Taking The Right Approach To Writing An Academic Research Paper Literature Review

Writing a literature review for your academic research paper can be a little unsettling, especially when you have never done it before. In fact, it can seem as if you are asked to be able to take a load of jumble and turn it into a masterpiece. Don’t worry, once you have done your first you will never again look back and you will wonder just why you spent so many sleepless nights worrying about it.

First of all it is important that you fully understand just what a literature review is:

In a nutshell it is an overview of your research paper. It is a separate document and offers potential readers much needed insight before they actually delve into the main body of your work.

So, just how do you know that you are taking the right approach? Here’re my foolproof tips:

Plus points to remember when writing:

  • It can be brief. So, you are not going to have to write pages upon pages.

  • It is intended to be the light reading before readers get into the main thrust of your argument

Key components of an academic research paper literature review:

  • You are looking for multiple arguments – So, all of the widely accepted arguments on the topic that you have chosen for your research paper. (This is to show that your paper is in no way biased)

  • You don’t have to go softly-softly. If you disagree with any of the arguments presented then it is okay to be critical of them. So long as you are able to back this up with supporting evidence.

  • Highlight any views which may be of a controversial nature and deliberately seek to pick holes in their argument.


Unlike just about everything else that you will ever do when it comes to academia, there is no set structure to a literature review. Why? Because they are meant to flow in accordance with the subject matter. So, to some extent you do have a little creative license here. That is not to say that you can go crazy!

It is a good idea to try and combine similar arguments in one tight paragraph as opposed to trying to outline them all individually. This simply makes for a better overall reading experience. Remember, your review is not intended to be very long, therefore you don’t want it becoming bogged down with flotsam.

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