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Writing A Literature Review: Writing & Citing

This guide provides information and links on how to write literature reviews.

Step 4: Writing the Review


The fourth and final step in the literature review process is to report upon the findings of your research by writing the review.

Structure and Content


  • In the introduction you will acquaint readers with your topic, with your research process and with your purpose for writing the review.
  • Include general comments about and analysis of the findings of your research.
  • IInclude an account of any themes that emerge while you analyze past research on your topic. These themes can be used to give structure to the body of your review. If you are unable to identify any cohesive themes while you research your topic, make note of this in your introduction and include a statement outlining how you intend to structure and present the findings of your research.
  • If your literature review is to be included with or to be related to a research project that you intend to carry out, you should describe this research project in the introduction to your review. 
  • Include a statement about how the past research that you report upon in your review has influenced the current understanding of the topic. This statement should take the form of a thesis or an argument that you will pursue and solidify throughout the remainder of the literature review. It should be an affirmation of, a response to or a challenge to the collected past research on your topic.


  • Group research studies and other types of literature (reviews, theoretical articles, case studies, etc.) according to identifiable themes such as the subject(s) of the research, conclusions of authors, specific purpose or objective, chronology, etc.  The themes that you identify may refer to broader streams of thinking or theoretical positions. The themes may encompass certain types of data sources or specific research methods. The themes may be based on chronology or stages/eras of thinking on the topic.
  • Use these themes as headings and nest individual resources under the most relevant heading related to them.

For guidance on what to include in your reports on past research, see the Questions to Guide Your Evaluation of Resources box on the Evaluating page. The more information and analysis that you are able to include in each of your reports on past research projects on your topic, the more comprehensive your literature review will be.


  • The conclusion will sum up your accounts and analysis of past research on your topic.
  • Restate and comment upon the thesis and/or argument(s) that you put forward in your introduction to the review.
  • Offer historical perspective on a topic, and a prescription for future study. In the conclusion to your review, you should aim to not only account for past research but you should also indicate how and why the topic warrants further exploration and consideration. 

Citation Style Guides and Tools

  • Include citation information for each of the resources you are reporting in your  review
  • Citation information makes it possible for readers to identify, verify, search for and locate the resources that you use in your review.
  • The citation format depends upon the citation style that you have been assigned or the citation style you have chosen to use. 

Below are links to guides on a variety of different citation styles:.