A literature review is written in the style of an expository essay (i.e., an essay that explains a topic in a logical and straightforward manner); it comprises:
1. an Introduction: Gives a quick idea of the topic of the literature review, such as the central theme or organizational pattern and the scope of the review. This section may also provide an introduction to the texts/authors that will be discussed in the review.
2. an Analysis: Contains your discussion and analysis of the texts included in the review.
Analysis means to break something up into parts, pieces, reasons, or steps and look at how those pieces are related to each other. Analysis usually goes together with synthesis because first you break down a concept / idea into its important parts (analysis), so you can draw useful conclusions or make decisions about the topic or problem (synthesis).
The analysis should include:
3. a Synthesis: Provides a synthesis and evaluation of the information you found by analyzing the texts
Synthesis means to combine a number of different pieces into a whole. Synthesis is about concisely summarizing and linking different sources in order to review the literature on a topic, make recommendations, and connect your topic to the research.
Your synthesis can be done in a number of different ways (see below).
Determine the scope of your literature search.
Your synthesis can be done in a number of different ways:
No matter which method you choose, remember: Within each section of a literature review, it is important to discuss how the research relates to other studies (how is it similar or different, what other studies have been done, etc.) as well as to demonstrate how it relates to your own work. This is what the review is for: don’t leave this connection out!