The following collection of annotated sample literature reviews written and co-written by colleagues associated with UW-Madison showcases how these reviews can do different kind of work for different purposes.Use these successful examples as a starting point for understanding how other writers have approached the challenging and important task of situating their idea in the context of established research.
It would be safer and probably more realistic to say that your research will ‘address a gap’, rather than that it will ‘fill a gap’.
When readers come to your assignment, dissertation, or thesis, they will not just assume that your research or analysis is a good idea; they will want to be persuaded that it is relevant and that it was worth doing.
In the introduction, you should: Define or identify the general topic, issue, or area of concern, thus providing an appropriate context for reviewing the literature.
Point out overall trends in what has been published about the topic; or conflicts in theory, methodology, evidence, and conclusions; or gaps in research and scholarship; or a single problem or new perspective of immediate interest.
The term ‘synthesis’ refers to the bringing together of material from different sources, and the creation of an integrated whole.
In this case the ‘whole’ will be your structured review of relevant work, and your coherent argument for the study that you are doing.
This Study Guide explains why literature reviews are needed, and how they can be conducted and reported.
Related Study Guides are: Referencing and bibliographies, Avoiding plagiarism, Writing a dissertation, What is critical reading? The focus of the Study Guide is the literature review within a dissertation or a thesis, but many of the ideas are transferable to other kinds of writing, such as an extended essay, or a report.
You need to demonstrate to your reader that you are examining your sources with a critical approach, and not just believing them automatically.
Your interpretation of each piece of evidence is just that: an interpretation.