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Literature Review Example/Sample

Detailed Walkthrough + Free Literature Review Template

If you’re working on a dissertation or thesis and are looking for an example of a strong literature review chapter , you’ve come to the right place.

In this video, we walk you through an A-grade literature review from a dissertation that earned full distinction . We start off by discussing the five core sections of a literature review chapter by unpacking our free literature review template . This includes:

  • The literature review opening/ introduction section
  • The theoretical framework (or foundation of theory)
  • The empirical research
  • The research gap
  • The closing section

We then progress to the sample literature review (from an A-grade Master’s-level dissertation) to show how these concepts are applied in the literature review chapter. You can access the free resources mentioned in this video below.

FAQ: Literature Review Example

Literature review example: frequently asked questions, is the sample literature review real.

Yes. The literature review example is an extract from a Master’s-level dissertation for an MBA program. It has not been edited in any way.

Can I replicate this literature review for my dissertation?

As we discuss in the video, every literature review will be slightly different, depending on the university’s unique requirements, as well as the nature of the research itself. Therefore, you’ll need to tailor your literature review to suit your specific context.

You can learn more about the basics of writing a literature review here .

Where can I find more examples of literature reviews?

The best place to find more examples of literature review chapters would be within dissertation/thesis databases. These databases include dissertations, theses and research projects that have successfully passed the assessment criteria for the respective university, meaning that you have at least some sort of quality assurance. 

The Open Access Thesis Database (OATD) is a good starting point. 

How do I get the literature review template?

You can access our free literature review chapter template here .

Is the template really free?

Yes. There is no cost for the template and you are free to use it as you wish. 

Literature Review Course

Psst… there’s more!

This post is an extract from our bestselling Udemy Course, Literature Review Bootcamp . If you want to work smart, you don't want to miss this .

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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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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.

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example of a good literature review pdf

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).

Chronological

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.

Methodological

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

Theoretical

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

 Statistics

  • 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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Literature Review: Conducting & Writing

  • Sample Literature Reviews
  • Steps for Conducting a Lit Review
  • Finding "The Literature"
  • Organizing/Writing
  • APA Style This link opens in a new window
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Sample Lit Reviews from Communication Arts

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IMAGES

  1. 39 Best Literature Review Examples (Guide & Samples)

    example of a good literature review pdf

  2. 50 Smart Literature Review Templates (APA) ᐅ TemplateLab

    example of a good literature review pdf

  3. 50 Smart Literature Review Templates (APA) ᐅ TemplateLab

    example of a good literature review pdf

  4. Literature Review Outline Template

    example of a good literature review pdf

  5. 39 Best Literature Review Examples (Guide & Samples)

    example of a good literature review pdf

  6. 50 Smart Literature Review Templates (APA) ᐅ TemplateLab

    example of a good literature review pdf

VIDEO

  1. 3_session2 Importance of literature review, types of literature review, Reference management tool

  2. Research Session # 10 : How to Write Literature Review? By Usman Tariq Bhatti

  3. 5 Tips to write a great literature review

  4. CONDUCTING SYSTEMATIC LITERATURE REVIEW

  5. How to write Literature Review

  6. How to Write a Good Literature Review

COMMENTS

  1. PDF Sample Literature Review

    Level allow 1 headings readers introduce to clearly. a new indicate thought, a new idea, section argument, within or the topic. review. Level 1 headings Each are helpful Level 1 Subheading should be because they allow readers flushed left on the page. to and clearly formatted indicate a in new ALL-.

  2. PDF LITERATURE REVIEWS

    2. MOTIVATE YOUR RESEARCH in addition to providing useful information about your topic, your literature review must tell a story about how your project relates to existing literature. popular literature review narratives include: ¡ plugging a gap / filling a hole within an incomplete literature ¡ building a bridge between two "siloed" literatures, putting literatures "in conversation"

  3. PDF Sample Literature Review of One Paper Literature Review Student's Name

    Sample Literature Review of One Paper Literature Review Student's Name Paper Citation: Johnson, William R. and Jonathan Skinner (1986) "Labor Supply and Martial Separation," The American Economic Review, 76(3) (June): 455-469. [Note the Format of the Citation: Author Names (Year) "Paper Title," Journal Title, Volume(Number) (Month): page numbers.

  4. Literature Review Example (PDF + Template)

    If you're working on a dissertation or thesis and are looking for an example of a strong literature review chapter, you've come to the right place.. In this video, we walk you through an A-grade literature review from a dissertation that earned full distinction.We start off by discussing the five core sections of a literature review chapter by unpacking our free literature review template.

  5. PDF How to Write a Literature Review

    A literature review is a review or discussion of the current published material available on a particular topic. It attempts to synthesizeand evaluatethe material and information according to the research question(s), thesis, and central theme(s). In other words, instead of supporting an argument, or simply making a list of summarized research ...

  6. PDF How to Write a Literature Review

    A GOOD LITERATURE REVIEW SHOULD… • Be organized around a thesis statement or research question(s) • Develop your understanding of the literature in a field(s) of study • Synthesize results into a narrative summary of what is known and not known on your topic • Identify areas of controversy • Formulate questions for future research

  7. How to Write 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.

  8. (PDF) Writing a Literature Review Research Paper: A step-by-step approach

    A literature review is a surveys scholarly articles, books and other sources relevant to a particular. issue, area of research, or theory, and by so doing, providing a description, summary, and ...

  9. PDF Writing a Literature Review

    Your introduction should give an outline of why you are writing the review, and why the topic is important ! "the scope of the review — what aspects of the topic will be discussed ! the criteria used for your literature selection (e.g. type of sources used, date range) ! the organisational pattern of the review" (Citewrite, 2016, para. 8).

  10. PDF Conducting Your Literature Review

    Conducting Your Literature Review. 3. A. literature reviewis an overview of the available research for a specific scientific topic. Literature reviews summarize existing research to answer a review question, provide the context for new research, or identify important gaps in the existing body of literature. We now have access to lots of ...

  11. PDF CHAPTER 3 Conducting a Literature Review

    3.1 Summarize what a literature review is, what it tells the reader, and why it is necessary. 3.2 Evaluate the nine basic steps taken to write a well-constructed literature ... as simple as 'while there is a good study done, it is the only study done on this topic.'" Carlos Cuevas stresses that "[a] literature review lets the world know ...

  12. PDF Writing a Literature Review

    What is a literature review? A literature review has three key components: 1. A search of the literature available on a given subject area. 2. An evaluation of the literature, including its scope. 3. A well-structured and argued written account of the literature that provides an overview and critique. Types of literature review 1. Coursework A ...

  13. PDF A Literature Review

    A literature review is a compilation, classification, and evaluation of what other researchers have written on a particular topic. A literature review normally forms part of a research thesis but it can also stand alone as a self-contained review of writings on a subject. In either case, its purpose is to: Place each work in the context of its ...

  14. PDF Sample Chapter: Writing the Literature Review: A Practical Guide

    Sue's example illustrates that carrying out a comprehensive literature review is a required step in any research project. First, a researcher cannot conduct the study. 1. without gaining a deep understanding of the research topic and learning from the work of other scholars and researchers in the field (Creswell, 2018).

  15. Literature Review: Conducting & Writing

    Steps for Conducting a Lit Review; Finding "The Literature" Organizing/Writing; APA Style This link opens in a new window; Chicago: Notes Bibliography This link opens in a new window; MLA Style This link opens in a new window; Sample Literature Reviews. Sample Lit Reviews from Communication Arts; Have an exemplary literature review? Get Help!

  16. PDF University of Washington Psychology Writing Center http://www.psych.uw

    Writing a Literature Review in Psychology What is a literature review? How is a literature review different from a research article? The two purposes: describe/compare and evaluate Getting started Select a topic and gather articles Choose a current, well-studied, specific topic Search the research literature Read the articles Write the ...

  17. PDF Writing an Effective Literature Review

    Make sure you develop a good system that works for you and use it. 3. Don't write a laundry list of papers A literature review should be a synthesis of the papers you have read to tell a meaningful story about the literature, not a simple list of paraphrases of what each paper said. 4.

  18. PDF The Thesis Writing Process and Literature Review

    The key here is to focus first on the literature relevant to the puzzle. In this example, the tokenism literature sets up a puzzle derived from a theory and contradictory empirical evidence. Let's consider what each of these means... The literature(s) from which you develop the theoretical/empirical puzzle that drives your research question.

  19. PDF The following literature review was

    The literature review should be 4 to 5 double-spaced pages—slightly longer than the literature review in a typical journal article. This sample literature review is more comprehensive (meaning it draws on more sources) than many class assignments but less comprehensive than literature reviews for a thesis or dissertation.

  20. (PDF) Writing the literature review for empirical papers

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  21. PDF B.S. Research Paper Example (Literature Review)

    B.S. Research Paper Example (Literature Review) This is an example of a research paper that was written in fulfillment of the B.S. research paper requirement. It uses APA style for all aspects except the cover sheet (this page; the cover sheet is required by the department). It describes research that the author investigated while taking the ...

  22. PDF EXAMPLES OF GOOD LITERATURE REVIEW INTRODUCTIONS

    EXAMPLE 3 Literature relating to BMI and health is available in abundance, providing that the researcher is seeking to prove a link between obesity and ill health. More difficult to find is literature relating low BMI to health i.e. underweight and the health problems that are associated with underweight. This literature review aims to evaluate the

  23. PDF Sample Literature Review

    Sample Literature Review. This is a literature review I wrote for Psychology 109 / Research Methods I. It received an A. The assignment was to read a variety of assigned articles related to the topic of food and mood, as well as several articles on the topic that we found on our own. Then, we were to write a literature review in which we ...