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University of Newcastle Library Guides

Literature Reviews: Writing your Review

This guide is an introduction to the Literature Review process - including its purpose and strategies, guidelines and resources to help you get started

The structure of a literature review

A literature review should be structured like any other essay, containing an introduction, body, and conclusion.

The introduction should:

  • Define your topic and provide an appropriate context for reviewing the literature;
  • Establish your reasons – i.e. point of view – for reviewing the literature;
  • Explain the organisation – i.e. sequence – of the review;
  • State the scope of the review – i.e. what is included and what isn’t included.
    For example, if you were reviewing the literature on obesity in children you might say something like: There are a large number of studies of obesity trends in the general population. However, since the focus of this research is on obesity in children, these will not be reviewed in detail and will only be referred to as appropriate.

The middle or main body should:

  • Organise the literature according to common themes;
  • Provide insight into the relation between your chosen topic and the wider subject area e.g. between obesity in children and obesity in general;
  • Move from a wider view of the literature being reviewed, to the specific focus of your research.

The conclusion should:

  • Summarise the important aspects of the existing body of literature;
  • Evaluate the current state of the literature reviewed;
  • Identify significant flaws or gaps in existing knowledge;
  • Outline areas for future study;
  • Link your research to existing knowledge.



Writing the literature review:

Final checklist

Have you analysed the topic carefully?

Have you identified key aspects of the topic?

Have you defined the key terms?

Have you explained the organisation of the review?

Have you included primary research gathered from peer-reviewed journals?

Have you summarised the research you have located in your own words?

Have you evaluated the research?

Have you summed up your work?

Have you identified any areas for further research?