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You therefore need to use the critical notes and comments you made whilst doing your reading to express an academic opinion.Make sure that: • you include a clear, short introduction which gives an outline of the review, including the main topics covered and the order of the arguments, with a brief rationale for this.
If you ignore opposing viewpoints, your argument will in fact be weaker.
Your review must be written in a formal, academic style.
It may be a separate assignment, or one of the introductory sections of a report, dissertation or thesis.
In the latter cases in particular, the review will be guided by your research objective or by the issue or thesis you are arguing and will provide the framework for your further work.
According to Caulley (1992) of La Trobe University, the literature review should: • compare and contrast different authors’ views on an issue • group authors who draw similar conclusions • criticise aspects of methodology • note areas in which authors are in disagreement • highlight exemplary studies • highlight gaps in research • show how your study relates to previous studies • show how your study relates to the literature in general • conclude by summarising what the literature says • to evaluate promising research methods • to relate your findings to previous knowledge and suggest further research A good literature review, therefore, is critical of what has been written, identifies areas of controversy, raises questions and identifies areas which need further research.
Structure of the literature review The overall structure of your review will depend largely on your own thesis or research area.
It is very important to note that your review should not be simply a description of what others have published in the form of a set of summaries, but should take the form of a critical discussion, showing insight and an awareness of differing arguments, theories and approaches.
It should be a synthesis and analysis of the relevant published work, linked at all times to your own purpose and rationale.
In your review, are you looking at issues of theory, methodology, policy, quantitive research, or what?
Before you start reading it may be useful to compile a list of the main areas and questions involved, and then read with the purpose of finding out about or answering these.