Establish your research questions and organise your literature into logical categories around the subject/topic areas of your questions
Begin the literature review with an introduction to the topic. What is its significance and importance? Provide an overview of the contents of the review
Critically analyse the relevant literature in relation to the research questions stating the content of the literature, the implications of this knowledge, any gaps or deficiencies, any inconsistencies or conflicting viewpoints
Ensure you make your own interpretations and that you have written a critical and evaluative review
Your conclusion should draw together the important points and briefly explain how the information answers your original research question
You need to establish if more research is needed to provide a deeper understanding of the subject/topic, especially if there are inconsistencies or conflicting points of view
Avoid plagiarism- understand the guidelines and acknowledge the source of ideas and quotations of other researchers. This adds authority and credibility to your work.
Because a literature review is based on the work of other authors, you must be very careful to separate an author's evaluation of research from your own. Organisation and scrupulous note taking and referencing are the best ways to ensure that your work is correctly referenced. Make sure that you understand what needs to be referenced.
Plagiarism of ideas occurs when you paraphrase facts or arguments without citation. Anything you get from a book, even if you write it in your own words, needs to have a citation or footnote.
Plagiarism of words happens when you copy another author exactly without putting the words in quotation marks. This type of plagiarism may occur in conjunction with plagiarism of ideas, or on its own. Even if you provide citation information, you also need to put the text in quote marks, or you will be plagiarising. Citations of quotations ought to include page numbers.
The literature review relates to your research questions so think of the key concepts/issues surrounding them. Your literature review is judged within the context of your completed research
Establish terminology and key words. Thesauri can assist. Mind spelling variations
Construct a search strategy. Use Boolean operators (OR, AND, NOT)
The absence of research in the literature may help confirm that this is an area which needs further research. You may need to broaden your search by looking for literature in related fields.
Determine the scope of your literature search. The scope of the literature search and review is bound up with the research problem
The breadth of reading may depend on whether this is a new research area where reading may need to be more extensive, or a well-researched area where reading may be more focused
Decide whether to be comprehensive or selective in your coverage? What is your rationale? What is your interest? There are inherent difficulties in attempting to be comprehensive
How far back you should search may depend on the topic/subject? You might only include historical landmark studies while including a broader approach to more current research
Start with the most recent sources and search backwards
You may read articles only to decide to exclude them
It is worth thinking laterally to other fields given the multidisciplinary nature of research (depending on the discipline area.)