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Published by at January 16th, 2024 , Revised On January 23, 2024

Literature Review Examples – How To Write One?

A literature review is a critical analysis of existing scholarly literature on a particular topic. It is often required as part of academic assignments, such as research papers, theses, and dissertations. However, writing a good literature review can be challenging, especially for first-time students. 

This blog will guide you on how to write a literature review and provide you with exceptional literature review examples that work well in the universities in Canada for your assistance. Let’s get started.

What Is A Literature Review?

A literature review is not merely a summary of existing works; instead, it is a comprehensive analysis that identifies gaps, trends, and patterns within a particular subject area. A well-executed literature review establishes the context for your research and hypothesis and demonstrates your awareness of existing scholarship. Moreover, it showcases your ability to engage with academic discourse critically.

Purpose Of A Literature Review

The purpose of a literature review is to:

  • Demonstrate your knowledge of the existing literature on your topic.
  • Identify the key themes, debates, and gaps in the literature.
  • Position your own research in the context of the existing literature.
  • Show how your research will contribute to the field.

How To Write A Literature Review Example

Writing a literature review involves a systematic and organized approach. Follow the research paper format stated by your organization. Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you write an effective literature review:

Step 1: Define The Scope And Purpose

  • Clearly define the research question, thesis statement, or topic you want to address in your literature review.
  • Determine the scope of your review by setting boundaries for the time period, geographic location, and specific aspects of the topic you want to cover.
  • Identify the purpose of your literature review, such as providing an overview, identifying gaps in existing research, or evaluating the current state of knowledge.

Step 2: Conduct A Comprehensive Literature Search

  • Use academic databases, library catalogues, and search engines to find relevant literature. Common databases include PubMed, Google Scholar, and specialized databases related to your field.
  • Use a combination of keywords and controlled vocabulary to refine your search.
  • Keep track of the sources you find, including bibliographic information, abstracts, and key findings.
  • Read professionally written examples of literature review for better understanding.

Step 3: Evaluate And Select Sources

  • Critically evaluate the quality and relevance of each source. Consider the credibility of the author, the publication venue, and the methodology used in the studies.
  • Organize the selected sources into themes or categories based on commonalities and differences.
  • Identify key theories, concepts, or methodologies that are central to your topic.
  • For example, in a finance thesis, add sources that are only relevant to the specific topic of finance that you wish to explore. 

Step 4: Synthesize Information

  • Summarize the main findings and arguments of each source, highlighting key themes and trends.
  • Identify areas of agreement and disagreement among the sources.
  • Organize the information in a logical and coherent manner. You can use a chronological, thematic, or methodological approach, depending on the nature of your literature review.

Step 5: Write And Revise

  • Start with an introduction that provides context for your literature review and clearly states the research question or purpose.
  • Organize the body of your literature review based on the themes or categories you identified during the synthesis.
  • Discuss each source in relation to your research question, highlighting key findings and their implications.
  • Conclude by summarizing the main contributions of the literature to your research question and identifying any gaps or areas for future research.
  • Revise and edit your literature review for clarity, coherence, and conciseness.

APA Literature Review Example

Whether you are writing a literature review in APA or MLA, follow the guidelines provided on the websites. Here is a comprehensive example of a literature review in APA that will provide a better understanding of how to write a literature review. 

Literature Review: The Impact of Social Media on Mental Health in Adolescents

Social media has become an integral part of the lives of adolescents, with platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Snapchat dominating their online experiences. As the prevalence of social media continues to rise, there is a growing concern about its potential impact on the mental health of adolescents. This literature review aims to explore and analyze existing research on the relationship between social media usage and mental health outcomes in the adolescent population.

Social Media Usage Patterns

Several studies have investigated the patterns of social media usage among adolescents. Smith et al. (2017) found that 95% of adolescents aged 13-17 have access to a smartphone, and 85% use at least one social media platform regularly. Additionally, Jones and Brown (2019) reported that the average time spent on social media by adolescents is approximately 3 hours per day.

Cyberbullying and Mental Health

One of the negative consequences associated with social media use is the prevalence of cyberbullying. Patchin and Hinduja (2018) highlighted that adolescents who experience cyberbullying are more likely to report symptoms of depression and anxiety. This finding is consistent with a longitudinal study by Williams et al. (2016), which demonstrated a significant association between cyberbullying victimization and increased risk of mental health problems in adolescents.

Social Comparison and Body Image

Social media platforms often facilitate social comparison, which has been linked to body image dissatisfaction and low self-esteem among adolescents. Fardouly et al. (2020) conducted a meta-analysis of 15 studies and found a moderate effect size, indicating a strong association between social media use and negative body image. Moreover, Perloff (2014) argued that constant exposure to idealized images on social media contributes to unrealistic beauty standards, impacting adolescents’ self-perception and mental well-being.

Fear of Missing Out (FOMO) and Anxiety

The Fear of Missing Out (FOMO) is a psychological phenomenon associated with anxiety and stress related to the fear of not being included or missing out on experiences others are having. Primack et al. (2017) conducted a cross-sectional analysis and discovered a positive correlation between higher social media use, FOMO, and increased levels of anxiety among adolescents. This suggests that the constant connectivity promoted by social media may contribute to heightened feelings of social comparison and anxiety.

Positive Aspects of Social Media Use

While there is a substantial body of literature examining the negative impacts of social media on adolescent mental health, some studies suggest positive aspects as well. Moreno et al. (2018) conducted a survey and found that social media can serve as a valuable platform for emotional expression, social support, and positive social interactions among adolescents. Additionally, the study by Wang and Burke (2020) indicated that strategic and limited use of social media may contribute to positive mental health outcomes.

The existing literature provides a deep understanding of the complex relationship between social media use and mental health outcomes in adolescents. While some studies highlight the negative impacts, such as cyberbullying, social comparison, and anxiety, others acknowledge the positive aspects, such as social support and positive interactions. Future research should focus on the development of effective interventions and guidelines to promote healthy social media use among adolescents.

Types Of Literature Review

There are several types of literature reviews, each serving different purposes and objectives. Here are some common types:

Narrative Or Traditional Literature Review

  • Provides a comprehensive overview of the existing literature on a particular topic.
  • Summarizes and synthesizes information from various sources without a specific methodological approach.

Systematic Literature Review

  • Follows a systematic and structured approach to identify, analyze, and synthesize relevant literature.
  • Involves a clearly defined research question and a detailed search strategy.
  • Aims to minimize bias and subjectivity in the selection and analysis of studies.

Systematic Literature Review Example

Conducted in accordance with PRISMA guidelines, this systematic literature review focuses on the efficacy of cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) for anxiety disorders in pediatric populations. A comprehensive search across databases identified 25 relevant studies meeting the inclusion criteria. Results indicate consistent positive outcomes in symptom reduction across various anxiety disorders, including generalized anxiety and social anxiety (Jones et al., 2020; Smith & Brown, 2019). However, methodological variations in CBT delivery and outcome measures highlight the need for standardized protocols. This review underscores the robust evidence supporting CBT’s effectiveness in treating pediatric anxiety, while advocating for more uniform research methodologies to enhance comparability and generalizability (Johnson et al., 2018).

Meta-Analysis

  • A specialized form of systematic review that involves statistical analysis of quantitative data from multiple studies.
  • Combines results from different studies to derive overall conclusions or effect sizes.
  • Requires homogeneity in study design and outcome measures for accurate analysis.

Meta-Synthesis

  • Meta-synthesis is a qualitative approach that synthesizes findings from multiple qualitative studies.
  • Involves the interpretation and integration of themes, concepts, or qualitative data across different studies.

Scoping Review

  • A preliminary literature review on a broad topic to identify key concepts, gaps, and research areas.
  • Provides an overview without necessarily synthesizing the evidence.

Scoping Literature Review Example 

This scoping review investigates the breadth of literature on the impact of mindfulness interventions on stress reduction. Initial searches in databases such as PubMed and PsycINFO yielded 80 relevant articles. Key themes emerged, including diverse intervention formats (e.g., mindfulness-based stress reduction, mindfulness apps), target populations (e.g., healthcare professionals, students), and outcome measures (e.g., self-reported stress levels, physiological markers). Noteworthy is the limited exploration of long-term effects and variations in intervention delivery. The review provides a foundation for future research directions, emphasizing the need for standardized methodologies and comprehensive assessments to advance our understanding of mindfulness interventions’ effectiveness in stress reduction (Smith et al., 2021; Brown & Jones, 2020).

Critical Review

  • Evaluates and critiques the strengths and weaknesses of existing literature.
  • Focuses on the methodology, theoretical framework, and overall quality of the studies reviewed.

Integrative Review

  • Aims to provide a comprehensive understanding of a topic by integrating findings from different types of studies (quantitative, qualitative, or both).
  • May include a range of research designs and methodologies.

Rapid Review

  • Conducted within a shorter timeframe, often for decision-making purposes.
  • Involves a streamlined review process with limitations in terms of depth and comprehensiveness.

Umbrella Review

  • A review of existing systematic reviews and meta-analyses on a specific topic.
  • Provides a higher level of evidence synthesis by examining the findings of multiple reviews.

Mixed Methods Review

Incorporates both quantitative and qualitative research studies to gain a comprehensive understanding of a research question.

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Tips For Writing A Good Literature Review

Here are a few additional tips for writing a good literature review in a dissertation or thesis:

Tip 1: Start Early 

Do not wait until the last minute to start writing your literature review. It takes time to do a good job.

Tip 2: Read Widely

Do not just read the most recent articles on your topic. Be sure to read older articles as well.

Tip 3: Take Breaks

Do not try to write your literature review all at once. Take breaks to avoid getting burned out.

Tip 4: Get Feedback

Ask your professor or a classmate to read your literature review and give you feedback.

Common Mistakes To Avoid When Writing A Literature Review

While literature review examples can provide valuable guidance, it is equally important to be aware of common pitfalls that can undermine the effectiveness of your literature review.

  • Lack of Focus: A literature review should have a clear focus and not attempt to cover an entire field. Define the boundaries of your review and concentrate on the most relevant and recent literature.
  • Overreliance on Secondary Sources: While reviews of existing reviews can be informative, relying solely on secondary sources, such as newspapers, may lead to a lack of depth in your analysis. Strive to include primary research studies to strengthen the credibility of your literature review.
  • Failure to Synthesize: Merely summarizing individual studies without synthesizing their findings can result in a disjointed and unconvincing literature review. Connect the dots between different sources to provide a cohesive narrative.
  • Ignoring Contradictory Evidence: A robust literature review acknowledges and addresses conflicting findings in the existing literature. Ignoring contradictory evidence can weaken the overall credibility of your review.

Frequently Asked Questions

A literature review is a critical analysis of existing research and scholarly works on a specific topic. It involves summarizing, evaluating, and synthesizing relevant literature to identify gaps, patterns, and trends. The review provides a foundation for understanding the current state of knowledge and informs future research directions.

To write a literature review, define your purpose, conduct a comprehensive search, critically evaluate sources, organize them thematically, and synthesize key findings. Structure your review with an introduction, thematic sections, and a conclusion. Properly cite sources, seek feedback, and revise. Maintain clarity, coherence, and adherence to citation styles throughout.

Begin your literature review with a concise introduction, providing context for the topic and clearly stating its importance. Define the scope and purpose, indicating the key themes or questions to be addressed. Engage readers by highlighting the relevance and significance of the reviewed literature to the broader research field.

In this literature review, we explore the evolving landscape of artificial intelligence in healthcare. As advancements accelerate, understanding the implications of patient care and ethical considerations is crucial. This review aims to synthesize existing literature, identifying key trends, challenges, and opportunities in the intersection of artificial intelligence and healthcare delivery.

In conclusion, this literature review reveals the multifaceted nature of social media’s impact on mental health. While negative outcomes are associated with social comparison and excessive use, positive effects include social support. Thorough research is essential, considering individual differences and evolving social media dynamics, for a comprehensive understanding of its influence.

This literature review demonstrates a comprehensive analysis of existing research on climate change adaptation strategies. Strengths include a clear organization and synthesis of findings. However, potential limitations include an emphasis on studies from specific regions, possibly affecting the generalizability of the conclusions. Further exploration of diverse geographic contexts could enhance the review’s robustness.

A preliminary literature review is an initial exploration of existing research on a specific topic. It helps researchers identify key concepts, relevant studies, and gaps in the literature before conducting an in-depth review. This phase informs the development of research questions and refines the focus for a more comprehensive literature review.

About Nicolas

Avatar for NicolasNicolas holds a master's degree in literature and has earned a PhD in statistics. He has a keen interest in writing, culinary arts, and running. Nicolas is dedicated to assisting students at various academic levels.

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