Writing: what is the literature review?

At some point we all have to produce a piece of writing about the existing literature in our field – mostly referred to as a literature review. It is an important part of the introductory part of a thesis. Writing it means a lot of reading and sorting but also a deeper understanding of the subject. Basically, it means a lot of work.

After my first attempt at writing up months of reading for my thesis, I looked at my text and realised a big part of it was a “laundry list” and neither pleasant to write nor to read (see Pat Thomson’s post too much naming). Actually, literature review might be the wrong term all along for this kind of text. According to Thomson, it is rather a “map” of your research area, a map you try to draw when you start working on a subject that is new to you:

Working with literatures

If you want to know more, check out this helpful advice by Marco Pautasso:

Ten simple Rules for Writing a Literature Review

There are many things to consider before starting your literatures chapter – and I believe with the right recipe, it will seem less intimidating.

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