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How to Write A Literature Review For UK Research (A Full Guide)

12 Jun 2019

When it comes to figuring out how to write a literature review UK College students often have a hard time. It could be that they don’t know what a literature review should consist of or what format to follow. Let’s take a look at how this should be written:

What Is A Literature Review?

What Is The Simplest Definition Of A Literature Review?

Literature reviews are scholarly papers that gather information about a topic from a range of sources, document their findings in a comprehensive and cohesive manner, and then evaluate the significance. In addition to forming separate papers or an entire dissertation, literature reviews could be a section in larger academic pieces. In this article, we will mainly focus on the literature review dissertations contain.

What Is The Difference Between Introduction And Literature Review?

A common misconception is that the two are interchangeable. In reality, the former is where you introduce the topic and thesis statement and the latter is where you talk about findings from existing literature, which support your stance on the argument.

This is the same for both graduate and undergraduate dissertation introductions and reviews.

How To Write A Literature Review?

Writing a literature review isn’t easy, especially when it’s part of a dissertation. A lot of students seek the services of qualified writing agencies to help them out. You could do this too by simply typing in ‘write my dissertation for me’ on your search engine and combing through the results. Make sure you ask for samples of previous work before you commit to an agency.

How Many Words Should A Literature Review Have?

It depends on what the specified word count for your dissertation is. Typically a review takes up around a third of the content. Hence, if your dissertation has to be 15,000 words, then the review should come up to around 5000 words at least.

What To Include In A Literature Review?

Here’s what you should include in this section:

  1. The purpose of the review. If it’s a critical literature review, then your purpose is to evaluate or criticize the arguments expressed in the publications.
  2. A general overview of the topic that you’re going to be speaking about.
  3. Clear segmentation of the arguments that support and oppose your stance.
  4. An analysis of each included finding and it’s relevance to the topic at hand.

Literature Review Structure

Here are some frequently asked questions about structure that we’re going to address:

How to structure a literature review?

The structure is something that a lot of students struggle with. In this article, we will take a look at what components go in and in which order.

Does the structure of a literature review change according to the topic?

Usually, all literature reviews follow a typical structure regardless of topic.

How do you come up with a literature review layout?

Planning is essential before you write a review. We will take a look at how to plan a proper dissertation layout.

Are literature reviews just as important as other dissertation sections?

Yes. When you can show how findings from other credible research supports your arguments, your dissertation becomes more valid.


How to start a literature review?

Like the dissertation itself, a review contains an introduction, a body, and a conclusion. The introduction is not too different from that of any other academic essay (see: how to write a research paper). The only difference is that you’re introducing a specific portion of the research (your analyses of other publications) and not the entire research. Follow the literature review guide/template below for guidance.


When it comes to the body of your literature review, the most important thing is how you choose to organize your sources. Here are a few ways you can do this:

  • Chronological – you discuss your source from the oldest to newest. This is most appropriate if you’re evaluating the progress of something over a specific period of time
  • By trend – for example, trends in oil drilling industry over the past decade
  • Methodological – this segregates sources based on what ‘methods’ they detail. This is most appropriate if you evaluate the effectiveness of different techniques used to tackle an issue
  • By theme – if a topic is multi-faceted and your sources express differing opinions, you can segment them this way.

The method you choose depends on your topic. For example, for most mental health nursing dissertation topics UK, college students choose either chronological or methodological methods. When it comes to topics like fashion, you may want to go by theme or trend.


There are three main things you can include here:

  • The main idea that you’ve inferred from all of the sources
  • How the literature review justifies the need for the research you conducted
  • A suggestion as to where the discussion can go from here

Literature Review Template

When it comes to writing a literature review, Ph.D., Masters or undergraduate students alike could benefit from a proper template like this one:

  1. Introduction
    1. A clear definition of the topic
    2. Any exclusions from the research
    3. A statement of the general findings
  2. Body
    1. Statement of how you’ve ordered the sources
    2. An in-depth analysis of each source (methodology, conclusion, accuracy…etc.)
  3. Conclusion
    1. Summary of key findings
    2. Justification of your own research
    3. A call-to-action
  4. References
    1. A citation for every source you’ve included.

Literature Review Format

The purpose of a literature review format is to make sure that everything flows well. Otherwise, it’s going to be hard for a reader to follow how you build up your argument. When it comes to writing a literature review UK, college students follow a template like the one above.

How To Write A Good Literature Review?

Here are some tips for writing a good review:

  • Use quotes sparingly – use your own voice as much as possible
  • Use evidence – an argument without evidence carries no weight
  • Pick an appropriate organizational method. Refer back to the section in this article
  • Be careful not to change the original idea when paraphrasing
  • Be selective – only include findings that are relevant to your topic. We recommend making a sort of dissertation guidance paper that sets strict selection criteria for yourself

Writing the literature review portion of a dissertation is always tough. In this article, we’ve discussed many things about reviews: what they are, how they’re structured, what the typical template looks like and some tips to keep in mind when writing them.

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