mention them here!

Extraction of Data

This section will contain the comparison of different works on the topic, represented in a tabular form. Here you should be careful in selecting the criteria for comparison and extraction of relevant data from each source in a correct and precise manner. The table should be such that the reader easily understands the data presented.


If the literature review you are writing is a part of your research paper, then you can synthesize the information and ideas from all the works discussed in the sections above to show how your idea was called for, is relevant, or something never thought of before.


In this section, you should mention if there are any issues arising out of conflicting or contradictory theories on the topic, which is beyond your scope, to resolve.


You should conclude your literature review with suggestions concerning scope for future research, how well you feel you handled the topic, any major difficulties you came across, etc.

There are a few things that you should keep in mind before you start writing a literature review.

  • Include your own opinions as well, instead of merely summarizing the works.
  • When choosing the works that you wish to include in your review, be selective.
  • Support your statements and opinions with ample evidence.
  • Avoid the use of direct speech and quotations from the works, unless necessary.
  • Don’t forget to revise your work after it’s completed.

If you know how to write a research paper, you can proceed on similar lines. Now, you may ask how a literature review is different from a research paper. Well, the simple answer is that while the purpose of a research paper is to present a new idea or concept, a literature review is just about stating the existing ideas and theories on the topic in an organized manner.

You can include a literature review as a part of your research paper to support the fact that there hasn’t been substantial research done on your chosen field of work, or that you thought on entirely different lines to come up with the idea.

Once you have a template ready with you, all you need to do is to collect relevant data and proceed accordingly. It usually doesn’t take more than a month to draft a literature review, complete with all the data. Hope this article helps you draft the perfect literature review. Good luck!

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